Instagram: Extended Thoughts

6/9/19

Life Lesson 1: Just Because You’re Good At Something Doesn’t Mean You Have To Do It

y’know, a lesson i learned pretty early on in life is: just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it.

right? or just because you were born with a natural ability for something doesn’t mean it’s something you must pursue. i think a lot of times we get caught up in this line of thinking. that we have some sort of destiny we must fulfill. a purpose. a calling. something we were born to do. 

for some of us, yes, it’s incredibly obvious that like meryl streep was born to act or michael jordan was born to play basketball. sometimes it’s a little more subtle—kate moss for instance. one of my favorite models of all time, she was an anomaly. chick is shorter than i am by like two full inches, yet became one of the most successful models in history blazing her own trail, becoming an icon and literally changing the face of fashion. 

suffice it all to say, i think some people are born knowing exactly what they want to do and their god given gifts are conducive to that thing and that’s awesome albeit rare, but i think for the majority of us we are, most of the time, just trying to fucking figure it out. and occasionally we stumble across things we are good at. whatever it is. maybe it’s cooking. maybe it’s math. whatever it is. and sometimes that thing gets built up. the people around us see our potential. and we get swept up in a thing that we are good at, maybe even great at...and we start to feel good. we feel confident. capable. it’s such an intoxicating feeling, right? and then we can start to get lost in it. allowing ourselves to be (mis)led by these affirmative feelings and accolades. and sometimes...it’s perfect. we have found our calling. we have found our thing. everything is flowing and everything is right. and that is undeniably wonderful. but, that’s not always the case. 

have you ever been swept up in something—a job, a career, a relationship, a major in college, whatever it is—and you’re good at it or it comes naturally to you and everyone else around you encourages it because from the outside looking in it looks perfect, but really something just ain’t right? maybe you can’t put your finger on it (or maybe you know full well what’s up) but something is nagging at you and you know this thing, whatever it is, just isn’t right for you. but how do you change? how do you step away from something that you’re so good at? everyone else around you is so sure that you should be doing this thing so you start second guessing your intuition. and then you’re confused and lost and you start to feel little pangs or resentment and anger and, well, that’s fun, isn’t it?

so how does one break this cycle? how do you start to parse through how you really feel about something without everyone’s input? without your own intoxicating feelings of worth surrounding this question mark over your head? we all want to feel worthy and capable and all of that good stuff so we often stay doing things we’ve outgrown because the leap of faith to stop doing that thing that once fulfilled us and made us feel worthy and maybe a little special and amazing IS FUCKING TERRIFYING. 

and that’s all i have to say on that matter. because nothing i can say can inspire you to take a leap you’re not ready to take. the problem is, if you’re waiting for a time to be ready, that time will never come. it’s just a decision. you just have to tell yourself that you are brave and courageous and force yourself to do what you know deep down to be true. it’s as easy and as complicated as that. 🐛🦋


1/20/2019

#intention

HEY! how you guys doin’ on those new year’s resolutions?!

errr, intentions. whatever we are calling them these days. how goes it for ya?

when i first started practicing yoga and was introduced to the idea of “intention setting” at the beginning of class i thought it was some new age hippie shit but i played along, and being the indecisive type A that i am, i decided i needed the perfect intention in order to move forward with the practice. so i’d rack my brain for the perfect little word or phrase that i thought could be invoked like magic to fix, heal and change my life. inevitably 45 minutes into the class and i still would have no idea what i wanted that intention to be. and then i’d get mad at myself for being so indecisive and “wasting” my time in class. 

MY BRAIN THO. like i couldn’t even muster some sort of bland version of “let go” or “be present” or something. nahhh instead my head was like this: “pick an intention. come on. what do you need to work on? everything is shit. where do i start? you need to fucking relax. but you’re so lazy. why can’t you get your shit together? you’re 25. that’s an adult. you have no abdominal definition. maybe your intention should be don’t go home and eat half a box of pasta. ugh. tomorrow is going to suck i have all those parent teacher conferences. ok. intention. my intention is to not lose my shit. yeah. that’s a good one. but what am i not losing my shit about in yoga? like how can i use this intention to get abs?....” and on and on and on it would go. and eventually we’d be cued into savasana and i’d be like waiiiiit i didn’t do the magical intention invocation! 

eventually the inane intention creation struggle was what led me to what worked for me for years: yoga chitta vritti nirodha. yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. and yo, i’m still working on this. who isn’t? but i digress. it took me many moons to figure this out. my intention became simply undoing the stress of creating an intention. my whole struggle to come up with an intention and the process that ensued in my mind was a metaphor for what i needed to work on in both my practice and my life. 

and now we zoom out from the mat to daily life. and i come back to the idea of intention. i had shit on january 1 in mind. like yeah i’ve got things i wanna work on, blah blah. but nothing really stuck out in my mind. so i let the idea of some forced resolution slip out of my mind and knew that eventually something would snap into focus. 

and here i sit on january 20 and my mind is full of ideas. bursting at the seams of all the things i want to do, all the ways i want to improve, all the goals i want to crush. and i also notice my inaction. thoughts and intentions are great, but if we stay stuck in our mind space and don’t actually DO anything, well...we’ve done nothing but disturb our own peace. and so i come back to sutra 1.1, back to the intention that paved my yogic path and i remind myself to find and do things to still my mind. when the circus upstairs gets quiet, i can focus on my tangible goals. 

so all of this is to say, check in with yourself and if you too are struggling with your new year goals, go back to the source. go back to your mind. go back to your patterns. your behavior. your thought processes. how can you undo behavior that might be hindering your forward motion or progress? it’s so easy to get frustrated, to look outside ourselves and blame everything from coworkers to the weather to our own bodies, so what is it REALLY that’s holding you back? 


12/25/18

#expectations

…are the root of much unhappiness. And I think we know this. So we build walls and protect ourselves with shields of various sorts; we make excuses, we numb ourselves with wine and call it “self care”, we lie to ourselves and we commiserate with others, most often online these days in the virtual reality of social media.

So what happens when you just allow whatever is in front of you to fully be there? Without altering it, without changing your perspective, but simply dropping into your feels center and reacting in whatever way intuitively occurs? We are so adept at creating overrides when shit feelings come up because we don’t like feeling unhappy. We don’t like feeling uncomfortable. We don’t want to feel afraid, nervous, unstable, unsure. Feelings on the spectrum of stress and sadness physically make us feel unwell and as humans we are programmed to override these feelings.

So what happens when we don’t? What happens when we let ourselves sit in our funk? How do we use the shit ass feelings as fuel to propel us forward or as fertilizer to help us grow? 

I honestly think some people don’t know how they feel because they are so good at overriding, they are so good at shifting their thought patterns and blocking out the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, they are so good at staying busy, that they don’t have time to let the darkness creep in. They combat darkness their entire lives with different mechanisms of denial and numbing, whether it’s constantly surrounding themselves with other people, stirring up distracting drama, alcohol, working too much, etc.

And this is celebrated. This is touted as strength of character. This is a trait that is actively sought after and glorified. And the ones who feel their feelings and sit with their darkness trying to understand and shed light on their shadows are seen as weird or weak. Which is just a societal defense mechanism, let’s be honest—sure, cast the folks who are trying to authentically understand themselves and show up in this world as whole and fully realized humans as freaks. Keep it bright, sunny, and copacetic at all times because #goodvibesonly!(Can you hear me rolling my eyes through the page right now?)

I digress. Expectations. They set us up for these shit feelings, don’t they? Even if we think we don’t have any expectations, there’s often something lingering beneath the surface and when it fails to come to fruition for whatever reason, we start to feel shitty. Dejected. Depressed. Alone. Misunderstood. And I think that’s what it all seems to come down to, when you really reduce it down and parse it down to the root cause of the feeling, it’s aloneness. It’s that first chakra disconnect. It’s the embodiment of the thought: I don’t belong.

Everything nowadays gets super hyped up. Everything is manicured. It seems like everyone posts pictures on the holidays with their families looking perfect in front of a perfectly decorated table or Christmas tree, which ultimately makes onlookers feel alone, like everyone else lives an idyllic existence and their lives are shit. Don’t fall for the hype. Everyone has their own demons they battle, whether they choose to face them or not. The people out there that are actually facing those demons down and doing the work of being human, feeling the full range of human existence and trying to make something out of nothing…those are my people. I don’t know about you, but those are the people I look up to and want to surround myself with.

And at the end of the day, much of what we want is to feel less alone. To feel needed. To feel desired. To be loved. The absolute best person to start with is yourself. That is self love. That is self care. Drowning your uncomfortable thoughts in whatever your favorite self protection mechanism is, is not. So on this Christmas, whether you celebrate the birth of old JC or not, allow yourself to break free of the binds of expectation, feel whatever comes up, and use that to begin to understand your worth. Because you’re not alone. You’re not the only one who feels not good enough for whatever reason. It’s not just you who feels the need to combat uncomfortable feelings. It’s literally ALL OF US. The more we start to realize we are all connected in a collective consciousness, the easier and more rewarding it will be to show up each day as the realest and truest version of ourselves. But the first step is truly understanding and knowing your own worth. YOU are the Christmas miracle, btw. As my homegirl Glinda says: “You’ve always had the power my dear, you just [have] to learn it for yourself.”

Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals. I love you all. 


12/4/2018

#selflove

Bubble baths. Tea. Chocolate cake. What do you do to fill your voids? What eats away at you that you feel the need to silence it with food, drink, drugs, sex, sleep, TV, mindless instagram scrolling, etc? And that is not to say there isn’t a time and a place for all of those things. Maybe not, you know, crack or heroin, but you get the gist.

Anyway. Your voids? Back to that. What are they? Don’t just think about them, but take two goddamn minutes, pull out a piece of paper and write them the fuck down. Here’s the interesting thing: a lot of us don’t even know what they are. We pull out the paper and stare at it’s blankness. We know we are doing destructive things but we don’t even know why. Think of it as a game of connect the dots, but backward. Start with the behavior in question and continue to ask yourself: WHY? Example: “I binge eat at night.” Why? “I’m bored.” Why? “I’m single and it’s a Tuesday night, all my friends are at home with their families.” (Ahhh ok we are getting somewhere.) Now, deconstruct that last statement: Do I want to be single? Am I frustrated with my dating life? Am I still in love with an ex? Do I have feelings for someone I probably shouldn’t? Am I scared that I will be in this single state forever? What if that were the case? Would I be ok going through life alone? Am I angry at an ex? Am I jealous of a friend’s relationship? Am I worried that I’m getting too old to be single because I want to start a family soon? What if I never meet someone but I still want kids? Et cetera. These are all valid and very serious life questions that when we confront them, can make us feel vulnerable, exposed, and downright scared. As humans we are wired to do things to make ourselves feel satisfied and happy. When we feel an emptiness for whatever reason, we will fill it with something. Sometimes, it’s good stuff. It’s bubble baths and exercise (but not too much!), healthy, nourishing food, and other positive, grounding activities. Sometimes we take these things to an extreme and they become unhealthy, i.e. overexercising, obsession with healthy food or rituals, etc. Sometimes, it’s not so good stuff. Standing in front of an open fridge, binging on ice cream at 2:30 in the morning, hating ourselves a little bit more with each oversized spoonful. And sometimes it’s super destructive behavior like binge drinking, used of hard drugs, major eating disorders, and so forth. So now what? Now that you’ve identified a behavior you don’t like, you’ve discovered the root cause of it…like, cool story bro. Now what?

The next step is, imho, the most important one. You must decide that you want to change. Not for any reason other than YOU want to make this change, that YOU want to realign your behavior with your values so that you can stop feeling and filling the voids in your life. (The biggest irony of all is that once you start doing this, shit just falls into place. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, I can’t explain it with science, but I’ve seen and felt this phenomenon time and time again.) I digress. The first step is deciding you want to change. Really, truly, deep down in your core making that choice. Because, after all, our lives are simply a reflection of our choices, not our circumstances. How you choose to react, how you choose to show up, how you choose to fight back defines your life.

So HOW do we actually make these changes once we have gotten real with ourselves that we want to and are going to change? Create a habit. You MUST create a new habit. Going back to our example of binge eating at night, you have create a ritual for yourself in the evening after dinner that 1) satisfies you and 2) reroutes the old behavior. Speaking from experience…I literally used to mow down a box of cinnamon toast crunch almost every night and then wonder why it was taking me so long to gain muscle and lose fat while working out 30 hours a week. Number one, I wasn’t eating enough real food with actual nutrients and shit to counteract all the working out I was doing. My body was just like FEED ME, ASSHOLE. So chemically, hormonally, physically, I NEEDED more food, but I was scared to eat more at lunch and dinner because I knew I had this habit of throwing down 34572935862946 calories worth of cereal before bed. Once I decided to cut back on working out, ate more nutrient dense food, and picked two snacks that I spaced out an hour apart before bed, it was like magic. My body responded and to this day I still practice this habit. I have two after dinner snacks and they’re delicious and they make me happy and feel satisfied and it’s been YEARS that I’ve been living like this. So that’s how you break a bad habit—you create a new ritual, a replacement habit. At first it might be a little uncomfortable, forcing yourself to do something different, but if you stick it out, a few days becomes a week becomes a few weeks becomes a month or so, becomes your new lifestyle.

Here’s another huge key: forgive and forget when you fuck up. Dude. I love cereal. So much. I still sometimes find myself elbow deep in a box of it. When that happens, instead of hating myself and beating myself up trying to exercise (exorcise?!) it out of my system, I’m like: Ok, El. That happened. Moving on. And guess what? It makes not a damn bit of difference. Now here’s the kicker: you can force yourself to change a habit, but you can’t force yourself to un-feel the way you feel sometimes. In our made up scenario, the nighttime binge eating of ice cream at 2:30 am was because our protagonist found herself bored, but really that boredom stemmed from feeling lonely, and ultimately when you reduce it down, fear. And I think that’s a lot of what #selflove is. It’s not about the bubble baths, it’s not about #treatyaself, it’s not about getting in shape or being “healthy”, but rather its about living without fear. Fear of being judged. Of being alone. Of not being good enough. Of not feeling worthy of the life and love you desire and deserve.

And that’s it. Once you understand that, and once you come to terms with whatever it is that’s holding you back and making you feel like you aren’t worthy and aren’t good enough, whatever that roadblock is for you, once you can see it for what it is—a universal cock block—you can start to move away from it. Because you ARE worthy. You ARE good enough. You are because it’s your basic human right. It is your birthright to be happy, but you are the only person who can decide that and make it happen. The fastest way, the shortcut to happiness is moving as far away from fear as possible. All those things and people who made you feel like you weren’t good enough, that you weren’t for some reason, deserving of your birth right to be happy, all of that can be washed away with YOUR decision to kick fear in the face. Our life is made up of our choices. How we choose to respond to things and circumstances that arise, yes, but also how we choose to confront the demons within ourselves. We must stop blaming. We must stop playing the victim. If you want to be happy, be happy. It is entirely within your power and once you intrinsically know and feel that, and let yourself feel as though you deserve that (because YOU DO), everything will shift. It just will. It can’t not. Yeah I used a double negative. That’s how strongly I feel about this. Just give it a go, even if you have to “fake” it for a while. You fake something long enough, you’ll trick your mind into actually believing in yourself. And that my friends, that is self love. Do the work. Create new habits. Forgive and forget when you fuck up. (And fuck up, you will because you’re human.) And always believe in yourself and your birthright to be happy.