Friday Media Prep: The Gift of Individuality

“If my life wasn’t funny it would just be true, and that in unacceptable.”

-Carrie Fisher

For the final (!) Friday Media Prep of 2018 – the year that seemed to last a decade – I thought I would keep it weird. I was attempting to wrangle up the articles I couldn’t get over, the books I couldn’t put down, the music that haunted my dreams, but nothing hit me in the way the video below has. I began this blog for two reasons: 1) to share my story so that others might be encouraged to take on their own healing and 2) I wanted to shine a light on the beauty of the world despite (or in spite) of the ugliness.  As we end this year, I’m looking forward to tackling new goals and allowing this little experiment in shameless honesty to grow. This video captures a little of the feeling I want to hold onto as we move forward.

This profile of Amy Sedaris and her home in NYC is so delightfully ridiculous that I couldn’t look away. She is a character, through and through, regardless of whether or not she is playing someone outrageous in front of the camera. Her space is so overstuffed that it would be a nightmare to clean, but looking at her joyfully sharing a ceramic hotdog she got in Tokyo, and the way she marvels at the perfect weight of her fake glass of wine eased my anxious mind into acceptance of her version of normal.  It’s easy to feel better about our own eccentricities when we see someone owning their lives with such ease, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do. So, here she is in all her multi-colored glory! May she inspire you to find your you in the new year.

Redefining Beauty In Order To Heal

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.

– Confucius

I’m drawn to pretty things like a shallow moth to a flame. Sunsets, shoes, dresses, Chris Pine –  we’ve all got our weaknesses, and things that sparkle are definitely mine. I often get lost in thought when I come across something that pleases my eye, and forget where I am or what I was supposed to be doing. I’ve offended plenty of people by zoning out over a pair of impressive earrings. My obsession is equal parts nature and nurture, as my parents regularly showered me with dolls in shiny dresses with matching houses and toy cars. In that regard, I am virtually blameless for my shallow nature, right?

I used to have a very narrow mindset about beauty. It was so narrow that I didn’t even fit into it. For things to be beautiful they had to be perfect, stainless, balanced and bright, just like the dolls I loved so much.  A thing had to be wholly good to be worthy of such an esteemed acknowledgement.  I aspired to be like the things I considered perfect, and I was disappointed time and again when I inevitable fell short. Beauty became something intangible for a young woman like me, so I settled for

The thing is, now that I’ve grown emotionally, what I consider beautiful has shifted. When I started down the path towards deliberate, dedicated healing I was finally able to shift ever so slightly toward a new definition of beauty that  made room for more.The shift wasn’t easy by any means. It required a lot of analysis of how culture shapes beauty ideals, confronting my own self-loathing, and TONS of therapy. Most importantly, it required that I take the time to rediscover the great things about myself. It’s been proven to me time and time again that self-love bleeds out into the world if we make it a priority.

These days I’m still drawn to all that glitters, but it doesn’t just have to be gold. As I grow to love myself, I’m learning how beautiful imperfections can be be. Now I know we don’t have to be delicate to be beautiful. We don’t have to be flawless, or look a certain way, or wear certain things. To me, the most beautiful thing in the world is a person embracing their freedom to be.

What makes you feel beautiful these days?

Chippy the Dog GIF

 

 

Friday Media Prep: Black Girl In A Big Dress

Do you have any hobbies that you feel certain no one will understand? For lots of us, it’s common for people to think you shouldn’t, or can’t, like something based on your background. I remember my parents teasing me for liking Coldplay and singing along to every song on Parachutes for hours on end. I used to lay up in our old tree house, singing “Yellow” over and over until the neighborhood dogs had enough with the bellowing and started barking. I think it’s fair to say most of us have prejudicial feelings about who can like what, where we’re supposed to fit in, and why some things just aren’t cool.

What I love about “Black Girl in a Big Dress” is the way it confronts those notions. Because Adrienne,the heroine of the web series, is African American people think it’s odd for her to be enamored with dressing up like a Victorian lady and trotting off to tea parties. However, she is dedicated to enjoying her passion and gives into her heart’s desire. The show is so refreshing and riot! By watching her escapades, I’ve begun to question my right to joy even if it might seem a little crazy to the outside world. After all, who are we to deny our own hearts? Below is the first episode. Let me know in the comments what you think of “Black Girl in a Big Dress” and what hobbies you have that might be surprising!

My Delicious October Mood Board

Pumpkin pies. Ghost stories. Golden leaves. HOCUS POCUS!!!

halloween dancing GIF

October is absolutely my favorite month (followed closely by December), so today is a day of skeletal, pumpkin-spiced celebration! When I was a child, my little bro and I would go wild with the scary films and candy. We had The Nightmare Before Christmas playing on a loop while we carved pumpkins to decorate the house, hoping to scare the life out of a neighbor. Then, of course, there were the costumes, all made by my Mom – mermaids, witches, werewolves, princesses, and one year I went as a pair of conjoined chickens. Obviously, I was a strange kid.

The themes of Fall – the spookiness, the dying off of all the green, and other aspects – never frightened me. On the contrary, I found the possibilities of magic and wonder more exciting than anything my regular-degular life had to offer in Kansas. To me, a roaming vampire would infuse a little adrenaline into my town. I’ll always love October for those reasons, and I hope that never changes.

My mood board in honor of the coolest month is below. Enjoy!

          

   

          

                               

         

               

 

Let’s get spoooooooky 🙂

Here’s How to Build a Community That Keeps You Healthy

And why it is so important.

Recently,  I wrote  about my move to California, which you can read here. I offered suggestions for how to prepare yourself when undertaking a huge move, sharing tips from the practical day to day tasks, to the emotional support you inevitably need when you’re far from home. Being uprooted, then planted in a new environment can be touch and go for a shrub, so there’s no doubt it will be a battle for people. What becomes of us emotionally when we’re physically isolated can be compounded ten-fold when we hide our emotions opting to go through it alone.

I think it’s time for some serious candor on my part: I spent the month of August under the covers, alternating between eating carbs and crying. All my grand plans of joining a yoga studio, snagging a doctor, and conquering my fear of meeting new people got swallowed up by the seemingly insurmountable odds: how do I do all that when I’m afraid to step outside, when the landscape is off, and people stare at me like a sideshow? I’d put so much pressure on myself to be amazing that I was incapacitated by the possibility of failure, or worse, being ostracized. While I was safe under the covers the world turned around me, but I was too afraid to join in, even with people I know for fear of their disappointment.

Luckily, my brother and husband broke through my tortoise shell to get me thinking about the nature of community, how we build it, and why we really gotta let it do it’s thing. Community doesn’t have to be a gaggle of friends, who run off to save the world and unite nations – sometimes it’s as simple as a person who lets you cry on the phone. Community is being present, open and caring with those you have learned to trust. It’s not always nice; oftentimes the people who love you the most and want to see you win will piss you off. Sometimes the communities we need aren’t in town, or in the same country. If you’re far from home, or your home doesn’t feel like home, there are times when community has to be found across the internet. No matter where you find i,t I believe you owe it to yourself to hold onto it and to be an active member within it.

Today, I want to share with you what these two have helped me to (re)discover about the power of a circle of confidants and how we can continue to nurture those relationships. If you can build a core group of friends I guarantee growing will be made easier through their emotional support. Below I’ve laid out how to build your community. Let’s hop to it!

Vulnerability

Have you ever had one of those dreams about being naked in front of a crowd? Maybe you’re singing a song horribly, or giving a speech, then BAM – fully nude.  That’s one extreme of vulnerability you don’t have to go to, but if you can think of community like singing the bad song or giving a speech that makes you sweat,  all while dressed, then you’re on the right track. You see, community – the real deal, not the shallow stuff – is all about being open to discomfort. When you peel back the layers of yourself to expose who you really are it’s crazy uncomfortable, bordering on painful. When I finally let my husband see me in distress( and all covered in tears and snot)we made a breakthrough. Together, we learned that vulnerability isn’t a one and done situation. Being open is a 24/7 deal, that isn’t always fun, but is guaranteed to make a difference in your health.

There will be times when you’ll attempt to be open and honest with others and they’ll betray it or ignore it. However, I hope you’ll still remain open to trusting again. I’ve had many disappointments in the vulnerability department, but part of finding your tribe is going out on a limb. Also, those times I’ve been let down have actually helped to feed into the next point.

Empathy

Most of us have had that naked dream, because humans are cut from the same cloth. We’re all afraid, born naked, and just a little bit weird. I find it so fascinating that despite being separated by time or space we can find common ground. The beauty of empathy is that it transcends most obstacles. I say most, because there will be times when no matter how reasonable it seems to get along, there are people who aren’t here for it. Applying the concept of vulnerability can run you into some walls, but when you find people with shared experiences like depression, anxiety, PTSD, a similar home life, or even favorite anime shows, the honesty will pay off.

The huge thing about empathy is that it keeps communities, no matter the size, patient. When we take the time to understand where someone has been we are much more likely to stick around to help them out. In your respective community, and outside of it ,it is so imperative to remember kindness. Empathy lays the groundwork for you to give and receive with understanding and care. If we practice it with one another, showing a little love to ourselves becomes that much sweeter.

Humor

The best part about those embarrassing naked dreams is when you get to laugh about it later. Everyone has had them, they’re always preposterous and they take the edge off any of your other worries. Your circle is the place to air out your ridiculous fears – even if they don’t seem so far-fetched – so that you can remain grounded. Laugh with each other, bust each other’s chops, and stay humble so that you’re not carrying the weight of the world. When I finally got real with my brother and broke down why I was so afraid to be out in this new world of mine he took a breath, was honest about why I shouldn’t be afraid, then made a joke at my expense. He didn’t make fun of me, but rather he made me see the humor in life and in my situation.

When you take yourself too seriously like I was, building up real fears into dragons, you risk never putting forth that brave step. Staying grounded is difficult on your own, and laughing about things that feel like the worst situations ever can be pretty impossible. If your community isn’t one that’s able to look at the fears you present critically, take out what’s silly and get you to laugh? Run for the hills, because a place without laughter is dead.

At the end of it all, we need to encourage each other to feel joy in between the tears. You don’t have to be Patch Adams (great movie) to your friends, nor do they have to be circus performers for you, but we have to remember that it’s ok to release with some happiness, too.

Forgiveness

You can’t have anything if you still don’t think you’re worth it.

Let me say that again: You can’t have anything if you still don’t think you’re worth it. I say you can’t, because you won’t allow it for yourself if you feel unworthy and you’re punishing yourself. Please believe me when I say it’s ok if you were a bully in 4th grade and now feel bad about it. It’s fine if you couldn’t get out of bed today, or for most of the week. It’s ok. You still deserve the help and love of your people.

I wasn’t following the previous guidelines I’ve laid out, because I was ashamed and angry with myself for not being fine on my own. I didn’t make room for myself to be reliant on others, and when I discovered just how much I need my community, I wasn’t ready to handle it. So, I turned in on myself so far that I didn’t know how to forgive myself for “messing up”. You know where that got me? Nowhere good. I’ve realized I would rather learn to forgive myself for perceived shortcomings than being alone.

You deserve people who want to help you. You deserve to be pulled up, and you are absolutely worthy of the struggle others choose to put in to keep you around. So, work on forgiving yourself for your own shortcomings and try to be a better person moving forward.

 

In conclusion, I just want to encourage you to be with people however you can be in the BEST way you can be. Who you are in your community bleeds into who you are out in the world on your own. If you’re closed off, an unfeeling bully, or too serious, then that’s who you’ll see outside with others. Allow yourself the room to be human with other humans and you’ll be better off for it.

Thank you for reading and following along with me. If you would like to share what you love about your community, or the ways you all take care of one another, please comment below. Stay safe out there!