On Mastering The Art of Having A Bad Week

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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.

If People Had Warning Labels

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I’ve often thought life would be a lot easier if people came with warning labels. It would save us the trouble of discovering things we should have known from the beginning; things we all hold back for fear that we may not be lovable if we showed who we really are. The bad and the good. How many times in life have you taken someone to be the person they presented themself as, only to discover down the road, they’re not the person you thought they were. Why not just show who we are from the beginning? What are we all so afraid of?
Now that I’m truly entering a new decade of age this month (30 was last year, but THIRTY-ONE?! I’m really “in it” now), I feel less inclined to hide parts of myself. I’ve grown to accept the things about myself that make me imperfect, and I’d really like to think that anyone I invite into my life from this point forward will know the real me. I’d like to think that by putting my own warning label out there, maybe others will do the same. To save anyone trouble in the future, here’s what mine would say:

WARNING:
Known to bust balls (I’m from Massachusetts. Get a backbone or get away).
Quotes movies incessantly. Incessantly.
Tends to isolate and retreat inward when faced with difficult situations.
Nostalgia has been known to incapacitate and depress for periods of time.
Doesn’t know how to ask for help.
Laughs too loud.
Never listens to voicemails.
Doesn’t work well when combined with individuals with subversive or passive aggressive tendencies.
Has frequent urges to spend long periods of time alone.
Wakes with the sun.
Has an aversion to talking on the phone.
Disorganized.
Cannot make the simplest of decisions.
Intolerant of judgmental people.
Has smelly feet.
Falls asleep at 9 p.m.
Likes to be in control.
Has a habit of starting projects and not finishing them.
Sees the good in everyone.
Won’t play “the game.”
Doesn’t back down.
Holds those around to high standards.

This is me.

And I’m quite sure I’m leaving something out, even. I’m not saying all of this to indulge in narcissism, but in the hopes of making others less afraid of showing who they really are. I want people around me to know who I am from the get-go, so I know they have me in their life for the right reasons. Because for all of the things that may be bad, there is more good. I know this.

If getting older means becoming increasingly unapologetic about who I am…bring it on.

What would your warning label say?

-A

Radiate Warmth

fireplace
Several years ago, I read something that changed the way I think about people I encounter, and as I spoke to one of my beautiful friends/co-workers yesterday, it came up again. It’s just six little words, full of simple wisdom, that really helped me to grow. I’m not sure excactly who said it first, as even a Google search of the vast internet doesn’t yield the author, but nonetheless, I want to pass them on. So, for now, it will go uncredited.

Ready?

“Surround yourself with radiators, not drains.”

Such simple words, but so impactful. For some reason, when I read or think of these words, a feeling comes over me. When I was young, during the frigid New England winters (and autumns…and okay, springs too), I’d wake up in the morning, stand up and twirl my blanket until it was wrapped around my body like a mummy, drag myself downstairs into the living room, and lay directly on the heating vent. The warmth would permeate the blanket and surround me in a cocoon of goodness. If you have never done this, I suggest you take advantage of the chilly nights/mornings and do it as soon as possible. It’s the most comforting feeling.

Now, haven’t you met people who make you feel the same way? People that leave you feeling cocooned with warmth and goodness after you’ve been around them. It’s almost like holding your hands up before a fireplace. They, quite literally, radiate. In fact, I’m sure you’re thinking of someone like this at this very moment.

Next, picture warm water in a tub. When someone flips the switch, all the warm water is sucked right down that drain. Aren’t there people that do this, as well? People who just seem to drain the energy and goodness right out of you? Chances are, at this moment, you’re thinking of another individual and thinking, “Well…yes, I know exactly what you mean.”

If we view people as either radiators or drains, we begin to analyze and understand their place in our lives. The more radiators you surround yourself with, the better you’ll feel. If, right now, you’re thinking: “I think I’ve got way too many drains and too few radiators,” you’re probably feeling tired and slightly empty. You needn’t feel this way.

I have been fortunate enough to have so many radiators around me. The most amazingly warm and wonderfully encouraging and loving people. Not to say there haven’t been drains…there have. There will always be. But, reading those six words above really helped me in my path to surround myself with radiators.

I hope they help you, too.

-A

What I Know For Sure (Things I Won’t Apologize For)

Wherever you go, there you are.

Wherever you go, there you are.


Be it the fact that I’m now 30, the fearlessness I’ve adapted after dealing with huge losses, or simply being more confident and secure with myself, I have developed an expanding list of things that I refuse to be apologetic about. I’d more often consider it a blessing than a curse, because time and time again, I find this list saves me from dealing with situations and people that may prove to be less than healthy for me. At some point in my life, they were all things I used to cover up to make it easier for other people to like me. Now, not so much. Some of them are deep, and some are pretty silly and superficial, but they’re all me.

Here are a few:
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