A Little Inspiration

How to Make 2020 Memorable (In A Good Way)

This past weekend I was sitting on the beach with some family, listening to music and watching the sunset, when my cousin Amanda posed a question.

I know that 2020 hasn’t been great, but I think we should each try and think of something that we’d like to do by the end of the year to make our year positive and memorable.

We each took the question in, and then went back to the music. We hummed and danced and occasionally used anything close by as a microphone, all while letting that question twist and turn in our minds.

I had a particularly hard time coming up with an answer, which surprised me, especially because I am such a goal oriented person. But even when ideas and answers were brought up—like seeing a drive in movie or going to the Grand Canyon—my mind still drew a blank.

At one point, I lay my head back on my towel and looked up at the sky.

“Look!” I said, pointing up at the now dark, starry sky, “I think that’s the big dipper!”

The group looked and excitedly agreed and then eventually fell back into swing with the music, this time with the intent to “get our cardio in,” which mostly meant jumping up and down in time with the music, running around our spot on the beach—which was by that time was completely dark and empty except for us and our little electric lantern—spinning with our arms out and our heads tilted up towards the sky, anything that made us feel good, got our hearts racing a little faster, and gave us an excuse to eat an ice cream cone later.

On the drive home (which did include an ice cream cone) I still thought about the question. I was the only one to not give an answer. But when I got home and I relived the afternoon and evening in my head, and I looked at the pictures we’d taken of the sunset and the videos of us singing and dancing around our speaker, I realized why I had struggled so much.

This year has been tough for all of us—in ways we all understand and in ways only you and me can understand. I have had obstacles and hardships you haven’t and vice versa. This year will forever be memorable, but it is not over yet, and sometimes I feel like I’m in survival mode, hiding and waiting until it is.

But just as I wrote in this blog post a little while back, and just as Amanda brought up on the beach, there are still ways we can make this year good. There are still things we can gain from 2020 that we might not have had the time, energy, or inspiration to in any other year.

So I encourage you (and me, because I still haven’t thought of an answer) to think about a way you’d like to make 2020 memorable. It doesn’t have to be big or extravagant or expensive, it just has to be something that gives you that good feeling—like sitting on the beach with people you love and singing Celine Dion into a shoe microphone.

The goodness of 2020 is still up for grabs, and I think it’s about time we went out and found it.

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If you have any ideas for how you want to make your 2020 memorable, please leave them in the comments! We could all use some inspiration. white-smiling-face_263a

Thank You For Your Magic

I am currently reading “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle and I just wanted to share this little blurp from the book that inspired me:

 

“Each of us was born to bring forth something that has never existed: a way of being, a family, an idea, art, a community—something brand-new. We are here to fully introduce ourselves, to impose ourselves and ideas and thoughts and dreams onto the world, leaving it changed forever by who we are and what we bring forth from our depths.”

 

It’s easy to get caught up in all the things we think and believe we aren’t, but it’s important to remember all of the wonderful, unique things that we are. We are each so important to the world and waste so much time thinking otherwise. So today, rather than leaning on those self criticisms and the constant nit picking of what is wrong with you or your life, take a second to appreciate what a special thing you bring to the world just by being. Take a second to revel in how lucky the world is to have you and how much it needs you and all of the magic you bring to each and every day.

 

Thank you for your magic, I know it helps me, and I hope mine helps you.heavy-black-heart_2764

It’s Not “My Year” but it’s Something

Over the weekend I saw this post on social media and it was very encouraging to me. It talked about how so many of us spent our last few moments of 2019 praying, hoping, wishing, demanding that 2020 was going to be “our year.” It was supposed to be a year of opportunity and success. A year that would inspire us to take risks and step out of our comfort zones.

Being the start of a new decade, for many of us it also looked like a fresh start—when the tides would finally turn and bring about positive changes in our lives. I know I was among this crowd. And I know I am among so many who now feel let down. Who wish this year would just be over, or to have never happened. To be back in the naïve hope of last December, or to be crossing our fingers in the final moments of this coming December, hoping—assuming­­­—it can only get better from here.

For most of all of us, 2020 has not been “our year.” Or at least, as Alexis describes it in her post, the year we thought it would be. But that doesn’t mean it is not impactful, important, or worth seeing through.

This year has been full of challenges, restrictions, struggle, panic, fear, and heartbreak, and we have all experienced them to an extent, but those experiences are all different. We are all seeing this year with different perspectives and working through it with different strategies. In 20 years from now, we will all have different stories, different moments that stood out to us, different obstacles we had to overcome and different triumphs we made a long the way. This year will be infamous for how it affected the masses, but unique in how it affected individuals. My year is and will be different than yours, and even my mom’s, dad’s, brother’s or sister’s.

I will remember how I felt, what I was afraid of, confused by, in doubt of, or hopeful for, more than anyone around me. And I will remember my behavior, my reactions, my stresses, worries and personal discoveries more than anything I might hear from a friend or read on the news.

Whether it’s what I imagined or not, I am in “my year”—the year I anticipated all those days and hours before the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2020. And while it might not be my year to accomplish certain things or meet certain people or travel certain places, it could still be my year to learn important lessons or heal long-standing wounds. To forgive, to discover, to reprioritize, to create, to accept, to do all the things I might have continued to put off if this were just another year.

So while this year is hard—for some impossibly so—and it’s definitely not what we all hoped for, it is not over, and it still means something.

Let’s find out what that something is.

I Say Sh*t 17 Times in this Post, But it’s Upbeat, I Promise

I recently read the book Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan, which chronicles her year of saying “yes” to things in order to help her step out of her introvert comfort zone. It was a hilarious and relatable book that was full of valuable lessons, but one in particular stood out to me.

As the author puts it: “Being shit at being shit is just shit.”

Or, put more PG: being bad at being bad is just bad.

(Personally, I like the shitty version, but that’s just me.)

Jessica Pan writes this when referring to the tendency of someone who is placed out of their comfort zone to put in minimum effort in order to protect themselves from further embarrassment.

I know I’m guilty of it.

It’s hard to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. It’s hard to step out of your comfort zone and be yourself. Sometimes it feels easier to make it all a big joke, that way, if you fail, you’ll know you weren’t really trying in the first place.

But then again, we also learn, from an outsider’s perspective, that when we see people putting in that minimal effort, it doesn’t make them look “cool”, it doesn’t even protect them from embarrassment. In fact, we notice that lack of effort more than any failure, and it looks far worse.

Because there’s a difference between trying and failing and failing to try.

There’s a difference between “being shit” and being shit at being shit.

And, as previously stated, being shit at being shit is just shit.

So, the lesson here is: just be shit, you know?

Be bad at something.

But don’t be bad at being bad. Strive to be great at it.

Try your hardest and fail your hardest. But try. And don’t try halfway.

Don’t laugh it off or shrug it away. Don’t shrink yourself down. Go out there and suck to your full potential. Because that is what makes you cool. That is what moves you forward. That is what ultimately protects you and fights for you because it gets you out of your head, into the new, and onto the next.

You have to go through the shit to get to the good stuff. And sometimes going through shit requires you yourself to be that shit, and it’s learning to let yourself be the shit at being shit that ultimately gets you through the shit, you know what I mean?

A Nostalgic Lesson on Failure

It took my sister and I all of two days after Disney+ came out to give in and subscribe.

For some people, the draw was the backlog of Marvel movies and shows like The Mandalorian, for us it was easy access to Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century.

Because let’s face it, when it comes to movies made for television (and sweet sweet nostalgia) Disney Channel Original Movies are master class. The stories are simple (and at times ridiculous) but they are wholesome and weirdly empowering and full of iconic one-liners that I will quote until my dying day.

Aside from DCOM’s, Disney+ (who, regardless of how this blog may seem, is not sponsoring me) has also given us access to a variety of other Disney movies, most of which I’d completely forgotten exist.

Take Ice Princess, for example. It stars Michelle Trachtenberg (a.k.a Harriet the Spy), who plays a brainiac that takes up ice skating for a physics project, and ends up eventually pursuing it as a career, all while falling in love with a Zamboni driver named Teddy. This predictable yet undeniably adorable film is what brings me here today.

I’m a firm believer that inspiration can come from anywhere, and I’m not too proud to admit that I found it while watching this movie with my sister at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

About halfway through the movie, as Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg) starts to take ice skating seriously (the decision of which creates backlash from almost everyone around her, most prominently her mom) she confronts controversial ex-skater Tina Harwood (played by Kim Cattrall) and asks her to be her coach. When Tina bluntly states that she doesn’t think Casey has what it takes, Casey replies, “If I fail, I fail, but it will be because I wasn’t good enough, not because I didn’t have the guts.”

This line struck a chord in me, and I immediately wrote it down.

As hard as it is to admit, we are not destined to succeed in everything we do, and we are not always going to be the best, even when we give it absolutely everything we have. But sometimes it’s not about being the best, it’s not about winning, it’s not even about getting exactly what you want. It’s about knowing you did everything you could, gave everything you had, and didn’t let your fears hold you back. It’s about having the guts to try, and when things don’t work out, to try again, maybe in a different way, or maybe on a completely different path.

I know I’ve both put off and completely given up pursuing certain projects or passions solely because I was scared I would fail. But at the end of the day, failing is never going to be the worst thing you can do, and it is never going to hurt more than never knowing what you could do.

So today I’d just like to encourage you to go for it. To try and then to try again. Your win is out there, and it’s waiting for you on the other side of fear. So give it your all, and see where it takes you.

Say it & Keep it

It’s not always easy to say what’s on your mind.

Personally, I thrive at having entire conversations in my head. I can work things out, make plans for later, overthink something from 10 years ago, and make myself laugh—sometimes accidentally out loud.

There are times however, when I’ll be with a person or group of people, and I’ll find myself walking away from a conversation or situation where I wish I would have said something. Maybe it was a compliment I wanted to give, a joke I wanted tell, a story I wished I had the courage to share, or simply a hello, how are you?  But for whatever reason, it just sits there on the end of my tongue and doesn’t budge.

So, I’ve been trying to do better.

The way I see it, if you have good intentions, and especially good jokes, you should do your best to share them with other people. You should share you with other people. Even though sometimes it’s scary, and sometimes your friend just went to the bathroom and left you at this table with a bunch of random people you don’t know and you wish you could hide under your chair until they get back.

I’m not saying you have to make awkward, miserable small talk, or say things you don’t mean, but if you find a compliment forming or a relatable story coming to mind, go for it.

Say it.

Make your mark on a conversation, or on that stranger whose ______ you really like.

Say what you’re thinking, even if it’s just hello. You never know what kind of internal dialogue someone else is having, and you never know how much you can put their mind at ease. Maybe you can make them laugh or tell them something they’ve never heard before or simply make them feel noticed. Maybe you can inspire them to try something new or be inspired yourself. Maybe you’ll make a new friend who might feel just as uncomfortable as you are in a certain situation, and who might even offer you contraband snacks. You never know.

On the opposite side of this whole situation, it’s also not always easy to receive compliments.

Personally, I thrive at deflecting, rejecting and passing them along so I don’t have to bear the weight for even a second. Compliments make me uncomfortable, and sometimes overwhelmed. My toes curl up inside my shoes and I usually change the subject as fast as I can.

But again, I’m trying to do better.

For as uncomfortable as compliments might be in the moment, they’re not going to hurt in the long run. Like on those days when you feel like a troll who doesn’t dare leave the house looking like such a disaster, or when you feel rejected or sad or alone. It’s times like these when we could use a compliment or two, some motivation and encouragement that we are more than we are making ourselves out to be, and deserve more than we’ve led ourselves to believe.

So, when someone tells you look nice, or when they compliment a project you’re working on or a blog you posted or a meal you made, keep it. When someone thanks you for being a good friend or for a good gift or for a great day, keep it. Keep those compliments and tuck them away for later. For when you need them most.

Say the good things and keep the good things. You deserve them, someone else might need them, and sometimes there might be snacks. It’s a win win win as far as I’m concerned.

You Already Know What You’re Going to Do

I was watching a television show the other day and at one point in the episode one of the characters went to therapy. During the session, the therapist looked at the character and said, “You already know what you’re going to do. You’ve already made up your mind and you know what you’re going to do.”

This stuck with me—even after I binged a few more episodes.

It made me think of those mornings you wake up in a bad mood or with a bad outlook, and you more or less decide that you’re going to have a bad day.

Or when you are obligated to go somewhere but you’d rather stay home because you won’t know anyone or will know too many people, etc., and so you decide that it’s going to be awful.

Or, on the other side of things, when you are so excited about something and are so determined for it to be as wonderful as you hope, that you can look past almost anything in order for it to live up to your expectations.

There are many days and even moments when we decide how the future will play out far before it ever happens. I think we do it as both a defense mechanism, to protect us from being disappointed, or sometimes just because we don’t have the energy to change our way of thinking. It’s hard to wake up in a bad mood and then convince yourself that your day will turn around and be great. It’s way easier to settle into that grouchiness and ride it out until tomorrow (or beyond.)

The same goes with taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone. I think with most things that scare us, especially things we’ve never done before, we have a tendency to believe that the end result is going to be bad or humiliating or irredeemable, and so we talk ourselves out of the risk all together. Sometimes, even with the best intentions, we set goals that we know we are going to quit, either because they’re too big, too hard or too scary.

But then, sometimes we find something that makes us keep going. We find something inside us that gives us an extra push, an extra burst of courage and suddenly we are farther than we thought we could be.

This is why I think the therapist’s words stuck with me. Because on the one hand, I agree. I have seen firsthand my half-hearted attempts to try something new that I never actually wanted to try, or to do something brave that I’ve already decided I’m too scared to achieve, or to set a goal that I know I’m not motivated enough to complete. I’ve gone into situations, desperate for them to work out, and all but convinced they are the end all be all try for me to move forward with my life, all the while knowing that I don’t have the passion, motivation, or courage to carry them through to the end.

BUT.

I have also gone into situations with the same fears, obstacles and doubts, and I have found the will to overcome them. Even on days I woke up feeling foolish for even trying, even on nights I lie awake wondering how I could ever achieve what I’d set out to do, even when it would seem that I already made up my mind and I already knew what I was going to do. Somehow I did the exact opposite. And you have to.

We are a resilient bunch, us humans. And while our minds our powerful tools, they aren’t fortune tellers. Our fears can’t predict the future. Our doubts can’t predict the future. But our hope and determination can change it. So, when we are able, let’s not settle into autopilot, let’s dare to work against our assumptions. Let’s reach down deep and find that extra something and go places we never thought we could.

Leaning into FEAR

I was going through my notebook the other day and I found a quote I wrote down a while back. I mentioned it in this post almost a year ago, but it hit me hard when I saw it again and I wanted to share it.

It is from The School of Greatness podcast, episode 721.

“FEAR can be:

Fear Everything And Run,

or Face Everything And Rise.”

I’ve always been a bit of a fearer. I’m afraid of, well, most things, and I have found it very easy over the course of my life to run from those which are particularly scary.

It’s easy to run. Fun too. Running keeps you safe. It carries you away from all that can hurt you, thus ensuring that you can’t be hurt. But running is also quite tiring. It’s exhausting, really. And it gets old. Especially if you’re running in circles.

I don’t know where you are in your life, today or this week or in general, and I don’t know what kind of FEAR you are leaning into. But I want to encourage you, and me, the group of us together really, to stop running. And I don’t mean that solely in the sense that we should stop avoiding hard things or fearing good and vulnerable things. I just think we could all benefit from receiving the permission to stop moving.

We don’t always have to be doing something or achieving something or reaching and reaching and reaching. I think those things are important, and I think setting goals and working towards them is one of the most rewarding things you can do. But it’s not the only thing.

We are still important if we are sitting still. We still hold value if we aren’t setting new records and reaching new heights. We matter, no matter what.

I remember when I first heard this quote I took it as motivation to keep moving up. To rise. To be bigger and better. But I think I underestimated how far you can move forward simply by standing still. For to rise is not simply to ascend, it is also to acknowledge the steps that helped you do so. It is to face the things, good and bad, that have formed you into the person you are, and to accept them as part of your story.

I am who I am because of my story, and you are you because of yours. So let’s appreciate those stories for all that they are, and rise.

Don’t Suffer

A fun fact about me is that I’m cold—all the time.

I have two sweaters on my office chair at work and I almost never leave the house without some sort of extra layer, even in the dead of summer. My friends and family have (mostly) come to accept this—they only mock me half of the time now—and some even go out of their way to let me know when we (meaning only me) should bring a jacket to wherever we’re going.

If I were a teenager, I might try to spin this whole thing as a cute quirk. A way to get the boy to lend me his jacket because I’m just so cold teeheehee. But alas, I’m not 16, and I don’t even think it’s cute. I would love to confidently walk out the front door without wondering if I will catch hypothermia at the movies or grapple over what I should say to convince everyone to sit outside even though it’s hot and we might sweat all of our makeup off.

This past weekend a big group of my family got together at a house on the beach and the moment we pulled in I felt the ocean breeze shiver down my spine.

Shit. I thought. We just got here and I’m already cold.

I paced around a bit, trying to get my blood flowing so I didn’t have to look completely pathetic, but after a few minutes I leaned into my mom and said, “I really think I have to put my sweater on already.”

My mom nodded, nonjudgmental, then put her hand on my arm and said, “Like my yoga teacher says, ‘Don’t suffer.’”

At first I just smiled, thanking her for the words and for not, you know, pointing and laughing at me like I assume everyone should. But as I pulled on my jacket and then walked back around to the kitchen to lean back into the conversation I’d left, the real meaning of the words sunk in deep.

Don’t suffer.

It’s really simple on the surface, isn’t it? But let it sink in for a second.

Don’t suffer.

In the context of yoga, it reminds you not to stay in a pose that causes too much pain.

When you apply it to every day life—like whether or not I should be ashamed to put a sweater on at a family reunion—it acts a reminder to just let yourself be. Maybe that means saying no to party you don’t want to go to, or putting down a book you don’t have any interest in finishing, or taking a nap instead of going to the gym today, or whatever it may be.

Don’t suffer. Especially with the little things. Give yourself the freedom to be comfortable and it will give you the opportunity to thrive.

Needless to say I put the jacket it on, instantly felt better, and wouldn’t you know it, I had an amazing afternoon.

What’s the Point?

Have you ever been so caught up in the monotony of the day-to-day routines and stresses that you found yourself frustrated and exhausted and wondering what are we even doing here? Or, and not necessarily as dark as this sounds, but, what’s the point?

It’s that, is this it? feeling. Is life just alarm snoozing and work and bills and debt and general frustration?

Deep down we know it’s not. We know there’s more. We know this thing has purpose. But some days that truth is a little cloudy, and others it seems downright hidden.

But then there are days or sometimes just moments when it shines bright.

Like when you see someone do something so kind that it makes you want to cry.

Or when you see people look at each other with such unconditional love that you feel it too.

When you stay up late talking to your sister about nothing and everything at the same time.

When you watch the sunset on the beach and that warm glow makes everything slow down.

When you eat something so good it makes you (want to or actually) dance.

When you do something you never thought you could.

When you get butterflies in your stomach because someone or something is so overwhelmingly exciting.

When you tell a friend something you’re struggling with and they lift a little piece of that burden off your shoulders.

When you lose track of time laughing and then trying not to laugh and then after a while laughing just to laugh.

Among millions more.

The way I see it, life is about finding things that make it easier. Easier for you, easier for someone you love, or even easier for someone you’ve never met. It’s about finding people and places and experiences that make you take deep, purposeful breaths. And on the hard days, it’s about believing that ease exists, and working your way forward one step at a time to find it again.

Life is not meant to be easy, but it’s full of impossible ease, and you owe it to yourself to find it. So whether you’re having the best day ever or a cloudy one at best, I encourage you to seek it. Open yourself up to the good things in this life, let them give you breath and breathe breathe breathe.