Understanding How to Be Spontaneous

Little known fact about me – if there was one word that I wanted people to use to define me, it was “spontaneous”

Not friendly, kind, driven, or any of the other arguably better qualities to have attached to your name. No, I wanted to be spontaneous.

For me, being spontaneous meant you took life by the metaphorical… *cough*… and you ran with it. You lived life to the fullest each and every day. You went with the flow and when you didn’t like the flow, you made waves. You didn’t settle for boring or mediocre. You made memories happen, you didn’t let things just happen. You made them happen.

So because of this mentality, I think I always wanted to be unpredictable and open to what life has to offer.

Now, if I’m being honest – and I am being painfully honest and real in these chapters – I don’t always allow myself to give into the spontaneous side of myself. I tend to push things and limits pretty far, then panic, back off, and try to predict and plan. It’s as if I go from one extreme to the other.

So, why do I do this?

Well, I think it’s because as much as I love the day taking me wherever it will, I also strive for balance and stability – don’t we all?

So how do we find that balance?

I think it relates to coming up with a plan (ha) of your wants and must haves. For example:

I want to get married

I want to live somewhere unfamiliar

I want to donate my time to a local nonprofit

I want to always have at least one bottle of champagne in my fridge

I must feel valued in any relationship I have from now on (romantic, friendship, whatever)

I must feel challenged in my career

I must spend at least one hour a week writing

And when you begin to lay out some basic ground rules for your happiness and life, you can identify the areas in which you can be spontaneous. Hell, maybe these rules will help you do just that.

For example:

If one of your “musts” is to travel to a foreign place, perhaps you can talk to your boss about an out of state or out of country opportunity to work in another office. Packing up and moving to unfamiliar territory is pretty damn spontaneous if you’ve been in your hometown for most of your life.

If another “must” is to feel valued, maybe take an audit of the people in your life (friends, family, peers, etc.) and identify those in which you need to take a step back from and maybe others you need to put more stock into. If you’re in a toxic relationship that won’t serve you in the long run but *feels good right now* it’s time to start separating yourself from it.

I used to believe spontaneous meant unplanned but that’s just not true.

I thought spontaneous meant that I had zero plans and whatever sounded good, I went with it. I imagined floating through life and not knowing where I’d end up because I was spontaneous and adventurous and I didn’t want to stop being open to whatever opportunities life threw at me.

Only recently did I realize that I could be spontaneous every day if I chose to but careful in the ways I explore those limits, ensuring that I wasn’t getting swept away from my overall life goals.

If anything, that list of wants and must haves will help you shape your life towards one you want to be living and will serve as a barrier net when you get a little wild.

Think back to that list when you’re thinking about making a drastic change and see if that change will align with any of your overall goals.

If it will, get it.

If it won’t, maybe rethink.

It doesn’t mean stop or to not move forward in that direction – it just means to give it a second thought.

In all things, it’s about finding the right balance – Allowing yourself to explore new limits and let the day take you and not getting caught up in some life roadmap where you can’t stray from the one path in front of you.

(This blog post was taken from a chapter of my upcoming book – stay tuned!)

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Stop Making Excuses For Yourself

Yep, going to come out of the gate and hit you with a little tough love on this one
you’ve got to stop caring what other people think of who you are, what you want out of life. and how you spend your time.

Now, you’re probably saying something along the lines of, “Whoooa, whoa. Whoa. Kate, I don’t care and I haven’t said those things to you. So, what gives?”

I’m going to make a blanket statement here and say that if you’re anything like me, or like others I talk to daily, you may have thoughts one of the following thoughts…

“I’ll diet after the holidays.”
“I need new gym clothes before I go to the gym. I don’t want to wear my old, oversized t-shirts.”
“I’m not happy in my job but it’s too much effort to find something else.”
“I want to write but I don’t know where to start.”
“I’m not happy doing X but I’ll probably get better if I ride it out.”
“Blah.”
“Blah.”
“Blaaaah.”

These past few weeks, I kept telling myself, “You’ll blog… later” and “You’ll start that cool Live Inspired Facebook Live series… after the craziness of work dies down.” I kept telling myself that I’d do X when Y was over. I kept pushing things off, and not only Live Inspired related but eating better, moving more, going to bed earlier, etc.

I’m a master of excuses. 

And yet, as I’ve been telling myself these things, I’ve been sitting around not doing anything important at all. I have everything in front of me to eat better, move more, write my blog, pull together a plan of action, and more but yet, I’ve been a slob kebob. Or, even more worse, I’ve been dreaming and making plans in my head on how I’ll move forward to finally put my dreams into action and yet, when it comes to making it happen, I say, “Maybe later.”

Why is this?

If I’m being honest, I think it’s because doing all of these things that I so desperately want to do is exciting but it’s also venturing into some unknown land – and I don’t know what the hell is over the mountain in front of me. I haven’t opened this door/gone down this path (choose whichever cliche you like there – I liked both so I left both) so I’m a little afraid of the unknown.

I’m afraid that if I throw myself Live Inspired, I’m going to be vulnerable. I’m going to try a Facebook Live series which puts me front and center. I’m going to map out a blogging plan for the next 6 months so I’m setting myself up for success. I’m bringing my vision and my passion for Live Inspired to life not only for myself but I’m putting it out in the public.

And that’s scary.

When you put something out for public consumption that you’ve created, nurtured, and obsessed over for years – you run the risk of people pointing at you and saying, “Ha! Did you see her try to do that? Hilarious, right?”

I never would’ve thought that my procrastination boiled down to the fear of being laughed at or judged. Which makes me think, is this the reason that many people don’t follow their passion? They don’t go to the gym? They don’t quit their job and open up a bakery?

Here’s (another) big blanket statement but I truly believe that as humans, we’re naturally afraid of failure – knock down, everyone is pointing and laughing at you, gigantic, flat out failure.

This fear of embarrassment and humiliation has been engrained in us for years. YEARS.
Think back to old cartoons or movies you’d watch growing up – chances are you can recall one or a few scenes that went a little something like this: The main character is trying so hard to be cool when they get pants/a slushee dropped on their head/hit in the head with a ball/etc. and they think their life is over.

Everything is now terrible. The character’s reputation or ‘coolness’ is now ruined and they’re mortified to face their peers. Of course, they pick themselves back up in the end but in those moments, those flat out embarrassing moments, the viewer feels sympathy because nobody likes to feel like the laughing stock.

We’ve all felt it (which is why we can relate when a person gets pummeled with a pie) and it’s an awful feeling so as we grow up, we tend to protect ourselves. If we’re not careful, we run the risk of blending into the crowd and doing what’s expected of us. We don’t get outside of our comfort zones and follow our crazy ass dreams because we don’t want to feel that humiliation – we don’t want to be the one everyone is pointing and laughing at.

But here’s the thing – when was the last time you attempted something that didn’t turn out how you expected and you found that you couldn’t recover for weeks or months? When have you pointed and laughed at someone else who was living out their dream and made their lives miserable for weeks or months?

When was the last time someone commented about your old 5K tshirt at the gym?
When was the last time someone told you that your last Facebook status was the worst thing they’ve ever read?

Chances are, it probably hasn’t happened.

We’re our own worst enemies and we’re so ready to tell ourselves that something won’t work (the diet will fail, no one will read our stories, we’ll go bankrupt if we try to start our own business) that we start to believe it.

But when we’re so wrapped up in telling ourselves we’re going to fail and everyone will laugh at us, we tend to forget that everyone else is wrapped up in their own heads.

By attempting something that excites us and/or gets us out of our comfort zone, we’re essentially telling our negative minds to stop talking because this time we’re letting our heart and passion lead the way. And don’t kid yourself – that’s a big step to take.

If we’re afraid of failing or looking dumb, that means we’re taking a leap of faith into the unknown. We’re embarking on some journey where we don’t know what the outcome might be. If we did, we wouldn’t be afraid or spend our time wondering if everyone else accepts our crazy ideas.

You know what that means?

That means that you absolutely, positively have to do the things that frighten you. That fear is your mind trying to protect you from ‘looking stupid’ when in actuality, doing something that excites you but is out of your norm, is exactly what you need to be doing.

You need to follow your passion. You need to take a leap if your heart is telling you to just jump already. If you’re reading this and you know exactly what that little voice is telling you to pursue, you’ve already begun on your journey. You can make excuses and tell that voice to shut it for a little bit but believe me, you can’t quiet that voice inside of you for long – eventually that whisper will turn into an ‘outdoor voice’ and then into full on screaming.

If you’re afraid of looking dumb, that’s normal. If you’re afraid of being humiliated, that’s normal. If you’re afraid of doing something your heart keeps nagging at you to do, that’s normal.

You know what’s not normal? Continually shoving your passion down inside of you just because you’re afraid of what others will think. Stop making excuses for why you can’t do the thing you really want to do for yourself. Stop pretending like you don’t have the tools or the ability to get the tools you need to thrive. If you don’t have the tools now, get them. If you need to figure out a plan to get all the way over that mountain, figure it out. If you want to start dieting and going to the gym, put on your shoes and go make it happen.

Time will never be just right but excuses are aplenty. Stop being afraid. Stop blending into the crowd, doing what everyone else is doing, and just living a mediocre life when you’re meant for more. Listen to that voice and your pull and do more, do better, and be happier.

The Unexpected Outcomes of Traveling More.

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac

A few weeks ago, my best friend sent me a text on a Thursday afternoon that changed how I’m going to live out 2018.

It was a simple text that said, “So, I’m going to San Antonio for work next Wednesday. Wanna grab a seat on my flight and join me?” I thought about it for approximately 4 minutes before opening Delta.com into my browser and began my search for the flight I would purchase. I’m a sucker for spontaneity but even this felt a little crazy to me.

But, I told myself at the start of 2018 that this would be my year of travel.

I didn’t want to let myself down only weeks into the year so when she texted me those few sentences I knew it was time – time to make it happen or time to make a lame-o excuse.

Luckily for all of us, I decided to stay true to what I told myself I was setting out to do this year, no matter how crazy or how spontaneous, if the universe put the opportunity in front of me.

I booked my flights and a few days later, I was heading to the airport after work on a Wednesday evening.

San Antonio was incredible – It was a giant whirlwind of a trip and while I spent more time in airports and in the hotel room than I wanted, it reminded me of some pretty important lessons to take back with me.

Keeping the ‘Travel Mindset’ After The Trip is Done

If you’re anything like me then it’s safe to say that whenever you travel to a new place, you want to do it all.

You wake up early to go explore that city center. You stay outside longer than you would usually because the view is gorgeous. You talk to the locals to ask where they like to go, eat or shop.

You act differently when you travel because you want to soak it all in and get the most out of your destination.

When we were there, we made it a point to get out of the hotel as soon as possible and go exploring. We took an Uber to the Riverwalk and just strolled around before dinner taking in the scenery. We went to a nice restaurant and followed it up with a few different bars to really get the vibe of the area. The next day, we took a recommendation of another girl who was familiar with the area and went to an incredibly delicious Mexican restaurant for lunch that we never would’ve found on our own.

We wanted to see everything, eat everything, and really understand San Antonio rather than just going to places that were close to the hotel.

So, why should that sense of exploration stop when you get home?

Why would you go back to the same hum-drum restaurants that are just down the street from your home? Why do you go to the same walking path every weekend when there are others just 15-20 min away?

When you’re at home and in your comfort zone, it’s easy to fall into a mediocre routine that we can so effortlessly follow with our eyes closed. Open your eyes, like you would if you were in a new, unfamiliar vacation spot, and take another look at your surroundings.

Travel reminds us that there’s a whole other world just outside of our bubble of comfort and routine. It’s up to us to open our eyes and explore it.

The Excitement of an Adventure Encourages Us to Just Say ‘Yes’ and Figure Out the Rest Later

When my friend presented the opportunity to me at first, I started drowning in the logistics of it all:
Will I be able to leave work on time to get to the airport?
What if the hotel doesn’t have reliable wifi?
What if I screw up the time zone change and miss a meeting?

What if this? What if that? Can this work out seamlessly? Should I not bother?

That’s why it took me a few minutes before I was like, “Waaait a second – the universe just handed me an opportunity to travel somewhere completely new and with one of my best friends… and I’m worried about finding decent wifi?”

You can talk yourself out of anything if you try hard enough. That’s why it’s important to hold onto that initial feeling of, “Oh, this could be fun” and just run with it. Believe me, it’ll work out if you want to make it work out.

As adults who have gotten this far in our lives, I think it’s safe to say that we all have real problem solving skills; therefore, we have the ability to figure out how to overcome challenges and problems. Unreliable wifi at the hotel? Great, I’ll grab an Uber to a coffee shop. Worried about time zones? I’ll triple check my calendars as soon as I get there. It all works out.

The rush of excitement we feel when we know that we’re about to break out of the every day habit and get into unfamiliar territory is a great feeling so ride it out and just make it happen. Everything will work out and fall into place. Just go on that trip. Get in your car.
Book your flights and just go.

Travel Loosens Us Up a Little

I say, “Ehhh it’s vacation!” at least 45x per day whenever I’m somewhere new.

When you’re on vacation, chances are you spend a little more when you’re out to dinner to treat yourself. You buy a kooky hat or outrageously tourist-y t-shirt simply because it feels right. You get a little more lenient with your bank account and do things because they make you smile or they make you feel good.

Why is it that we don’t do this in our every day lives?

In San Antonio, I ordered a lobster dinner at a fancy restaurant because it was vacation.
Back in Michigan, I went to dinner with a friend and tried to find what the cheapest dinner was on the menu.

I felt as if I couldn’t splurge on a decent dinner for myself merely because it was the usual place, on a week night, and there wasn’t a ‘good reason’ to. Not because I didn’t want something delicious and not because I couldn’t afford it. Just because it was a normal restaurant on a normal night.

Of course, you should always live within your monetary limits but it’s important to bring this, “Treat yo’self” mentality into your day to day. Because you do deserve a nice meal when you go to a restaurant on a Tuesday night. You should buy those crazy big sunglasses and wear them every day if you like them.

You shouldn’t have to find a good reason to do little things that make your days brighter, happier, and just plain more enjoyable. Bring the, “Eh, I’m on vacation!” mentality into your every day life and keep it going no matter what because you deserve it.

Travel Brings Out the Best in Us

When we travel, we’re excited, happy, and ready for anything. This dulls as we return back to our homes and into our normal routine. But it shouldn’t and it doesn’t have to. By reminding ourselves that we’re in control of how we live out each day, we should strive to bring those little nuggets of happiness that we feel when we’re on vacation into our day to day. A shift in mentality can make a huge difference.

You’ll Always Get the Same Results…

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” 

I’ve repeated this cliche statement about a thousand times to about a thousand clients throughout my professional career. It typically spills out of my mouth when I propose a new campaign, plan of action, or platform that the client is unfamiliar with. In situations where I’m recommending something out of the box or new to them, their first impulse is to push back because they’re not sure if doing something new is the right move, even when data tells us otherwise – drop off in organic traffic, decrease in leads, whatever the case is.

That’s when I need to pull out this statement and explain why I’m recommending what I am, the results we can expect, and then I always end it with – “If we go down this path and it’s not producing the results we want or that we’re expecting, we change our course of action. That’s all.”

And then, because they trust in the process and in me, we move forward strategically.

I’ve dealt with this scenario more times than I can count between the hours of 8:30am and 6pm, Monday through Friday. But, as I was catching up with a friend of mine on the phone today, I found myself saying that phrase to her.

My simple statement, the exact one I’ve said over and over and then some more, made me stop and realize that I was missing a huge opportunity in my life. 

I’ve never once applied that statement to any other part of my life – to my relationships, to my own career, to my own passions.

I said this as I was talking to her about relationships and the type of men I usually date. And believe me, I’ve got a type – in the entertainment industry, who like to party, who have tattoos, and who typically like other things (cough cough themselves cough cough) more than they like me.

And I kept wondering why my relationships never seemed to work out… 

Of course they kept ending because I kept dating the same type of guy. I kept putting myself in those “all too familiar” situations. I wasn’t doing it intentionally but that’s the problem, isn’t it?

Without stopping to take relationship audits, career audits, whatever audits in your life, you miss out on seeing important patterns – are you constantly dating the same type?
Do you continually find yourself unhappy in the jobs you accept?
Are you always backing away from the hobbies or passions that you find yourself drawn?

Are you holding yourself back or holding onto your comfort net because you’re scared of what others might say or what might happen if you fail?

I’ve been reading the book, “Emotional Agility” by Susan David and there’s a section in this book that has stuck with me these last few weeks. She explains how important it is to: Recognize your patterns; label your thoughts and emotions; accept them; and act on your values.

(Please note: I’m about to copy and paste random sentences and sections of this article to prove my point so if this is interesting to you, I’d recommend checking out the full article from Harvard Business Journal)

“The first step in developing emotional agility is to notice when you’ve been hooked by your thoughts and feelings… When you’re hooked, the attention you give your thoughts and feelings crowds your mind; there’s no room to examine them. One strategy that may help you consider your situation more objectively is the simple act of labeling. Just as you call a spade a spade, call a thought a thought and an emotion an emotion.

The opposite of control is acceptance—not acting on every thought or resigning yourself to negativity but responding to your ideas and emotions with an open attitude, paying attention to them and letting yourself experience them. Take 10 deep breaths and notice what’s happening in the moment… When you unhook yourself from your difficult thoughts and emotions, you expand your choices. You can decide to act in a way that aligns with your values.”

So, the way I’ve used this in my own life is by identifying those moments where I immediately react to a text, a sentence, a situation, or whatever emotional. I get upset. I get stressed out. I react before I can think – send an angry text back or say something I don’t really mean because I’ve been taken over by my emotions.

Instead of reacting immediately, I’ve made the decision to stop, breathe, and then move forward appropriately. 

I can’t even tell you how often I’ve used this tactic and how it has helped me make smarter decisions.

And I’m bringing up emotional agility because here’s something that I guarantee – when you realize that you need to make a change in your life to get a different outcome or to put yourself on a new path, chances are you’re going to feel afraid, doubtful, or scared of what’s going to happen, what people will say, and how they’ll react.

That’s your being trying to protect itself from looking dumb. It wants to keep you in this safety net of comfort and mediocrity because if you push yourself, you’re walking on the path of unfamiliarity. And despite what your being is trying to tell you, that’s a great place to be. It means you’re doing something new. You’re challenging yourself to live a happier/more fulfilled/better/whatever life. You’re finding out who you are when you’re faced with fear or uncertainty. You’re not settling for the same old stuff.

So, when you begin to feel those things – stop, breathe, recognize that your emotions are taking over, and then move forward appropriately. What I hope for you in this situation is for you to recognize that you’re just scared of the unknown but that I hope with everything that you also decide to explore that unknown.

Whether you decide to face fear now or months or years from now, you’re always going to have to face it at points in your life. It’s how you tackle it that matters. It’s about recognizing that it’s just another emotion and you don’t have to become what you feel – you can separate yourself from the things you’re feeling and then move forward based on your values or your beliefs.

Recognize that fear is just fear and it’s not going to dictate your life or your happiness.

Don’t let it control you – if you want to write more but you’re scared of what people will think of what you have to say, start a blog anyway and share it with friends before you’re ready to. If you want to become a photographer, dedicate a few hours every weekend to go take some photos and open up an Etsy shop.

Happiness and fulfillment typically lives on just on the other side of fear and discomfort.

But to make a change, a true change, to live the life that you’re yearning for – you’ve got to put yourself into new, exciting situations. You have to follow your heart when you’re not sure how everything is going to work out. You have to ignore the haters and the people trying to tell you that “it’ll never work” and you need to push forward.

Whatever you want to do will likely be scary but it’s up to you to not hold yourself back.

If things don’t work out how you hoped, then just take what you’ve learned and try again. Very few decisions are final – keep trying and trying until you find a way or a path that will work for you to get you to where you want to be.

If you want to get a result that you’ve never had, you’ve got to tell fear to gtfo, because you’ve got chances to take and things to accomplish.

Too much.

It’s always…
Am I saying too much?
Is this too real? Is it too overly sensitive? Too harsh? Too not enough?
Are these words too weak to really convey how I’ve felt? Are these words too diluted?

But after weeks of not writing because of worrying about “too” – I’ve decided it’s more important to speak than to worry if it’s too much or too little.

Florida, oh sweet sweet Florida… it’s not what I had expected.

In fact, it’s the opposite of what I had hoped for when I was jumping into this new adventure with wide eyes and an open mind.

What I wanted for those six months was clarity, freedom, and to find some sort of inner peace or sense of spirituality that spoke to me. But instead, I was beat down, challenged in ways I had never imagined, and felt lonelier than I could’ve expected… but was I expecting too much?

Those six months were tough.

The one thing I yearned for was to feel free and yet, I found myself feeling the opposite. I found myself tied down into something that unexpectedly bloomed in front of me but instead of this situation helping me in my journey to grow, it kept me bound. And not just bound, but I felt my inner spirit, my joy, my happiness withering away.

Instead of following my goals and my aspirations, I followed lust. Infatuation. I followed this idea of ‘fate’ that I twisted and turned and molded into what I wanted it to be. It wasn’t what was – it’s what I wanted so desperately to see… is that too romantic?

I fought every day for my self worth. I gave everything I had, and then some, to prove I was worthy of a love that didn’t ever exist. In a way, I knew I was going against everything I set out to do but felt as though losing a piece of myself was worth it for this man… for far too long, I was too blinded. 

And in the end, I was made to feel as if I was the idiot, the one who wasn’t enough and would never be enough, the one who was selfish.

The carefree, happy, woman who was excited for adventure, went missing for a few days… weeks… months.

And – you know what – this lesson, this beach-filled extended vacation, these last six months were worth the tears, the questioning, the hurt.

Because when all was said and done, I realized yet again that the universe didn’t give me what I wanted – it gave me what I needed.

Because in these six months, I realized that nobody else has the power to define my worth, my value, my inner strength.

I found it within myself despite the words I had heard.

I dug deep inside of who I am and I pulled out the strength to walk away from something that didn’t serve me anymore. I realized that I have the ability to leave and with that, I ran. I ran even when every part of my heart wanted me to stay and see if “maybe things could work” but knowing they never would. Knowing that he would never change his view. Knowing that I could never be me when I was there… is that too survivor-y?

I learned that being alone is crucial to recognizing who you are and who you want to be when no one else is there to cheer you on or there pat you on the back. That it’s up to you to set the boundaries you need for your own heart, head, and well being and that it’s up to you stick to those boundaries. Stick to them when it’s hard. Stick to them when someone else doesn’t understand. And stick to them especially in those moments when you know you need them the most.

I learned that I’m in charge of my future and if I cry more than I smile, I can leave. I have legs to walk away. I have the strength inside of me to block a phone number. I have the ability to not respond to pleading texts to come back.

And you know what? You can too. You can stand up for what you believe in and you can walk away from the things that you don’t need in your life… is that too preachy?

And through this experience, I’ve finally discovered that I need to do what I need to do to be the best version of myself. This isn’t about you, it’s not about that cute guy who winked at me in the coffee shop, it’s not about this idea of a man that I once knew.

This year. This journey. This experience. This Florida adventure. This is about me. 

I’ve started writing gratitude lists to help myself see plainly that bad days are just bad days, not bad months or years. I’ve read self-help books that taught me how to be more emotionally agile. I’ve spoken affirmations on a daily basis. I’m about to create a damn vision board for 2018… is that too hippy?

I’ve realized that I need to write when I don’t want to share – those are the moments my keyboard needs me most. Because in Florida, I was scared. I was scared to sit down and tell you how I felt and what I was going through. Because I was scared you wouldn’t understand – or perhaps I was scared you would and that you’d try to make it all better from hundreds of miles away when I just needed to cope with it myself… is that too selfish?

I’ve learned that I don’t care about societal norms – I don’t want to keep quiet about my experiences.

I want to tell you about how my gratitude list has helped fight back tears when nights are hard. How bad relationships are tough, and heart breaking, and can run you into the ground – but then I want to tell you that even when you feel stuck, you can get out. And I want to help you pull yourself out of that dark hole. That shit is hard and life is hard but darling, that’s no excuse to give up. To stop trying. To not read, learn, craft a future because it seems “silly” to write lists or craft boards.

This year, it’s about me. 

It’s about sharing more than I hide. It’s about shaping my own future so no one else can barge into my life and shape what they want for me. It’s about being my own damn hero. To making my own adventures. To taking my key back. To saying “no” when I need to – even when I don’t want to. To live, love, and experience to the fullest but not for anyone else.

This year, I hope to write. To share. To be real. 
I hope to write when it’s hard, when it’s easy, and when I want to and when I don’t. Writing is what makes me who I am and that… well, that’s a big part of me that I lost because I was scared. Scared of how I’d be perceived. Scared that I let you down because I took this journey of a lifetime and part of me feels as though I’ve failed. I stayed inside and I stayed in a bad situation and I stayed inside of this shell I wasn’t proud of.

And, that’s the easy thing about life, isn’t it?
It’s easy to be scared and decide, “Nah… Not now. Maybe I’ll do/say/attempt that later but not right now.” And then, we don’t. We refuse to change, to grow, to do what terrifies us to our core.

That’s what I did for days… for weeks… for months. 
I hid behind my fear – fear that you’d judge me for not taking full advantage of the sand and the sun in front of me. For falling into something so serious so quickly. For giving up a huge of myself to someone else for the sake of “maybe this will be good” when all I do is tell you to never, ever give up yourself for another man, person, experience because dammit, you’re all you’ve got. And yet, there I was… doing exactly the things I warned you not to do. So, I hid. I stopped writing. I stopped blogging. I stopped sharing. I shut off a huge part of who I am and what makes me happy and you know why? I did it out of fear.

But, not this year… I refuse to be held down again.

This year is mine… is that too confident? 

Just kidding. It’s not too confident 😉

This year, I hope with all that’s inside of me that you’ll refuse to be afraid – you’ll do the things that scare you. You’ll take adventures even when you don’t know what lies beyond the “yes, I’m going to do this.” You’ll be the  person who lives for you, you’ll do what your soul tells you to do without second guessing. My hope is that you’ll rally for yourself. Be the person you want to be – you’ll take moments to reflect on the good and bad of 2017, make moves to ensure you’re setting yourself up for a happy year filled with love and kindness.

Please – take time for yourself. Take time to set your boundaries, to find the strength inside of you to say no, to not be afraid to be alone, to jump into an adventure that presents itself even when you’re scared. To fight for what you believe in, to be kind to those who are different than you are, and to be the best damn you that you can be… is that too much?

 

Is it Possible to Live a Pressure-free Life?

Real talk – I love St. Pete Beach. I really, honestly, truly do but with that being said… is this what I expected? Sometimes it is but most of the time, not at all.

I’ve been here for nearly 2 months already (wowza) and, with the exception of having the ocean across the street, it hasn’t felt much different than life did in Michigan. And you know what? I felt personally responsible and guilty for that.

I was talking to a friend of mine one night and confessed that I haven’t been living this free-spirited and carefree life that I expected to live and it was because of the choices I’ve been making. I hated hearing the words come out of my mouth but as we sat there Skyping, I said it –  Some nights, I choose Netflix over the ocean. I choose to make dinner rather than making friends at the local tiki bar. I’m sitting at my desk more than I’m sitting in the sand.

And, because this was such a wildly “publicized” move, I felt pressure to make the most of it – not just for me, but for my friends and family who bid me adieu and well, you guys.

I’m so lucky to have this opportunity so I put pressure on myself to live it to the fullest, whatever that means.

I felt like people were counting on me to go here, live this fantastic life, and report back on how things can be so much better when you just follow your heart. And don’t get me wrong, I feel like I am living a fantastic life and I am living it because I’m following my heart – and I love writing about it – but sometimes, with these perks and my love for blogging, pressure follows. Truthfully, I felt odd that my life wasn’t drastically different, without putting in much work, just because I moved to a warmer climate.

How silly.

It took me a few weeks of feeling pressure about feeling pressure to realize I shouldn’t have to feel pressure – follow me?

Some days, isn’t it enough to make it a point to visit the beach on the weekends? Other days, isn’t it enough to end the day with a show to binge and a nice glass of red wine?

Short answer – Yes.
Long answer – Yaaaaaaas.

Life is about living each day to the fullest – YOUR definition of the fullest, nobody else’s. It’s not my responsibility to feel guilty that I wasn’t living up to some expectation that nobody was putting on me but myself. I was putting pressure on myself, and feeling bad about life, for literally no good reason. None. Zilch.

This idea got me thinking about other friends: the ones who feel the pressure to put in an extra 2 hours per night at the office, not because they need to but because they feel like they probably should. The ones who are settling in relationships because they see their friends getting hitched and figure they probably should do that soon too. The ones who are buying a house (which is an insanely big commitment) because they should probably invest in something at this stage in life.

What about when we were younger and felt pressure to fit in with the “cool” kids in high school? The pressure to join the right sports, play the right instrument, and choose the right college?

Is it possible to live a pressure-free life? 

Honestly, I don’t think it is – I think that there’s always going to be some level of pressure we feel and whether that’s from ourselves or others, that’s to be determined.

If you’re putting it on yourself – quit it.
If others are putting it on you – figure out if the pressure is valid and if it’s not, get rid of the negativity. Tell them to quit it and that you’re doing just fine without their input on how you’re living your life.

Do me a favor and right now think, “Am I unhappy?” and if so, identify what it is that’s making you unhappy. Is something actually, reaalllllyyy wrong or are you just feeling a sense of pressure that you’re putting on yourself?

We need to stop bringing unnecessary stress and pressure into our lives because when we allow these things to come in, typically we react in a negative way – we get upset, we take it out on our loved ones, we choose work over friends, etc. We try to fight it rather than figuring out where the pressure is coming from.

When we can take a step back and uncover whether or not we can remove it before we explode, we save ourselves a lot of trouble annnnnd also we lessen the risk of hurting the relationships around us that we cherish so much. I don’t know about you but my friends typically hate it when I snap at them for no good reason 😉

There’s a great quote I saw yesterday:

“There isn’t a way things should be. There’s just what happens, and what we do.”

—Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

I think there are a few ways to take this quote and tomorrow, I may take it differently than I do right now but right now, I feel as though this is a wonderful reminder that life happens. It’s up to us to stop, think, and act accordingly – remove the unnecessary pressure and add the logical thinking mixed with good vibes.

Live is good and it’s bad all on its own. Let’s not make it worse.

The Universe Gives You What You Need When You Need It

Moving to Florida was a big sign from the universe for me. When I arrived, I felt things fall into place – well, everything but consistent blogging of course – and I found myself surrounded by old friends who believed in the pull of the universe as well.

A few weeks ago I reconnected with a friend of mine that I met when I lived in Nashville who now lives in Florida. We went out, had a few too many vodka tonics, and got into a big discussion around the idea that the universe gives you what you need, when you need it. She told me that she felt as though our friendship and who I am as a person, in this moment – years after we originally met in Nashville, gave her what she needed in her own life. A dash of spontaneity, a dose of courage, and a lot of laughter.

Now, I’ve often felt that the universe gives out signs if we only look for them but it’s something i very rarely talk about. So, sitting a thousand miles away from my “comfort zone” talking with someone I haven’t met in years about this topic at a tiki bar on the beach, felt like a sign. Especially since I felt that the universe was telling me to go to Florida and then I ended up talking about this topic with someone who feels the same exact way, reiterating the idea that I’m not crazy 😉

And, guess what – at this point in this blog post, my first version had me launching into a story about how this idea of getting a sign/reminder when I need it most came to life for me today. But, I decided against it because honestly, I don’t want my stories to be the takeaway here.

You know what I think the real takeaway is? It’s this – have you ever thought to yourself or heard yourself say “The time wasn’t right” or “The time was right“?

What do you think told you that?

Me? Well, I believe it’s the universe/the man above/fate/your gut/whoever/whatever giving you a sign to stop and think a little harder about the situation.

You know how I think about life? I’ve started thinking about it like it’s a Magic Eye image. You put your face really really close to it and focus really really hard on what’s directly in front of you. When you’ve got that focus locked down, you can begin to move further away, slowly and carefully, until something else comes into focus.

It’s not what you expected. It’s not what you thought.
It’s a different look at what is right in front of you. 

If you open your eyes and let yourself roam a bit, the signs and signals that are in front of you will amaze you.

Take your eyes off of that roadmap and that ONE path in front of you and begin to look side to side. See the slightly overgrown paths that venture off of where you’re supposed to be. If you move your eyes from the roadmap, I’m sure you’ll see them – they’ve always been there if you just looked for them.

For me, I felt a tug towards this new life and when I got here, I found myself surrounded by what I needed – people who also believed in signs, the sunsets that reminded me that life is more beautiful than I imagined if I just get out of my apartment, and moments that remind me that I need to stop and work towards becoming the person I want to be, not necessarily the person I currently am.

Believe me, I’m not trying to make this some big ‘fate/religion/whatever’ post. I want you to take from it what you need it to give you but for me, I’m a big believer in the pull of the universe and fate – you just have to look for the right signs.

Going back to what I said before, take your eyes up from the roadmap in front of you. Focus on yourself, your intuition, your gut, your signs, the universe, whatever, and explore that.

Let yourself believe that you may be taken in a direction that you didn’t expect but the universe is trying to nudge you in. Remember – life is like a Magic Eye. Take that second look at a situation you think you see clearly.

If this post resonated with you, I highly recommend checking out my favorite book that also focuses on this idea – The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho (Nope, not sponsored… just a lover of this gem and I’ve actually given every copy I’ve ever purchased away. It’s that good). And, if you do decide to read it, let me know what you think. Seriously.