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 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

Give Me Failure

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Failure has taught me many things.

Self-hate, for instance. Failure has taught me lots and lots about that. It has taught me how to be really great at tearing myself down and convincing myself that I will never succeed. It has taught me fear.

Failure hurts. It cuts deep and it is difficult to recover from. Some failures are easier to get over than others. Some stick with you for years and years. Failure can make us feel ashamed. It can make us feel like we are less than. It may make us feel like we will never ever be good enough.

On the opposite side of the coin, failure teaches us to have faith. It teaches us that things really will be okay, someday, even if they aren’t right now. Failure teaches us that we are capable of overcoming what seems to be impossible and that we are all worthy of redemption.

The more you experience, the more you see that failing isn’t the end of the world.

Failure taught me self-hate, and then it taught me to get over that and try again. It has taught me strength. It has forced me to learn perseverance. It has pointed me in the right direction and urged me to look at my part in things. It has encouraged me to take responsibility for my actions. It has made me wiser. It has made me kinder. It has made me more patient, loving, and understanding.

Failure has taught me how to pick myself up again, over and over. It has taught me that tomorrow is a new day, and that everything is figureoutable. I mean it- every single thing is figureoutable.

I read lots of great quotes that tell me that if I am failing, that means I am trying. I like those quotes. They tell me that if I am trying and failing that I am living.

I have finally reached a point in my life where I realize that I would rather fail a million times than just be handed everything. How boring would that be anyway, to have a perfect life?

Give me failure. Give me experiences. Give me joy and give me sadness. Let me crash and burn so that I can learn how to fly. Make me feel alive.

Nobody has it perfect. Not one soul on this entire Earth. We all go through different hardships and fight our own battles. We all experience failure at one time or another. How wonderful is that, that failure is a common denominator between us all? Doesn’t that make it just a little easier to go out there, fail miserably, and try it all again?

It’s by doing all the wrong things that we learn to do the right ones. Our mistakes, our poor decisions, our failures- they do not define us.

What defines us is how we react when we fail. How hard we try. How well we learn. How agile we are in bouncing back and how quickly we can forge a new path. We must work with what we have and give it all we’ve got.

Dust our knees off and jump right back in the game.

What has failure taught you?

xoxo

Sarah

The Point of Growth

The point of learning, of growing, of achieving, of self-improvement, is not to puff ourselves up. The point isn’t to inflate our egos or to spout off about the self-actualization we have attained, or to throw it around disguised as self-importance and arrogance. The point is to give it away.

For it is not by breaking down others that we build ourselves up, and it is not by shouting out to the world our need for attention that we gain recognition. Instead, we work tirelessly. We work tirelessly to be a better friend, a better employee, a better shoulder to lean on, a better partner, a better human. Lead by example it is said. This is difficult, because often on your long spiritual journey up the proverbial mountain it is impossible to see your own progress. With your pack weighing you down, your body sagging from exhaustion, and with sweat dripping off of your forehead blocking your view, you can’t see if you are any nearer to the top. Step by step you struggle forward, pressing on with no idea if and when you will ever reach it. If you will ever get there. 

The truth is, there is no THERE.   There is no when or someday either, only now. So how can we make now enough? For when you are in the middle of your climb you cannot see the crowd of supporters at the summit, cheering you on. You have no idea how your progress, and struggle, is inspiring those that are watching you. One foot in front of the other. That is how we do it. That is how we make now into enough.

We make now into enough by realizing that we don’t need the perfect anything to be happy, we just need to be growing. We stimulate growth by challenging ourselves; by getting out of our comfort zone and saying yes to every new opportunity. Thus, the importance does not lie in reaching the top of the mountain. It lies in your path to getting there.

The World will never be in short supply of people who will try to tell you, loudly, how to live your life. What you should do, how you should act, and who you should be. It’s crap. All of it. What you should do, how you should act, and who you should be, is entirely up to you. Write your own script. The only person you need to measure yourself up against is the person you were yesterday.

So keep it up. Keep up the journey, keep up the struggle, keep up the discomfort. Enjoy the good moments the best that you can, for small triumphs lead to large successes. One tiny step forward is much further than no steps at all.

Xoxo
Sarah

Seconds and Inches

Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue in the state of being alive. If life is to be sustained hope must remain, even where confidence is wounded, trust impaired.” -E.H. Erikson 

Seconds and inches. That’s all that separates our paths from each other, from our fates. One step to the left, one step behind, one second later, one second sooner. Timing is everything. The funny thing about timing is that we have absolutely no control over it. Our lives are shaped by the decisions we make. Our lives are shaped by who we surround ourself with, who we date, where we choose to work, and where we choose to spend our free time. Life is fluid, ever changing. 

I read recently, in a book called To Heaven and Back, that life is like a tapestry. This book is a lovely account of one woman’s journey through death, heaven, angels, and back to life again. I highly recommend it to anyone who is exploring their spirituality, faith, and relationship with a higher power. 

Life is like a tapestry. A million different threads make up the tapestry of life, yours and mine alike, and your individual thread helps shape the unique design that is created by all of our different threads. Your life, your decisions, the moments that define you, determine how the thread is weaved into the pattern. One step to the left, or right, and you shift the pattern. Each step is neither right or wrong, for without your thread which is weaved by these steps, the tapestry will be incomplete. The point is that every single individual, every person you meet in your daily activities, has meaning. This got me thinking. What is the meaning for my life right now? What does my thread mean to the tapestry? What is my purpose

Recently, life threw me yet another curve ball. I watched a man have  a seizure right in front of me. The whole day leading up to then had been off. Weird. Odd. I was not even supposed to be where I was. A last minute decision, someone else’s last minute decision incidentally, freed up my evening so I could end up there. I was sitting, completely immersed in my own thoughts. My own worries. My own crap. Sitting. thinking. Thinking of how unclear my current path is. How not okay I am with how unclear my path is. And then, the man started to tense. I watched as his body became rigid and he started to shake, and I knew immediately it was a seizure. My mind went on autopilot. Was he epileptic? Was he overdosing? “Get him on his side!” I thought to myself. There were people around. Hundreds. About ten of us in immediate proximity. I always want to help people. I want to be the fixer. I want to be the hero. But I was blocked. I was blocked by chairs and the three people already surrounding him, doing their best to help. Everyone was terrified of the situation. Not only was I blocked by physical objects, I was blocked by my own fear. My own self-doubt. I knew to get him on his side. “God please don’t let him bite his tongue off”, I thought. “I should go over there. I NEED TO HELP.” But instead I stood there, less than five feet away, and I called 911. I stood to the side rather than putting my hands on his body to steady him, to help, as I really truly wanted to do. I thought for a moment, deep inside of me, that I was going to watch this man die. He was going to die and I would have done nothing to stop it.

The horrific event continued on for two minutes or more. It seemed like hours. Then his movement began to calm down. His breathing became more regular. The paramedics came in heroic splendor. Within twenty minutes the man was responsive, his color returning to normal, able to answer questions. He was going to be okay. He was alive. I was flooded with relief. Flooded with gratitude that he was . That he would recover. 

It hit me. The reality of my situation. Where I was sitting, unable to provide that man with the medical care or knowledge that I thought by now I would posses. Remember that seven year old self that I referred to in the last post? The one that was positive that by this age I would be well on my way to being a doctor? Well, reality is I am not. Reality is I have no idea what I want to do. And reality is that while I appreciate my life as it is now, and have immense gratitude for the blessings I have been given, I am not where I want to be. I am aware, however, that there is a plan for me and I do not get to know what it is. Being the control freak that I am, it does not sit well with me to not know that plan that is my destiny. It seems more often than not I am dealing with what life throws at me defensively, rather than being able to play offensively. I seem to be fixing the problems that are constantly thrown at me rather than attacking those of my choosing. I know, deep inside of my heart, that I will flourish. I will be great. I will kick life’s ass. Someday. 

We carry on. Progress, not perfection. Maybe it is our mistakes that make our fate, our greatest miscalculations that mold us into the people we are destined to become. Remember, we are only separated by seconds and inches. Seconds and inches separate me from who I might have been, and from the woman I am becoming. Because becoming that doctor, or becoming that dedicated military wife to the man who turned out to be the person that hurt me more than I imagined was possible, or becoming any other person than who I am at this moment, isn’t my fate. My seconds and inches that comprise my history, the same seconds and inches that brought me in front of the man having the seizure, are weaving my tapestry into something completely unique, beautiful, and meant for me. And at my weak moments, when I feel like everything is falling apart, I have to hope that holds true. When I cannot BELIEVE unfalteringly in the tapestry, I have to HOPE for it. After all, I am only seconds and inches away from who I will become and realizing the beauty of my dreams. 

What do you believe in?  What gives you hope?

Sarah