On Owning It

Life is like riding a bike.

Sometimes you have to pedal with all of the might you can muster, making your way inch by terrible inch up that long hill. And other times you can coast down with no resistance beneath your tires and the wind whipping gloriously through your hair.

If I picture life as a person, I see it as a jokester. You know the type; one of those people who thinks that super inappropriate things are really funny and who laughs at funerals. Life never takes itself too seriously. It likes to present a wide variety of situations in many unexpected forms just to make sure you really are on your toes at all times. It has an affinity for showing up in ways you could have never anticipated, will pound its fists on your front door at three in the morning just for a laugh, and it loves to pitch you curve balls to test your willingness and ability to knock them out of the park. Life has a grand ole time making sure that the only thing you can expect for certain is that things will turn out differently than you planned.

Recently, I was asked a pointed question that has kept me thinking.

How do think you react to adversity?

Great question.

I like to think that I take adversity in stride. I’d like to say that I handle all things with as much grace as I can possibly mobilize on short notice. I like to think that I do the best that I can while I keep a smile on my face and my heart full of compassion. I like to think that my experiences have taught me to be a strong and resilient person, capable of triumphing over anything that comes my way. I have overcome a lot, just like each and every one of you, and I intend to keep on doing just that.

But let me tell you that when life throws everything its got at me, one curve ball after another pummeling straight at me without pause, my reaction to adversity isn’t as pretty as I would like it to be. I’ve found that I move into silence rather than speaking my truth and that I falter in my faith rather than being able to turn it all over and trust in His plan for me. My positivitiy tanks.

I doubt myself. I wonder what I am doing wrong. I struggle with feeling wrong-sized and get angry when none of it seems to be working. Am I too sensitive? Am I unapproachable?

I switch tactics. Read more books. Reach out to others for help. I milk my support system for all its worth. Believe me, keeping me strong and centered and sane takes a village.

I am consistently revamping my strategy to figure out what the best fit is. I am constantly re-energizing in order to gain momentum for the next movement, looking to level-up and press forward. This doesn’t work, so let’s change it. That didn’t work, again, so let’s try this instead. Fail. Fail. Try again.

Do you know what all of the negative, uncomfortable and challenging feelings and experiences mean?

They mean that I am human. In progress. Developing. Learning. Achieving. Reaching. Trying.

I’m dealing with people, places and things that are not on my terms and that do not conform to my comfort zone. I’m like Silly Putty in the softening process; the part where you throw it around in your hands to make it pliable enough to mold into something entirely new.

I don’t like to think that I need molding. I don’t like to admit that I have areas I should work on. Who loves to pick themselves apart and acknowledge their faults? No person I know. But the sooner I get over with the pummeling, the faster I become ready to change my form. When I am warmed up and ready for a new shape, it means I am completely willing. It means both my mind and my heart are open to new ideas and new opportunities.

Let’s face it. Sometimes life beats the crap out of us.

We can either let it shatter us, or take it as a not-so-subtle hint from the universe that things are changing. Discomfort and pain are two of the greatest motivators for change, and change is always good.

I repeat. Change is always good.

Change forces us into action. Change improves us. Change intimidates us, seems impossible and then it teaches us that everything will be okay in the end. Always. Change shows us that the unexpected can lead to glorious results. Change terrifies us and then it chides us, whispering that we should have trusted the process the entire time.

So however you react to adversity, own it. Own it in its glorious imperfection and simultaneous badassery. You’re getting your tail licked and still asking for more. You’re waking up each day and focusing on the good. You’re giving it your best shot. Embrace everything and don’t get too caught up in the details. After all, it will work out just as it’s meant to in whatever amount of time it takes.

Own your abilities, inabilities, sensitivities, strengths, shortcomings, and greatness. Own your life.

Here’s to writing your legacy. 

xoxo

Sarah

The Perfect Days

Have you ever had a perfect day?

I am talking about the kind of day where things aren’t really perfect, not by a long shot, but for today and maybe only today you are content with things exactly as they are. There isn’t any rhyme or reason- nothing particularly great has happened and you still face the same challenges you have any other day- but today you feel wholly and absolutely free.

And that’s as close to perfect as you had ever hoped to get.

You tear yourself away from your desk to take your little lunch break that is never quite long enough but just long enough to save your sanity on a day that is busy but for once not overwhelming at your job that is challenging but exactly what you have always dreamed of doing. You eat your salad with the sunshine on your face and you think to yourself…life is good today.

Later you are busily plugging away at work, admittedly sometimes staring off while daydreaming when you should be working, and ruminating on just why life is so good. You realize that that relationship you never thought you would be over, those memories that you feared would always haunt you, you’ve let them go. You’ve said goodbye to the bitterness and the pain and any twinge of heartache, fully and completely, and it’s absolutely glorious. There’s no longer any hurt weighing you down. You are proud of yourself and even want to give yourself a little pat on the back because this is a huge very big deal but you don’t because you are sitting at your desk in front of your computer in the middle of your shared office and everyone would wonder what the heck you’re doing.

You can’t let the whole office in on your crazy.

You realize you feel absolutely and completely free. You wish you could feel this way every day; so confident, full of hope, and bursting with promise. You know that’s impossible so you try your best to patiently soak up every beautiful moment- this moment.

You aren’t where you want to be yet but you’re happy with how far you’ve come. You appreciate that the big problems in your life aren’t so big anymore and you feel like maybe just maybe you are starting to the get the hang of this thing called life.

Dear Universe, please don’t take that as a challenge, okay? I’m just trying to have a tiny perfect moment here.

You do what you say you’ll do and you follow through and you eat healthy (mostly) and work out (fairly regularly) and make good decisions (most of the time); like putting yourself first and surrounding yourself with amazing friends and choosing healthy relationships and fighting for yourself and not poisoning your body or spirit with alcohol not even one drop and you don’t run away. You are strong and brave and fear is something to be dealt with but not a crippling force.

You don’t have it all figured out but you’re closer than you’ve ever been and you look forward to what tomorrow will bring.

Today, on a perfect day, you are free. Free from your past and your frustrations and your expectations and any negativity. In this moment, you wouldn’t change a thing.

Life is good today.

How do you feel on your perfect days?

xoxo

Sarah

The Power of Possibility

Driving is my me time. I blast the music and let my mind roam, turning over each and every thought that flutters into it. Rather than trying to quiet the incessant chatter that goes on in the back of my brain throughout the day, my commute to and from work is where I let it all go. I indulge in the inner monologue of my random thoughts, see where they go, and let them play themselves out.

On one such drive home a couple of days ago, I found myself getting caught up in a tornado of chaotic thinking. While there had been calm and peace of mind when leaving the office a few minutes earlier, suddenly I was worried about everything. I was thinking in extremes, blowing things way out of proportion, and I suddenly felt like life was completely out of my control.

Have you ever experienced something like that? A veritable freak-out on as simple a thing as a drive home from work?

At that very moment, when it felt as though things were just so entirely unmanageable, a light bulb went on. It was like a thousand tiny jigsaw puzzle pieces fell into place, forming a complete picture, and I realized that what I was experiencing was completely my own doing.

If I made it, I can stop it.

In that moment, I realized I was giving up all of my power to fear. I was turning my energy over to this fear that I am running out of time- that I am too late in beginning what I’ve started becoming. But, how can I be too late when I only just realized what I want?

Ambition is a tricky thing. It is absolutely necessary in order to achieve success, but it breeds discontent. The cost that I pay for my own ambition is that I am never quite happy with what I have. I work really hard to get to where I want to be, and then instead of celebrating once I get there, I immediately focus on the next step. In the same moment that I accomplish something, I move on from it. To the next goal. To the next big thing.

I am content to be discontent, because in the past that is how I’ve functioned best. Knowing there is something more out there for me to achieve, something resting just outside of my current reach, is how I’ve motivated myself. This is how I’ve challenged myself, how I’ve picked myself up after I’ve fallen, and how I’ve focused my drive.

This strategy presents two major problems. First- in not celebrating my successes I marginalize my achievements. In doing so, I feed into this idea that who I am, all of me at this very moment, is somehow not enough.

Second- I create an overwhelming fear that no matter how hard I work, no matter how much effort I put into creating the changes I want to see in my life, I will never achieve the things I dream of.

Our twenties are an incredibly important phase in our lives. These are the years for us to invest in ourselves, discover our passions, and make major life decisions. The choices that we are making as twenty-somethings will directly affect our future. The options of where we may go are unlimited, the world really is our oyster, but ultimately we must choose what we want and where we want to go.

To summarize: life at this moment consists of an unlimited number of choices that, once made, will shape me into who I am destined to become.

Could there be anything more intimidating?

All that possibility excites me, and it also terrifies me. It makes me want to be better and to do better. I want to make all the right choices, and I want to make them all right now. I have never felt so full of potential, and simultaneously so afraid that I will not live up to it.

That fear will be my undoing. That fear is what will, single-handedly, keep me from achieving all that I am capable of. It will tell me that I am not smart enough, not skilled enough, not creative enough, simply not enough, to do what I want to do. That fear is what will keep me from promotions, from taking necessary risks, and from achieving greatness. It will keep me firmly rooted in my comfort zone.

At its core, my fear is that I will be discovered for what I truly am or called out as a fake. I am scared that I think I am capable of more than I truly am- that I should be more realistic about my limitations. I am terrified of failing, or even worse, never being given the chance to fail at something great because no one deems me worthy of being given the chance to try.

This fear comes from an old story. It is rooted in a past me, a me that no longer exists, a me that I have worked hard to say goodbye to. At twenty-something, at thirty-something, at any-something, we all are capable of overcoming our limitations. We can challenge our fears, change our stories, and become our best selves.

We only need one yes out of a million no’s, only one door to open after running face first into a thousand closed ones, or only one little stroke of luck to fall our way to transform everything.

I need to do less worrying about the small things, and more celebrating. I need to make an effort to recognize my accomplishments, rather than minimalizing them. It minimalizing the achievements, I minimalize myself. I am striving to accept myself, all of me at this very moment, as being enough. I am making an active effort to stop feeding the chaos tornado in my head, and embracing the power of choice. Everything is a choice- it is up to us as to which direction we want to go with it.

It won’t be easy. It won’t be neat and tidy. It certainly won’t be perfect. But, there isn’t time for doubt. There isn’t time to waste our emotions, our potential, our lives on worrying about failing and making the wrong choices. You have to follow your passions, chase your happiness, and embrace the life you are creating.

I am, and will always be, a work in progress. Which is pretty perfect, because I like a challenge.

xoxo

Sarah

Failure, Progress, and Freedom.

Focus. Breathe. Tighten. Relax. Clear your mind. Tune in to your body. Drop your shoulders. Don’t forget to breathe, again.

I hear a seagull outside. Focus, Sarah.

Okay. Don’t drop your belly. Open up your hips. You’re not breathing, again.

That person next to me is really getting into that open-mouthed exhale…

One more breath in. One more breath out. Lean in.

Wait, did the instructor seriously just tell us to picture our internal organs squeezing and flushing out toxins?! That is disgusting. Great, now I can’t get the picture of my insides out of my mind…

This isn’t going so well.


My third yoga class of Self-Care September wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for. I had walked in confidently, my yoga mat tucked securely under my arm. As I set up my little zen spot, unrolling my mat on the floor and positioning my water bottle and towel beside me, I pictured how much better I would be in this class. I was ready. Ready to execute the moves a little more accurately, ready to deepen my extension, and ready to start to get the hang of this whole yoga thing.

That’s not how it went.

My body wasn’t responding to my instruction, my mind wasn’t clearing, and all I could think about was how terrible I am at this whole yoga thing. Crap.

The instructor came over to adjust my form. She lightly pressed her hands on my hips and shoulders, gently repositioning me. As soon as her hands dropped away, so did my confidence. I was trying, but it wasn’t working. As I transitioned from one pose to the next, trying my best to breathe and flow through the movements, I couldn’t arrest the thoughts. Anxiety about work, how my day had gone, and what was still left on my to-do list clouded my focus. I pressed on anyway.

Why wasn’t this working? This was my third class of the week! I should be seeing improvement by now!

As my frustration mounted, I took a look around. I realized I wasn’t the only one needing to drop down to my knees, and I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t entirely, 100% focused. I breathed a little easier. I inhaled, then exhaled. Deeply and completely.

That’s when the acceptance set in.

Suddenly, I accepted that my body wasn’t doing miraculous things on my third class of yoga. I acknowledged the tightness in my muscles that I could not fight, the disquiet in my mind I could not rest. I realized that I was holding on to a resentment towards myself for not being where I wanted to be, yet, and I let it go.

Holy crap was that freeing.

I let go of the feelings of inadequacy. I let go of hating the fact that I wasn’t as strong or as sure as some of the other class participants. I let go of these expectations I had for myself, and I settled in. I focused on doing each movement as best as I could, forgetting about the fact that the best I could do wasn’t very good at all, at the moment.

Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Letting acceptance flow freely in, frustration and self-doubt flow freely out.

Before I knew it, the class was coming to an end. In a seated position, I pressed my hands together in front of my heart and I took the deepest bow I could manage; giving thanks to the class, to my body, and to the experience. I wiped off the sweat, rolled up my mat, and tucked it back up under my arm as I walked out.

I had finished the rest of the class. I didn’t finish it perfectly, not one little bit, but I finished.

So many times I have left a workout feeling defeated. Mad, frustrated, disappointed. This time was different. No, I didn’t love the class and I didn’t love the instructor and I didn’t love my performance. What I did love, even though it felt like I fumbled my way through the entire 60 minutes, was leaving that class feeling like an accomplishment. Somehow, in failing, I had still made progress.

And you know how I felt? I felt light. I felt open. I felt rejuvenated. I felt free.

I was calm and grateful; grateful for the emotions I had experienced, for the respect I had given my body by showing up, and for the opportunity to learn something more about myself.  I felt ready to do it all again.

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I can’t wait to get back on my mat.

What is your favorite type of yoga to practice? Do you have a favorite class that you take, or have you ever had any difficulties similar to mine? 

xoxo

Sarah

*All photos pictured are via Pinterest.

On Taking the Bus

Source: SD MTS Website

In October of last year, I sold my car and began the adventure of taking public transportation. It was an experience that humbled me, challenged me, taught me patience, and at other times completely broke me down. Some days, I did not think I could stomach commuting two hours each way, to and from work, one minute longer.

I fought back tears, foul moods, and a complete lack of personal space on a daily basis. I learned to accept that it would take me an inordinate amount of time to get just about anywhere. And finally, I embraced getting lost; in an array of books, Pandora radio, and the inspiration to write.

I experienced an awful lot, about the crazy thing that is human behavior and being immersed into a new world. While devoid of the means of my own personal vehicle, I started collecting tidbits and memories of my travels. Here is what I learned:

Some people don’t bathe as often as they should.

It is absolutely baffling how a person’s own staggering body odor doesn’t offend them. The rest of the bus is certainly affected. Like really, how do you deal with your own stench all day?

Everybody, regardless of age/social status/gender/race, will give up their seat for someone in need; such as an elderly or handicapped person.

This, for a brief period of time, makes you forget all of the other horrors of riding the bus. Enjoy the moment, but don’t let your guard down.

People are oblivious to social cues.

Never forget your headphones. 9 times out of 10, people will ignore your headphones and talk your ear off anyway.

It is a game of strategy.

You have to know, through the course of the route you are taking, who will be sitting where. Forget just taking a seat, you have to strategize. Sit too near the front, you may have to stand for the aforementioned elderly or disabled person. Then you are standing the rest of the way with people’s armpits in your face. Sit too close to the back, and it’s like you’ve been transported to the Wild Wild West. Since the back is furthest from the bus driver’s watching eye, it is a breeding ground for mischief. Complete anarchy. Winning move: sit close to the middle of the bus with your purse or bag on the seat by the window. This way no-one can grab or sit on your purse, and you can slide over to make room for a suitable bus mate (should you spot one). Suitable bus mates are like unicorns; rare, magical, and their existence has yet to be proven.

Do not, under any circumstance, make eye contact.

Eye contact is a sign that you want to communicate. Trust me, you DO NOT want to communicate.

On the bus schedule:

Buses run every 15-30 minutes, give or take 10 minutes. Except on the day you are running 2 minutes late, on that day the bus WILL leave on time.

Assume no-one is of sound mind.

This is for your own good. Safety first. Trust only yourself.

In order of riding comfort, the San Diego Transit System is ranked as follows:

Coaster or Amtrak > Trolley > Bus

In all seriousness, being dependent on public transportation taught me many valuable lessons that I will not soon forget. I encourage anyone to embrace a challenge of this size any time it is presented, because it will help shape you into a better person.

xoxo

Sarah

*Photo courtesy of Bus Ride.