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

On the Pursuit of Happiness

Let’s talk about happiness for a minute.

You find what makes you happy, and you do that. Over and over again, adding new things to the list as they bring you joy.

Simple, right? Not always.

There have been years in my life where a state of happiness was not something I identified with. I knew it existed, I held hope that I would feel it again someday, but I didn’t know how to live happily every single day. I held on strong to the things that life had ripped away from me; the people and the ideals and the destroyed dreams. My smile was false, my laughter was empty, and my heart was heavy. I felt completely alone; I couldn’t cope, I couldn’t be honest about how lost I was, and I couldn’t figure out how to find myself again. I repeated the same mistakes over and over, searching in vain for different results. My world was full of chaos.

I don’t say this to shock you or to make you feel sorry for me, I say this because I want you to realize how far I have come.

Today, I am happy. Truly, honestly, blissfully happy. I laugh often, and my smile reaches my eyes. I really mean it when I’m smiling. It is now possible for me to live in a state of gratitude, where before I only felt desolation and fear.

It didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen without work. I had to ask for help. I eliminated toxic people, places, and things. I had to get to know myself. I took a hard look at my past, and faced my demons. I had to learn to build my faith. I kept at it even when I wanted to give up. Finally, and most importantly, I figured out how to love myself again.

One day, out of nowhere, it hit me. I was happy again. Genuinely. Somehow, someway, the sadness had lifted. I felt more me than I had in a very, very long time.

It really is possible for anyone to turn their life in a new direction, and to finally become what they once might have been.

You just have to do the foot work.

Choose Joy

Is it always easy? No.

There are bad days. There are even terrible days. Some days I want to give up completely. Some days I am fed up with working so hard for everything, exhausted with the constant effort of trying to build the new.  It takes focus. It takes dedication. At times, it is incredibly painful.

Then, there are the good days. With the good days come the best days; the days that you feel completely and utterly alive, capable of achieving anything and confident that the world is full of limitless possibility. These are the days that you hold on to tightly, the ones that you store deep inside your memory for recall during the tough times. These are the days that make you understand that all the hell you have ever been through was necessary to become the person you were meant to be. On the best days it is easy to believe that you really are perfect, in every single way.

Today, I actively choose joy. I embrace being alive. I laugh. I have thirty second dance parties (all my Grey’s Anatomy fans, you know what I mean). I look for inspiration in the ordinary. I rock out to Taylor Swift. I try to help others, and to be a good friend. I look past the stress, the hurt, the mistakes, and the crap that used to hold me back. I focus on the good, in spite of the bad, because there is so much to be thankful for.

Today, life is beautiful.

Happiness, and joy, are things we can choose to welcome into our lives. It is a choice to believe that the best is yet to come, that the universe always has your back, and that things really will work out. When we choose to believe in these things, absolutely and completely, they are translated into our everyday lives.

Miracles happen when you least expect them, and a there’s a little bit of magic present in every single day.  Anything is possible. You just have to believe.

Miracles

xoxo

Sarah

 

Since When

Since when did asking for help become a sign of weakness, rather than an opportunity to develop a relationship? Since when did asking a question come to represent a lack of knowledge, rather than seizing an opportunity to foster better communication? Since when did reaching out become something you stop and question, rather than embracing the opportunity to learn something new and see another’s perspective?

Everyone has shortcomings. No-one knows everything. Yet, somehow, we are living in a world where we’re embarrassed when we do not have the answers. We are afraid we will look stupid for asking certain questions. We fear we will be judged for lacking the knowledge. We know we will be questioned for not being one hundred percent sure of the answer.

This sounds backwards right? No-one has all the answers and nobody is perfect- not me, not Obama, not even Oprah. We all have flaws. We all make mistakes. The problem is that we don’t want to admit it. We don’t want to appear weak or unprepared. I think the biggest mistake we are making in always worrying about messing up, or trying to go it alone, is that we are not letting ourselves be vulnerable. We try to be the problem-solvers, the fixers, and the I-can-do-it-on-my-own-ers, which creates distance from everyone we come into contact with throughout the day.

This past weekend, I did some damage at Home Goods. This is the part where I must confess that I prefer to outsource certain projects. Like hanging things. So, I asked my neighbor to come over and help me. Could I have done everything on my own? Sure. I know how to operate a drill and a hammer (I am woman, hear me roar!). Easily and in under two hours? Heck no. Instead, I chose to ask for a favor and doing so does not make me weak or dependent. In reaching out and asking for help I was inviting friendship in. I was embracing the opportunity to let someone in to my life rather than declaring that I can do everything alone.

Back in April, I wrote about my struggle with vulnerability. The Vulnerability Project was a declaration of my insecurities, my fears, and my desire to change. I made a promise that I would make a wholehearted effort to open myself up to new experiences and to engage fully in life, come hell or high water. I made a promise to dare greatly.

That is since when I started trying to assume less and to listen more. That is since when I started asking for help rather than sitting alone in my struggles. That is since when I started letting people see the softer sides of me, the pieces that are nowhere near polished or perfect but are completely authentic. Engaging in vulnerability is challenging.- asking questions, initiating conversation and getting outside of what is comfortable. Sometimes I seem less knowledgeable that I am. Sometimes people think I am weak. Sometimes people hurt me. What then? Then I feel the feelings, all of them, and that is the gift that I receive. Each experience teaches me a little bit more about myself and I get a little bit better at being vulnerable. And that, my friends, is progress.

How are you at reaching out, letting others in, and being vulnerable?

xoxo

Sarah     

ps. Check out my beautiful new pallet art, a custom piece that was designed just for me and is now hanging proudly in the entrance to my bedroom. My dear friend Nick is the artist, and if you love it he is more than happy to create something special just for you :). He accepts orders via email at ncarlsongolf@yahoo.com.

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*Top photo via Pinterest

Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry pancakes make me happy. Blueberry pancakes from Denny’s at midnight make me even happier. There is something magical about them. Creamy butter and sticky, sweet, syrup perfectly complementing the easy conversation being traded lightly across the table. Conversation is always easy over blueberry pancakes. You find yourself divulging some of your innermost fears over those simple disks made of flour, sugar, and fruit; the words slipping off your tongue as easily as the description of your favorite color.

Blueberry pancakes remind you of the happy times. They are an enjoyable kind of easy, like waking up early on a hot summertime morning. They are not pretentious like crepes, or heavy like French toast. They are perfect for good moods, or the perfect remedy for sad ones.

As time goes on, the responsibilities multiply and life inevitably becomes more complicated because you have more to care about. More to lose. It is important to have things like blueberry pancakes, simple pleasures that bring you happiness just in being themselves and nothing more. The small things that allow you to be present and fully appreciate the exact moment you are experiencing, drinking it in like a deep breath of cool ocean air. That moment, in its entirety, is enough. When time disappears and nothing matters except for the person sitting across from you and the perfectly made breakfast in front of you, where bedtimes are a thing to be brushed off like an annoying Nat buzzing in your ear.

Nothing invites trepidation into my soul like the fear of mediocrity. This is a dangerous fear to have, because then it becomes possible to become addicted to chaos. Appreciating the small pleasures, like breakfast at midnight, makes the commonplace seem desirable and startlingly fleeting. You have to hold on to those moments while simultaneously trying not to grasp at them too desperately, for it is that desperation which will make them disappear all the more quickly.

A point of growth comes when in realizing that these small moments of simple yet complete joy are not mediocre ones. Your existence is not merely a serious of unremarkable moments strung together, sprinkled with bright snapshots of happiness or tragedy. Life has a purpose. The small moments can turn out to be everything; they build strength, appreciation, and depth of character. These moments, the blueberry pancake moments, are when you realize that this right here is why life is worth sticking around for.

A handful of months and a few thousand dreams ago, I didn’t even know I loved blueberry pancakes. I had never sought them out, nor had I given them a second thought when browsing the breakfast menu selections. Then, one day, this ordinary breakfast item had transformed. It was now unique and special and just a little bit mine. That is how all miracles in life happen. Suddenly. Magically. Without warning. Then, your life is irreversibly altered. The trick is being patient enough to hang on, to wait for the miracles to happen.