On Choices and Freedom

A little over two hundred days ago, I left the very secure and very predictable job I held at the company I had been with for nearly three years and took on a new role with a different organization. This new role, to all outward appearances, had the makings of a dream job. The company that I now would be working for had created this role specially for me, working with me to hand-craft the new position, drawing up the job description and responsibilities through a list of wants and needs we discussed together. I was the first person in my specific department and the plan was that I would act as the right-hand woman to the CEO. It was going to be a first for both employer and employee, and it was designed to be an opportunity to learn and grow together. I went into it full of hope, exhilaration, expectation, and determination.

A little over one hundred days ago, I was let go. My position was eliminated overnight, without warning. The only reason given for my termination was that they were choosing to go in a different direction. I was unceremoniously booted from that promising dream job with very little explanation. With a firm hand shake, a tight-lipped smile, and a thank you, I said my goodbye and walked out into the parking lot with my office belongings in a box. As soon as I had shut my car door behind me and driven out of sight, I gave into the sweet release of uncontrolled sobbing.

Ninety seven days ago I left my relationship. And when I left that relationship it was at a dead run. To explain it as easily and as simply as I can, I ran because I had to. I ran because I was left with no choice other than to choose me. I’m so glad I finally chose me. The timing was not ideal, but I can’t say that there ever would be an ideal or even a convenient time to have to make that choice. One doesn’t choose for these things to happen, one simply figures out how to survive once they do. I did what I had to. I did what I must. Given a thousand chances, I would do it all over again if only to have the opportunity to choose me one more time. It was one of the greatest acts of self-love I have ever done.

I packed up my things in the little one-bedroom apartment we shared and tearfully, painfully, and necessarily closed the door on that portion of my story. When I shut that door I found myself standing face-to-face with a very big and unplanned new beginning.

Thank God for new beginnings. Thank God for every single thing that has happened in my life. Thank God for this moment that I am now standing in and everything that has transpired to bring me here.

This isn’t the first time that everything has changed, nor has it been the most painful, and I am sure that it will not be the last. This latest episode of my life turning upside down and inside out has reminded me of the importance of it all. The importance of loss, anguish, hope, gratitude, choice, faith, acceptance, perseverance, grit, patience, bravery, grace, forgiveness, and above all, love.

I coped. Many days I wore a mask to shield myself from the outside world because the truth, my truth, was too painful to expose. I often lied, put on a brave face, and said that I was okay. I said that I was okay with how things had turned out when deep inside of me I was kicking and screaming because nothing, absolutely nothing, was how I would have chosen it to be. I felt like I was starting over or worse yet, falling so far behind I could never hope to catch up. Still, I continued.

I’m so glad I continued.

In the last one hundred or so days I’ve done ordinary things to adjust to the new normal. I have shown up to job interviews. I joined a new gym in my new neighborhood. I let my community of friends and family embrace me and support me. I began a new type of therapy that has been rocking my world in the most intense and necessary way possible.

My feelings have felt so big and deep and powerful that, more often than not, it feels like my body cannot possibly continue to hold them all without exploding into a million tiny pieces.

I’ve welcomed the intense emotion that all of these changes have brought. I’ve inhaled it in and let it fill the deepest parts of me. I’ve seen new pieces of me take shape. Many parts of me are now stronger yet softer at the same time. I’ve done all that I possibly can to cease fighting anything and everything that is going on in my life.

For every loss there is a reckoning. By being stripped of everything, whether by circumstance or by choice, I was liberated. I was released. I was set free.

Much sooner than I expected, the universe began to show me what it has had planned for me since the beginning. Losing that job and leaving that relationship kicked off a cascade of events that I know are miracles in my life. There is so much good today.

A little over sixty days ago I started a new job doing something I’ve never done before. And wouldn’t you know it? I feel like I may have found my calling. I’ve never felt happier or more full of purpose or capable of making an impact in my entire professional career. What an incredibly wonderful and overwhelming experience it is to find that you’ve landed smack dab in the middle of where you had no idea you were supposed to be.

The long and the short of it is that I’ve kept going, no matter what. I’ve kept writing, even if I haven’t been able to publish it. I’ve kept moving forward as quickly as my feet will carry me. I’ve stopped trying to keep it all together. For the most part, and for perhaps the first time, I’ve made a true effort to just let myself be. To let it all be. I’ve let myself be distraught, despondent, and full of rage. I’ve let myself be proud, although I won’t readily admit it, of the woman that I am and the choices that I’ve made. I’ve let myself reach out and build a completely new life, welcoming its beauty with open arms. I’ve strived to act out of love, kindness, and graciousness. I’ve let myself be happy at the promise of new beginnings. I’ve focused on being the woman that I want to be, that I ought to be, and that I know I will continue to become.

In every area of my life I am now beginning to thrive.

More than ever, I know who I am. I know exactly what I want, and I know I have the fight and the strength within me to make it a reality. I know just what I am fighting for. I feel aligned with my purpose.

I hear my calling and I’m running towards it at full speed.

In 2017 I Hope

In January, I wrote out my list of wishes for me and for you, and life gave me exactly what I needed to bring this list into fruition. This year taught me that in 2017…

I hope that you look at your fears. I hope that you face them, squarely and wholly and as deeply as you possibly can. I hope that you ask them why they are there and where they came from and if they are still helpful. I hope you know it’s okay to not be able to let them all go, but I hope you learn to walk side by side with them rather than fighting them off tooth and nail. I hope that learning to do this will show you that you are not broken, but perfect in every way. I hope that when the rubber meets the road, and your deepest fears become your realest challenges, this reflection will have lent you the strength you need to get through it all.

I hope that if you realize something isn’t working out the way you want it to, it is your privilege and your obligation to change it. I hope that you change things, no matter how quickly or slowly. I hope that you see everything through until the very end. I hope that you never give up on something that you want, even if it takes you your whole lifetime to achieve it. I hope that you begin to see that life gives you not what you asked for, but exactly what you need in order to build your fortitude and faith. I hope you never tire of being called to work harder, and that you learn to walk more confidently hand in hand with Him.

I hope you make goals. I hope you make these goals based on principle rather than on material things. I hope that you live your life based on principle. I hope that you fight for your principles, and never compromise them or allow yourself to be compromised. I hope that the darkness of this world only encourages your light to shine brighter. I hope that you treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. I hope that when you fail at this, you try harder to pick up where you left off. I hope you learn not to shoulder all the blame. I hope you reach a hand out to someone else, and focus on another human’s needs for some period of time. I hope this will teach you about self-love and self-sacrifice.

I hope that you give something to someone else that you have always needed for yourself, but never received.

I hope that at some point this year, you take a leap into the terrifying unknown. I hope that you take no shit, yet give more grace than is deserved. I hope that you do less harm than is done to you. I hope that you strive to be better: better than your past decisions, better than you feel, better than you are treated, better than you think you should be, better than any disappointment or windfall would give you excuse not to be.

I hope you have the courage to crumble up the story you are writing if it turns out that that story isn’t working for you. I hope you are never afraid to start over. I hope that you learn more about yourself than you did in 2016. I hope that you realize you are worth all of the energy and effort that you put out. I hope that you can take a look at how much you are giving and find it within yourself to always give more, but draw the line when continuing to give only brings you disappointment.

I hope that you always save yourself first. I hope that you do the hard thing, even if it means going through incredible pain to get to the other side. I hope that you do the right thing, always, and not just the right thing when you think someone is looking or when you think you might get caught.

I hope you have passionate conversations, fits of laughter, more than a few moments of grace, a cleansing cry, and that you meet people who inspire you to live larger and better. I hope you write out an ideals list; an ideals list for the person you want to be and the life you want to live. I hope you write daily gratitude lists and affirmations. I hope you practice patience better than you did the year before. I hope you begin to not only recognize, but value, how special and important you are.

I hope that whatever you faced in 2016 has set you up for the strongest year of your life to date and…

I hope that 2017 changes everything.

Here’s to another year. 

xoxo,

Sarah

Enough

One of the hardest things I grapple with is convincing myself that I do, that I am, enough.

There’s this incessant feeling ruminating in the background, this self-appraisal that often goes too far and bleeds into self-deprecation, that I should be doing more. That I should be further along. That I should be more than or less- confident, positive, secure, forgiving, responsible, kind, patient, loving, tolerant, trusting, insecure, critical, emotional, selfish, doubtful, resentful- than what I currently am.

I tell myself stories. Internal dialog that only I can hear, accept, or protest. These stories that I tell myself are scare tactics and a desperate preventative measure that a younger, more scared Sarah developed to protect herself. I spent more than a decade constructing a safe room that I could go and hide in when I was feeling exposed, challenged, or generally uncomfortable with the world around me. When things got too real for me, I would tell myself a story- I can’t, I’m broken, I’ll never get past this, I’ll never be better, I’ll never learn how- and go hide in that safe room.

The part of me that plays this tape of self-sabotage, the part of me that lets fear run rampant in the driver’s seat, it’s a diversion from the truth, from my truth. It no longer serves me. It is no longer helpful. It’s not even true. But expunging it? Removing it from my daily behavior and go-to when I feel scared or unsure? Now that’s the real trick. That’s where the growth lies.

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There’s a book I read that is filled with daily meditations.

“When you have to make a decision or take a certain action, all that you can do is to do the best you know at that time, and if you do that you will have done your duty.” it said.

At the time I was developing my internal dialog about being broken and hopeless, the best I could do was adopt these protective mechanisms. Now I have been gifted with the opportunity to do something different, to do my best in this time I now stand in. I have been shown there is another way. A different way. A new path that I must explore.

Lean in. Don’t balk at the fear. Embrace the discomfort. Have faith.

The best part? Miracles of triumph and progress keep popping up like wild flowers in a field full of blooms. I see my life changing. I see myself questioning these stories I have always told myself. Where did they come from? Are they even true?

What is my truth?

My truth is that I am continuing to work. I am continuing to fall short. I am continuing to try new strategies and when one thing doesn’t work, I try something new. Again and again. I’m stretching. I am at my growing edge. I give it everything I’ve got. Many days, that is not enough in my book. But my truth is that it has to be enough. It must be enough to give as much as I possibly can every single day, investing in myself like a retirement fund. What it feels like is a lot of never-ending discomfort.

My North Star is hope. It’s deeper relationships. It’s giving more of myself. It’s living a life based on principle and ideals and connection. It’s never giving up on trying to fulfill the purpose that God has set for me.

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If I keep looking at where I am falling short, I will miss all of the wins that I am accomplishing along the way. Some of the wins are so big I can’t even believe that this is my life. These wins are crucial. They help to temper the losses and the grief and highlight the silver linings that are present in every experience.

There’s incredible power in fighting like hell, not letting challenges tank you, and instead inviting them to sharpen you and soften you into a stronger, more resilient, more dedicated, and more effective person. You’ll find after that you are capable of giving more of yourself than you thought was possible and realize you have been filling your tank of self-love along the way. All on your own.

All the doubt and the fear and worry show you that you will continue to learn and fail and overcome and blossom.

And so we grow.

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I hope you never give up on following your North Star. 

xoxo

Sarah

Big Birthdays

This Thursday marked three years without a drink. And in seven days I will turn twenty-nine.

On that day three years ago, I was starting over. Internally, everything felt wrong. While to outsiders it looked like I was holding everything together, inside I was a mess. I had hit a dead-end. I was more terrified than I have ever been. That day, everything changed. That day marked the beginning of my journey of coming back to life.

What should your twenties be like? A period for hitting the ground running. For freedom. The freedom to live wherever you want, with whoever you want, and to sleep all day after staying up all night. For making money and embracing adult responsibilities. For taking that beautiful college degree you’ve earned, framing it, and landing the career job you’ve put on a pedestal. For home buying and falling in love and preparing to make a family. For coming into yourself.

Let me smash those ideas and tell you what they are really like. My twenties have been painful. They have been a process. They have been full of failures, bewilderment, and feeling constantly behind. My shortcomings and character defects have blindsided me. I have fallen short of my expectations. I have had to ruthlessly edit myself. I came to resent Corporate America in an astonishingly brief amount of time. I sought comfort in the wrong places. I had my heart hurt more times than I like to count. I began to give up on having a family and doing it all. I came into myself, but certainly not in a pristine manner. I earned bumps and bruises and scars and came tumbling through in a glorious blaze of dust.

I suppose that my twenties have gone as well as I could have hoped. I obliterated myself. I began to rebuild. I learned to sit through tragedy and nearly unbearable emotional pain, failure and achievement, false starts and dreams realized.

My twenties brought me through college, the unexpected loss of my step-brother, a move to San Diego which became home, heartbreak, the end of my drinking, the termination of friendships I thought would last forever, the beginning of friendships so deep and strong I count count on them to carry me through any hardship, embarking on my professional career, the blossoming and nurturing of my passion for writing, traveling to destinations around the globe, becoming a dog mom, a reunion with my father that was twenty-two years overdue, navigating the grief that suicide brings, and falling in love.

My twenties have taught me that I can almost lose it all through self-sabotage and fear-fueled, destructive behavior. They broke me down and shaped me and built me back up. They showed me that I can do anything I put my mind to, for better or for worse. I am capable of burning it all to the ground and also of nurturing it all into fruition. I have the potential to run from everything, to stuff my feelings, and to be a victim or to do an about-face and own my wrongs, my rights, and my story.

The past three years have facilitated a re-connection with a fearless passion and confidence that I held in my youth.I have learned how to do, well to do most of the time, what at once was impossible for me- to sit back and appreciate my life as it unfolds rather than fearfully trying to control every moment of it.

And it took the better part of the last 1,097 days to realize what brings me true fulfillment. It isn’t a job title or a salary or the acceptance of others. It isn’t shutting the door on my past and pretending it all never happened.

It’s a deep connection to the world around me. It’s the richness of my relationships. It’s the quality of my interactions. It’s self-care and reflection and prayer that I now make a priority in my daily routine. It comes from admitting fault. It comes from working on the things that need work rather than turning the other cheek and hoping for the best. It comes from a willingness to confront my sources of shame and massage them into a place of acceptance. It comes from facing my demons head on and knowing they won’t destroy me. It comes from honesty and vulnerability.

I have seen the darkest recesses of my soul and come back out into the light. I have experienced healing in the parts of me which I thought were permanently broken.

My twenties haven’t been ideal, or pretty all the time, or what was expected. They ended up being a hunt for inner peace.

What are you hunting for?

xoxo

Sarah

 

 

 

 

On Letting Go

How do you let go?

I don’t know about you, but I love to hold on to things. Old birthday cards, favorite books, cherished friendships, my stuffed tiger that I’ve had since I was seven years old, old bottles of perfume that still have a couple drops of fragrance left in them, resentment, guilt, self-pity, fear.

Perhaps this is in part due to the fact that I am a Cancer, known for my sensitivity and sentimentality, or maybe it is because I have to experience a lot of pain before I jump into action.

I do my best to keep my side of the street clean and my nose well in my own business but when I am pushed to the limits of my patience and compassion, I let all the icky feelings flood in. The insecurity, the comparison, the jealousy, the wishful thinking, the doubt. All of these feelings are extremely unhelpful and, nine times out of ten, they aren’t even based in truth.

The point is, sometimes people do things and take action that hurt me or threaten me and maybe feel just like being shoved, hard, onto the cold cement. How do I let go of that? How do I forgive someone who threatens my security, balance, or serenity?

I let go.

And letting go is a pain in the butt..

In order to let go, I have to invite faith in. I have to relax into acceptance rather than continuing to struggle in self-will. I write. I pray- over and over again. I also am sure to purge the source of angst from my life to the greatest extent that is within my power.

Letting go is hard. Letting go is annoying.

Letting go is so, so necessary to my survival and growth

Most times I have no say in what people, places and things continue to pop-up in my life that cause me distress, but I do have a say in how I react to them. Do I let it all tank me or do I accept it with dignity? I endeavor to achieve the second option.

The truth is, I simply do not have time to become emotionally crippled by every single slight that comes my way. I am a busy woman living a life that is full to the brim in every single way. A life that I have carefully nurtured and crafted to get to the point that it is at today. I am trying to make moves. I am trying to make a difference. I am trying to grow.

I cannot let distress cause me to falter. I cannot let frustration keep me in place.

My happiness and security and faith comes from inside and nowhere else. No external source can tell me, force me, or convince me to let go. I have to start with me and only me to live my best life possible. I must choose to overcome it. I must do the foot work. I must get over it, no matter how big of a deal or injustice it is. I must believe in myself.

Letting go is choosing faith over fear, trust over doubt, and action over idleness. It’s living in joy rather than in misery. It’s accepting what is. It’s not stewing over the past. It’s not tripping about the future. It’s giving love and understanding and compassion during the times in which I want to be selfish and self-serving. It’s choosing adventure and fresh starts and moving forward.

Whatever you are trying to let go of just remember that, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly, you will do it. Practice. The more you practice the easier letting go is. And above all, don’t give up.

You can do it, I believe in you. 

xoxo

Sarah

 

 

The Beauty In The Mess

Many years from now, when you look back at the chapter in your story that you are in the middle of writing at this very moment, what do you want it to say?

I used to want my story to be tidy and efficient and easy to read out loud. I wanted to leave the mess behind. I didn’t yet understand that each page in my book didn’t need to be, nor should it be, white and crisp and pristine. I had no idea that the messy in my life- the splashes of discoloration on the pages from errant drops of coffee, salty tears, and words that had too many times been crossed out and re-written- is what actually makes it interesting, thrilling, beautiful, and all mine.

I had a pretty picture in my mind of how things should go and would go if I took the right steps.

In taking those steps, in reaching for my ideal, I began to learn about myself. In taking action towards making the pretty picture and the pretty goals and the pretty life I wanted into a reality, I simultaneously dove head first into a complete demolition of my life. During the demolition and subsequent rebuild I closely examined my past and my present, my strengths and my shortcomings, my insecurities, fears, and most-cherished hopes. I dug and I dug and I dug, relentlessly seeking to uncover every part of myself that needed to be fixed or polished.

The years of soul-searching and practicing and trying my hardest to become this person I have always wanted to become led me to an important moment, a moment in which I found myself waist deep in the excavation of my life and seeing clearly for the first time that there is no end to the digging.

And in that moment I took a deep breath and asked my very deepest, truest and honest self what I want my story to say.

I want it to say that I’m not afraid to make a decision that I’m not quite sure will be the right one and that I see these decisions through until the very end. I want it to say that I’m unable to quit. I want it to say that I am incessantly hopeful. I want it to scream that I am willing to give all of myself to whatever it is I am doing, no matter what the return is. I want it to say that I make an effort to always be kind even when it is not returned or necessarily deserved. I want it to say that I care more about compassion, understanding and empathy than being right or avenging those who wrong or seek to hurt me.

I want my story to say that I own my decisions and that I don’t make any of them out of fear or insecurity. I want it to say that my words and actions reflect intentions that were pure of heart. I want it to say that I am a giver. I want it say that I am willing to do whatever it takes. I want it to paint a picture of someone who is fierce yet steady. I want it to say that I am dependable and loyal. I want it to speak to my ability to forgive and overcome. I want it to say that I use my voice in a way that is at once confident, powerful, and soothing. I want it to say that I am able to find immense value in even the hardest of lessons. I want it to sparkle.

Most of all, I want my story to say that I didn’t quit before the miracles happened.

If I only focus on the digging, there will always be more dirt to throw aside. But if I pause and focus on my breathing and the moment I am in, I am able to take a step back and see myself clearly. My face is dirty and my clothes are black but I wear a satisfied smile and my eyes reflect a joy deeper than any I have ever felt.

Nothing is different yet everything is different, because I am coming into myself in a way that I have never experienced before. I feel how capable I am, how worthy I am, how me I am, and how filled with potential my story is.

In this moment that I am standing in now, I love the mess. I love all of the trials and the tribulations that I have experienced and continue to navigate. I am watching my life bloom in front of my very eyes. Good things are happening and they are happening quickly. What’s more is that I have the ability to notice it and appreciate it and embrace it.

I love the beauty in the mess, I love that nothing has turned out the way that I thought it would or should, and I love that the only certain thing about life is that everything is completely out of my ability to control it. It just keeps getting better.

xoxo

Sarah

On Decision Making

Let’s talk about good versus great.

What differentiates the good from the great? How do you get from one to the other?

Decisions. Your decisions reflect who you are and who you aim to become. Your decisions pave the path to your future successes.

I don’t want good. I don’t want acceptable. I don’t want mediocre. I don’t want satisfactory. I don’t want mundane. And I certainly don’t want whatever society is telling me I should at this point in my life, just because it is what is expected.

I want the power of choice over settling. I want gloriously fulfilled over simply maintaining. I want completely overflowing rather than filled to the top. I want novel and thrilling and keeps-you-guessing. I want exceptional. I want life-altering. I want bursting. I want overjoyed. I want triumphant. I want something incredibly special. I want shooting for the stars.

I want great.

And what keeps me going is the daily reminder that I didn’t come this far to only come this far.

The decisions you have to make in order to achieve greatness are not easy. They aren’t obvious. You will not know for sure if they are the right ones until you see how they play out. Good decisions take practice. They take self-awareness. They take effort. They take commitment. They take inner strength. You have to be ready to take risks. You must be willing to jump without being able to see if you’ll make to the other side. You need to be prepared to go down in a blaze of glory.

I can tell you one thing- the quality of your decisions can be easily determined by your intent.

Think about it. When you are making a decision, what part of yourself are you nourishing? Encouraging? Growing?

If you are feeding your ego, then you are surely making the wrong decision. The same goes for greed, envy, insecurity and fear.

Let your actions reflect your decision to have a great relationship with yourself first and foremost. Forget good for now or good enough or maybe this will work in every single area of your life. Love, friendships, career, hobbies, side hustles; throw it all out if it’s not making you gloriously fulfilled and practice patience until great comes along.

Except the career- make sure you can pay your bills while you work on securing your dream job.

It won’t always go well. I promise. You will fail. And then you will fail again. The failures will hurt. Your heart will cry out in protest. This is too hard, it will say. We have come far enough, it will urge. Why can’t we just be happy with good, it will question. I’m just not ready, it will whisper.

You will have to remind your heart that you want great. That you will never know what you could have achieved if you stop now. That you must keep going, no matter what. You will never feel ready. You will never become immune to pain. You’ll just become more skilled at dealing with it all, and that is a sign of greatness.

The failures only mean you are getting closer to what it is you are striving for. Failure is the surest indication that you are taking an active role in chasing your dreams. Failure isn’t final and only you have a say in what stops you.

Don’t expect to ever stop failing but you can expect that your failures will, one day, reflect a refining process rather than a complete demo of your life.

I want to, every single day, strive for great rather than good. I want to be a great friend, daughter, mentor, employee, and partner. I want to be great at adapting right alongside of change, at accepting the difficulties I must overcome, at thriving when my heart tells me it would be fine for me to quit and fall apart.

I want to, every single day, become better than I once was. I want to choose authenticity over being perceived as perfect, honesty over saved face, and owning my truth over hiding behind the fear of vulnerability destroying me.

We must decide to choose challenge over comfort and patience over instant gratification.

We must make the decision to make the choices that aren’t easy.

And that’s how you will get from good to great.

What decisions are you making today?

xoxo

Sarah

 

A Letter To My 18 Year-Old Self

Dear Sarah,

You will change so much in the next ten years, it will make your head spin.

Mistakes, many many mistakes, will happen. You will, sometimes, hate yourself. You will question the purpose of it all, and wonder if you are doing anything right. You will wonder if you are broken and beyond repair. Be patient. Be kind to yourself. You will discover that you are capable of greatness. You will eventually gain enough perspective to see that your heart is tender, loving, vulnerable, and forgiving. These qualities are so important. You are special, so special. You will only get better at life.

Most people won’t get your sense of humor. That’s okay, because it doesn’t make you any less hilarious. You’re more intimidating than you think you are, so be careful with your words. Make sure they are always kind. Your ability to say how you feel, and your directness, are two of your most enduring traits. You won’t realize this until much later than you should. Do not be ashamed of your positivity and sparkle. Some people will not like you, and that is okay. Some people will not understand or approve of your story, and that is okay too. It is not their story to write.

You will lose yourself, and then you will discover yourself. The world, and your decisions, will almost break you. Then you will build yourself back up again. The people in your life will teach you valuable lessons. They will enter into your orbit and show you love, wisdom, pain, sacrifice, and toughness.

That’s what everything is. It’s toughness training. When you get to be twenty-eight, your skin will be thicker. Your heart will be bigger. Your self-awareness will be better than it’s ever been. You will have gained back the confidence you lost during your dark years, and more will come with it. You will get more than you bargained for in every aspect of your life.

When it comes to the dark years, remember it is all essential in shaping who you will become. They will be extremely uncomfortable, painful, and full of tears. You will doubt your ability to make it through. You will feel alone and devoid of faith and hope. Remember, dear one, that these years are inevitable for you, and so important to your journey. When you are closer to thirty than you are to twenty, you will be on the other side of them. You will feel truer and more authentic than you ever have. You will have learned so much about yourself. The darkness is imperative to discovering your inner light. Feel it. Go through it. Don’t fight it. Look forward to the person you will someday be.

When it comes to college, pay attention. Especially in statistics and economics, or else you’ll regret not doing so once you graduate. Major in something that you are passionate about, regardless of what job opportunities it may present after graduation. College is a bubble, a wonderfully encased and protected version of life, so soak it up. Join the sorority that resonates with you and your ideals and your principles, and it will give you lifelong connections. Do not disappear into the partying. For heaven’s sake, make it to that 8 am ochem class regularly. Take a quarter abroad and travel. Your twenty-eight year-old self never did, and she really wishes you would. At graduation you will have no idea what you want to do or who you are meant to become, and that is okay. You will figure it out along the way. Be weary of how much you spend on your credit card.

When it comes to your career, don’t be afraid to assert yourself and live out loud. Do not shy away from expressing your opinions. Do not let other people make you feel small. If you work for a company that does not value you or recognize your accomplishments, move on. Chase your dreams. Don’t be scared to make a change or to use your voice. Don’t settle for a job that is boring, but be sure that you can always pay your bills. Financial security is necessary but living lavishly is not. Try your best to let temporary setbacks and negative energy flow in and out, like the gills of a fish. Work is the water and your gills are the filter; keep only the good.  Be fluid and proud and kind, always kind. Treat people how you would like to be treated and do not reciprocate less than graceful behavior.

When it comes to your love life, maintain the faith that the right one will come along. There will be years that are meant just for you in which you learn about yourself, all alone. There will be years in which you have no interest in a relationship, and years where you yearn for companionship and love. Who you think is good for you, or a good idea, usually won’t be. Consider advice but make your own decisions. There will be men who lie to you, take advantage of you, disrespect you, and don’t appreciate the wonderful woman you are. There will also be men who restore your faith and teach you that what you are looking for will come in its own time. There will be men who take care of you and honor your friendship. There will be men who are honest, kind-hearted and want the absolute best for you. Keep fighting for yourself. Keep dating. Pray. Do not become bitter or closed-off to something amazing, for it could be just around the corner. Assert your needs but don’t be afraid to compromise. Remember to find the good in every experience and that time heals all. There are good ones out there, I promise. It only takes one to change everything.

Do not play the comparison game. It is the quickest way to suck the happiness out of your life. Follow whatever it is that makes you happy. Write. It will be your therapy and your contribution to the universe.

The earlier you learn to accept what is, rather than what you wish would be, the better. Quit blaming yourself for everything. Throw out that life plan you’re writing out in your journal. It’s all a process. It’s all impossible to control and predict. The point is to enjoy the ride and to run head-first into your life, with arms spread wide.

Don’t be scared. I know that’s easier said than done, but it will all be okay in the end. You are fierce, brave, independent, driven and full of promise.

And last but not least, trust me when I tell you that the only thing standing in your way is you.

What do you want to say to your 18 year-old self?

xoxo

Sarah

 

 

On Grief, Loss and Silver Linings

Grief.

It’s fear and pain and disbelief and rage and what feels like never-ending sadness, all rolled up into one big mess of dark and ugly feelings.

Grief takes hold of you and you can’t muster the motivation to get out of bed in the morning. Multiple times throughout the day your eyes well up with tears. You consider running for the hills but you force yourself to stay rooted in your seat. As you make the drive home, the salty water finally, finally falls unchecked from your eyes and down your cheeks.

You don’t want to be angry. You don’t want to feel hate. But you are so angry. You rage inside. You want to crawl outside of your own skin with the discomfort of it all. You alternate between feeling numb and all the feelings rushing in at once, like a giant semi-truck hitting you at full speed. You don’t remember what “okay” feels like any more.

Anxiety grips you and chokes you and won’t release you from its hold.

The grief cripples you and the loss threatens to consume you. You frantically search for the off button.

A couple of days ago, a friend shared with me the wisdom he had gained from his own experience with grief.

He told me that grief, while one of the most excruciating and uncomfortable experiences you will have in your lifetime, is a period of incredible growth. If you have the wherewithal to observe yourself through the process, to watch yourself fall apart and try like hell to piece yourself back together, you will witness amazing things.

You will learn about yourself, he said. You will be raw, more raw than you have ever been, and this will open up  your heart. When you make it to the other side of this soul-wrenching grief, you will be better for it.

He spoke to me about being able to love more deeply than he ever had before his great loss. He comforted me with his confidence that this experience forever changes us, but in a beautiful and tremendous way. His empathy touched me.

What I took away from that conversation is that there is hope in every experience. There is a silver lining to surviving every trauma. I believe that this pain does have deep meaning for me and that I really will be better for it.

Take comfort in the fact that you are feeling all the feelings and still going. Be numb. Be a wreck. Be angry. Be sad. Be made happy by the memories you can keep alive inside of you. Be kind to yourself through this process. Be patient. So patient. Try to watch what is happening inside of and outside of yourself so that you can get the most out of this incredibly trying time. Share even though it hurts. Show up even if you ugly cry all over the place.

Someday you will mend. You’re already on the way there. Maybe it won’t be today, or tomorrow, or next month, but one day you will feel the fire within ignite again.

Through the anger and the sadness and the tears and the deafening silence of their absence just remember: you are growing, you are becoming, and you are having an incredibly painful and profound human experience that is shaping you.

Don’t give up before the miracle happens.

In honor of Silpa. 

xoxo

Sarah

The Big Experiment

Every morning my alarm goes off at 6:00 sharp.

I curse it, blink my eyes, and roll over to hug my dog. As I savor the last few moments snuggled up with him in my warm bed, I know that I can’t delay for too long. He is restless because in his world it is time for breakfast, and in my world it is time to get ready for work . With a sigh, I throw back the covers and get up to face the day.

Feed the pup. Wash the sleep off my face. Swipe on some makeup. Arrange my hair into something presentable. Dress. Quick walk for us both, then I shoot out the door and into my morning.

In this part of my life, I feel like I am constantly in process. In progress. In development. In growth. In pain. In joy. In bewilderment.

I am trying new things, and failing at many of these new things, and succeeding at a few of these new things, and mostly just experimenting with no clue as to what I am actually really doing or aiming for.

Sometimes, I have to stop and marvel at how all of my life choices have brought me to this very moment that I am now in. It’s confusing and liberating and frustrating and astonishing that I have been able to come this far yet still, always, feel like I am not far enough.

When I really give pause, silencing all of the unnecessary noise in my mind long enough to relax and just be, I realize a simple truth: this life that I am living, my life that I have crafted for myself, is magic.

Absolute magic.

Some days, it’s nearly impossible to drag myself out of bed. I make up to-do lists and check-lists and not-yet-done lists in order to focus and refine and give my life direction. On other days, it’s difficult to even leave the office and head home because I am getting so much done. Project after project seems to be completing itself with very little effort on my part, and I feel satisfaction towards all that I have accomplished. On the better days, I can’t write down all of the ideas as quickly as they come to me and I vibrate with inspiration, energy and motivation. I know just who I am writing to and for and the possibilities are endless. On the worse days, I sit feeling empty, uninspired and like my writing will never go anywhere. I fear that I will not find and fulfill my greater purpose. On the absolute worst days I seriously question the point of it all in the first place. I doubt my very purpose’s existence.

Through it all, the magic remains. Day by day the experimenting continues. I forget about it sometimes, the magic, but it is still there. It waits patiently for me to embrace it again. The magic is floating around me, a gold iridescent cloud that I cannot see but I know is very real.

That’s what life is, one great big magnificent magical experiment. Our experiments demonstrate a brief but complete history of human trial and error, baptisms by fire, and doing the best we can. We make choices, take chances, place our bets, attempt to let go of regrets, and always try, try again.

At its best, our experimenting allows us to create something absolutely beautiful: groundbreaking new companies, clean energy, stunning art and architecture that survives through the centuries, gripping novels, children, love itself.

Life is nothing more and nothing less than One Big Experiment.

So, as I shoot out the door into my morning and to face yet another day, I ask…

“What can I create today?”.

Here’s to the good days, the sad days, the magical days, and everything in between.

xoxo

Sarah