The Lies We Listen To

The credit for this blog belongs to my friend Montana Wood, because she mailed me a copy of one of her favourite books and it’s the inspiration of what I’m going to be writing about today. The book is Carlos Whittaker’s Kill The Spider.

In the self-care series I think there are two ends of spiritual self-care. I think spirituality can be a calming force in people’s lives that brings hope encouragement and peace. But the other side of it is what I want to focus on today, that you need to take time to care for and invest in your spirit.

Spiders & Cobwebs

The premise of Kill The Spider is that there are lies we are believing about ourselves. These lies are spiders in our lives that build cobwebs and impacts how we live our lives, have relationships with others and ultimately how we serve God. But we can solve this by figuring out what those lies are and replacing them with truth – killing the spider.

Whittaker defines spiders as an agreement you have made with a lie and cobwebs as medicating behaviour that bring false comfort to the lie. Cobwebs can be things like insecurity with body image, seeking approval from others, substance abuse , control being a control freak, finding worthiness through being a workaholic. Any type of behaviour that brings false or temporary comfort to lies about ourselves.

When I first started the book I was like “oh this is nice, but I don’t think I actually have any spiders”. But I was so wrong, because I do and we all do, it just comes out in different ways. As you figure out what these lies you’re listening to are you not only kick them out, but you replace them with truth. This can be done by;

  • Keeping track of how God is present in your life, how He is speaking to you and answering prayers
  • Trusting God always, when when you don’t really understand what He’s doing in your life
  • Involving God in the small and ordinary parts of your life, not just when you’re in trouble and need help
  • When you feel lies creeping in that make you feel unloved or unworthy push them out with what you know is true
  • Be honest with your friends about what you struggle to believe so they can hold you accountable
  • Practice gratitude for the small moment
  • Keep digging deeper and grow in your faith to prep for challenging seasons

Fact or Fiction? 

I recently heard: “Just because you’re feeling something doesn’t mean those feelings are true, should be validated, should be entertained or acted on. I think thats a lifelong quest to figure out what is truth and what are feelings” and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and wondering how it impacts our interpretations of the world.

We deserve to feel like our emotions and feeling are valid but it’s important to challenge if they are always true. We need to work through assessing when what we feel is contradictory to what we know to be true.

I’ve written before about Jamie Tworkowski’s post What I Feel vs What I Know but I’m bringing it back up again in this context because I think it’s helpful to illustrate an important point. We can have days or weeks or seasons that feel pretty terrible, where we don’t feel good about our lives, maybe we build up a lot of cobwebs trying to bring comfort to the lies we are believing. We could feel stuck or unloved but what know is that is not true. We are loved, we are worthy, there are things to be grateful for even in hard seasons.

Jamie wrote;

“i feel sad more than i feel happy.

i feel stuck more than i feel free.

i feel defeated more than i feel accomplished.
i feel i should have found love by now.
i think about it every single day…
i feel stuck in the best and worst moments that i’ve known.
The million bucks and the silence that followed.
But what is true?
What do i know?
i have a lot to be thankful for.
Mom and Dad and Jessica and Emily and Baby Landon.
They’re healthy and they love each other and they love me.
i have amazing friends. Old friends and new.
Friends who want to know me and want me to know them.
i get to do a job that i believe in. Most people don’t.
i have the opportunity to make a difference.
A lot of people would give anything for that.
i am healthy and i am young and there is air in my lungs and a shining sun outside and a sea as well and a story still going. And i’m allowed to be honest…”

There are things we might have believed about ourselves for so long they seem true, or maybe fears or insecurities that are so tangible they must be real. But it is important to take the time to be mindful that sometimes those fears or lies are holding us back from really living and engaging with others in a meaningful way.

Delight in Truth 

I know this post is just giving you a cursory understanding of this concept of killing the spiders in your life, and you should probably just read the book because it’s great, but I hope you’ll walk way from this post today thinking about where to find truth in your life and inspired to .

It’s not only important to be mindful of the lies you are believing that aren’t true about you (you’re unloved, unworthy, you’ve not perfect enough, etc.) but to then replace those with Jesus and with things you know are true.

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth” – 1 Cor 13:6

“Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” – 1 John 3:18

“I am the way the truth and the life” – John 4:16

When I feel stressed out, insecure, or like I’m walking through a hard season I’ve found leaning on faith and truth is the best way to navigate that time.  In Kill The Spider Whittaker writes that in the good seasons of life it’s important to build your faith and tackle the spiders and lies you’ve got going on.

My favourite quote from Kill The Spider is this: “Levi said this: “ Trials reveal foundations; they aren’t the ideal time to build them.” Well, listen up, all of you “good season”-ers, pain and suffering’s off season is the ideal time for spider killing CrossFit. This is when you buckle down and get ready because you know that it is just an off-season. Jesus didn’t promise a pain-free life. But He did promise he would be with us as we run, skip, limp, crawl, or stumble toward the finish line” (pg. 151).

In good seasons, easy and comfortable ones – we need to build faith and resilience. Not to be pessimistic, but in knowing that harder seasons will come- and being deeply rooted in faith and having strong healthy relationships with God and yourself and others will help you to face more difficult seasons.

This post is part of the self-care series because self-care is a tool to build resilience, and this is how I think we can build spiritual resilience. Be intentional about your routines and rhythms, so that you have the spiritual foundation in your life you need when you’re going through the challenges life throws your way. Just like any other form of self-care, having the practice in place to take time for you is important to when you are put under stress you can manage it better.

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Love Don’t Cost a Thing & Your Self-Care Shouldn’t Either

Welcome back to week two of the September Self-Care Series!

Self-care is often talked about hand-in-hand with the concept of treating yourself. This week I’m talking a little about why it’s problematic to commodify self-care the way that we do. Self-care is a practice meant to build up resilience in yourself. When it goes from being the rituals you to do practice self-love and keep yourself feeling balanced to something that costs money it means that it is no longer accessible to everyone.

Self-care isn’t a commodity that only some people should be able to access. Self-care is a mindset, it’s habits and routines and actions you can do to take care of yourself. Practical self-care, such as setting budgets for money, taking care of your physical health, or going to sleep early might not be Instagram worthy, but it’s just as important than the glamorous self-care we think of.


Last week I wrote about how the first step of self-care is listening to what you need, being willing to take breaks, and then being intentional about responding to those needs. This week lets dive a little deeper to what that can look like.

Treating yourself from time to time is great. Buying yourself something you’ve admired can be a nice way to reward yourself. However, a quiet night in with facemasks and 7 layer chocolate cake in a lavender bubble bath with a new book that you treated yo’ self to… it sounds dreamy but could run you about $50. That isn’t practical or accessible.

When I brainstorm mainstream self-care many of the things that come to mind aren’t accessible to everyone, and self-care should be because everyone deserves to have the resources to take care of themselves. In the conversation about self-care I think it’s important to think more about the little daily things rather than the big treat yo’ self moments.

Championing self-care means being mindful of inclusive practices and having an intersectional approach (Kaitlyn’s inner feminist is coming out y’all). I’m not going to sit and write about facemasks or splurging on expensive lattes and leggings. As self-care becomes a bigger topic in our culture we should be mindful of how we are really being gentle with ourselves vs. spending money on ourselves and calling it “self-care”.


A few months ago I was buying groceries and saw these pretty flowers on my way to the cashier. I thought “those are so pretty, I’m going to get those for me because I deserve it” – but as soon as I got home I felt like it was a frivolous purchase and I felt silly because I was more stressed about wasting money on the flowers than I would have been if I just left with what I had set out to buy.

We hear the message ‘treat yo’ self’ all the time, but if the message we actually need more often is ‘stick to your budget and don’t buy things you don’t need’ then this is me putting that into the world for you. If you take one thing away from my blog this week, let it be this, when self-care goes from being tangible actions we do to fill ourselves up so we can love others better, to expensive or extravagant things it is becoming exclusive and not available to everyone who needs it.

The other day my friend asked the question on instragram “what are your favourite ways to practice self-care?” and these were some of the responses she got:

  • Going to bed early
  • Working out
  • Drawing
  • Going to an unexplored coffeeshop
  • Turning off my phone
  • Writing down feelings
  • Getting off social media
  • Running
  • Cooking and eating wholesome food
  • Writing in a notebook, giving voice to feelings
  • Spin classes

Sure, they aren’t all completely free – but in terms of practical self-care these are a lot more accessible than going on a shopping spree or an expensive spa every one in a while.

I heard someone comment that how self-care is becoming another one of those thinly veiled performances of affluence – and that really stopped me in my tracks. If we are intentional about listening to our bodies and our needs, I think we should also be intentional with the way that we care for ourselves. Maybe that is setting a budget, maybe that is eating a salad instead of a burger, maybe that is choosing not to treat yourself to something you can’t afford, maybe it’s sitting with uncomfortable feelings you’d rather avoid, whatever it is be mindful of what you actually need to do for you.

I found this interactive guide to self-care online and I had to include it this week – it asks you questions to help you figure out what practical things you can do to meet your needs and it’s great: http://philome.la/jace_harr/you-feel-like-shit-an-interactive-self-care-guide/play. If you made it to the end of this post about practical & financial self care and inclusive feminism – thank you. Next week I have a special guest post for the September series I’m excited to share with y’all!

Inspired by Lori

For the month of September I’m kicking off a series of blogs on different aspects of self-care. This week’s post is dedicated to my good pal Lori.

Lori is a great friend, wise beyond her years, I often forget I’m the older of the two of us. We bonded a lot in out time living together in Florida, and maybe even more since. When we talk the topic of self-care comes up frequently. Lori is great to bounce ideas off of and we encourage one another to find ways to to pause and practice some self-care when we need it most.

This week’s post is inspired by some of those converstatins, so it only makes sense to credit half of these ideas to lil’ mama.


How are you, actually?

A key part of practicing self-care is being mindful of how you are really feeling. When we feel stressed, especially when it is frequent stress about little things that we wouldn’t usually find overwhelming, it can be a sign to slow down and be intentional about pausing to take care of ourselves.

Self-care isn’t always a big thing, I think it is most effective in our everyday lives when we are mindful of how the little things we do can add up to impact how we are feeling. Once we recognized that everyday things, like how well we are sleeping, how much coffee we are drinking, and if we’re working out and getting endorphins going are crucial aspects of wellness along with other acts of self-care we can do a better job at caring for ourselves.

The little rituals and habits in our lives add up, they can have a huge impact on our mood and when we practice living well and listening to our bodies we can take care of ourselves in a gentle and understanding way.

As the summer has simmered down to a near close I’ve been reading a book called Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life. I can’t recommend this book enough, and the author Cleo Wade starts the first chapter with a beautiful description of why self-care is important;

“Self-care is how we fuel our self-love so that we are able to share our love with everyone around us. Our hearts are warm when we are able to show up with generosity, patience, and compassion for the ones we life, but we must remember that it is impossible to truly be there for others without taking care of ourselves first. We take care of ourselves by asking what our needs are. We take care of ourselves by making healthy choices when it comes to our  physical and emotional bodies. We take care of ourselves by lightening up and not being so damn hard on ourselves…It does not benefit anyone when we live our lives running on fumes. Love is an action, a thing in motion. Therefore, it requires fuel.”

Balancing Act

Life can get busy and with all the things we have to accomplish at school, at work and in our social lives we can sometimes get frustrated that we can’t keep up with the go go go pace. The best way to stay energized and integrate self-care into a busier lifestyle is to make to-do lists that have the regular tasks you might except along with self-care stuff (such as running , having a bubble bath, painting, watching Netflix, eating cake etc) so we remember that is a priority too.

Another quote I love from Heart Talk about this idea is ;

“At times, life seems to be one never-ending to-do list, but we must learn to disrupt the flood of life’s demands in order to replenish our energy so that we can fully show up for all of our passions and responsibilities.”

Self-care is not always about treating yourself but learning to listen to what you need and allowing yourself to take breaks and take care of yourself a little bit everyday. Sometimes the most important part of self-care is learning to recognize when to give yourself a break.

I once had a professor say that self-care is building healthy coping habits for yourself when life isn’t stressful, so that when it gets to be stressful you already have those habits in place. These habits could be waking up early to drink tea before the morning rush to give yourself space to feel centred or booking off a night just to hangout and catch up on your favourite tv show. Writing “eat cake” or “take 15 minutes to draw” on your to-do list might sound silly, but from personal experience I know it can help you to feel more balanced.

Simple Self-Care & Accountability 

The less exciting side of taking care of yourself is taking steps that will help you in the future rather than in the exact present moment. Like budgeting or eating healthy or going to bed when you’d rather go out.

When you do little things you don’t want to do because it’ll help you in the future, you’re practicicing self-care. When you take a break and let yourself just sit and breathe for 5 minutes before rushing about your day, that is also self-care because your future self will have had time to be present and hopefully be feeling less stress.

In the words of my girl Lori, “it is a mix of the two” [doing the things you don’t want to because it is good for you, and giving yourself a break].

As I said above, Lori is someone who I talk about self-care with a lot and it’s not only helpful to have someone to debate it with and think about it in different ways. It is so powerful to have someone who holds you accountable to practicing self-care too. Having people in your life who also believe in self-care and hold you accountable are so great.

It’s self-care, it’s up to you to actually do it. But having friends reminding you can be important too. We picked up this phrase living in Florida where if you’re hearing someone talk about a bad day or something they are struggling with you ask “what are you going to do to take care of yourself today?”. It’s so powerful, just to even be asked and reminded that I am in control – the ball is always in your court when it comes to self-care.

If I reach out to a friend and express some hard things I’m going through, I love the empowering reminder that I can go do something to fix how I’m feeling and feel better about my day.

The other day I texted Lori , I was having a really stressful morning and was telling her all the things going on, she asked what I would do to care for myself and I just said “I am practicing self-care today by drinking a green tea latte from Starbucks instead of coffee bc it doesn’t make anxiety worse” – it’s little things y’all. It’s listening and knowing when you can’t handle coffee, it’s knowing when you need a break, it’s knowing that you cannot show up for people if you don’t show up for yourself first.

September is a month of transitions, of going back to school, of building new routines, and I wanted to talk about self-care this month because now is the time for you to build in the habits of taking care of yourself. Transitions can be exciting but also stressful, so listen to yourself, give yourself credit, and remember that to stay in motion you need fuel.

None But Jesus

This summer has been so good in many ways, and challenging in others. I’ve enjoyed a lot of leisure time with friends and family, but I have also struggled with not having clear plans. There has been this nagging feeling like things just weren’t falling into place how I wanted them to.

Although I can’t believe it’s already August, there were times that the uncertainty of things made this summer drag on. Sometimes our seasons fluctuate between tumultuous transitions and other times it is comfortable coasting. A lesson I’ve been learning though, is that no matter the season or what is happening in your life, you can find peace.


I’ve been blessed that a tangible vision of what life will look like for me in the coming months has come together recently. But along with that came making some decisions too- which is maybe even harder for me than not having plans. I can be a very indecisive person who asks my friends for their opinions on a lot of things.

With having some choices to make about the future, I’ve been turning to all of my friends and family for advice. I even called Bob Goff to get his take on things. With all this advice swirling in my head, I had a realization about what I was missing in my decision making.

Allow me to set the scene; I was driving home from bible study last week, and one my friends offered to host a campfire at her home in the country. I got a little lost on my way there, so on the drive back I was very attentive to make sure I didn’t lose my way again. Without street lights or other cars on the road the country roads were extremely dark.

In the darkness I could only see as far as my high-beams, but I trusted that my GPS was guiding me the correct way, and the left turn in 700 meters would be there even I couldn’t see it yet. The experience felt like a perfect illustration of how this summer often felt, motoring along trying to trust that even though I couldn’t see much of the road ahead, things would workout. The twists and turns I needed to make would come and I could trust the God knew the road I was going down even if it was unfamiliar to me.

And that is when it hit me, I realized that I ask for advice a whole lot more that I’ve prayed for guidance recently. I wasn’t asking God what I should do, I was actually asking pretty much everyone else. In my own life, the choices that I feel most confident in and at peace about, are ones that I have prayed about and that I feel get me closer to the path I am called to be on. It doesn’t mean I know exactly what direction I’ll go but I’m trusting that God’s plan is still there, just past the high-beams of my own understanding.

My backseat could have been packed like a clown car with the people I turn to for advice. My friends, my brother and his wife, my parents, the author’s of all the books I love. If I had all of them in my car navigating me home it would have taken twice as long to get there, if I was even able to make sense of layers of voices speaking to me. Sometimes advice is good, especially from someone you respect, but it is also easy to become confused by so many opinions rather than the one that actually knows where I need to go.

It is easier to ask for advice than to be still and ask for guidance. If you struggle with feeling indecisive you might relate to the feeling of wanting answers handed to you. But wrestling with choices is important, and trusting in the power of stillness and praying for guidance is too. It’s okay to not fully see the road ahead of you, it’s okay if things aren’t falling into place how you hoped, it’s okay to be uncertain about your next step.

As I kept driving home I just started to pray and ask for clarity about the choices I was facing- because at the the end of the day that’s the best advice I can get. And y’all, the Lord provides. We have to believe God is good, even when we can’t see what exactly he his doing in our specific situation.

If you’re also in a season of feeling like your plan is up in the air, learning to trusting in His plan gives you steadiness. He is in control. As I was sitting in bed outlining this post I started thinking about the Hillsong song None But Jesus, the lines:

In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that you are God

In the chaos, in confusion
I know you’re sovereign still

felt like such a great picture of what I’m trying to articulate this week. In the confusing seasons and the moments when we dig deep to find stillness, the truth of our Lord always rings true.


This week I’ll leave you with a C. S. Lewis quote from the book Mere Christianity. Lewis where he talks about the idea that we are a living house, and God is doing renovations on us – but we don’t know what the final product will be.

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

If the path of your life is clear and you feel like you’re driving in daylight, that’s awesome. If you feel like things aren’t so clear and the turns you’re taking don’t seem to make sense don’t hesitate to hush the opinions people are throwing your way (or that you ask for too often, if you’re me) and make that time for stillness.

Having faith and trusting that He is in control is my best guarantee for hope and peace when I can’t see past my high-beams, and I hope it can be for you too.

 

 

Defensive Living

If you took driver’s ed when you were sixteen, you likely learned about defensive driving. It’s great when you’re on the road. But defensive living when you’re not behind the wheel can be a toxic habit. Choosing not to live defensively usually consists of trusting people and of opening yourself up to being vulnerable so you can connect with others. This choice can result in beautiful relationships that bloom as you feel known, understood and accepted by people you share yourself with.

Not being defensive is championed by many people these days as courageous and a healthy way to build authentic connections. From my own experience I know that opening up to others is what creates deeper relationships and I don’t know how I would survive without those relationships with my friends and family.

We make choices to trust others and often it results in knowing that we aren’t alone in our feelings and building deeper connections. We also make choices let ourselves be open to being hopeful. I wrote a blog post last year about allowing yourself to get your hopes up, even about jobs or unlikely opportunities, because it’s better to experience hope than try to defend ourselves from the possibility of disappointment. It sounds great, yeah?

One of the harder things to accept about being open and vulnerable is that we can still get hurt. To be totally honest, it is sort of the ugly side of vulnerability that we like to glaze over in the self-help books. But it is true, we can open up, be vulnerable and fall on our ass. Yet, despite that reality, I believe it is valuable to keep making the choice to be open to that possibility anyway.

Getting hurt sucks. When we get our hopes up and let our guard down, and things don’t work out – well that is something that can be pretty hard to sit with. Brené Brown says the root of anger is pain. And like most things, I agree with her. So what do we do when we get hurt, and a natural response is to be mad (at ourselves or others) about it?

There are a whole slew of thing we might relate to being hurt. And it is okay to admit when you’re feeling mad or disappointed, but it is also important to work through those feelings so that we don’t become bitter. Sometimes we might feel foolish- like we should have known better. But we don’t always know better, we simply do the best we can with the information we have. Being vulnerable still counts when it doesn’t result in a new best friend. Being honest still counts when it backfires. Courage is still courage, even when we fall down and get a little bruised.

When we are let down or disappointed by something it is also important to let go of the feeling like you “should have known better”. We were not created to live our lives on constant defence. When you get hurt, it’s still better than never being open to the possibility of connection.

Renowned relationship psychologist John Gottman has dubbed four toxic behaviours in relationships as ‘The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’. And wouldn’t you know, one of the four worst behaviours is defensiveness. If defensiveness is unhealthy in relationships, think how it destructive it can be if it is part of your relationship with the world around you.

When we are defensive we are trying to protect ourselves from getting hurt by others, we don’t let down our guard and it looks for ways to blame or assume the worst about others. We basically paint ourselves as victims and run away from things that might hurt us rather running towards them. This could be as simple as trying not to get your hopes us about a dream you have, not opening up in relationships or just not being vulnerable with people out of fear of their reaction.

Think back to the defensive driving I mentioned earlier, on the road it is important to be defensive and aware that other drivers might unexpectedly swerve into our lane. However, to respectfully disagree with Tom Cochrane, I don’t think life is a highway, and living defensive at all times is no way to live.

Defensiveness may be a strategic way to help you avoid disappointment or feeling hurt but it stops you from giving people the chance to surprise us with goodness and we miss out on friends or relationships. We can’t assume that we will choose vulnerability and never get hurt. Yes, at times it can be a risky choice. But I still think it is a better choice than defensive living. If you’re always trying to avoid being let down you won’t get excited about possibilities floating around you.

If you’ve fallen on your ass recently, have been hurt or disappointed, then this blog is dedicated to you. Even though it’s not great to feel that way it is a sign that you’re on the right track. You’re letting people in, getting your hopes up about life, and courageous choices always count even if they don’t work out the way you thought they might.

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.