There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.
Homer, The Odyssey
I spend most mornings burrowing under my blankets, desperate for a few more hours of shut eye no matter how much rest I got the previous night. My days aren’t particularly strenuous in a physical sense; in fact, most of my time is spent talking to myself as I play out dialogue and pacing from room to room until I arrive at the “perfect” solution to a narrative issue. Still, I collapse into bed at around 9:00 PM ready to be transported to my own version of slumberland. It usually involves flowers and candy.
Though I’m not spending my days engaged in super intense activities, I’m still exerting a lot of mental effort. It all builds until I’m too tired to stand, let alone make it through an episode of “Killing Eve”. We all have to push ourselves during the day, regardless of the tools of our trade. From writers to welders, we’re all better off after a good night of rest. However, in the United States, we worship at the alter of tired. Sleepless nights are a status symbol, an indicator that we are taking our lives too seriously to ever give into the Sandman. Last week, Steve Harvey went off on a tirade about the superiority of the wealthy, equating it to their not needing to sleep.
Hopefully, this all sounds batshit insane to you.
We are ticking time bombs without sleep. Studies have shown that going without the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep can result in high blood pressure, weakened immunity, mood changes and increased likelihood of accidents. Throw in mental illnesses like depression or bipolar disorder, and you’re going to have a bad time – to put it mildly. Think of it like this: your body isn’t invincible. Unless you’ve got some super soldier serum laying around, you’re gonna have to sleep like the rest of us normies. I find that I’m not just more creative after sleep, I’m also able to finish tasks faster and with fewer mistakes. Sleep makes the difference between hours of trying to focus on work and a few minutes of targeted focus. Sounds legit, amiright?
So take care of your body, get some rest, drink water, and – for the love of God – moisturize! (More on that to come.)
Sigh. It’s beach season, which means it’s right about time to be inundated with ads trying to subtly encourage us to starve ourselves, remove hair from every nook and cranny, and try to conform to very rigid standards of acceptable beauty. Sure, modern advertisements aren’t as overt with the messaging as they were in the past, and they’ve even adopted a code of body positivity, but the messaging remains the same: you’re not yet good enough as you are.
The parameters for beauty are arbitrary at best, dumb as hell at worst, and dangerous as all get out. When I was a young girl, I used to spend the morning and evening staring at my face and body, wishing I could change just about everything. I did crunches until my ribs hurt, pinched my nose to see how it would look straight and slim, and prayed I would grow to look like Aaliyah (which obviously never happened). I used to overhear my mother lamenting her looks, spent playtime with friends dissecting our features, and was very often told I looked like a boy – the worst thing a girl could hear in those days. All of these moments hinge on the unhealthy obsession with beauty we’re preached about from cradle to grave. Without beauty – the right kind of beauty – a woman has nothing.
Or so we were told.
What if we started seeing ourselves as works of art? And who would stop us if we adorned and honored ourselves for every crooked bend, lump, freckle, inconsistency and bit of cosmic weird? I’ve felt left down by the overwhelming symmetry and whiteness of the body positivity movement, where it seems the closer you are to the standard, the higher the likelihood of your acceptance. Being prettily different is the name of that game, and it just doesn’t work for me. I would rather hold onto the ways we make ourselves feel beautiful and how we present our unique magic to the world – perceived “ugliness” included.
This May I’m investigating what it means to be delicate and how it feels to be truly loved by the most important person in the room: myself. Through storm and cellulite, over mountains and across rivers of stretch marks, I am discovering the mysticism contained in my defiant reflection.
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another ‘ What! You, too? I thought I was the only one.
– C.S. Lewis
I’ve long forgotten the name of my first friend, but I will always remember a few details: he had a black bowl cut and loved watching Ernest Scared Stupid. We were kindergartners, my mother knew his mother, and I needed a place to go after school, so I walked the block to his house (different times) to wait to be picked up. The carpet was reminiscent of a bear with a bad dye-job, a fluffy, interwoven mess in the den where we would lay and laugh. We ate puff cheetos and enjoyed a natural camaraderie that I’ve only experienced a handful of times since. I moved away not long after, but I can still remember the safety and comfort I felt all those years ago in that kid’s home watching Ernest movies.
Friendship can change your life in ways that other relationships likely never will, because our friends either stamp out insecurities, or create new ones, while giving us a sense of value that is damn near impossible to discover within ourselves. I can get overwhelmed in crowds, and detest small talk, but I love making true friends. Discovering in others the parts of myself I thought were too outrageous to be replicated is as liberating as it is a deep relief. To echo the words of C.S. Lewis above, those moments help to eradicate the misconception that I am all alone in this world. My friends – the people I trust with my vulnerability – are gold.
One of these golden nuggets, Jesse, recently sent me this video featuring the ultimate #FriendshipGoals couple – Oprah and Gayle. In this video they answer questions about friendship, expound on their own relationship, and offer solutions to problems which might arise in the course of a lifetime between two people who care for each other. Enjoy!
Do you remember the first time you fell in love with something? Not a guy or a girl, but that thing you couldn’t get enough of? That thing which stuck to your bones, bypassing your head and heart to fuse with the very foundations of your being? It was inescapable once. Maybe you discovered it by chance, a discarded thing no one saw any use in, but you saw it for what it was – magic. Perhaps you were born with that thing and discovered it after a little pushing by fate. Few loves come close to that first brush with what will become your passion, for it is that which sets your soul on fire. Eventually, that thing fermented in your chest to become something all-together unstoppable: your calling. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a mixture of Indiana Jones, Batman, and Storm from the X-Men. I was going to travel the world, while making time for some swashbuckling and all of the other things I loved, and no one was going to change my mind about it. Like most children – regardless of location, religion, or color – I wanted to realize my dreams. Little did I know then, dreams are not always easy to live out.
I’ve been missing for a while (I won’t be offended if you didn’t notice), taking time to plot out how to get what I want from the foreseeable future. I had the distinct feeling a few months back that I was finally ready to redefine my track, so I took time digging a little deeper into what makes me LaKase. I’d come this far, but what’s next? I wanted to figure out what I am meant to be doing beyond working and carving out time to blog. You can imagine my delight when I found the answer right where I left it – in my childhood. The child I was back then might have been an annoying ball of energy, but she also had a lot of confidence in her own worth. She was definitely onto something when she laid awake imagining herself as a hero and adventurer. That’s when I had a mini-epiphany: would it be so outrageous to tap into that sense of wonderment and passion? I don’t think so anymore.
I have been, and always will be, a storyteller. That’s what I was doing when I acted out the adventures of my heroes, and what I was practicing when I put on puppet shows for my parents. I started writing stories in elementary school, and never stopped. To this day I find fragments of my tales stuck into old folders and notebooks. However, oftentimes the thing we love, the thing that lights up the world, can feel out of reach. People might tell us it’s foolish, or we don’t have the resources to pursue our dreams. For a long time after those first stories and puppet shows, I thought writing was something I would do after everything else, and that it was my responsibility to be reasonable. Surely, there would be time for my dreams after college, after kids, after creating a practical career. Thankfully, life threw me off kilter as it often does, and pushed me back into my old explorer’s chair in front of a laptop.
I think passion is more than a flight of fancy, or a daydream we use to distract ourselves from the rain. At heart, it’s who we are, what we want from life, and how we want to be remembered. Sure, we can’t all be doctors and firemen, but what if we look at the heart of the passion? Under the doctor is a desire to help and heal. Under the adventurer is the desire to explore the world beyond our experiences. When I sat back and took stock of my childhood dreams, writing was the natural progression of the passions I proclaimed to my parents and teachers. So, dear reader, that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve made space for the re-emergence of my personal purpose in order to reclaim my brand of joy. It’s been hard, but also illuminating.
Here’s how I’m doing it: I stopped thinking about other people’s opinions and started looking for a way to make it happen. The first step is looking at what your dream is, then coming up with a realistic pathway. It’s not glamorous, but it’ll keep you on track. There’s no way around the fact that I’m starting off with a serious edge – I have time, I have space, and I have enough education to do it. On top of that, I’ve made some connections online with excellent mentors. If I had to weigh all of those things against each other, the mentors stand out as the most important step, because you simply can’t change your life without a blueprint. Whatever you decide to do, start there. I did it via Twitter and reaching out to bloggers, however it might be different for you depending on your path. Next, I had to devote time to writing in any way I could. I’m now a contributor to Setting Mind, a publication dedicated to sharing innovations in fashion, tech, food, and living. Writing for the site has been enough of a confidence boost for me to take writing my novel seriously, which I began this year. My goal is to finish the book,then find an agent/publisher before year’s end. I’ll still be writing here every Monday as well moving forward, because it serves my mental health in unmatched ways.
It is absolutely imperative to treat this like a job once when you decide to make use of your passions and redefine your path. Take time to do research and understand what it will take so that you aren’t forced to abandon ship. I weighed the emotional cost of this endeavor against the toll of working for other people in unfulfilling roles, but I also sat down with my partner to practically map out how to do this without causing us to descend into chaos. You won’t regret putting in the work to build a solid foundation for yourself and loved ones.
This is a very truncated explanation of how I’m going about chasing my passion, but I’ll go more in-depth as the journey unfolds itself. The point I hope you’ll take away from this post is not to give up on that special thing you discovered, because it has been following you for a reason. You may not land in the career you planned on, but if you trust in the basis of your passion – whatever it may be – you’ll land where you’re supposed to.
Spring is traditionally seen as a time of thawing, when the things we’ve buried in the snows of winter are released in the renewed warmth of the sun. Our bones creak out as we shake off the cobwebs of hibernation. We move easier, dream larger, and strive to complete the tasks that appeared insurmountable in the short daylight of the colder months. It is the dawn of our time.
I started this space one year ago, with a post about what self-care means to me, because there was a beating in my heart that I couldn’t ignore. It was the pull to create. The desire to make a space that felt good, and useful, and safe for anyone who stumbled upon it. So, I started doing the only thing that made sense – I wrote. It has been the best decision I’ve ever made.
And Then I Lived has pushed me to meet new people, discover new ways to take care of myself, and create the world I want to occupy. It has only been one year, but in that time I’ve thawed out a piece of myself that had been in hibernation for long enough. My space has a humble following, but if you are part of it in any way I want to thank you for coming along on this journey. I hope you’ll stick around for what comes next!
Today, in honor of Spring, I want to share some beautiful images which capture the essence of freedom I feel in the sunlight and when I’m writing. These monthly mood boards have been excellent tools for directing my goals and intentions. Organizing my thoughts has always been a struggle, but through this exercise I’m able to hone in on what I want to convey for the month. As I go forward with my space, I want this month to be focused on brightness, self-discovery, and fearlessness in any endeavor. I hope you find some inspiration among the images.