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.

 

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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!

There’s Power In Love

I sped read through the new Bob Goff book while I was up at my cottage this weekend. It was that perfect type of cottage weather where you could manage a walk on the beach, but then it would be so chilly and you had the perfect excuse to curl up by the fire, drink multiple mugs of hot chocolate and eat a few Timbits (I’ve been indulging in a lot of Timbits since I got home from Florida) for the rest of the day.

Something that stuck out to me while I was reading Everybody Always was this anecdote about “filling up your bucket” he talked about. It actually comes from a children’s book that teaches the lesson of being kind to others, but what he wrote was “we will become in our lives what we put in our buckets”. He realized he needed to stop filling his Das with pride of impatience and really embody the values he wanted to become.

It got me thinking a lot about the areas in my own life where I know I need to step things up. I want to become more loving, more patient and understanding, more empathetic, more generous – and if I want to become that person I need to embody those things even when it feels difficult.


Something I learned from the experience of falling in love is that when you love someone is the feeling of our capacity to love just gets bigger because we didn’t know we could care about someone so much. I’ve heard parents talk about a similar feeling where you think you couldn’t love anything more than you love your partner and when you have a kid a whole new amount of love wells up in you.

It’s like love surprises us – when we thought we couldn’t love people anymore than we do we find out that we can. When you care about someone like that it’s easier to see the best in them. To be a little softer, or gentle, and forgiving. After all, love is patient and forgiving and kind – isn’t it?

When we realize more and more that we have a greater capacity to love than we ever imagined we can try to use it to not only love our significant others or our friends and families – but all the people in our lives that way.

That instinct to see the best in a person? What if we extended that kind of care to everyone? That deliriously in love feeling that makes you wanna dance to work? Can we find that through loving our neighbours and coworkers and friends as generously as we love our significant others? I think we can. I believe when we learn what kind of love we are capable of we can try to extended that in all areas of our lives.


Another perfect thing to do on chilly cottage weekends? Wake up early to watch the Royal Wedding. I rolled out of bed at 6:55 just in time to catch the start of the ceremony (and as soon as it ended I took a 2 1/2 hour nap with my dog – an ideal Saturday morning if you ask me). The ceremony was beautiful but what has really stayed with me was the sermon made by Bishop Michael Curry. He spoke about love, about how the world could look when we act as if love is the way.

Curry said “There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over-sentimentalize it.” He spoke about how when we are loved it feels like something is right “when you are loved and you know it, when someone cares for you and you know it, when you love and you show it, it actually feels right.” 

Curry went on to say the reason it feels right when we are loved is because “We were made by a power of love. And our lives were meant and are meant to be lived in that love. That’s why we are here.” One of the first times I heard a Brené Brown TED Talk I remember her saying that the reason we are here is connection. I fully believe both of these things. We are here to connect with others and we are here to share love and be loved through those connections. 

The Bishop went on to encourage the congregation and views to imagine what our communities, countries, families, neighbourhoods and governments would be like when love was the way. He said that when love is the way “we actually treat each other, well, like we are actually family”. Sometimes I think it’s easy to get frustrated with people when they aren’t someone we know or we don’t know their story – but easy isn’t what we are here for and when you try to connect with people and be softer with them we can find ways to extend deep love into all areas of our lives.


I don’t usually give homework assignments, really you just reading to the end of one of my posts is great. But this week I will ask you one thing: think about the values you want to be remembered for – and then ask if you are filling your bucket with that thing. I’m going to work on being understanding and gracious and assuming the best about people, and that’s just the tip of my iceberg.

Think about how loving your friend, neighbour or showing kindness to a stranger really can change the world – There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it.

Seasons

Growing up I learned to understand seasons as times of the year when the weather would change. Snow would melt and spring would come, then hot summer days would fade to autumn as the leaves would fall from the trees. Sometimes seasons would be measured by school calendars. The end of a school year was the summer and the fall signalled a new year and a new grade.

We define our lives around the seasons. New Year’s rings in new chances, fresh starts, and hope for what the future holds.

Lately I’ve been thinking a bit different about what seasons mean to me. How seasons of life aren’t necessarily defined by the changing weather. Maybe it is because life after graduating has given a new perspective and my days aren’t defined by “fall term”, “winter term” and “summer”. In short, my life is no longer scheduled into trimesters and seasons feel like they are less about the time of year and more about what we are going through or dealing with.

Seasons of our lives sometimes have different timelines. We learn, we grow, we’re challenged. Sometimes we find ourselves in seasons that aren’t so pretty. Or we see people we know in seasons of joy and wonder why our’s feels so mundane.

I’m a firm believer that seasons of our lives happen for a reason. As the unofficial queen of FOMO (fear of missing out) I know sometimes it is hard to see other people in “better”, “easier” or more fruitful seasons and wonder why you can’t always live in those seasons too.

Why does life have to be so hard? Why do we face seasons of failure, of loss, of heartache, of distance in relationships or struggles of identity? I don’t have answers to all those big questions but I believe that the challenging seasons we walk through teach us important lessons.

As someone who has been lucky to have experienced a very wonderful season of life this winter I can tell you that FOMO – no matter how good things are – is still real. But I’ve learned that comparing ourselves to others, no matter how happy we are is always a losing cause.

Our lives are our stories, and we should be focused on writing our own to the best of our abilities. Don’t worry about who is ahead of you, who is traveling to cooler places than you (yes even while living abroad you can have travel FOMO, wild I know). Most importantly, making sure we are being happy for people in their own seasons of success even if ours is more challenging. If we compare ourselves to others, get insecure about not measuring up we get lost and create conflict that doesn’t need to be there.

You don’t need to measure up and neither of the people in your life. If we can learn to embrace our good seasons and difficult ones and simultaneously cheer on our friends we can build each other up – and then we all win.

Trust me, after a winter in Florida I’m already afraid of my next Canadian winter. But I think it is important to embrace the seasons of life we find ourselves in – learn to navigate and appreciate them for what they are without being fearful of what is coming next or wishing them away.

My most recent season of life has been one of a lot of growth. Pushing myself in new ways. It was a season of emotional powerlifting. A season where I didn’t paint so much. A season I leaned to me more flexible and have faith things will work out. It was a season of overwhelming joy.

Coming home marks a transition into a new season – I’m not quite sure what it holds yet but I know that I will make the best of it by honouring that it is my season and it doesn’t need to be held up next or compared to anyone else’s. No FOMO needs to happen because the only way we miss out on the seasons we are in is if we focus more on what other people are doing than on us.

If you’re in a hard season know that you are growing tremendously and everything will be okay, if you are in a season of joy appreciate each moment and don’t worry about when a colder might hit. If you’re like me, and you’re transitioning between seasons into something a bit unknown stay hopeful for what is coming next and have faith that you are where you are meant to be.

We Don’t Throw Away Trees

I got home from Florida a week or so ago and I saw that some of my plants hadn’t survived Canadian winter super well. My little forest of succulents living on my window sill obviously missed regular warmth and sunlight – so they looked a little worse for wear.

Some of them had been promising and growing big and strong – but now they were in need of some extra care. I thought about starting over and getting new ones to replace the ones that didn’t survive so well, but I decided I want to give these guys a second chance. After all, it wasn’t their fault that winter is so cold and maybe May and June will bring much needed sunlight. And maybe, just maybe, these plants will turn around.

In Florida one of my favourite things were the palm trees, I pointed out every single one I saw for the first week. They often needed to get pruned and dead leaves would be removed – but in the right climate with the correct care they thrive. When palm leaves fall off gardeners don’t give up on the whole tree, they prune it and move on. Sure, my plants aren’t palm tress – but I’m not giving up on them just yet.

I think the same can be said for me and you. Sometimes we might feel like it is too late for us. Like we messed up too much, or there isn’t hope. Maybe it feel like it’s been too long since you called that friend, since you prayed, since you though about going back to school or pursuing that dream.

In my mind the hierarchy for things I have hope for goes like:

3 . My Succulents

2 . Palm Trees

1. You

You’re number one. It’s not too late for you to bloom and do the things you’ve always wanted to do. It’s not too late to grow into the person you want to be.

We often talk about personal growth and we can’t always see it, but plants are a visual representation of that constant growth and they can serve as a reminder of the growth we are always going through. It’s easier to look back on growth and say “yeah I grew through that” vs keeping the mindset of “I am currently growing” or “I’m trying to make progress”. But just like my succulents, palm tress, [insert your favourite tree/plant/ flower] we are always growing and developing and making progress, even when we don’t see it.

If this sounds naive coming from a 22 year old, okay fair. But I’ve had my share of friends who are my age already feeling like it might be too late for them. And I don’t know if you’ve heard but Oprah was fired from her first reporting job when she was 23. Julia Child didn’t released her first cookbook until she was 49, even the legendary Morgan Freeman didn’t land his first major movie role until he was 52. Some people start running marathons in their 70’s y’all, anything is possible.

No matter where you’re at, how old you are, or what you’ve been through – don’t give up on you. It isn’t too late to get a new hobby, explore your spirituality, start eating healthy, start running, to be vulnerable or ask for help. It’s never too late try something new. You might need to do some pruning, but baby we don’t throw away trees around here and you’re still growing.

Beach Reading: A Novel Idea

Last summer, after I graduated from university, I set out to read a massive booklist. I love learning and I didn’t want to stop just because I was no longer in classes. Plus I spend a lot of time at my cottage and my favourite beach sport is laying completely still and reading a good book.

I asked people to recommend anything and everything to me. Books to entertain, to teach me new things, to stir questions inside me, to inspire me. I asked for suggestions and ultimately I got a list of over 30 books. I didn’t quite make it through alllll 30, but I did learn a lot along the way. This week, I’m going to share a few favourites, maybe recommend some titles that we should all read, and say that if you’re going to spend money on something – books are always a worthwhile investment.

Themes in the books I have been reading over the course of the last year talk a lot about our hearts, relationships, faith. Feeling our feelings and getting comfortable with vulnerability. This might sound like the worst reading material to you – but it was so helpful in my own growth. My Top 10 favourites since I put out my call for worthwhile books include :

  • Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller (If you’ve every had questions about faith, finding meaning, spirituality or anything along those lines this book asks a lot of challenging but great questions)
  • Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown (Brené is a queen, this is her newest book I love everything about it)
  • If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski (This book reminded me again and again that it’s okay to ask for help, to be honest and to lean on people. I’m thankful for this book)
  • Love Does by Bob Goff (I have lost track of how many times I’ve read this book, I cried when I heard he was writing a second because I was so excited. Please please please read this)
  • Love Lives Here by Maria Goff (Have I cried in public while reading this book? Maybe)
  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (Rupi writes poetry that feels so relatable and hits the spot of describing emotions I didn’t know I was missing the words to)
  • Option B by Sheryl Sandberg (If you’re cynical about gratitude this book has all the stats and data to assure you that positivity is worth it)
  • Rising Strong by Brené Brown (If you’ve ever fallen down, felt hurt or disappointed, so everyone, this book is a game changer)
  • Scary Close by Donald Miller (If you’re in a relationship with any human other than yourself, romantic or not, you should pick this one up.)
  • We Should All Be Feminists by Chimmimanda Nigozi Adichi (This doesn’t really need an explanation, the title speaks for itself.)

If I could pick one book on this list to ask everyone to read it, well I’d have a hard time with it. I’ve gifted Love Does and If You Feel Too Much and Scary Close to many different people because I feel each of them has special things to offer. And apparently they give out We Should All Be Feminists to every 16 year old in Sweden, who knew?

The books I’ve listed get me excited and inspired. They move me to think differently about the world around me. Honestly, a lot of them have inspired posts I’ve already written on this blog. Posts like Let People Love You, Loving People Well, The Gratitude Project, and Let’s Talk About Em-pa-thy  wouldn’t be here if I didn’t pick up a lot of these books.

I started reading a new book yesterday, even though I have about 10 others left to finish. It’s by Bob Goff and it’s called Everybody Always (who happens to be on that list up there, yup that guy I cried over. It’s fine, I’m fine.) Within a few chapters I was feeling fired up and encouraged. I could ask you to pick any title on this list and read it, but my hope today is that you’ll go out and pick a book you’ll get excited about. Maybe it is one of the one’s I’ve talked about but maybe it isn’t. That’s okay, you do you, just find a book that does get you fired up.

I’m excited to start my new summer reading list, I picked up a few new books last week but if you have any recommendations of books you think I should read, either because they relate to ones on this list or they are personal favourites of yours, I always love suggestions.

Happy Wednesday!

To The Girl Gang of 2018

I’ve been living in Florida interning for a non-profit that works to provide hope to those struggling with mental health. The last four months have been so special, and the main reason is that I’ve shared this experience with five other girls, so this week I want to honour each of them.

To the Girl Gand of Spring 2018, thank you for teaching me so much about how big this world is. About what it looks like to love people, and for reminding me daily how strong and smart and incredible women are. Thank you for the late night ice cream, for laughing till we cry, eating raw cookie dough too frequently, for beach days, for opening up and being real and having, sometimes hard, honest conversations for the sake of developing deep, honest relationships.

When we first arrived we were given the advice don’t cry with people you can’t laugh with – because building relationships and trust takes time. We quickly learned to laugh together, usually until we ended up crying. I’m so thankful for each of you – I’ve been stretched and grown for the better because of the opportunity to know you and live with you all.


Alex, you are a queen. I love that you’re always down to go to the beach and the effort you put unto making people feel seen and heard. From decorating the house for valentines day to the little things everyday you make people feel so special. Thank you for always being encouraging, thoughtful, and someone I know I can talk to. I appreciate you so much and admire you in so many different ways.

Emily, I’m thankful for you and it’s so much more than being thankful for having another Canadian by my side on this adventure (though that’s huge and I’m glad someone here understands what I mean when I talk in celsius). I’ve loved getting to bond over a mutual love of coffee, malls, and seeing you grow to love the beach. You remind me that it is great to be excited and enthusiastic about the things people are passionate about and you show me the strength in honesty.

Hannah, I am endlessly thankful Bex put us in the same room. From being willing to offer a hug and get on my level when I needed to sit on the ground and feel my feelings, you have been so thoughtful and caring. Thank you for the pep talks, the laughs, the sweet notes of encouragement and being generous with your time. I’ll always laugh when I remember our life chats from our bunks when we are getting ready for bed.

Lori, I admire you so much. I always forget that you’re younger than me because you have a confidence and determination. You are so strong and able to just get shit done. We relate on a lot of things; you’re my go-to girl to listen to Sam Smith with, fawning over pretty buildings, and I know can count on you to for a laugh, a hug, or to hold my elbow. Also I love that you say bless you with the same intensity as the sneeze.

Montana, you are a magnificent friend. You never cease to make me laugh. Thank you for always being a shoulder to cry on and inspiring me to think deeply. You’ve helped me grow and think about what is really important in life. You also make great music recommendations and introduced me to tacos and queso – and honestly I think my biggest area of personal development since I moved to Florida is my love of tacos so thank you.

Bex, our fearless leader. If it weren’t for you, none of us would be here at all. Thank you for always seeing the best in each of us, and encouraging us to see the world that way. You are a great listener and oh so patient with us as we navigate this adventure. I will miss hanging out in your office with you and Annie Jo, bonding over Sugar Shack donuts, and your regular high fives. Also, thank you for providing me with a Back Street Boys education.


I’ll be processing and growing from the last few months for a while, but what feels most relevant right now is this: we are all people. We are all living stories, and it is a privilege to hear the stories of those around us. Each moment in life is so precious, it’s fragile – so live these moments fully, tell people you love them, be honest about what you think and you feel.

Living in community isn’t always easy, I’m sure there were my share of days I got on people’s nerves – but if you assume the best and remember that no-one is perfect you’ll learn a lot.

We can waste time getting stuck on differences- but if you take time to appreciate them you can learn so much from the people around you. It has been an honour to do that these past months and have my perspective of the world grow. I’ve tried new things and heard about places I’ve never been (but hope to see). I’m so grateful for all that I’ve experienced and learned the past few months, I feel so full of hope and love and light, and I will be endlessly thankful I got picked to live with each of these amazing girls.