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

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 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

Good Enough

I made it one of my goals this year to focus on embracing grace.

What does this mean exactly?

Well, it means that I am trying to be better at the things that don’t come very naturally to me. Patience, for instance, is a huge one. I want things to happen in my time and when I plan them, and it irks me to the core when things don’t go according to schedule. It means that I am trying to think more about my words before I say them, and not only that, I am trying to deliver them with more tact and consideration. I am trying to get better at considering others’ feelings before my own, and to not rush to conclusions.

Embracing grace means maintaining my positivity despite stressful circumstances. It means controlling my temper when I want to let the anger fly. It means smiling instead of shutting down, and listening instead of cutting someone short. It means making time even if I do not have it. It means making an effort to be more accepting that things will come as they will and all I have to do is not completely lose it in the process.

This is, at best, a work in progress.

It isn’t exactly convenient to maintain grace all of the time. In fact, at most times, it’s incredibly inconvenient. It isn’t the easy choice and it isn’t the comfortable one. It’s trying and frustrating and exhausting because life is trying and frustrating and exhausting.

However, if I give myself some space to reflect upon the last few months, I begin to see that slowly but surely I am getting better at handling things with a just a teensy tiny bit more grace. And if I take even more space and look at the me from a year ago? Wow is that a change. Situations that use to reduce me to a heaping pile of sobs now barely ruffle my feathers. I require less time to recover from the shock of needing a new plan, and am better at adjusting my end goals to fit the current situation.

Realizing that I am handling myself with just a little bit more grace than I did yesterday? That’s encouraging.

As I get older, the challenges I face only seem to get bigger and more complex. Honestly, sometimes I do not know if I can go forward with one more day. Problem-solving, time-managing, enduring…I am only one little human. I am only capable of so much and wouldn’t you know it, life keeps dishing it out.

However, conquering each new challenge shows me that I can and will overcome. It shows me that I am capable, no matter how impossible it seems. No matter how much I doubt myself, history has shown that everything will be okay in the end. If I am capable of doing something, then I think at my most basic level, I am capable of employing more grace while I stumble through it.

So, I am trying. I am trying to remember that I since I have no choice but to persevere, because giving up is not an option, that I may as well choose to simultaneously put grace at the forefront. I am giving myself pep-talks, refusing to reduce situations to inconveniences, and accepting that I can do it. Whatever challenge it is, I can come out on top, and maintain a certain amount of dignity along the way.

Still working on the patience. Still working on the understanding. Still working on the grace.

And that’s good enough for me.

San Diego on a Sunday. Just because.

A rare overcast Sunday in San Diego. Just because I love my home.

xoxo

Sarah

Farewell, 2014

bestquote

It’s New Year’s Eve! Can you believe it?

While I am not a huge fan of resolutions, because they generally lose steam by the second week of January, I am a strong advocate of goal setting. I usually begrudge New Years, but this year I am making an effort to use this time to reflect, to give thanks, and to set my intentions for the next 365 days.

2014 was good to me. I began a new chapter in my story by embarking on a new career, achieved a personal writing milestone by becoming a columnist for Ms. Career Girl, began/ended/survived a new relationship, and said a bittersweet goodbye to restaurant life.

This past year has shown me that, above all, the best is yet to come. Life is unpredictable, amazing, exhilarating, and at times nearly impossible. Life cannot be controlled, told where to go, or predicted. It is meant to be felt and experienced and lived. Our experiences are the most beautiful gift life can give us.

I am personally still working on embracing each experience for what it is and without judgement. I am striving to chase my dreams, live with an open heart, accept that mistakes are inevitable, and live fearlessly. Sometimes I stumble along the way, but I brush myself off and press on. Stumbling is still progress.

A new year is a new opportunity for growth and change. It is the perfect time to evaluate what you want out of your life and give yourself the opportunity to start chasing it. Your goals can be as lofty or as simple as you like, but I think simple is more manageable.

Here are the goals I am setting for myself in 2015. I tried to keep them simple and at gut level- things I want for myself more than anything and that I will do anything to accomplish.

 

2015 Goals
1. Write More
2. Embrace Grace
3. Read More 
4. Career Advancement

 

I hope that whether you love this holiday or hate this holiday, you make the most of it. I hope that 2015 is full of beautiful new beginnings in your story. I hope that you too believe that the best is yet to come. Wishing you a very warm and happy New Year!

How was 2014 for you? What would you like to see for yourself in 2015? 

xoxo

Sarah

Authenticity and Just a Little Bit of Grace

Christmas in my household is small and quiet. This year, it was even smaller and quieter than usual, consisting of me, my mom, my step-dad and step-sister. My two step-brothers, who are mostly always around for this holiday, couldn’t make it down this year.

I sat in our family living room, staring at the beautifully decorated tree, with downtown San Diego visible in the background. Christmas is my favorite holiday, and this was the first year in a long while that I didn’t have to work on Christmas Eve. I hadn’t gotten around to putting up a tree in my apartment this year, so our family tree felt even more special and important. Mom was cooking Christmas Eve dinner in the kitchen and my step-sister was in the next room, sleeping off the last of a twenty-four hour bug that unceremoniously struck right before the holiday. I considered life; my family, everything that is going on right now, and my little world as I know it.

It isn’t perfect. Nowhere near perfect. I sometimes squirm with the imperfection of it all. But just because it isn’t perfect doesn’t mean that it isn’t wonderful.

I have twelve months of experience and perspective to thank for being able to understand that, while imperfect, it is still special. This year is better than last year, and that is in large part because I am better than I was last year. I am more aware of who I am, more capable of true honesty, more accepting, and perhaps most importantly- more grateful. For everything.

Gratitude, acceptance, and authenticity. These things are game changers.

People enjoy and appreciate authenticity. When you meet someone who is truly authentic, you just know. They are completely present for conversations, quietly and soothingly confident, and you feel like you might be just a little bit more authentic for having met them. There is just something so refreshing about a person being completely and unapologetically themselves

Unless the person is unapologetically an asshole. No-one appreciates assholes.

This world could use more authenticity. It can be difficult, and scary, to reveal our true selves to the world. We work hard at making sure that the skeletons are safely secured behind locked doors, and that people only see what we want them to. We filter ourselves. We make sure that people don’t find out the secrets that we deem necessary to hide away- the ones that we don’t think we will be forgiven for, were the world to find out.

What are the things that you love most about yourself? What sets you apart from the person standing next to you? What positive attributes do you fall back on during moments of insecurity? What are the positive affirmations that you use to restore your faith in yourself?

Think about these things, these things about yourself that you actually love, and notice how you feel. You feel good, right? Calm and at peace perhaps? This is self-appreciation. This is healthy. This is you authentically giving yourself credit, where it is deserved.

You know what else the world needs more of? Kindness. Patience. Forgiveness. Understanding.

I’m going to ask you to think again. How often do you look at the things you lack, rather than the things you are blessed to have? How many more times do you notice shortcomings in your life, rather than the things given to you in abundance?

Joy is literally sucked out of our lives when we get stuck on the disappointments, the failures, and the comparison game. We think everyone else has it better than us, and it makes us completely ignore all that we have achieved and accomplished in our lives.

Authenticity tells us that WE CAN DO THIS, even if we are terrified. It is believing in ourselves, and knowing that we are capable, without ever having done it. It means being confident, yet humble. Authenticity is not driven by ego, it is driven by understanding. I find that I connect more deeply, forge longer lasting bonds, and feel more understood when I am being authentic. It cuts out the bullshit and brings opportunity to the table.

We can work to offer understanding, kindness, and forgiveness even where it is not deserved. Especially where it is not deserved. It is being these things despite all the justifications you have to not be these things. It is having your feelings stomped on or completely disregarded- and being kind anyways. It is being better than your surroundings simply because you are capable and willing.

Authenticity is kindness. It is patience. It is forgiveness. It is understanding.

It is grace.

In 2015 I want to have more grace. I want to keep working on become more true- more authentically and unapologetically me. I want to be a better daughter, a better friend, a better employee. I want to be kinder, more patient, more forgiving, more understanding. I want to forgive myself for the mistakes I have made, the parts of my past that I am working to let go of, and for all the mistakes yet to come.

I want authenticity for you, too. I want you to want to be less afraid of announcing yourself to the world, in all of your perceived flaws or imperfections. I want you to be kinder, to yourself and to others. I want you to forgive, first yourself and then the world around you.

I want all of us to be more authentic, even when it is hard and even when it hurts.

What do you want out of 2015?

xoxo

Sarah