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

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

 

 

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

 

 

Give Me Struggle

Nothing truly comes easy to anyone. We each have our own challenges that we must overcome. Your journey is your journey and my journey is mine. That is what makes each of them so interesting and beautiful; they are uniquely ours.

I used to think that one day life would become easier, softer and more forgiving. I thought that if I worked hard enough, it would all eventually even out. I believed that once I was past this or that it would all become clear. I figured that one day the messier pieces would just fall into place and I would be able to level up, reaching a space in my life where things consistently made sense. A space where I could breathe and rest comfortably, if only for a short while.

As I have historically been about how many parts of my story would turn out- I was wrong.

My story is messy and confusing and often courageous. It is punctuated by challenge, pain and moments of incredible strength. It is full to the brim with accomplishments and doing the things I thought I could not do. It tells a life of dreaming, action, hesitation, determination, false starts, harsh realizations and times of heart-breaking happiness.

My story is a lesson in nothing coming easy and learning the true meaning of appreciation and gratitude. My story is about doing my best with what I have. It’s about breaking away the unnecessary parts and wastes of time to get closer to my true meaning and purpose. My story is continuously teaching me that it’s not about what I think, what I want, what I need, or what I feel I deserve.

Give me struggle. Give me the lessons that will build my character. Give me hard work paying off over something handed to me that I have not earned. Give me confusion and give me hope. Give me trials and give me breakthroughs. Give me yet another disappointment, always followed by a fresh start and a new opportunity to see where it all may go. Give me good enough to make it through another day.

Give me the tools I need to do better in this world. Give me the challenges that will make me more useful, more capable, more creative and more tolerant. Give me whatever it is I need to teach me how to be a better advice-giver, shoulder to lean-on, and source of comfort.

Give me struggle so that I may learn to contribute. Give me pain so that I may become accustomed to sacrifice. Burden me, again and again, so that I may show that I can overcome anything that comes my way.

And keep it coming.

What does your story say?

xoxo

Sarah

Perks of Side Hustling

What do you do in your free time?

Free time is a tricky thing for me. I’m a hustler; a mover and a shaker and a go-getter, and just a tiny bit of an overachiever. I like to be busy and firmly believe in the mantra that if you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward.

So I like to fill some of my free time with side hustles. What is a side hustle? Let’s turn to Urban Dictionary for some help on defining this:

“Sideline that brings in cash; something other than your main job. Maybe playing weekend gigs or life coaching. SELLING AMWAY IS NOT A SIDE HUSTLE — it’s just a stupid way to alienate your friends.”

Thanks, UD!

One of the most fulfilling parts of my professional life, aside from my career, is writing. Something about writing just makes me feel whole and balanced. It started here with my personal blog, and then I was brought on as a columnist for a website called Ms. Career Girl last October. Hello, side hustle! Writing for Ms. Career Girl makes me feel like I am helping all of the women out there who, just like me, are working their hardest to develop their blossoming careers.

I don’t receive financial compensation for my writing by Ms. Career Girl. Instead, I get paid in opportunity, which I believe is much more valuable. I get the opportunity to mentor women in their careers, to contribute my experiences about finding fulfillment and balance in the workplace, to be a part of a large community of intelligent, dedicated and inspirational women bloggers, and to share my passion for success with everyone that reads and contributes to Ms. Career Girl.

I typically write on productivity and goals for my column, but sometimes I am given the opportunity to do a product review. Confession: this is pretty high up there on the list of biggest perks of being a columnist. Free stuff is cool. Really cool.

If you are interested in checking out my latest product reviews, read this and this. The first is on a fabulous body wash by Nature’s Gate whose products are vegan and cruelty-free, and the second is for Vaseline Intensive Care Healing Serum which was a miracle-worker on my dry skin.

So, if you have the free time, I recommend you get yourself a side hustle. I promise you won’t regret it.

Go get ’em, hustlers!

xoxo

Sarah

Just Start

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You want to know something powerful? You are the single person responsible for your future, and you are also the only person holding you back.

You’ve probably heard that before, in some shape or form. I just wanted to reiterate it, because it has become one of my integral core values.

I have learned, from my many mistakes, that it is really easy to come up with excuses for why we think we can’t do something. We are scared. It is hard. The odds are stacked against us. It seems impossible. We want to take the first step, but we cant figure out how. We are paralyzed, frozen into place by fear.

The truth is…nothing is impossible. Really. Everything is figureoutable. We just have to start. Somewhere. Anywhere. Absolutely anything can be achieved or conquered. All it takes is dedication, determination, focus and a lot of hard work.

Would you tell a friend that they cannot do something, when you know that they are completely capable? Absolutely not. You would encourage them, build them up, give them the support they need to go and chase their dreams.

We all need help. We all need a confidence boost. Sometimes, we need a swift kick in the bum to finally get us started.

It all begins with a single step. We don’t have to know exactly how we will get there. We don’t have to have it all figured out. We don’t have to have a perfect little plan to present like a school report.

All we need is to be discontent enough with where we currently are in order to overcome the fear of what it will take for us to achieve more. We have to be desperate enough to go out into the world, make the necessary effort, and make the changes we need to. We must accept that we will be uncomfortable. We must accept that it will be challenging. We must accept that it will take everything within us, every single ounce of strength we have.

I don’t believe in excuses. I don’t believe in playing the victim. I don’t believe in letting other people tell me how my story should go. I think we all are capable of changing the world in our own little way, starting with our own lives. I think everything we have ever wanted is at our fingertips- we just have to try. We have to try hard.

I hope that this holiday season you remember to be grateful for everything you have been given, for everything you haven’t been given, and for everything you have yet to discover.

I hope that if you have been letting the ifs and whos hold you back, that you take back control. I hope you become the biggest proponent for your own well being. I hope that you recognize the incredible amount of power you have, and that you choose to do something with it. I hope you someday realize that the possibility of tomorrow is one of the greatest gifts there is. I hope that you just start.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

xoxo

Sarah

Twenty-Something

Twenties Quote

This is one of my absolute favorite quotes. I have turned to it when I need something; when life is messy, complicated, and I am not sure of my path or of my decisions. It brings me reassurance, restores my faith, and reminds me to believe that everything is happening just as it should.

Your twenties are your selfish years. They are your time to figure it all out. These are some of the best, yet most trying, years of your life. You are in progress. Be patient. Be kind to yourself. Believe it, that everything is happening just as it should, fully and without fear.

Even if it’s a mess. Even if it’s nothing like you pictured. Even if it’s coming together or falling apart, it’s perfect. It’s unique. It’s yours.

Own it. Accept it. Embrace it. Cherish it. One day, you will realize how special it all really is.

xoxo

Sarah

On Never Settling

NeverSettleThings are a little crazy this week. Lots of feelings, lots of emotions, and lots of new things on the horizon. When I am feeling depleted, or overwhelmed, I turn to quotes for inspiration. Getting inspired is one of the best ways I know of to turn my mood around, and it is a regular practice in my personal ritual that allows me to be intentional about choosing joy.

This quote struck me because it is applicable to everything I consider important in my life. In love, in friendships, in my career, in everything, it is crucial that I never settle. It’s imperative that I keep chasing my dreams, keep on fighting, and keep actively seeking to do more.

Even on the hard days, the days that are draining and challenging and soul-wrenching, it is always possible to do more. To be better. To keep on not settling.

I hope you find some inspiration today, and I hope that you never settle.

xoxo

Sarah

 

The Vulnerabilty Project

“When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make.” -Brené Brown

I gather inspiration from many sources; most often from the people I meet or books I read. See my post Inspiration is Everywhere here if you need more proof. Recently one of my dearest friends sent me the book Daring Greatly, which focuses on embracing vulnerability and imperfection in an effort to live wholeheartedly, allowing us to engage fully in our lives. The author, Dr. Brené Brown, defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. She argues that our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection is opening ourselves up to being vulnerable.

Confession: I really suck at being vulnerable. 

There are few things I hate more than being vulnerable. It’s a terrible feeling to endure really, similar to what I imagine standing naked onstage in front of a huge audience would be like. Exposed and defenseless. Until recently I didn’t even realize how much effort I expend to shield myself from vulnerability. I’m talking years of work here, people. Thousands of hours spent building walls around myself to act like a coat of armor. And I wasn’t even aware I was doing it!

The vulnerabilities are everywhere. In my blogging I worry that I’m not posting often enough, that I’m too serious, that I over-share, that I’m not funny enough, that I’m too honest. At my job I worry that I’m not learning fast enough, not being assertive enough, being too assertive, not taking on as many tasks as I could, or taking on tasks I have no business handling. When it comes to dating, I am at my most vulnerable. Painfully so. To explain why, I could dedicate an entire blog to dating misadventures. Thus far, I have fought that urge- but no promises for the future.

All of these insecurities have the same fear at their root: that I am simply not enoughThis identity of not being enough has come to make me always act on the defense, prepare for the worst, and regard feelings as the enemy. For example, when I get really really angry I cannot help but cry. I hate this. I am MAD, not sad. I should be yelling not CRYING! For me, this emotion has always equaled weakness. But you know what I realized? This negative self-talk is not helpful, or even true. Emotion is not weakness, and neither is vulnerability. I am enough, and it’s about time I started believing that.

There is a lot of power in realization. Knowledge is power right? Well that power of knowing means I’m screwed, because now I need to work on it.

Enter: The Vulnerability Project

I have been living my life with the intention of protecting myself. This intention is misguided. My intention of living needs to be to live joyously, to have experiences, to love wholeheartedly, and most of all- to thrive. In order to do this, I need to break up with two of my longtime companions: fear and shame. How am I going to do this exactly? No clue. My first step will be to live with the intention of allowing myself to be vulnerable. I will make a daily effort to break down old ways and establish the new. I will keep telling myself that I can and will dare greatly.

xoxo

Sarah