Exactly This:

A final thought from Stephanie via the Brave Girls Club on #VOWestablish:

Dear Sometimes-Stubborn Soul,

There are a few words in our language that carry so much punch, so much power, so much meaning and so much magic that just pondering them can change the course of our lives. One of those words is MAYBE.

Sometimes we are so certain that we are right that we are willing to sacrifice relationships that are important to us to prove or just stand by our position. A good thing to try is to just think of all of the reasons we love someone we disagree with and then start thinking….MAYBE.

Maybe there are things I don’t know for sure.
Maybe I am assuming things about them.
Maybe their life experience has been different than mine.
Maybe they don’t know why I feel and believe the way I do.
Maybe we both have something valuable to contribute to a solution.
Maybe there are lots of ways to be right.
Maybe we are a whole lot more alike than we are not.

We can also use MAYBE for the thoughts running through our own heads that are causing us so much turmoil…

Maybe things are going to work out.
Maybe I really am smart enough to do this.
Maybe it’s not as bad as I am thinking it is.
Maybe this is a step that is necessary for where I really want to be.
Maybe I am going to grow from this.
Maybe I am just the right person for this.

Just try it, friend. First ask “what if?” and then start thinking MAYBE.

Because maybe it will mend some things right now.

You are so very loved.

xoxo

Repost from the Brave Girls Club February 4th Daily Message

It’s Official. (#VOWestablish)

I have a boyfriend.

A bonafide, not-just-a-man-I-am-seeing/sleeping with boyfriend.

This is good for two reasons:

1) Before I had a boyfriend, I didn’t have any idea what I was going to write for my #VOWestablish post this week, and

2) I have wanted this man to be my boyfriend for 467 days, approximately.

But he wasn’t. For 467 days he wasn’t.

And we were both quite all right with that, maybe not all the time and maybe not always at the same time, but neither one of us was making a different choice.

Neither of us was using our words; we were choosing to forgo them.

Because words are fucking powerful.

One word—boyfriend—holds within its two syllables a good helping of commitment and a whole lot of choices made.

It’s not to say that using certain words makes us feel things; as Karen Joy Fowler wrote—

“We call them feelings because we feel them. They don’t start in our minds, they arise in our bodies….you can’t help the things you feel, only the things you do.”

And words are something we do.

Boyfriend is something done. It’s not just showing up; it’s stepping into the arena. It’s not just here for Friday nights; it’s up with you at 2 a.m. on Sunday mornings when what was served on Saturday night made you violently ill. It’s not an obligatory title; it’s a battle cry of readiness to defend what you’re certain is worth fighting for.

Yeah, boyfriend got me thinking about words this week. How easy, in theory, words are to say but how difficult it can be to use them and how significantly they can alter our lives when spoken.

Standing outside the arena is a wholly comfortable choice, and it is entirely too easy to be halfway into something. It is entirely too easy to be silent.

But you can establish things with words. You can build them. And I think it’s about time we started using them to see what we can make of this one wild and precious life.

I say, let’s take it up a notch:

Here’s to elevate.

Save


Steph’s WITHDRAW Mantra: “There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” Denis Waitley
Steph’s Song of the Week: You Get What You Give by New Radicals (P.S. We have a playlist for you now; check it out here.)


Be sure to read Lin’s post on #VOWestablish.

It’s All Vanity: Reflecting on WITHDRAW

For me, this week’s word was tricky. WITHDRAW is a detractive action, which I find utilizes more brainspace than the ones that challenge me to more specifically engage.

I was so lost, in fact, that I turned to my trusted thesaurus to set me straight:

remove
extract
leave
retract
backtrack

Hrm.

Nothing sparked.

Next was quick image search to see if that would yield better results. Alas, aside from a brief foray down an illustrated-gay-furries-pornography rabbit hole (hah! pun unintended), I remained unsure about my intention for the week. I’m not the best at “winging it” but it seemed that WITHDRAW left me little choice.

Josh returned home for six days so the idea of WITHDRAWING into my own personal world seemed unlikely. And yes, when we’re together we tend to fold into a shared little world but that always feels more liberating than diminishing. I relax when he’s home; I feel my spirit exhale and expand. So no withdrawing on a personal level.

I wish I could say that at work I withheld judgement, but a significant portion of my hours on the clock were spent analyzing the anecdotes and behaviors of the students I met with. So no dice there.

It wasn’t I felt the stir of self-preservation that I realized what I needed to remove. Starting early Monday morning, my Facebook feed brought news of the first round of insane Executive Orders, downgraded democracy, and unnecessary budget cuts. The majority of my friends (thankfully) expressed fear, outrage, defiance. As I scrolled through pages and pages of articles, rants, and confusion, my insides twisted. I could actually feel my blood pressure rising and shoulders tensing. Negative emotions increased exponentially — anxiety swelled, fear expanded, hopelessness skyrocketed.

Now, I significantly decreased my interaction on Facebook a couple years ago. I don’t have the app installed on any of my devices so the only time I really log on is when I have a TedTalk I want to share or check in on a friend I’ve been thinking of. I have upped my usage in the past few months because of the relocation; it’s easy to know what your people are up to when you live 15 minutes from them. 1500 miles turns out to be a different story.

I refuse to get sucked into SnapChat (I find all those goddamn filters incredibly obnoxious) and I watch YouTube for cooking instructions. Twitter is mostly just boring and Pinterest is flat out dangerous for my free time and pocketbook alike.

Instagram, though. That’s where I lose my footing. The enticing quick glances into other people’s lives — both acquaintances and strangers — keeps me so hypnotized that I’ve enacted a new rule not to check it within one hour of my bedtime.

You know that feeling you got as a child playing Nintendo? Where you’d neglect to blink for so long that when you finally did, it actually burned? That’s the summation of my relationship with Instagram.

The thing we know about Instagram, probably more than those other platforms, is that most of us are crafting a pretty little life designed solely to impress. We’re all amazing when we document our best hair days, exotic vacations, and restaurant-worthy meals. I say this knowing that I’m guilty on all counts there. With full judgement, because I hate that I do it.

Lately more than ever it feels as though we’re using it as a way to one-up some invisible critic. Like I mentioned in my last post, I didn’t want pictures of the Women’s March because I didn’t want to fall into a mental trap of my own making. Because when I take hundreds of pictures trying to prove to everyone how civically engaged I am, I’ve disengaged myself from the true reason I attended. Because that civic engagement was my intention, right? And not simply to prove to someone/anyone that I’m better than them, right? Or maybe to prove that I’m simply good enough? Right?

In the instance of the Women’s March I’ve considered and analyzed and I’m pretty certain that my intentions were genuine. But plenty of other experiences I’ve shared? When I get real with myself, I can’t be definitive with clear conscious.

I’ve thought about adjusting my IG posts to show a more vulnerable and realistic reflection of my life. Stop using filters. Post selfies at a straight-on angle. Document the “green” smoothies I drink which turn out grey because of the flax seed I add (so sexy). The Catch 22 is that I’m pretty sure I’d soon start evaluating myself on if I’m being vulnerable enough. Or worse, if I’m being More Vulnerable Than You.

In the end, it feels like a lose-lose situation, this social media stuff.
Though I’m not yet ready to deactivate all my accounts.
Because this week’s VOW is WITHDRAW, not WITHDRAWAL.

So instead I choose to be more mindful about my consumption.
Pausing as I hover my thumb over the little camera icon on my phone.
Because when you start tracking it, you start realizing what a default the mindless comparison scrolling is.

And with my training last weekend on Mental Health First Aid, I want to ensure I’m taking the progressive steps to maintain my psychological well being.

Which includes taking a step back from being so engaged (ergo enraged) with Trump all the time. I can’t function on that level of anger all the time. Non-constructive anxiety and hatred will deplete me so that when it’s time for me to actually step up and do something, I won’t have the energy to participate.

Now when I get my news in 15 minute spurts via NPR, I can sit with my true thoughts. Without the comments or filter of another person. And I choose how I want to respond; send emails, make calls, choose to WITHDRAW for the time being. What’s healthy and good for me in that moment is more genuine — and helps me stop judging my inner life with people’s public lives.

 

AND NOW WE establish

 


Lin’s VOW mantra: Jesus, I look at Instagram sooooo much
(less a mantra though this did go through my mind at least a few dozen times this week)

Lin’s Song of the Week: Thrills by Cake


Be sure to read up on Steph’s post on #VOWwithdraw

(image credit Andrew Richard with Buzzfeed)

The Thoughtful Making of Space

I was looking forward to this past week, to make being our verb.

I was going to paint (i.e., make stuff), and I was going to meditate more (i.e., make space). Painting and meditation sounded idyllic and completely realistic as I gently began to float down to earth in my four-day yoga bubble.

Then it popped.

And I fell (rather hard I might add) into
government clearance processes,
conference logistics,
competing deadlines,
creative brainstorms,
existing freelance projects,
taxes,
a favor for a client,
feeling like a less-than-good daughter/sister/friend,
the beginnings of a relationship,
sore muscles,
low libido,
Trump’s inauguration,
his ensuing tweets,
the Women’s March,
alternate facts, and
week three of Whole 30.

It’s Sunday night, and I have not painted a damn thing.
Meditation is a distant dream for my overly stimulated brain.

And all I can do is think:

How do you make space for things when you can’t make more time?

The answer, my friends, is that you do just that: actually start to think.

Louis Khan said, “Architecture is the thoughtful making of space,” and if what I am trying to do this year is build, I am going to need to thoughtfully make the space for it.

I’m not exactly sure how to do that at the moment; all I know is that right now, I’m not doing it at a pace I will survive for the next 49 weeks. But I have a feeling this week’s VOW may have offer some insight.

Here’s to withdraw.

Save


Steph’s MAKE Mantra: “I’m going to make everything around me beautiful–that will be my life.Elise De Wolfe
Steph’s Song of the Week: Build It Better by Aron Wright


Be sure to read up on Lin’s post about #VOWmake.

Creating and Forcing: Reflecting on MAKE

For me, MAKING is all about creating. Perhaps this is due to countless hours in my adolescence singing at the top of my lungs along to the RENT soundtrack. So when we pulled MAKE this week, I had one single association:

“The opposite of war isn’t peace… it’s creation.”
~Jonathan Larson

This week I set the goal to produce as many tangible objects as possible. Oddly, most of that turned out to be food or beverage related. (not complaining, it was delicious)

Every meal home-cooked. The only thing purchased out was a jumbo cup of coffee after a rough work meeting.

egg_scramble.jpg

eggs, homecooked pinto beans, mushrooms, kale, green onions

Craft booze — I finished both a pear and a pineapple vodka, started a Kahlua whiskey. Plus! I also received a package of home brew from a friend; a glorious taste of home and of love. Sometimes our VOW shows up in completely unexpected and delightful ways.

pear.jpg

pears, vodka, sugar, cinnamon = AMAZING

craft_booze.jpg

my vintage inspired bar cart

nate_beers.jpg

taste of home from one of my besties — thanks Nate!

I made  a second attempt at my own mozzarella cheese… which became overheated and therfore too lumpy to stretch. So I added some herbs and EVOO to create a kickass ricotta spread. Then I whipped up a batch of my favorite Peruvian yellow pepper sauce which I was introduced to last June at another good friend’s wedding. I pretty much bathed the below charcuterie board in this stuff, it’s that amazing.

cheese.jpg

attempted simple mozzarella, created fancy ricotta. Fuck ups FTW!

aji_amarillo.jpg

for the next two weeks I’ll put this on literally everything I ingest

Not pictured are the multiple artworks I created and immediately threw out. An exercise I developed for a in-home-meditation weekend last November, I treat these paintings like art therapy. The idea isn’t to make a masterpiece, and by promising myself from the get-go that their final destination is the garbage curbs all pressure for perfectionism.  It’s just me, my white noise app playing quietly in the background, and the simple act of expressing paint to paper. One piece was a world map which I watercolored over — populations united in beautiful chaos. Another, this quote by Martin Luther King Jr in honor of his day:

mlk

“make a career of humanity. commit yourself to the struggle for equal rights.”

Like every other week so far this year, politics have weighed heavy on my heart. I skipped Obama’s farewell address because I couldn’t emotionally handle it. I didn’t watch the inauguration either; instead, I flipped through pictures of  now-Former President Obama and cried buckets of unexpected tears at the closing of this chapter.

I never expected that a politician would make me cry this hard. I didn’t think it was possible to miss someone I’ve never met this much.  I wrote these words in my journal and read them over and over. I was surprised Barak ended up meaning so much to me. Because I do have great love for him, I respect him, I am so thankful for who he is as a man and what he helped our country become.

Conversely, Trump leaves me both heartbroken and angry — I simultaneously want to destroy and to rise up. The weight of the fear I feel, as well as the utter disgust for that man’s character, has zapped me of vigor. My body literally feels slower; my mind darker. Everything just feels gloomier, harder to pass through.

MLK Jr’s words, along with the aforementioned lyrics, resonated throughout my mind all of Saturday morning. It’d been a long couple days already — Friday and Saturday I attended Mental Health First Aid certification. We talked about trauma. Depression. Substance abuse. Suicide. Adding Trump to that equation, my heart and mind felt as heavy as the topics we’d been covering. Class got out in time for me to attend the Women’s March at Kelly Ingram Park, across the street from the Civil Rights Institute and the (tragically) historic 16th St Baptist Church.

To be honest, the last thing I wanted to do was join a huge crowd — all by myself and sans social buffer — to hold up signs for a protest I wasn’t sure what the end goal was for.

That’s not to say that I don’t believe in what the Women’s March stood for. Quite the contrary. I work in social justice. My very job is to eradicate sex- and gender-based discrimination from occurring in my community. But as I lay on my chaise debating whether I should participate, I thought about the Civil Rights marches and Vietnam War protests during the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Those marches sought a specific outcome — to end segregation and war. The Women’s March, to me, seemed like a protest created because we all hate Donald Trump. But what did this picketing actually hope to accomplish? The Senate and House wouldn’t impeach him. All the bullshit Cabinet members will still be appointed. He’s still a cruel bully and bigot.

So what was the point? The point was to join the whole world and shout NOT MY PRESIDENT. This man is DANGEROUS. This is a mistake America will regret. As it turns out, in the end I couldn’t allow those words go unspoken. That, and the fear of regret, MADE me go. Because I needed to show up for social justice, goddammit.

I didn’t take pictures of the March. I wanted to EMBRACE the moment. I also didn’t want a slew of pictures on social media to demonstrate my dedication to the cause… because in that moment I didn’t feel so dedicated. Mostly I felt depleted and resigned.I didn’t want to misrepresent my life to acquaintances through social media (a promise I’ve made to myself this year which I’m sure I’ll address in a future post).

Ultimately, going was the correct decision. Seeing images from around the world of other protesters, I feel connected. And even though I spoke to no one else in the masses, I didn’t feel isolated. It’s a funny thing, how love can buzz around like that, uniting us with transparent ropes. When we chanted “black lives mattered” my voice broke and tears sprang to my eyes (so much crying this weekend); I’d never said those words with others, our voices echoing on the churches and skyscrapers around us. Strong, those words. Powerful. Committing and creating a future of equality.

equality.jpg

#lovetrumpshate

So this week I learned that sometimes our first insticts with a word aren’t going to be the way it shows up during the week. Sometimes MAKING isn’t about creating something with my hands; it’s creating something stronger with my words. And sometimes the best decisions of our week are the ones we MAKE ourselves MAKE.


Lin’s VOW mantra: Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul.

Lin’s Song of the Week: La Vie Boheme by Jonathan Larson RENT


Be sure to read up on Steph’s post about #VOWmake


And now we WITHDRAW

Save

Just Settle in Here; Take a Few Breaths

I spent the last four days in a 40-hour intensive yoga teacher training program at a local studio here in the District (hence the late post). I’ve been playing with the idea of teacher training for a bit and fell in love with this specific studio’s program in large part because of their focus on hands-on assists, but also because they require this initial 40 hours before you can register for the other 160 hours that result in your certification.

They want to make sure you’re settled in–at the studio and to your commitment to both learn and, eventually, teach.

Being on the fence regarding whether or not I want to pursue a full 200-hour certification but looking to deepen my own practice, this weekend seemed ideal.

It absolutely was, and, as it turns out, last week’s VOW had a lot to do with it.

Have you ever learned a new word and then suddenly started to see it everywhere? That’s kind of what happened to me these past four days. In fact, that’s what happened to me on a consistent basis when I played a version of this VOW game a few years ago. Each week, each verb seemed to show up for me, and settle was no different–it met me on the mat in a handful of different ways every day to teach me all that I would let it.

It started with my intentions for the training: Stay on the mat. When given the opportunity, challenge my comfort zone (e.g., volunteer for a demo, ask a question, etc.). Gain confidence in touching others. (That looks creepy.) Develop my voice; get comfortable using it. Be open to others; if you find someone uninteresting or irritating, the fault lies in you. SETTLE IN.

To be honest, I’m not sure why I wrote the last two words. Given that it was my VOW, settling had been on my mind, but I didn’t know exactly what I meant by it when I listed it as in intention. I just knew it felt right.

And as yogi Baron Baptiste says, “Your intuition is always right. ALWAYS.”

And it was.

Settle showed up for me in the form of 22 fellow yogis. It invited me to extend a hand or a hello in our first awkward meeting. It challenged me to accept them as a comrade and teacher without knowing anything more than that they had shown up too and for that to be enough. To take feedback from them and to give it, accepting and extending it as a precious gift. It gave me the chance to hold space for them to root and rise and fall and start again. And to be held by them (both figuratively and quite literally).

Settle made me touch their sacrum or pelvic bone and get comfortable there. It made me realize how energy and intention can be so powerfully communicated with the slightest bit of pressure, and that this is not only a responsibility but a gift. It reminded me that touch is not a part of everyone’s life–in the absence of a romantic relationship or close friends or family nearby, people can go years without human contact. It made me conscious of this and has be considering how I can not only hold space for another but perhaps a hand. We were made to touch.

Settle showed up as acceptance of their very-different-from-mine yoga bodies as I held those bones with reverence and awe. It showed up as acceptance of my strong-back-soft-stomach-weak-tricep-flexible-hamstring-knock-kneed  yoga body. It’s hard to hate it when you see what it can do.

Settle showed up as a focal point that told me I was strong enough all along and finally allowed me to fly.  I’ve been trying to get into crow pose for longer than I can remember, and I’ve always focused at a spot a few inches in front of my face. Turns out if I look farther ahead, finding a drishti a foot and a half or so in front of me, I can come into the posture and hold it.

Settle showed up as a reminder that yoga (and life) is a process; it’s called a yoga practice for a reason. As Baptiste wrote:

There is no prize for perfect poses…The point is that sometimes results are barely visible, but every fraction of an inch of progress is meaningful. Don’t seek better poses, a perfect body, or an immediate inner peace. Let go of the ambition and embrace the practice of peeling back your layers. Just be where you are, play your edge, and the prizes will be revealed along the way. Transformation is a process to be lived. It cannot be captured or possessed; you can only participate in it.

So settle in here; take a few breaths.

 


Steph’s SETTLE textual inspiration:

“…to live in this world

you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.”

Steph’s Song of the Week: Humble & Kind by Lori McKenna


Be sure to read Lin’s post on SETTLE.


& Join us next Sunday to see what we
MAKE of our weeks.

The Case for Encasing: Reflecting on SETTLE

When I saw that our first joint VOW was SETTLE, I thought to myself man, that’s kind of a bleak way to start the year. I began to run through the list of things about myself that I need to just inevitably with: my tight budget, my acne prone skin, the fact that I’ll never be able to air dry my hair without looking like either a clown or Sean White (evidenced here). Somehow, bitching about my insecurities in detail didn’t seem like the best way to endear readers.

All our lives we’re told that settling is this dark, undesirable thing. Especially the millennial* generation who were taught by the Baby Boomers who raised them you’re a special flower, never settle, follow your path and your dreams. YOU CAN BE WHATEVER YOU WANT TO BE.

For Christmas I gifted my family Strengths Finder — a personality profiling tool I’m obsessed with that tells  you what you’re really great at. Of the 34 themes, you see only your top 5 traits; your lowest are left to your imagination. This theory is counter to how most of us lead our lives. You know, how we tend to believe that with enough practice, dedication, and grit we can excel at anything we set our sights on. We often presume that what’s worthwhile ought to be hard won. But the author, Tom Rath, reveals this mentality doesn’t actually get us as far as we assume:

The reality is that a person who was always struggled with numbers is unlikely to be a great accountant or statistician. And the person without much natural empathy will never be able to comfort an agitated customer in the warm and sincere way that the great empathizers can. Even the legendary Michael Jordan, who embodied power and raw talent on a basketball court, could not become, well, the “Michael Jordan” of golf or baseball, no matter how hard he tried.

Strengths Finder reveals one of the most simple-yet-impactful insights I’ve gained as an adult:

You cannot be anything you want to be —  but you can be a lot more of who you already are.

This further reminded me of a quote from Amy Poehler’s incredible essay memoir book Yes, Please. She talks about how she accepted early in life that she would never be considered an incredible beauty. Rather, she won people over with her tenacity, her humor, and her positivity. As Poehler advises in her book:

Decide what your currency is early.
Let go of what you will never have.

Remembering this profound advice (see, I really do love truth nuggeted in a quote), I asked myself why I considered settling so goddamn depressing. Settling can be freeing. Hell, that’s part of the whole reason I chose to EMBRACE this year — making peace with the things which do not help me thrive.

But I didn’t want to mimic my verb from last week. And yes, self acceptance is work and there is progress to be made there, but I wanted action items, dammit.

And then I came across this little article about hygge (pronounced HOU-gah) the Danish concept — nay, way of life — which is infiltrating the American mentality that we need to promote these perfectly crafted, exciting, glamorous lives via social media. Because how else would people know we were happy?

Hygge is about simplicity. It’s about  quiet, cozy spaces with those whom we consider intimates. Grab some unscented candles, hot chocolate, fleece anything, and park yourself in front of a fire with a good book or your best friends. Hygge isn’t about being impressive. It isn’t about grandiosity or social media vanity. It’s about a stillness, a realness, that comes with settling in.

Lin-Hygge.jpg

PICTURED: candles, flannel, wool socks, fluffly pillows, hot coffee, cozy blankets, captivating books. NOT PICTURED: mountain of tissues, hours of Best Fiends, general self-wallowing.

Like the rest of the country, temperatures dropped in the South, granting us enough snow (less than 1″) for a snow day and the deep desire to curl up in bed with all the makings for a good hygge. The virus I acquired some days before put me in just such a mood.

This week alone I finished two books, perfected a homemade hot chocolate recipe, enjoyed winter vegetable soup. Hell, Tuesday I didn’t even leave my bed at all.

My time in Alabama has been significantly different than my life in Colorado was. I’m alone most of the time and my true extroverted nature is coping with this change magnificently well. There are often times when I miss having a close friend nearby, miss the social life where I needed to make plans three weeks out.

But there are other times when I’m thankful for this shift. I needed a pause; in Fort Collins my life was go-go-go for a very long time. This new phase, like the general pace of the region, is steadier. It’s more settled. And simply because it is new and uncomfortable doesn’t mean I don’t wear it well.

…And really, when what I’m wearing is so comfy and snuggly, why would I want to change?

*I’m not knocking millennials; they get enough of that elsewhere anyway. I consider myself part of the transitional generation rather than a Millennial. I remember life before the internet which, working in higher ed with true Millennials, whom I feel both united and separate from. They get a bad rap, those Millennials, and I do not mean to exacerbate it. Their differences are neither good nor bad, they have simply been raised in a world very, very different than the one any of the rest of us were born into.


Lin’s VOW mantra: Find joy in the ordinary.
Lin’s Song of the Week: Home by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros


Be sure to read up on Steph’s post about #VOWsettle.


Join us next Sunday to see what we 
MAKE of our weeks.

woman doing crow pose

A List of Things to Build

Shoulder and back strength.
Familiarity with the sensation of being upside down.
A stack of read books and filled journals.
The perfect planner.
Layers and layers of paint on canvases.
More photographs.
A circle of women.
A community event.
An emergency fund.
A pile of compost.
A daily meditation practice.
Travel plans for Scotland.
A relationship.

On a list of things to build.
That is where my mind has been this week.

So often in the past seven days, whether in a yoga class or at a meeting, there was a moment when I became acutely aware of the chance I had to grow. To take one more breath in a posture. To use language to frame something just a little bit differently.

To fall out of crow pose…again and again…barely moving the needle on progress.

In many ways, I think that is how I saw 2016–falling off balance again and again, barely moving the needle on progress.  To be quite honest, based on how I rang in the new year (i.e., in bed with a severe sinus infection), I don’t think much will change in 2017: I think I will spend most days falling out of that pose, barely moving the needle on progress.

The thing that will change is what those last six words mean to me.

Barely moving the needle is progress.

Barely moving the need is how we have to build sometimes, and, as a dear friend put it years ago, in words that have not left me since:

And I like these things because they cost me something to invest in. If I pay the price, then it is worth something to me. Its worth is only equal to what I am willing to pay for it.

There are some things in this life that will take time to develop, things that are worth keeping sacred for the right moment. Things that will be more lovely if I pay the price of waiting and watching and sowing into it, even when I am uncomfortable and lonely and hopeful all at once.

Because anything worth everything will always cost us something.

Anything worth everything…that’s something I want to build.

Reject What Does Not Serve You: Reflecting on EMBRACE

Like most of us, I cheered extra hard and kissed extra long when the clock struck midnight this year, ushering in the excitement and promise of 2017. Dismissing the hot mess that was 2016 — especially the final quarter of it — provided my soul the equivalent of a long shower, brushed teeth, fresh underwear, and clean hair.

Granted, I felt same way at the beginning of 2016. And when 2015 was novel. I still consider 2014 one of the worst years of my life but I do recall being so grateful for it’s arrival after a brutal 2013.

I guess what I’m saying is despite all the ‘New Year, New You’ promises and the memes thanking our lucky stars for a bright start with the rollover… y’all, we’ll just be saying the exact same things at this time next December.

2017 will be just as DEPLETING as 2016 — if we let it.

This plays a part in why people nay-say New Year’s Resolutions, methinks.

Because it’s nice to envision ourselves on the other side, having realized all our potential and relaxing in mental satisfaction with more money, less body fat, and overall tranquility.

Remember when I said I love New Years Resolutions? This is because I select mine deliberately and go full-scale nerdy and do my best to make them SMART. I set mini-goals in twelve aspects of my life to make the application of these promises realistic.

So… how does this micro-rant fit into my weekly application of EMBRACE?

There’s a lot about this week which did not naturally elicit a “Yes, Let’s” attitude.

My boyfriend left town and I already fiercely miss his warmth in my bed and his arms around my waist. When he walked out the door, the emptiness of the air around me felt suffocating. I still don’t have many friends in Alabama, none that I hang out with after work, and I likely won’t have physical contact with another human being for at least a month until his return. You forget how important touch is until you no longer receive it.

New circumstances at work which I’ve been dreading awaiting for two months has finally arrived and my concerns regarding the changes are beginning to be realized. I love my job and I love the way things have been; this change is one that I flat-out JUST DID NOT WANT TO HAPPEN. The transition hasn’t been smooth and some of the hiccups we experienced reflected poorly on relationships with colleagues I worked hard to establish. Messages I had been very deliberate about crafting were not communicated properly. Time was wasted on events that should have been applied to other projects. Overall, I left the office each day thinking (and occasionally saying aloud) fuck this.

And then I caught a cold.

And as it always does, along with stress and sadness and sickness, out come my old demons. Ones that are as much a part of me as my congenital heart defect. Quiet voices which whisper cruel things about my body, my hair, my skin, my success. In the back of my mind I hone in on the rolls of my stomach and stretch of my pants against my thighs. Every glance in the mirror pinpoints to a large pimple between my eyebrows. And I begin to think (and occasionally say aloud) fuck this, too.

I begin to wonder if I can actually remain content with the multitude of things which need to be adjusted but don’t seem to budge. And the things that I want to remain as they are but are moving too quickly to catch them. Why is it that life seldom does exactly what we want it to do?

It’s at these times, when the inner voices are chattering and my stubbornness is digging in its heels that I say to myself:

Chill, Lindsey.
Breathe, Lindsey.
Embrace.
Appreciate the stupid mess that is life (like you said you would).

It takes significant effort to actively adjust one’s attitude. But each time the pessimism has popped up, I have reframed:

Those work issues? They’re giving me an opportunity to prove my worth, develop my strengths, and build new skills.

Missing my man? Our time apart has served us very well so far and in the future, we’ll look back nostalgically at this time as being essential in our growth.

My stuffed nose and scratchy throat? I give myself permission for unlimited hot toddy’s and realize it can jump start the direction for next week’s VOW.

The key to embracing is realizing that it’s all a work in progress.

The only way any of us become the 2.0 versions we envision ourselves and our lives to be at the end of the year is to put it into practice.

Simply because it is the new year doesn’t mean that I’m going to lose weight (or stop feeling weird about the extra pounds I’ve recently put on). But it also doesn’t mean that I need to continue to feel ashamed of my body either. Embracing includes following body positive accounts on social media or taking morning walks accompanied with tea and podcasts (and when I’m lucky, my fella). My sole physical “resolution” for 2017 is to clock 20 days on my paddleboard which benefits not only my physique but my mental well-being as well.

What’s the saying in 12 Step programs? About accepting the things we cannot change  and doing the work to adapt what we can? The courage is not only in knowing the difference between the two but rejecting the things in life which are no longer constructive.

That’s what embracing is to me (and how it showed up this week). By saying this is the way things are, here is the stuff I have control over, and that there is the shit that I just need to let go. It may have been an it is what it is kind of week; but even that means I was successful.

So when 2018 comes and I’m none the richer, thinner, or whatever-er, I will find myself improved. And (hopefully) I won’t focus on all the things that that are lacking since I’ve had 365+ opportunities to deprogram that way of thinking.


Lin’s VOW mantra: Embrace the mess that is life. It is what it is.

Lin’s Song of the Week: Mad World by Gary Jules


Be sure to read up on Steph’s post about #VOWbuild

Join us next week as Steph and I join forces for our first shared Verb of the Week, #SETTLE

Share in the comments what your #OneWord2017 is and how you applied it this week.

Have your own blog? Let us know and we’ll link to you!