On Mastering The Art of Having A Bad Week

santabarbara

Last week was extremely challenging for me. Every day felt like some sort of test that my soul had to pass…ever had one of those? It was painful. It was hard. It made me feel like everything I’ve worked for has been useless. It felt like the world’s biggest speed bump, seeing as I’ve generally been feeling so happy and fulfilled.

But, this morning, while I pounded away on the treadmill, I came to a realization – despite my challenging week – I’m actually okay! I’d even say I’m feeling great. There have been times in the past when bad days piled into bad weeks and bad weeks piled into bad months, and…well, you get the picture – whereas, this week, that simply wasn’t the case!

“What’s different this time?” I asked myself. “What’s changed?” I feel full, not empty and defeated.

As I ran, I mentally ticked off the reasons I believe this bad week has turned out to be not so bad at all.

It’s this:  I’ve spiritually stockpiled things that can serve as a reserve of strength when life hands me challenging circumstances.

May I share them with you?

To Conquer a Bad Week, Make Sure You Have:

Soul Mates: I’ve long believed that my friends are my soul mates. Whereas romantic love comes and goes, my friendships see me through every situation that life throws my way. They are the people who stand behind me and say,

“Yes, you can.”

“One more time.”

“You’re not alone.”

No one tells you that when you move to a new city, you’re going to flounder for a while as you try to build a solid group of people who you can call at three o’clock in the morning – and this is marked by some  very lonely days and nights. I am so grateful that I’ve managed to find such an incredible circle of friends here in L.A. And no two are alike: I have one I can cry in front of that gives me the sweetest safety to be weak in his presence. I have one that attributes everything to the stars and mercury being in retrograde. One that keeps me laughing. One that suggests a seyonce and is my spiritual sister from another lifetime. One that is my reflection – his growth is mirroring back to me my own. They all come together in my life to form the most amazing and strong support system amid this strange city we all call home. They have saved me.

And they didn’t come my way by accident. We were always meant to be together. And with them behind me, this soul-crushing week wasn’t so soul-crushing after all – because they’re here with me, reminding me that I’m not alone. Find true friends, and hang on to them. They’re absolutely everything in this life. And I mean EVERYTHING.

 

An Art: Quite simply – Art Heals. Art is a balm we can rub onto our souls’ wounds. Often, we overlook and underestimate how powerful it can be to express how we feel through a medium. In the midst of this painful week, I woke up one day deciding I absolutely must pick up a brush and paint. I’ve been yearning to for a while (gone are my high school and college days when I was able to paint everyday) and suddenly I knew this was the perfect time to do it. There’s something so incredibly soothing about smoothing paint over a blank canvas – manipulating colors and forming shapes. Whatever your preferred art is – painting, dancing, pottery, photography, writing, drawing, singing – do yourself a favor and pick it up the next time you’re feeling like you’re flat on your back run over by life. Don’t judge what comes out…just do your art.

 

Love: Love, love, love. Love for yourself, love for other people, love for this world. Let yourself receive it wholeheartedly from those who give it to you. Give it to people who need it. Love is the gift we give others, and it comes back to us like a boomerang. The more I found myself giving love this week, the more I felt it. Love is everywhere. Open your heart to it. I lived my life for a long time closed off from receiving love and I now realize I was slowly asphyxiating my soul. It may not come from the place you want it to, but it will come from the places you need it to, if you allow it. The reassuring hug of a friend. The smile of a stranger. Simple gestures of kindness. The touch of a soul mate. Love is everywhere. You don’t have to be afraid of it because real love doesn’t hurt. It feels wonderful.

Let it in.

Let it in.

Let it in.

 

Hope: I’m not sure what lay beyond this life. I don’t know if everything we do is part of a cosmic plan. I don’t know if God exists. I don’t know if we’re all just impulses and chemical reactions.

But I do know, if we don’t indulge our souls and believe in a little bit of magic, this life can feel hopeless. I do know that if I don’t allow my soul to run free with the possibility of miracles, this winding road seems like it will never end.

Let yourself hope. Hold onto it when times get tough. It is the tiny bell that rings in your brain telling you, even when you’re back is up against the wall, that the possibility of magic exists. Believe in magic. Believe that you can and will be living a life you feel good about.

Close your eyes. Picture a pitch black night sky. Now, picture a firefly flickering in the distance. That’s hope. That tiny and flittering light. Do you feel me?

 

A Go-To Release: Working out has gotten me through my toughest patches. I remember in the aftermath of my father’s sudden death, there was absolutely nothing that soothed my aching and inflamed soul like working out. I lifted the most weight I could for the most reps. I ran as fast as I possibly could for as long as my legs would hold out. The aftermath of each session was always different: Sometimes I’d burst into tears. Sometimes I’d laugh. Sometimes I’d be so physically exhausted that I couldn’t cry or laugh – all I could do was collapse. But there was always a release.

And it always left me feeling strong. Physically and mentally.

I workout every day as it is, but I workout even harder when I have rough days. There’s something addictive in that release for me.

Find your release. Batting cages, running, lifting weights, swimming – the possibilities are endless. Strengthen your body and your soul will follow suit.

 

Gratitude: Practicing gratitude is the key to happiness, if you ask me. All of the happiest people I know are also the most grateful for everything – even the challenges. Recently, I was reading a post on Humans of New York (If you don’t know what I’m referring to, you’re going to want to Google it like, now.) and the particular photo I’m referring to was of an aging mother and daughter. The quote beneath the photo is as follows:

“What’s your favorite thing about your mother?”

“She loves life more than anyone I’ve ever known. I hope she doesn’t mind me telling you this, but recently she’s had some health problems. And her health got so bad at one point, she called me and said: ‘I was starting to wonder if there was any reason to go on [living]. ….But then I had the most delicious pear!”

I kept reading this quote throughout the week. Find joy and gratitude in every little thing. Even when you’re in the midst of a heartbreakingly bad day, there are STILL things to be grateful for. Next time you find yourself caught up in a spiral of defeat and negativity, take a moment and look around you and find gratitude. It’s a buoy. It’ll help you float.

I don’t hold a degree in Psychology. I can’t say that all of these things will work for you, all of the time. There is no magical formula to revive your spirit when you’re “in it.” But, these are easy things that each and every one of us has access to. You can (and should)  do them all in one day! No one is unable to access them unless they are unwilling.

 

With Love,

 

A.

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On Cultivating A Loving and Healthy Attitude Toward Your Body

honeyloves
Here’s  excerpt from article I wrote, published on Honey Loves , about how I cultivated a healthy attitude toward my body after years of struggling with an altered view of myself.  Find the entire article, including the 5 ways to re-wire your thinking, at HoneyLoves.org Feedback and comments are welcome!

 

My body and I have had a tumultuous relationship on our journey together (I’ll share my own personal “body story” one day soon).

For about 15 years of my life, I struggled with disordered eating and an altered view of what I looked like. It was a terribly lonely struggle and, still to this day, I’ve never spoken about it to ANYONE – so you, Honey Loves, are the first people I will ever speak to about the years of darkness and loneliness that tortured and clawed at my sense of self; the demons that chewed away at the very core of who I was.

It’s been an incredibly long and lonely road to get to where I am now in regards to the love I have for my body. I say “lonely,” because, well…it was! I never spoke about my pain and self-torture to anyone – even now, as I write this, I’m finding it difficult. I held everything inside and sometimes I think it’s a miracle that I even survived it. I can’t believe I’ve gone from the person I was to the person I am today; and I did it all alone. But, you don’t need to do it alone! (And in fact, I DO NOT recommend doing it alone – I just didn’t know the resources available to me.)

Today, I am grateful for my struggle because it has allowed me to reflect and learn to love and appreciate my body. It’s given me the opportunity to do what I wish someone did for me and REACH OUT to help those around me struggling with the same thing. I will say again: You don’t need to go through this alone, beautiful girls. The hate I had for myself permeated every single area of my life – and when I say I was at rock bottom, believe me. So, also, when I say there is hope for you, Honey Loves, you have to believe me. You have to have faith. I am proof that you CAN heal. You can be a person who loves and respects your mind, body, and soul. You don’t always have to live with this heavy weight of self-hatred on your spirit.

While I wish I had, I never sought professional counseling for what I was going through. Though I don’t recommend this (and I can help you find resources to get help), it did force me to come up with little tricks to re-wire my brain that over time, really and truly worked. I figured that if my brain could trick my eyes into seeing fat that wasn’t there when I looked in the mirror, I could certainly make that work to my advantage – and slowly but surely, a new and beautiful girl started to show up whenever I looked in the mirror.

I want to share my tricks for body love with you, and I hope you’ll try them and they’ll start to work for you, too. Be patient with your journey. This isn’t a change that happens overnight. It takes consistent re-working and re-directing of negative thoughts.

 

 

 

Head on over to HoneyLoves.org to read the rest of my article!

– A

The Post in Which I Argue With a Brilliant Dead Man: The View Looking Back

theview

Henry David Thoreau once said:

“NEVER LOOK BACK UNLESS YOU ARE PLANNING TO GO THAT WAY.”

I’ve seen this quote in countless places: classrooms, journals, Facebook posts, Instagram, Pinterest, articles and inspirations…you name it, I’ve seen it there. Google Image it…you’ll understand what I mean. If you haven’t seen this quote before, I’m not judging you, I’m just gently telling you to climb out of the cave you’ve been living in.

I completely understand the message old Mr. Thoreau was trying to convey: The more we focus on what’s behind us, the higher the possibility of regressing.

But, you see, while I understand the message……..I’m also calling “bullshit.”

I see things a bit differently. (I should note that as I’m typing this, I’m thinking, “Am I really about to argue with the writer of Walden right now? In a public forum?” Please blame my boldness on the glass (es) of wine I’ve had. But, alas, I wanted to write honestly about what led me to these thoughts and this was it.)

Before you judge me, let me share with you what led to this epiphany. Ironically, I’m even going to bring nature into it and how it brought me to this realization:

I seek the woods.

I am at peace when I am alone in nature.

I yearn for the outdoors. I can see the trees around me, and sense the open space, and feel the air, and taste the earth, and smell the dirt. After growing up with miles of woods surrounding me, it’s ingrained in my soul to seek nature…

It’s where I find my center.

It’s where I do my best thinking.

It’s where thoughts and inspirations, quite literally, flood my brain; so much so that I’ve actually had to start recording myself on my phone when new thoughts hit me so I don’t lose them.

Living in LA, there’s not a whole lot of places you can go to immerse yourself in nature and this has led me to become an even more avid hiker. While LA lacks in the nature department compared to New England (let’s be honest: everywhere lacks in that department compared to New England, and this is something Thoreau would agree with, no doubt), it has no shortage of amazing hikes. The trails are winding and dusty and filled with luxurious and coveted quiet spots among the City of Angels.

Today, I went hiking in Malibu. I’ve done this particular hike about 20 times. It’s incredibly challenging and when it’s hot enough out, there are actually points where I think to myself: “I’m absolutely going to pass out on the trail and someone is going trip over my lifeless and dehydrated body.” But I ALWAYS make it. And I always take the hard way up. And I always pound through as fast as I can without letting my eyes leave the next peak.

Yet, today was different.

I did something I’ve never done.

I looked back.

I turned my body around on the trail and I looked behind me and lost my breath as I realized I’d been missing half of the view.

Because, man, that view…It was breathtaking.

That view made me realize how amazing my body is; how perfectly and powerfully it functions and how strong I am. It made me realize what I’d conquered.

When we’re in the midst of a climb, it’s easy to forget to stop and take in the progress we’ve made. It’s hard to pat ourselves on the back and say, “Damn, you’re gettin’ through it, kid” when we never look back at where we’ve been.

It’s easy to forget that we’re in the midst of conquering a mountain.

So, as I climbed and my body hurt and screamed for me to stop, I looked back, and it encouranged me to push forward, because I couldn’t believe what I’d already done. I couldn’t believe I’d started out at the very bottom and now had a breathtaking 360 degree view of the ocean and mountains because I was so high up.

In my waking life, I’m still climbing that mountain. I’m still conquering the hills that make my soul hurt and scream out for me to stop. I still ache with uncertainty and missteps and lack of direction.

But….I’m looking back.

I’m looking back and I’m seeing that I like the view of what’s behind me.

It’s breathtaking.

I’m seeing that I’ve come so far. I’m seeing that even though at times, I get lost in the climb and focus soley on putting one foot in front of the other, I’m still climbing. I’m still getting to a higher place and gaining view of an incredible perspective. And at NO POINT, am I worried that I’m going back there…to what’s behind me.

….And that, put as simply as possible, is why I don’t agree with one of the writers I’ve admired since I was in the 7th grade.

Every good thing is a good thing because we have something less than good to compare it to.

I’m afraid that if we ignore what’s behind us for fear of going back, we’ll never realize how far we’ve come. We’ll keep finding ourselves exerting so much effort and not really taking the time to give ourselves credit for what we’ve already accomlished. Let what is behind you serve as motivation to continue climbing. And if you’re at the bottom…well, darling, there’s no where to go but up.

Create your view from the top…then look back at all the things behind you – not with the intention of returning to them, but with admiration for the perspective that you’ve gained.

view

Love,

– A

It’s Been Real, Fro-Yo. It’s Been Real.

Maximum backlight.

Maximum backlight.

Over the past few years, I’ve become increasingly allergic to a variety of things (apples, Splenda (EVIL),  Burt’s Bee’s lip balm, the list goes on…), and it’s led me to really become concerned and aware of the effects the products I use and foods I eat have on my body.  Combined with my new obsession with everything having to do with skin, I’ve realized that many skin issues that I’ve been plagued with also have a huge correlation with the foods I eat. 

After watching a few documentaries (I won’t even get into details there), I cut out meat entirely from my diet about 3 months ago.  I’ve definitely noticed a difference in the way I feel and the way my skin looks.  I’ve even taken photos to prove it.  Kind of like an experiment on myself. I began taking a hair, skin, and nails multi-vitamin, and also use some amazingly fantastic cream on my eyes every night.  The effects have been incredible. 

After lots of reading and studying up on things (here and here are a couple), I’m thinking my newest skin experiment will be eliminating dairy from my diet.  There have been a huge number of studies done on the connection between the consumption of dairy and skin issues like acne and rosacea.  I’d give pretty much anything to just have beautifully even and clear skin.  Oh, to feel like I don’t have to use foundation to make my skin even and cover up marks! Can you even imagine!?!

So, I’m mustering up my guts to give up my obsession with fro-yo and cheese (milk I couldn’t care less about giving up), and will most likely begin my dairy free month next Monday.  I’m going to enjoy all of the cheese and fro-yo I can stand this week just to make sure I’m good and sick of them by the time I let them go! 

 

I’m curious….

Have any of you given up dairy?  What have your results been like?  I hear it also makes digestion amazingly efficient.

Have you given up any other food groups and seen a positive effect on how you feel and look?

Patience, Kindness, and Love…Practice on Yourself First.

From my perspective, it's all fine, fine, fine...

From my perspective, it’s all fine, fine, fine…

I was not at peace today and couldn’t find my center. After wandering around aimlessly all morning, I dragged myself, exhausted, back to my apartment. I curled up in a ball, watched a movie, and took a nap. When I woke up, I put on my sneakers, and took a beautiful hike through Runyan Canyon in Hollywood. It always makes me feel tiny and infinite at the same time and it was just what I needed. Whenever I’d visit LA before I moved here, and frequently, whenever I’m in need of a reason to stay here…I return to it. Something about seeing the city, cloaked in fog, and the Hollywood sign protruding from the Hills makes me feel alive with possibilities. Now, my body hurts from pushing it so hard, but my soul feels quieter…less unsettled. The moral? It’s okay to feel down and out. It’s okay to cry and wander. But, once you’ve given yourself time to do that (which is VERY important) get up, get dressed, and sweat.

Today, I really gave myself some lovin.’ Be nice to YOU.

Peace today.