Raise the Damn Bar

Last fall I sent one of my friends a text. It was about something a guy had done to get my attention and I had thought it was cute. But it was also a bit of a lamentation that the smallest amount of effort seemed worth celebrating. I realized the bar was set too low. And I don’t just mean in my dating life, but in so much of my life.

It really got my thinking about raising the bar in the way that allow others to treat me and in how I treat others, because of course you should treat people the way you want to be treated. Cheesy, but true.

Minimal effort was no longer good enough either way.


One of my favourite poets, Tonya Ingram, has a poem that goes;

“You are not hard to love. A mountain does not become small for those who cannot climb.”

I’ve thought about these words a lot in the last few months. The idea of space, of being allowed to claim and take up space is something I talked about a lot in theory during my undergrad, but I hadn’t really taken it to my real life or applied it to my relationships.

The feminist scholar Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, iconically quoted by Beyonce in the song Flawless***, says in her book We Should All Be Feminists

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men.”

Now I know this isn’t quite the same thing, but bare with me. Adichie is talking about breaking systemic barriers of sexism, and I’m trying to apply that to my own interpersonal experiences. It’s different, but similar concepts.

I think it’s okay to take up space. I think it is good to know your worth and that you are worthy to take up space. And the people you choose to have in your life should be respectful of you, your boundaries and the expectations you have set about how you want to be treated while you live your authentic life.

“When you know what you deserve red flags become deal breakers” – Hayley Ringo

For me, sometimes this means embracing if I want to be a little extra and not letting people shame me for wanting to take a lot of photos or have really girly girl’s nights. When I talking about raising the bar, I mean that people should let you be your most vivacious self without feeling bad about it. They should let you take up space. They should respect and value your interests, your passions, your ideas and opinions. And most importantly, they should not make you feel like you are hard to love.

My favourite quote from We Should All Be Feminists is;

“I’ve chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femininity. And I want to be respected in all my femaleness. Because I deserve to be.”

It’s not just femaleness, it’s whatever you identify as you, you deserve respect. You are worthy of that. You are worthy of time. Of patience and time and all those other good qualities. In the season two finale of This Is Us a character said “choosing our people is the closest thing we come to controlling our destiny”, and I think that is really true. So be intentional about choosing people who will show you they care.

Moral: You can take up space. You are not hard to love, you are not too big. You get to ask for what you need. Do not shrink yourself.

If you think this sounds entitled, I’m not saying that you should run around demanding people treat you with respect and then play games with them. This is a two way street, and one of the best ways to set an example of showing people how you want to be treated is to treat others that way.

Set your boundaries, have high expectations, and hold yourself accountable to living up to them. Raising the bar isn’t just about the way others treat you. It’s about you growing to be a better person too. It’s about you treating people the best way you can. If you don’t want people to walk all over you – start by being empathetic, understanding and kind.

Don’t make excuses, take responsibilities for your actions, know your worth and be the best you that you can be.

 

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Life Moves Pretty Fast

I usually set small, monthly resolutions instead of one for the year because I like to change things up. It also means you get to reset each month if you stopping going to bed early or meal prepping three days in.

This year is the first in a while when I actually set goals for the whole year*. I guess these days I’m thinking more about long term growth, planning ahead and thinking about what I want to achieve in the big picture.

I learned so much last year. Life moves fast, but not quite as fast as we fear it does. You’re not running out of time if you’re making the most of what you have. For me, those things look like doing things that matter, encouraging others and telling the people I love that I love them.

In 2018 it felt like I had two overarching conversations with people in my life a lot.

The first with people my own age who we’re having an existential crisis about getting older. The should’s , the ‘I haven’t achieved enough yet and it’s already too late for me to have a baby by 30 and I don’t know what career I wan’t to be in and maybe I got the wrong degree and why is everyone getting married and why aren’t there more zeros in my bank account and should I have an RRSP yet and should I go to grad school” and it goes on and on.

Wondering if we’re already failing. Wondering if we aren’t doing enough.

The second kind of conversation I’ve experienced a lot lately are with people who are 30+. Family members, older co-workers, mentors. People who have lived and seen so much more life than I have. People who know the path isn’t always straight. People who know that life is full of ups and there isn’t anything we should be doing.


For my birthday and the start of the New Year this year, I went to visit and stay with some friends in the United States. What started as a chill trip to Virginia and Washington turned into an adventure filled week and a spontaneous road trip to from little Roanoke, VA to New York City.

One of the highlights for me was that on my birthday we hiked a mountain trail in Virginia. I’d never really seen mountains up-close before, let alone climbed one, and it was a pretty great way to ring in my twenty-third year of living.

While we were hiking up the mountain I was thinking about learning to focus less on small moments when we slip up and to look at things as a big picture.

I am the type of person who can get very stuck on the negative. It doesn’t matter if I’m doing most things right – if I mess up it’s all I focus on. I don’t think I’m alone in that type of thinking. But here is the thing; we don’t need to get so hung up on the small slip ups. People aren’t watching to see if you trip once or twice on you way up the mountain, they are interested if you keep going and make it to the top.

The small steps, the everyday trials and how we handle them dictate if we get to the top of the mountain. Even though the challenge and goal is the summit – our biggest stumbling block could be the first step.

Don’t let fears of not achieving enough haunt you – there isn’t anything you should be doing.

Chase the dreams you have right now, be the best and kindest person you can be right now, do the best with what you have in this moment. Our lives are big pictures, made up of these moments – so don’t live it feeling like you should be doing something or being something better.

Setting goals and making New Year’s resolutions? Love it. Do it, plan for the future. Work on your growth. But don’t let the hope you have for who you will become take away from loving the person you are right now and the small steps you’re taking today to get you where you want to be in the future.

 

 

 

 

* If you are interested in what my resolutions for 2019 are they include:

  • Not bringing my phone to bed (I’ve already slipped up on this many times, but I’m still trying)
  • Only buying one item of clothing per month (trying to simplify and pair down in general, but especially in my closet)
  • Learning to be a better ally (This is something we can all work on, and the more I learn – the more I realize how much room I have to grow)

 

 

Breakup Survival Guide

Okay, so here is the thing, one time I wrote a breakup survival guide because I went through a rough breakup, and subsequently about seven people I really care about also went through rough breakups. So I put all my advice together as a care package of advice to honour their grief and help them along to the other side. I never posted it because it felt too vulnerable and it was more of a “I’m so sorry you’re feeling this way let me send you the link to my google doc survival guide” that I didn’t write with the intention of posting – but people really appreciated it so here we are.

Recently I stumbled upon the guide while going through a different season of grief- and I realized the advice is still good. And maybe I just care less about being vulnerable or maybe I just see the silver lining of heart ache is that I get to empathize better with others and maybe my experience and advice can help your heart feel seen. I said to my friend the other day that I feel like maybe positive side of grief is that when you get to the other side you can turn back and help call your friends forward through their own.

So here we are; my breakup survival guide.

I think often times when we are going through breakups or heartache it can be exhausting to be around people. We’re using so much energy to wake up and get our butt’s out of bed and through the day that sometimes we don’t want to be around people. Isolating yourself isn’t good, but forcing yourself to be with people when you don’t have the energy to be social isn’t either. So you have to find that balance. But the great thing about books is that they can be a voice of encouragement and hope to you and you can read them from the comfort of your bed in your sweatpants and a cup of tea.

Some books that have helped me through heartache, that I’ve shared with my friends are:

  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  • If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski
  • Love Does by Bob Goff
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott
  • Scary Close by Donald Miller
  • Rising Strong by Brené Brown

My breakup advice doesn’t stop at a book list. There are a lot of ways you can help yourself mend a broken heart. Like I said, isolating yourself isn’t good and I believe spending time with people who love you and make you feel good. I love the expression “people who feel like sunshine”, and I truly do have those friends who after I spend time with them I feel like I have a glow. Reach out to those people and let them love you.

Along with spending time with friends is having fun with friends. You might think, but Kaitlyn, isn’t that the same thing? No, not always, especially not if you’re going through a rough time. So once the sadness starts to pass, have so many fun nights with your friends. Go to your best friend’s house and lay on their floor while they make you brownies. Eat more ice cream than your lactose intolerant stomach can handle. Drink rosé on the beach and laugh too loud and remember all the wonderful surprises life has in store for you.

Journal, make art, find ways to express your thoughts and feelings so you can process them and then let them go. Buy yourself a plant, love it, tend to it, watch it grow, and remember that progress, growth and healing is a slow process. You won’t notice things change day by day, but month by month you’ll notice little changes and developments. Grow with the plant.

The most comforting thing I was told by my friends was that there is no rush to feel better. Which is pretty fucking liberating to be honest. You get to be sad for however long you need to, and you get to process for as long as you need to, and there is no deadline to feel ‘better’ (also can someone explain to me what ‘better’ is?). If you only need to be sad for a week that’s awesome but you can also still be figuring out where you are at months and months later. The top of your Breakup Survival To Do List should be to feel everything you need to feel.

Along with some book recommendations, I have some song recommendations for you too. Because a breakup isn’t a good breakup without a playlist to go along with it – right? Here are some of the tunes that got me through one of mine:

  • Literally every John Mayer song ever written, especially the album The Search For Everything ALSO the album Battle Studies (specifically The Edge Of Desire)
  • You’re Such A by Hailee Steinfeld
  • 11 Blocks by Warbel
  • Saved by Khalid
  • Once by Maren Morris
  • Gonna Get Over You by Sara Bareilles
  • Tired of Talking by LEON
  • You & Me by G-Eazy
  • Think About You by LEON
  • Latch by Sam Smith
  • Over You by Zak Waters
  • What’s Love Got To Do With It by Rose Cousins
  • Let You Get Away by Shaun Frank
  • Drunk Girls Don’t Cry by Maren Morris
  • Best Thing I Never Had by Beyonce
  • Too Good by Drake
  • Yesterday by The Beatles
  • If You Ever Want to be In Love by James Bay
  • Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself by Jess Glynne
  • Let It Matter by Johnnyswim
  • I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me) by Whitney Houston (this will inspire you for the love to come)

If you want more tunes you can just listen to my hysterically mellow-dramatically sad breakup playlist on spotify, because why not.

The two themes to get out of this post are that it’s okay if you feel crappy, there is no need to pretend like you don’t when you get your heart broken. But it will get better and one day you might even be able to see silver linings to having gone through this. And secondly, don’t be afraid to lean on people. Let your friends be there for you in the sadness of the day and in the happiness that is waiting for you tomorrow.

I was given a lot of advice and encouragement from people in my life and I want to close by sharing some of those words with you;

“Don’t lose confidence in yourself, what you can do, who you are, and the reasons why so many people love you. Hold on to those things and the joy that makes you, you” – S.M.

“All I can tell you right now is that eventually, things will get better. Just take your time to get back to what you feel is normal. Be sad for as long as you need to be, take your time to heal and grow. Surround yourself with family, friends and things that make you happy. If it feels like nothing is helping, pray. Talking to God always helps when nothing else does.” – D.M.

“You need time. And to take that time and live through it. This time doesn’t have to be bad. This is life. And life is beautiful even in sadness.” – C.G

“Resist the feeling of wanting to fast forward through your life. You are capable of finding happiness every single day. You are the sun.” – C.G.

Posting this is kinda one of those “oh my gosh this is uncomfortably vulnerable” moments, because talking about heartbreak and admitting what cheesy sad songs I listened to means sharing a bit more of myself. It reminds me of the puffy-eyed, stoic girl I was for a few weeks of 2017. But I’ve been told by friends that this advice helped them. And maybe you are going through a hard time, or maybe your best friend just got blindsided by a breakup and you have no idea what to say. So this is for you, this is for anyone who’s ever had their heart broken. This is me, sanding on the other side of grief telling you that it’s going to be okay.

Eight Bridges Away

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there” 

I’m the type of person who is prone to worry, to wonder how I’ll deal with an issue I’m not even dealing with yet. It might come up in the future, IF x, y, and z happen, I might have to cross that bridge. But lately I’ve decided I’m not going to try to cross bridges that are eight bridges away from where I am.

Taking things one step at a time isn’t easy. But living in the present and focusing only on what is in front of you can cut down on a lot of unnecessary stress.

When I used to tell one of my friends about all the things I would worry and stress about she would categorize them into things I could actively do something about and “future Kaitlyn’s problems”. There are things we simply cannot deal with yet. Answering questions about where you are going to be in a few months might be an easy question or very difficult.

Sometimes you just have to trust that in the future you’ll be able to deal with the issues you face as they come up. If you deal with the little things now, the things that seem huge now might actually be little to you when you’re finally there.

Time is a funny thing. It can be a stressful concept, we feel that we either don’t have enough of it or we’re overwhelmed when we have so much we don’t know what to do with it because there is pressure that we always need to be productive. We need a plan of what to do with our time so we don’t waste it. It can feel like time is running out for us- but we have to remember that isn’t true.

 

I don’t know about you, but I was stressed out about 22

I am currently 22, and I’ve been thinking about time a lot. I am in a period of my life where I have a lot of time – and I have a lot of control over the way I use my time – forever. If I want to travel or go back to school it’s in my hands to make that happen.

Sometime last year I started crying because I was stressed about turning 23. For perspective – I was 21 , so it wasn’t even my next birthday. It was my next, next birthday. But 23 sounded so much more grown up, so daunting, and I didn’t know where I would be. It’s funny to think about now, because I caught myself being excited about 23 recently. It doesn’t seem so scary being only 6 months away. Maybe because I’ve had time to live and grow and overcome some of the smaller bridges to get me there .

As we move through life, we have a better sense of where we are going and we have more time to figure out how to get there. Often, we even discover that there are many different paths to get to the destination of our choosing. Thinking about being 23 a year or two ago was scary because I had no idea what this current year would hold. I didn’t know what life would look like for me, and now the picture is a little clearer.

Even a few months ago if you told me I would be visiting the Brooklyn Bridge with two new and really close friends I would have been like what? Really? But how will that unfold? Who are these people?

What I have learned is, we don’t need to understand how everything is going to unfold. We don’t need a road map, we don’t need to know every bridge we’re going to have to cross and how we will manage crossing them. We just need to focus on this moment and crossing the bridge in front of us. We need to know our goals and where we hope to be. The general destination we’re working towards, yes. But the exact directions? Not necessary. We will get there. We will keep moving and navigating, but step by step directions aren’t guaranteed.

New friendships and spontaneous travel plans? Working things out and discovering passions and the “ah ha” moments when it clicks and you know where you want to go? The uncomfortable moments of limbo and indecision that challenge you to grow? You don’t want to miss those moments by knowing every step ahead of you. And you don’t want to waste your time worrying and trying to predict every surprise.

 

Listen to your Mentors 

As I said, I am 22, and in the last few months I’ve gotten advice from a few mentors I really look up to and respect. I think it is wise to get advice from friends, but especially wise to have mentors who have life experiences beyond our own. If they are in their 30’s or 50’s, it’s been helpful to hear about where they were at when they were my age. And the ironic thing was that many of them said they didn’t know what they were doing or what their plan was at my age. They joked with me that life changes so much from your twenties to even your thirties, that there will be people and experiences that shape the course of your life, and whatever you plan now will change anyway.

We are young. We have time. We are going to be okay even without a step by step plan. And part of the fun is not knowing how things will unfold.

Turning 23 is still a few months away for me, but is it’s not really about the number. It’s about getting older and feeling like I need a plan. The truth is, we need a destination, a goal, idea or a passion, and we need to start moving. But we only need to focus on the bridge ahead of you.

I picked up the book The Opposite of Loneliness recently, by the late Marina Keegan and this passage has resonated with me and I think of it often when I am trying to stay present and feel hopeful for the future rather than daunted by it:

We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense… that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving… What we have to remember is that we can still do anything.

The most comforting thing is having mentors, strong women who I admire and have lived more life than me, telling me that it’s okay not to have a plan. It takes time, being thoughtful and intentional about the moments you’re in and focusing on what is in front of you rather than playing a game of “what if’s”. You’ll find your path. You will cross that bridge when you get there.

 

 

Wonder

In April, when I flew home from Florida, I was surrounded by kids. And I mean directly in front of me, behind me and beside me. Which is sometimes bad news and can mean constant crying on an airplane – but what stuck out to me was the cute little girl in the seat ahead of me. She looked to be about 3 years old and she kept leaning over and pressing her hands up to the window while looking down as we flew over Orlando.

Now I think looking out a window during take off is pretty cool, but seeing the look of pure wonder on her face reminded me that I want to walk though my life with that perspective. I admired how the clouds captivated her and considered this; How many times a day do I feel wonder?

Wonders of The World

I tried googling “The Seven Wonders of the World” for this blog post and it gave me so many options. Did I mean the ancient world? The ecological wonders of the world? The seven most remarkable civil engineering feats of the 20th century? Or the seven wonders of the medieval world? I had no idea there were so many lists to choose from!

It goes to show, we live in a pretty wonderful world. So why don’t we always feel like it?

Because bad days happen, break ups and fights with best friends happen, conflict raging around the world happen. We get stressed about things in our lives and it puts blinders on us. When we don’t feel wonderful, we don’t feel like taking the time to admire the little wonders that happen around us everyday. Maybe we even feel like there isn’t anything wonderful where we live because it hasn’t made some fancy list declaring that it is a wonder to be celebrated.

It is okay to not feel great or happy all day everyday. In fact, that’s pretty normal and I don’t think anyone does. But wonder isn’t defined as something happy, it is more of a feeling of admiration. I like to think of it as curiosity combined with gratitude. When you see something beautiful or unexpected you experience a feeling of wonder. It is about marveling at something bigger than yourself, taking in some kind of beauty or experience, and being thankful for it.

When I think about wonder,  I think about faith. Having my breath taken away by something beautiful also seems like a good time to give thanks to the God who created this world. The moments where we are awestruck by beauty are moments when we recognized how great and wonderful this world truly is.

New York

A couple of weeks ago I travel to New Jersey and New York to visit friends. Being in New York City felt especially surreal, and I tried to follow the model of that little girl from my flight home from Orlando by allowing myself to be in awe, feeling wonder, and pausing often to marvel at the world around me.

As we drove out of the Lincoln Tunnel and into the city I exclaimed to my friends “The buildings are SO tall!!”, “There are so many more trees than I thought there would be!!!”, “Guys, we’re in NEW YORK!!!!”. It took me at least a full day to be chill about how it felt to be in one of the most iconic cities in the world.

Walking through Time’s Square, riding the Staten Island Ferry toward a glimmering New York City skyline at night, wandering through city streets and neighbourhoods in Lower Manhattan and visiting parks I had only ever seen in movies almost felt like a fairytale come to life. If you consider Friends, You’ve Got Mail or Breakfast at Tiffany’s fairy tales I suppose.

The whole trip was wonderful, and I mean that in the sense that I felt so filled with wonder. I had a constant feeling that I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. We live in such an amazing and awe inspiring world! Each time I travel I feel grateful that I get to explore another glimpse of it.

In New York I saw a lot of amazing things and but one thing I will probably never get over the sunset from the Empire State Building. A combination of perfect timing getting there, ideal weather and dreamy clouds made it an beautiful sunset from an incredible perspective. Standing 86 floors in the air, looking down at the big city I felt like that little girl who I sat behind, so full of awe and wonder.

Wonders In Your Own Backyard

It might feel like you need to be a jet-setter to expereince the wonders of the world, but that simply isn’t true.

In the song What A Wonderful World Louis Armstrong famously sang;

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

It is pretty common to pack your bags and travel great distances to see wonder around the world, far away from your back yard. Being out of our ordinary lives is a reminder of the wonders in our world that we aren’t used to seeing, but it certainly isn’t the only way to experience wonder. It’s just a sign that we’ve begun to stop taking notice of the wonders we experience daily.

Green trees and red roses and blue skies are fairly ordinary, but the perspective of curiosity and gratitude allow us to look at our surroundings with wonder and appreciate the world that has been created for us. Whether or not you’re a spiritual person, taking time to pause at the many wonders in our day to day lives is healthy and keeps you in a perspective of being thankful and appreciating how cool, complex and beautiful the world is, and that we are just one small part of it.

A challenge for you this week is to find something that fills you with wonder. To be intentional about pausing to appreciate things that might seem ordinary to you. Try to take fresh eyes to your regular life and find wonder in the small details you might be overlooking.

 

All The Lonely People

In late May I acquired 11 books in the span of a week and I’ve been pouring over them since. Poetry books, biographies, books about loving people and philosophies about life, and so many more things.

As I was reading along I was connecting the dots between them and found that many of them deal with being willing to stand alone and how to fight off loneliness. So here is a little summary and some extra wisdom from writers I admire.

What Loneliness Tells You & How We Listen to Our Fears 

When we find ourselves feeling lonely it’s not a simple as not having friends around. Loneliness and community might seem like opposites, but we don’t simply choose one or the other, we have a lot of other choices that we come to first. Such as choosing fear of not being accepted or liked over being vulnerable. Or choosing to isolate ourselves from others. It’s smaller, everyday choices that shape what our relationships look like.

I think that the fear of not being accepted or liked can very easily stop us from engaging in meaningful relationships. In the poem “Here Is What Loneliness Tells You” Tonya Ingram writes:

“You are the only one

You are the girl who feels awkward referring as herself as a woman because some part of you is unable to grow into it 

You are the girl who texts too much 

You are made of too much”

Our fears can tell us we are too much, that we are alone in our emotions and while we are trying too hard we are still unwanted. One of the many books I have been reading is called Kill The Spider, which is about finding the lies you tell yourself and getting rid of them so they don’t impact your daily life. A common lie many people deal with is that people won’t accept us or we aren’t really wanted at that party. When we start to believe these fears of not being welcome and let them dictate our actions it can cause us to disengage and make ourselves to feel more alone.

In Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller writes;

“We are proud people, and because we have sensitive egos and so many of us live our lives in front of televisions, not having to deal with real people who might hurt or offend us, we float along on our couches like astronauts… hardly interacting with other human beings at all. … Loneliness is something that happens to us, but I think is it something we can move ourselves out of. I think a person who is lonely should dig into a community… Jesus does not want us floating through space or sitting in front of our televisions. Jesus wants us interacting, eating together, laughing together”.

I couldn’t agree more, and I think that though loneliness is hard and sometimes feels like we can’t do anything about feeling that way – we can do quite a bit. It’s all about making small choices of opening up to people and making sure that fear isn’t making the choice for us.

True Belonging & Choosing Vulnerability

If you know me well, you know I love Brené Brown. Even if you don’t know me well you know I love her. Did I talk about her with the guy sitting next to me on my flight last week? Maybe. Anyway, the point is she says a lot of important things about belonging and her research about the importance of learning to belong to yourself before you find belonging with others has been on my mind a lot lately.

In her book Braving The Wilderness, Dr. Brown writes:

“Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.

She talks about the idea that we don’t need to belong with anyone else before we feel at home with ourselves and then with the belief you are enough you can open yourself to the world. I love that idea because as an extrovert, the thought of being alone has always seemed lonely, but her concept of belonging to yourself means that it doesn’t need to be that way. To overcome fear and choose vulnerability you need to believe that you are worthy. You must believe that you are loved and loveable and have confidence in yourself to contribute to relationships.

When we choose vulnerability over fear you give yourself the opportunity to share yourself and your story with others. Maybe that means going out of your comfort zone and spending time with new people. Maybe it means trusting that you don’t have to prove anything. When we are authentic in our relationships, when we show up rather than show off, we can become known and understood by others.

Loving Yourself, Building Community & Drawing Others In

The Beatles famously sang “All the lonely people, where do they all come from?”. To answer this I give you another Donald Miller quote from Blue Like Jazz, “The words alone, lonely, and loneliness are three of the most powerful words in the English language… those words say that we are human”. Loneliness is a feeling, it is something we all experience and “all the lonely people” are actually you and me. What is important isn’t that you never feel lonely, but you make choices to move away from loneliness and these choices will add up to the lives we build for ourselves.

It starts with believing that everyone, including and especially you, is valuable and worthy of love. And then practicing that self-love and sharing love with others by being inclusive. Making room for people, letting them know they are valued and welcome, it is one of the easiest things we can do and it makes a lasting impact in people’s lives.

In the poem “Here Is What Love Tells You” Tonya Ingram writes:

“you are yours before you choose anyone else 

You are cicada and buzz

You are loose flannel and cup 

Green tea

You are soft knuckles 

You are dance alone

You are unafraid”

Essentially: you are so many good things. You are so worthy of love and belonging and acceptance. And when you walk in the world knowing that and treating others that way, good people will gravitate into your life.

In her essay The Opposite of Loneliness, Marina Keegan wrote “We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life”. I think however, maybe there is an opposite of loneliness. I think the opposite of loneliness is finding belonging within yourself and as a result building authentic and honest community with others.

 

A Heart Of Glass Turns One

This time last year I got the courage up to share some writing on this platform. If you’ve been reading along, thank you!

This blog was named A Heart Of Glass, after a John Mayer lyric. I explained in my first post ever that I named it after a line in the song War of My Life, that goes, “I’ve got a hammer/  And a heart of glass/ I got to know right now/ Which walls to smash”. I’m the type of person who likes the idea of embracing vulnerability and opening my heart up to people. And this year I tried to do that here, exploring ideas about how to navigate life and balance a healthy heart, mind, sprit and relationships. I found myself asking the question “what does it mean to be healthy?” quite a bit.

I’ve had the chance to embrace failures by redefining success for myself, think about the ways to let people know our authentic selves in relationships and how to fight for meaningful friendships when things get tough. I’ve talked about my own spirituality and invited others to write and share their perspectives on life as well.

 


As I find my footing in this next chapter of my life I find myself asking new questions. Less about the general “what does it mean to be healthy?” and more specifically “what does it look like for me to be healthy and how do I get myself there?”.

There is a very wide range of what health looks like for everyone; there isn’t any one right way to do things. Healthy people don’t eat the same diet or work out the same ways, we don’t express our emotions or creativity the same either, and our best, happiest and healthiest selves is something we decide on our own.

There are a lot of opinions out in the world, I know I’ve handed out a few here or there over the last year, but what I’m working on these days is figuring out what feels right for me. I trust facts about healthy eating and what healthy relationships look like, and I trust my counsellor who gives me strategies to handle my emotional health – but ultimately I need to feel out the healthiest balance in my life.

I believe this is something we really all must to do. We can be given 101 opinions – but the best thing to do is feel things out for yourself and figure out the right fit for you.

The older I get the more I’m aware of myself. I can tell when I’m anxious or projecting stress. I can identify conflicts when they are small, and still easily manageable. I know I shouldn’t eat all junk food if I want to feel okay the next day (and generally live according to that). I think the longer we live and the better we get to know ourselves the better we can feel out what is best for us.

 


A key to finding a healthy balance in our lives is identifying when things feel wrong. If you’re running and your legs are a little sore you’re probably fine – but if there is a sharp pain you need to stop. The same goes for spicy food and heart burn – know your limits, friend. Sometimes on the path to figuring out what’s right you have to figure out what feels wrong.

If there is an area of wellness you’re not familiar with, doing research and getting facts before making assumptions is important, but keep in mind that there are a lot of possibilities of what a healthy you can look like, so it is up to you to find your best fit.

When relationships feel honest and supportive, when you find a type of exercise you really enjoy doing, when you learn to talk about feelings in a productive way, when you know what these things look and feel like of you – then you can find your own unique answer to the questions “what does it look like for me to be healthy and how do I get myself there?”.

As I’ve been working on this blog I’ve been keeping in mind that all the areas I’ve written about are connected. Our physical health impacts our mental health (and vice versa), the health of our relationships is impacted by our emotional health which is impacted by our spiritual health (and vice versa etc, you get the picture). It’s all connected.

If one area is feeling off, it can shake your whole life up quite a bit. Don’t underestimate how taking care of little issues in your life can make a big positive impact in many areas.

Finally, don’t shy away from trusting yourself to know what is right for you. I’ve learned a lot in the past year, but maybe nothing more empowering than learning to trust my own choices and feelings.

 


 

The blog and I are going to take a bit of a hiatus for this next month- but keep your eyes open for new posts coming your way in July!