Don’t just go through the motions – Live fully and with purpose. The day to day tasks may seem mundane and ritual, often times we take the smallest things for granted. Absorb what the universe has to offer. Make real connections with real people. Make it your duty to live with an open mind and open heart, being humble and eager to learn as much as you can, and sharing the knowledge you have learned with others. Be present.
I started the year full of anxiety, my financial situation wasn’t in the best shape, I made many mistakes with money in 2016 and I constantly feared the future. If I had an emergency, would I be prepared for it? What if my landlord decided to increase rent or worse – sell the unit to another buyer leaving me to scramble for a new home? What if my vendor contract with Microsoft came to an abrupt end? What if, what if, what if….. All this worry over an un-promised future didn’t give me much time to be present. Through much reading, meditation, and journaling I have been practicing what it means to be present. I’m not perfect and I still have deep seeded existential worry and anxiety, but in retrospect I’ve made huge improvements from last year. I’m practicing balance – a lifelong journey.
“Tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live. There is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly.” ― Alan W. Watts,Love hard – You can never have too much love to give. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, to love, and to love hard. Have love for your friends, family, significant other, yourself, the earth we live on, the solar system we are a part of and ultimately the entire universe in which we are interconnected. Love with no limits but without blindness.
I was convinced that 2016 was my year of practicing self love when in all reality it was “treat yo self without responsibility.” Buying yourself stupid shit isn’t self love – 2016 was a year of insecurity. I fell in love and pined over a boy who wouldn’t love me back, I still hadn’t come to terms with my divorce even though I tried to convince myself that I had, and I silently suffered from an eating disorder. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me, I couldn’t learn to love myself. This year I started to heal. I spent more time with friends, read plenty of books about love, philosophy, and the intricacies of human emotion which gave me a new perspective. I traveled (responsibly), made new connections, spent time alone, and overcame my eating disorder. I allowed myself to feel pain instead of pushing it down. I also allowed myself to feel intimacy. I felt something other than a dull ache. I’m learning how to “love with awareness and relate without fear.”
Serve and give to others – If there’s anything I’ve learned this year, it’s that serving and giving to others is medicine. But do so without personal gain in mind. For example, do not serve and give to others if the expected outcome is to feel satisfaction for yourself. That is simply your Ego starving. Do so with the intent to genuinely help others and to share love and kindness.
This year I was in an unstable financial situation and did not give as much as I would have liked. I understand that serving and giving to others doesn’t always involve money; it can be your time, love, appreciation, friendship and small kind gestures. With 2018 on the rise, I would like to finesse the attitude of giving beyond monetary means.
Read more books – Read all kinds of books. Read ones that interest you. Give ones that don’t interest you a chance. Make a realistic book list for yourself and start checking them off. More important than reading books, soak up and absorb the information. Read to understand and expand your knowledge.
Nailed this one. I should have been writing book reviews in 2017, perhaps I will in 2018. I read so many books. Amazing awe inspiring books. Books that made me laugh, made me cry, and challenged my beliefs and values. I read about love, Stoicism, Buddhism, Eastern philosophy, relationships, the human sexual experience, infidelity, and so much more. I want to thank Justin Boreta from the Glitch Mob for his amazing book recommendations throughout the years. I love immersing myself in the material that inspires my favorite musicians. I look forward to many more great reads this year, paired with journaling and book reviews.
Take care of your mind and body – Most years I’ve done quite well with taking care of my body, but neglecting the care of my mind. I began 2016 obsessed with my body and outwardly appearance, counting macros and working out 5-6 times a week with little regard to my mental health. I ended the year fat and happy with a winter roll named Murphy, stopped counting macros, and working out 3-4 times a week, but in the best state of mind possible. This following year I hope to achieve and maintain a healthy balance of care for both my mind and body.
After years of obsessive macro counting, calorie expenditure calculations, logging my workouts daily, measuring my body with a scale, tape, and calipers, suffering from an eating disorder, and measuring my self worth by the circumference of my waist and glutes – I have found peace and true confidence. I did what felt right in the gym and practiced mindful eating habits. I haven’t tracked in over 6 months and I have been a vegetarian for about the same amount of time. This year I picked up shuffling just for fun and actually became pretty decent at it. I have a new hobby in addition to pushing around some heavy weight. I’m not as strong as I used to be, but it’s a sacrifice I’m glad I made. Forever working towards balance and harmony.
Apologize less and say thank you more – I saw this one on Reddit or Tumblr, but it rings true. Instead of apologizing for being late, say, “Thank you for waiting for me.” Instead of saying, “Sorry I’m such a train wreck” say, “Thank you for loving me unconditionally.” This will create a positive relationship with others by expressing your gratitude instead of negativity.
I still suck at this one. But I no longer act as a door mat for people who treat me less than I deserve. I used to think I didn’t deserve respect, love, appreciation, or common decency. But I do. Hell, everyone does. I’m no longer afraid to drop people if they disrespect me. I’m turning 27 this year, I’m technically an adult as they say. Life is too chaotic to surround yourself with people who won’t aid you through your growth.
Forgive – Dwelling on negativity and hate is poison for only yourself. Everyone is human and will make mistakes, you will hurt, you will be let down, you will be disappointed over and over again, but as long as you can forgive, you are free and can move forward.
2017 was full of acceptance, closure, and forgiveness. I started therapy and began to understand my divorce and how I felt about it. I learned how to talk about my “feelings” which is the hardest fucking thing I’ve ever done and I’m still no good at it. I forgave the people who hurt me over and over again with no true remorse or apology. I learned that you can’t control how other people feel about you or view you, but you can control your reactions and responses under uncontrollable circumstances. I learned to have compassion and empathy for people who don’t quite understand themselves. I still have plenty of work to do in 2018, but I have a solid head start.
Step outside your comfort zone – Do something new, something you usually wouldn’t do or puts you outside your comfort zone. In 2016 I spent the year single, learning to be comfortable and secure on my own, making new friends, treating myself well, pursuing new hobbies, spending time alone exploring the city, being vulnerable, and learning to trust.
Also nailed this one. Almost the entire year was filled with new situations that were outside my comfort zone. I donated my eggs for a second time this year which required me to travel while full of over sized eggs. It was physically and mentally uncomfortable – literally. I took this trip on my own while most of the gals in the waiting room were with another person to oversee them after surgery. I hate being a burden to anyone so I didn’t ask to have a travel companion even though it would have been paid in full.
I also did my first Global CIO Summit with Microsoft in September. As the event planner for this big event I managed the happenings in the Executive Briefing Center regarding everything ranging from security, building access, catering, furniture sets throughout the building, floral arrangements, digital signage, directing CIO’s to their workshops and meetings, billing, and of course the unforeseen last minute changes. The event went better than imagined and I enjoyed working with the vendor company who hosted with us.
I did my first nude shoot the first time I met a couple from Instagram! Derick and Lindsay are amazing people and I had such a great experience doing a nude Star Wars shoot with them. It felt like I knew them forever and we were just hanging out taking pictures. Not only did I get some dope photos, but I met genuine people I would love to hang out with more and consider friends. Shout out to you guys! Much love!
I could go on, but to make it short and sweet – the biggest thing I have done to step out of my comfort zone would be making the decision to go to therapy. I always thought therapy was kinda bullshit and would have rather taken anti depressants for a “quick fix.” But the older I get the more I realize that your mental health and overall well-being can’t thrive with a pill or a quick fix. You have to work hard at it every fucking day, and sometimes that means buckling down and doing the nitty gritty, like talking about your feelings, letting down your defenses, and allowing yourself to come to whatever terms you need to. I’ve been able to cry about my childhood in a safe space, talk about my divorce, and voice my worry about being alone and my fear of losing everything. Through therapy I’ve been able to change my internal dialogue into a more constructive one that doesn’t bend under the anxiety that wages war on me every day.
Create – Whether you are an artist who creates beautiful paintings, a photographer who creates amazing photographs, a writer who creates literature, an athlete who creates their own body through training and practice, or a man and woman creating a child to love and cherish …. create something. Start small. It may only begin with a line on a canvas or a word on a page, but it will become more and it will be a piece of you.
The best thing about being human is that we can express ourselves through so many different outlets of creation. I had the opportunity to create dope photos with talented photographers, I took on a new passion for shuffling, I did more writing in my personal journals and blogged less publicly, and I built a new physique through being a vegetarian and taking a new approach to my health and fitness. It seems as though life is falling into place. I look forward to creating more in 2018.
Travel – You can fly across the world and backpack third world countries, immersing yourself in the culture and experiencing another life. Or fly to a place you have never been, just close your eyes and place your finger on the map. If you don’t have the means to up and leave, whenever you feel that “itch” where you need to move and just go…. hop on a buss or a train and just GO. You can come back in a few hours, but go.
I had the opportunity to travel quite a bit in 2017. I went to Vancouver for Kat’s birthday, Coachella in April with Andy and Devin, traveled to Forth Worth Texas several times for my egg donation, and went to Las Vegas for Life is Beautiful and to visit former colleagues. I also took the train for the first time to Olympia for the nude Vader shoot and will be starting 2018 off with a bang in Cancun. I’m also looking forward to road tripping with Lady BAE this summer to visit our relatives in California. I will hug a redwood tree before I die…..
Learn from your mistakes and find the positive outcome – 2016 had it’s fair share of mistakes, heartache, and headache, but I’ve learned to dwell on the positive outcome of each challenge placed in front of me. I have many people to thank for helping build the resilience I have for life. For being there at the darkest moments, for encouraging me when I wanted quit, and for providing support, love, and wisdom. I am forever grateful for the lessons I’ve learned.
If Stoicism and all the books I’ve read this past year has taught me anything, it’s to embrace challenges and obstacles with open arms because they will provide experience and knowledge for the hard road of life ahead. There are lessons to be learned through all the happenings around us. You just need to be receptive and open to receiving them. So here’s to a New Year! Huge thanks to the friends and family in my life who have been supportive of me through thick and thin. You guys are a God sent. May your year be full of love, lessons, and experiences to cherish for a life time.