Speaking Truth

I’ve been thinking about the significance our words can have in our relationships. Especially words of encouragement. I think “speaking truth” looks like sharing truth the someone is loved, and valuable and guides you toward being your best self.

Speaking truth into someone’s life is not the same as giving advice. It’s not telling someone what they should do or who they should be or how they should act, it’s naming the positive things you already see in them. They ways you believe in them, see good and have faith in them.

A few months ago I heard a sermon that focused on our understanding of our own identity; how we see ourselves, and the ways which we long for others to see us and validate our existence. But then the speaker talked about the power we have to affirm knowledge that we are beloved in ourselves and – here is my favourite part – in others.

When I first drafted this post I focused on the importance of finding people who speak truth into your life. The longer I thought about it, it occured to me that rather than focusing on finding those people, *imagine running around with a butterfly net catching those people*, maybe we should just try being those people.

It is so important to surround yourself with people who encourage you and challenge you to be your best self – but it is more in our control to be like that. The intentionality of speaking well of others and reminding them of their belovedness is something we should be trying to do everyday.

Maria Goff once wrote “God doesn’t just give us Himself. Sometimes he gives us a few other people in our lives who’s voices we can trust”.

Encouragement can stir up our weary hearts and stop dust from settling on us when we are feeling tired. Positive affirmations can keep us moving, or even help us get going again if we’ve fallen off track. We have the ability to speak truth into people’s days to remind them of their value and goodness.

It is up to us to learn to be slower to criticize and critique. Be quick to shower others with love.

If this is too vague and feelingsy – here are some simple and direct tips to speak truth:

  • First thing’s first : listening to what someone is going through and assessing if they are inviting you into a space to speak into their life (if you aren’t listening to them they probably won’t listen to you)
  • Reminding people of their worth, who they are and what they deserve
  • Affirmations, encouragement and naming strengths when you see others thriving
  • Lovingly redirecting and calling friends out when they aren’t acting as their best self or engaging in unhealthy behaviour
  • Speaking well of others – to their face and behind their back

Sometimes we don’t always realized how much our words can resonate but even just positive off-hand comments, kindness and empathy can speak to people deeply. A few months ago I was FaceTiming my friend Hannah and out of the blue she said to me “by the way I have always respected that you know how you deserve to be treated and you expect others to treat you that way”.

It wasn’t a grand speech, it wasn’t something I think she planned out, but I remember it changed the whole mood of my day. Our words have a great deal of power so take the opportunities to give reckless encouragement and affection.

Establish culture of encouragement, affection and affirmation in our communities to battle self doubt. Affirm the truth that each of us are worthy of love and belonging.

To Feel Less Restless, We Need to Rest More

I’ve been excessively restless this winter. Always daydreaming about the next person or place to go adventure to.

Within a few days of my last trip to the states I was already looking at flights for my next trip. And don’t get me wrong I love travel and trying new things, but I don’t want to confuse enjoying those experiences for running away from the discomfort of stillness.

It is almost comical that I’ve been feeling this degree of stir-crazy wanderlust because in the summer I was craving stability like nobody’s business. All I wanted was a 9-5 job and weekends at the beach and some much needed consistency in my life. A schedule that I could count on and plan my life around.

So how does that so quickly turn into unease?

Discomfort with stillness can be perceived as boredom, but I don’t think it is. I think that stillness I was craving is something I still really need. Restlessness is a symptom of being so used to bouncing around like I was living inside a pinball machine since I started university in 2013 that stillness is uncomfortable.

It’s a huge adjustment to have your life stand still and not have a turn around every four months.

A theme for me in the last few months has been trying to learn to rest more. But it only recently occured to me that feeling stir crazy or restless and the need to cultivate stillness and practice self-care could be connected.

If you know anything about the enneagram, it won’t surprise you that I am a very typical two and as I was reading about personal growth recommendations for twos this week I came across this quote:

“If you are not addressing your own needs, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to meet anyone else’s needs without problems, underlying resentments, and continual frustration. Further, you will be less able to respond to people in a balanced way if you have not gotten adequate rest, and taken care of yourself properly.”

Rest is great. I think of it as a mature step to allow you to love and care for yourself, it’s necessary and it fights against the idea that we need to constantly be productive. Engaging in intentional rest allows you to recover from the things life throws your way and to build resilience for whatever is next.

But the thing that is hard about rest is it means you have to slow down. You have to let yourself be still and when you exchange restlessness for and stillness you sometimes have to deal with the shit in your head you’d rather ignore. The stress, the worries, the lingering questions or reality that you have no clue what you’re doing.

It would be a heck of a lot easier in the moment to not be still, to keep moving, to ignore those fears or insecurities or questions or hurts or whatever it is in your life. But when we do that we don’t stop and rest. And when you don’t give yourself the space to rest you burn out. You aren’t able to rebuild your spiritual, mental, emotional or physical energy.

My personal Queen, Dr. Brene Brown said in her TED Talk The Price of Invulnerability :

“We are the most addicted, the most medicated, the most obese and in-debt adult cohort in human history.

We’re numbing. And this doesn’t even include busyness. I didn’t even put the “Busy” slide up. You know, when they start having “busy” recovery meetings, you know “busy” 12-step meetings, they’ll have to rent out football stadiums. Because we just stay so busy that the truth of our lives can’t catch up.

You cannot selectively numb emotion. When we numb the dark emotion, when we numb vulnerability and fear, and the shame of not being good enough, we by default numb joy.”

The solution to restlessness isn’t more busyness and traveling and disarray but figuring out how to rest more and be okay with being still. And I’m still working on how to be okay with that.

Each season has a different purpose and a different pace. I believe deep down that God uses each moment and experience to teach and grow and stretch me.

My favourite Irish Proverb says:

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures for anything

If you don’t know where to start; have a night in with yourself, watch the funniest thing you can find on Netflix (might I suggest Brooklyn99 or Schitt’s Creek?), create space for stillness, relaxation and do your best to go to bed an extra hour early.

Don’t let the impulse of busyness or the feeling of stir-crazy restlessness keep you from resting. We are our happiest and best selves when we give ourselves the space to rest.

 

To the Personal Trainer who told Me I Need to Lose Ten Pounds

*Trigger warning: contains content concerning body image, dieting and specific numbers regarding pants size and pounds*


To the personal trainer who told me I need to lose ten pounds,

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you probably didn’t realize how triggering a statement like that could be. But I grew up as a ballerina. My teen years were full of weighing and measuring and comparing and worrying if I was enough. Or if I was too much.

You probably didn’t realize that for some people, coming to the gym isn’t about tracking calories or going down a pant size. You didn’t realize that I’m here to empower myself, to be my strongest and healthiest and happiest self.

And you probably didn’t realize that my strongest and healthiest and happiest self has absolutely zero interest in what my BMI is or the number on the scale or my exact body fat percentage.

You probably didn’t realize that I silently told you to f**k off as soon as you told me that according to you I am over weight and you think I should lose ten pounds.

Because I disagree. Because I love me. Because I haven’t ever loved my self as fiercely as I do these days. Because I don’t give a flying rat’s ass if you think I’m not thin enough or strong enough. Or if you think I’m too much of anything.

I love me and I don’t care what you think.

I could have cried when you told me, a woman who wears size zero jeans, that I’m overweight. I could have left the gym and skipped dinner. I even thought about texting a friend to call me and fake an emergency so I could leave my session with you early.

But I didn’t. I silently reminded myself that you were wrong. I played along until my hour was up. And I went home where I cooked a full meal for myself. Veggies and chicken with spicy sauce. Accompanied by red wine and followed by chocolate cake. I knew that you telling me to lose weight didn’t impact my worth. And I knew that I was confident in myself that I could ignore what you thought.

Because I love me. Because I’m not more or less worthy of love and food and self-care based on someone’s opinion of my body. Because I am enough.

This unfortunate event isn’t going to stop me from going to the gym. I’m not going to stop attending dance classes. I’m not going to let myself feel like I’m only able to track my progress if I go by numbers on a scale.

The thing is, sir, you asked me how I was supposed to be able to track my progress if I am not going to weigh myself or measure what my body is doing. How much did I want to be able to lift? How far did I want to be able to run? How much weight did I want to lose?

I was stumped, I didn’t know how to articulate it in person to you then. But here is my answer:

I count my success at the gym by feeling healthy and strong in my everyday life. I track it by the smiles my workout playlist causes. I’m succeeding when my muscles feel comfortable in familiar ballet poses I haven’t attempted in years.

I’ve never actually gone to a Saturday morning yoga class, because I love sleeping in on weekends, but if I ever get myself there I’m sure I’ll consider that a success too. I’ll know I’m successful when I’m 70 and I can still move and dance and wiggle around. (Y’all I wanna be fit and healthy like Jane Fonda when I’m 70 – ya feel?)

To anyone out there who’s ever wondered if you’re too much, or if you’re too little. You’re enough. You’re exactly how you’re meant to be. And you deserve to define progress for yourself as you strive to be strong, happy and healthy.

 


I texted my friend Kara after this experience, and I wan’t to end today’s post with some of the encouragement she gave me:

Weight is just our relationship with the earth and gravity. The number would be different if we were on the moon. Meaning it’s literally just a number.

The world needs MORE of you if anything, not less. Do something tonight that allows you to feel one with your body, connected and appreciative of it! Affirm it out loud tonight, treat it gently.

Cherish your weight and be grateful for every inch. It has gotten you where you are today.

 

Up In The Air : A Guide to Life in Limbo

If you’re feeling lost, stagnant, confused about where you’re going next – this blog is written with you in mind.

A really common conversation I’ve been having with people lately is that many of us are in seasons of waiting. A stage of sewing seeds and figuring out our next steps, a period of not really knowing how to answer questions about your future or have a clue where you’ll be a year from now. Even though we’re all on different paths I feel like it’s a shared feeling among my peers – and maybe you’ll relate too.

Ironically in seasons of waiting, when it seems as though others are quickly passing by, things can feel stagnant and slow going in our everyday lives. Transitioning from the pace and regular changes of school life can make time feel like it’s dragging on.

In these times when your answer to “what’s new?” is not much, it’s easy to feel like we’re falling behind and stuck. And how overwhelming is it to feel both stuck and like life is passing you by?

No worries though – I have a strategy to share that has helped me deal with stagnant feelings, learn to feel at peace with much of my future being up in the air, and how to tackles the question what do you want to do next?

A few months ago I was I was feeling stuck. I was back home from Florida adventures, had a steady job, and felt both restless and unsure about my next steps. I was craving stability in a multitude of area in my life this year and have felt like so many things are just so up in the air. I was confident about 6 months of plans for myself and then everything past that felt so far away and blurry. All my goals seemed so far away and out of my control – which in turn made my everyday life seem like it wasn’t shaping my future.

However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Our habits, our small goals, and our intentions influence who we are becoming – so our small steps can have a big impact.

My counsellor suggested making a small tangible goal, like signing up to run a 5K and to simply focus on training for that. I took her advice a step further, I didn’t just want a single goal to work toward. I created a list of goals for six months, a year, two years, five years and even ten years down the road.

To be completely honest and realistic, they are flexible and many are wild guesses. A lot of the distant ones are mostly travel destinations because I don’t know if I’ll have a masters degree or be married in five years but I feel very confident in my ability to buy plane tickets to Spain or Utah.

The goals I made ranged from finances and savings to friendships I want to intentionally invest in, to creative and professional goals. Places that are at the top of my world travel list also appeared less as a concrete plan and more of a possible dream. Through this exercise I found that setting goals empowers you to think about what you want to accomplish in your life and what you want your priorities to be.

I gave myself the space to decide what I wanted to focus on and to make sure that my values were reflected in my goals.

It might sound daunting to try to imagine what you want your life to look like in ten years, so many of us just have no idea where we’re going or what life holds for us. Most of my friends said this activity it seemed more overwhelming than helpful. However, I found actually sitting down and articulating clear goals with realistic timelines gave me permission to feel like the pace I’m going is okay. Life isn’t rushing past us and we’re on the way to achieving our dreams. Just because you haven’t gotten there yet doesn’t mean you’re not on the way.

You can set a goal and not feel pressure to immediately reach it. It’s okay to be a work in progress. You’re headed in the right direction you want to and that’s exciting! Avoid letting life happen to you. Intentions and resolutions don’t need to be life changing to be life shaping.

The big question then isn’t the million dollar “what’s next for you?” but for you to ask yourself “what do I want to achieve in my life and what goals can I set to work towards that?”

I believe that contentment comes from figuring out what you want rather than striving for what everybody else around you is doing. I’m not saying all the goals you set should build up to one thing – some of my short term ones included regularly tithing to my church, investing in specific relationships, getting a drastic haircut, trying my hand at freelance writing and painting my room grey. Some of the less immediate goals included learning french (like actually) running a 5K, seeing long distance friends, lots of travel, watercolor painting more often, applying to grad school, getting married and writing a book. But those are the things I want – so what do you want?

Articulating your goals and thinking about what you want to achieve is the first step to make things happen.

My best advice for successful goal setting is making sure your goals have timelines, which is one of the qualities of a S. M. A. R. T. goal. I have found that it helps you have a perspective to see that you are making progress even if it doesn’t feel like it.

You might be in a hard season and feeling stick for a few weeks can make it feel like you’ll be stuck forever – but that’s not true. Zooming out to imagine life in six months or a year is a reminder to keep working toward who we want to grow into.

Stay in the present and do what you can now to blaze your own trail and find fulfilment in each day and each small goal you accomplish. In the words of my current favourite poet Cleo Wade, “Create your own finish lines. Let there be as many as you want, and let there be many.”

Good Grief

Grief is hard and I’m only twenty-three so honestly I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of experiencing and understanding it.

But here is what I know so far; C.S. Lewis said “Love makes us vulnerable to grief”. When we experience grief it is because of a loss of love. A life or relationship ending.

Grief is hard. I cannot pretend that it is not extremely difficult. But my perspective on it is that if you want to avoid grief you need to avoid love. You can’t be vulnerable. You can’t fully experience joy. If you don’t want to risk getting hurt you don’t have to – but you limit the love you feel.

Brené Brown, my personal queen, has a TED Talk about the price we pay when we aren’t willing to be vulnerable. We miss out on a life fully lived. In the talk she says;

“If vulnerability is a sharp edge there may be nothing sharper than joy. To let yourself soften into loving someone, to caring about something passionately, thats vulnerable. … There is a guarantee that no one talks about that and that is if we don’t allow ourselves to experience joy and love we will definitely miss out on filling our reservoir with what we need in those hard things happen.”

I get this rush sometimes when I do things a little out of my comfort zone. I open myself up a bit and feel like “Yes! This is it. I’m doing the thing. I’m living life fearlessly”.

In hard times is easy to feel out of sorts and confused while looking for answers. Looking for an easy way out rather than being stuck sitting with this feeling. If you are sitting on the shore of grief, experiencing the waves, wondering when it will stop being hard – well truthfully I don’t know. But you don’t need to rush through feeling grief, I’m not sure we even can if we want to.

But, I do know it is okay to be sad and honour the significant joy, love and vulnerability that comes from a life fully lived. You followed your heart and said what you needed to say and left it all on the dance floor – or something like that.

The grief we go through is a reflection of a life well lived. A life vulnerable to love. It might be hard, but I consider that the good kind of grief.

Growing Up Doesn’t Totally Suck

We hear so many things about how getting older sucks. About how things are easier when we are young and jokes that it’s a trap that we have to grow up and face responsibility. Yes, ‘adulting’ is hard. All the levels of paying rent and your phone and having to remember to do the dishes and take out the trash.

But it’s not all bad. There are things about growing up that are actually pretty good. For instance, you never have to live through high school again. You’ll never have acne and braces and painfully frizzy hair you haven’t learned to tame yet again.

Can I get an amen?

It can definitely be cathartic to lament over the struggles of adulthood and responsibility. Meal prepping?? Having to go to bed at a reasonable hour to function because you’re not 18 anymore and you have a nine to five job and 4am isn’t an acceptable time to let your head hit the pillow on weeknights?? The painful truth that your metabolism isn’t what it once was?? Don’t get me started on aches and pains. 

I put out a survey on my instagram story the other day to hear what people think the worst part of getting older are, and some of the responses included;

  • “Student loans. Loss of child-like wonder. Becoming jaded.”
  • “Regretting not trying something”
  • “Never ending to do list”
  • “Bills/ money stress, body changes the come with age, not understanding current slang”
  • “Having to ask off of work/ not being able to just drop everything for a spontaneous holiday”  
  • “Paying for things myself”
  • “Constantly comparing yourself to what other people your age are doing as a way to measure success. Our twenties/ early thirties are so different for everyone, and it’s easy to feel like you’re a failure if you’re not at the same place in life as the people around you”
  • “Feeling like you’re not doing the right thing and that you’re in the wrong place”

Reckoning with aging, feeling lost or like you don’t measure up, the responsibility of finances, it’s a lot. Wisdom comes with getting older, but the experiences and trials we learn from can be down right brutal. It can be overwhelming at times, for each of us.

How could this not be awful? Because life isn’t just the hard parts.

Even on the hard days when our struggles seem to outweigh the joys of getting older, I assure you they don’t. Getting older means being blessed with more time on this earth to live life. And life is too short not to take time to celebrate the good things, so today I want to take a moment to celebrate some good things about growing up.

Each day we get to become ourselves more and more. Confidence in yourself as a person grows, in your style choices and trusting your gut. I know I’ve been trying to nurture each of these more and more in my twenties and I look forward to growing my self love and self confidence the older that I get.

This confidence in ourselves and our abilities comes from surviving things that show us we are capable people. Think of the most embarrassing, vulnerable, gut wrenching thing you’ve ever done? You did that and survived. That kind of knowledge makes me so confident in my self to show up and know I can handle situations and put myself in the world and even if I stumble I’ll get right back up and be okay.

I got my heart broken a while back – and I remember having this weird thought “hey this sucks but at least now I understand what John Mayer meant when he wrote my favourite sad songs”. It’s a weird consolation prize, but some of the more difficult experiences that accompany getting older allows us to empathize better and that is a huge silver lining to heartache.

We get to understand human experiences to new levels of depth. We get to do that. That is part of the privilege of growing up and getting older.

Along with that survey about the worst parts of getting older are, I asked about what some of the best parts are;

  • “Freedom in the moment to moment to pursue our passions, our loved, our light”
  • “More opportunities to travel the world and do rad things with your life”
  • “Becoming more self-confident”
  • “Independence; to a certain extent, i can do what I want when I want”
  • “Making money for traveling”
  • ‘You can eat straight out of the Betty Crocker icing tub with nobody to tell you off for it”
  • “You have experiences to be grateful for. More stories, more gratitude”
  • “Enjoying slow mornings, moments of peace”
  • “Ordering pizza whenever I want”
  • “Being able to eat cheese and wine and chocolate for dinner”
  • “Wisdom and peace of mind”

From my perspective, it simply can’t be repeated enough that you don’t ever have to go back to high school again.

The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, or like you wish you could go back to younger carefree days, remember that the trials build confidence in ourselves, the hard days help allow us to empathize, and when all else fails you’re old enough to go to the grocery store and buy yourself a chocolate cake – no questions asked.