“Remember the emphasis on the heart. The mind lives in doubt and the heart lives in trust. When you trust, suddenly you become centered.” ~ Osho
I have trust issues. Big ones. I hate that I do and I wish that I didn’t, but I accept that it’s something I must work through, to let go of when the time is right, and to be honest with myself and others about.
I don’t remember exactly when or how these trust issues started, but throughout my adult life, inklings of unease have developed into exaggerated and obvious insecurity. I’ve been let down on many occasions, in some pretty powerful, scarring ways, and these situations have surely contributed to my current apprehensive state.
More than once, when I’ve given my heart to another, I have seen the things I cherished very deeply vanish, disappearing right before my eyes and horrified heart, left aghast and in awe of how quickly life can change. Things were ripped from my hands still holding tight to a future I’d dreamt about, to a person I’d selected for a partner, to a grand, great love…
I’ve also been let down by people who promised to help my dreams come true, or who committed to serving as copilot on an upcoming adventure, ensuring I wouldn’t have to face the unknown alone…
Following each disappointment, I molded together brick after brick, created with sticks of anger and stones of sadness and cement resent. I stacked these bricks on the wall surrounding my heart. I slowly and deliberately built a strong and unpenetrable fortress for one. And inside, there I was, making things happen for me, relying only on myself, ensuring that only I could be accountable for my successes or my failures.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always had people in my inner circle, and of course there have always been people who I can rely on, who have always been there in times of crisis, who have always been more than willing to do anything I needed, literally giving me their last dime or shoes from their feet. But for the most part, because of my past experiences, I have maintained sole control and I haven’t expected anything, of anyone, as a means of preventing future letdowns.
The mantra for this morning’s yoga class was, “I am open.” Our yoga teacher, a new dear friend of mine, encouraged us to not only be open to what we can draw into our lives, but also to what we can let go of… to surrender what is no longer serving us.
In past classes, this teacher has talked about how many of our responses — to events in our lives be they positive, negative, or indifferent — are often based on learned reactions from previous experiences, or may even be caused from the stuck energy residue (or toxic ama) in our cells and DNA, passed down from our ancestors. We can reset our response mechanisms, through yoga (practiced while focusing on the chakra system especially), meditation, and conscious effort.
This teacher encouraged us to breathe deeply and say the words “I am open” in our minds as we released the breath. Then, instead of immediately restating the mantra, to let ourselves be void of intentional thought and to see what naturally presents itself in our minds.
On the first release of “I am open,” the words “trust” and “faith” came into my thoughts. I knew right then, that yes, I am ready to let go of this protective barrier around myself and that I am ready to start fresh. I am ready to trust openly, without hesitation and doubt. I am ready to live freely, putting faith in the Universe to handle my hardships and to give and take away as needed. I am ready to release control…
It is time.
Today, I am tearing down the wall and I am emerging from my safe, isolated castle. I am facing the world with an army at my back instead of forcing myself to face the world alone, with only a trusted stallion at my side (whose name is Jax, by the way, and he’s the most loyal golden that ever existed ❤ ).
Doing this can do nothing but help me. Sure, I may face moments of disappointment in the future, but today is a fresh start, just like tomorrow will be, and the day after that. The people and situations in my current life have zero ties to experiences which burned me before, and it’s unnecessary for me to burden others, and limit my own opportunities, by carrying around this baggage. Enough is enough.
Today, I am surrendering what no longer serves me.
Today, I am surrendering my protective barrier of mistrust and isolation.
I’m an empath. A sponge. I’m the kind of person who absorbs the energy of those around me — good and bad — happiness, pain, anger… Everything.
I can feel negativity because of this. I can sense when things are off. I can recognize right away when tension exists and when there are escalated emotions when there should be, and normally would be, calm.
Recently, I’ve noticed a lot of this around me. I think I’m not only sensing it and feeling it, but I think I’m the cause. This realization hurts.
I try my best to inspire others to do great things, to push themselves when they can, to relax and rewind when they must, and to love and accept each and every blessing. This world is much too short to sit on the sidelines and watch great things happen to others, so I’ve taken big leaps toward making my dreams come true and it’s my honest intention to encourage others to do the same.
Sometimes, though, people don’t want to hear encouragement. Sometimes people are resentful when good things happen to others. Sometimes people are bitter and brash and downright berating instead of being kind and excited and genuinely happy for the little victories in the lives of those around them.
I’ve felt this nastiness recently, and it’s consumed much of my thoughts. I’ve tried to convince myself I’m imagining it — if someone had a problem with me and my actions, they’d tell me, right? I’ve tried to let it roll off — more slicker, less sponge. I’ve tried to accept it, to force myself to swallow and suppress the pain and unease rising in my chest and throat when I enter a room filled with obvious animosity. But, the empath inside won’t let me do this. The empath inside will continue to feel the negative energy until it’s gone.
In this morning’s yoga class, the Universe lifted this burden from my shoulders — it provided a solution my soul so desperately needed.
Our yoga teacher read Chapter 30 from The Tao Te Ching. The words helped me realize that I can only do my very best, each day, and that I cannot dwell on the outcome, whatever it may be. I can only live honestly, with integrity and good intention, and that the reaction from others to my life cannot be my concern.
I am happy with who I am. I am grateful for the good and bad in my life, for the tiny miracles and the big bummers alike. I am proud of the person I am and the person I’m becoming. I refuse to let someone’s anger or sour response bring me down and cause me guilt and shame or make me feel undeserving of grace and goodness. I’m worthy of life’s blessings, as are they, and my hope is that they’ll realize this as well. My hope is that they’ll work just as hard to live a good life, and that they’ll reap its beautiful blessings, just as I have.
My hope is that my hurting heart will heal and that I’ll always remember the lines from the Tao Te Ching, and that I’ll continue to believe in myself, to be content with myself, and to accept myself, just as I am.
And that one day, sooner than later, they will, too.
“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed your entire life.” — Rumi
After being blown away by the traffic to Honest Green Jeans (nearly 7,000 unique visitors in Loving the Free Spirit‘s first 5 days!), I decided to put together a simple, non-edited video to openly share my thankfulness for you, and my excitement for what’s next!
In this 10-minute clip I talk about gratefulness (for all who are discovering this blog, for the beauty of life, for the power and grace of the Universe!), letting go (releasing control and giving in to the natural flow of life), and I give a quick update on where my life is headed next!
I’ve yet to create a video blog post, but… I hope you like it!
Thank you again for all the love and support you’ve shown me lately. We are a community of like-minded souls, so let’s share our thoughts on living truly in today’s crazed world, and let’s take comfort in knowing we’re in this together.
I appreciate all your comments and emails, so make sure to keep reaching out! If you have any questions for me or would like any advice, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to help out 🙂
Thanks so much everyone! More to come — soon!
Below is a time reference for those of us who are too rushed for a 10-minute video (I know — I’m this person sometimes!).
First part: Gratefulness pt 1 from about 0:30 – 3:20, Gratefulness pt 2 from about 3:22 – 4:40. Second part: Letting Go — from about 4:42 – 6:22. Third part: The Ganges — from about 6:22 – 10:00.
addition from 2/14
To provide a quick reference, this is where I plan to explore on this journey to the yoga motherland ❤
A free spirit is fiercely independent and loves her sacred solo space filled with daydreams and art and impromptu dance floors. A free spirit doesn’t want to be tied down, but she does want to be admired, adored, respected. A free spirit will give her love passionately and powerfully for a while, but just as quickly as she fell for you, she may change her mind and take back her freedom, her most prized-possession, leaving you bewildered and confused, but always loved…
A free spirit has drive and dreams unlike any other. She sets her sights on a goal, a location, an unknown experience swirling deep in her manifesting mind… She feels what it is she wants, then she sets aside day-to-day pleasures and saves her money, working tirelessly for every penny, and feels an unmatched sense of accomplishment when she purchases a plane ticket. She’s made peace with selling her possessions and starting over each time she returns home, a place she’ll always love more than any beach or jungle or desert dune…
A free spirit is never too lonely, anywhere in the world, because she’s enlivened by life and conversation, by connecting with others who share her love of new experiences. She is loyal, 100% true, once she’s given you her trust, which she does so hastily, almost to a fault. She understands how quickly one must learn to let go — of people, of places, of feelings and emotions. The free spirit has seen more ups and downs, more bliss and broken hearts than most, but she’d never trade any peak or valley for a month of safe, secure monotony. Some are scared by travel and unknown tomorrows, but the free spirit is frightened by foreseen futures, carefully mapped out in 2-, 5-, and 10-year plans.
But a free spirit hasn’t always had it easy, you know. She’s faced criticism for her choices, made to feel irresponsible and immature when she quit her job or ended a relationship without good reason. She’s been plagued by guilt for buying last-minute plane tickets instead of attending a family get-together or friend’s birthday. She’s been confused more often than not, never understanding why she was so different than the average girl — why she can’t wrap her head around marriage and kids, picket fences and pinterest decorating tips, or the comfort of a 30-year career with money and authority and a bit of fame.
So love the free spirit, but understand that if you don’t “get her” you probably never will, because she is different than you but she’s fine, ok just as she is.
Love the free spirit, but love her passion and excitement. Never try to tone her down or rein her in. Love her independence and her bravery. Love her high-pitched animated voice and silly ballerina dance moves and sun-scarred body covered with foreign script tattoos and cloth bracelets and obsure-stone rings. Love her tales of adventure and her incessant pleas for you to travel with her, to open your eyes to a world greater than the one you’ve always known… Love her when she sleeps, when her head finally decides to rest for a moment… Love her when she cries, when her broken heart becomes too much to bear, when she retreats into herself when the reverse culture-shock shakes her core, when she says she’s sorry, and she means it, for hurting you when she had to leave…
Love the free spirit, but understand she lives the only way she’s ever known… Love the free spirit, but love her for what she is and the only thing she’ll ever be…
Lately I’ve been thinking about the dualities of life and how there are so many different realities present in each of our lives — in every single day we live in multiple worlds, each requiring a piece of us regardless if we want to hand it over or not.
We may create a safe, secure bubble where we’re free to practice yoga, meditate, or spend time in nature, but this bubble is only so large and can only contain our bodies for so long. At some point, we have to emerge from this space and face a different world. One filled with cubicles and deadlines and traffic and bills. A world that isn’t usually calm, isn’t often conscious. A world that, personally, I’d rather avoid more often than not.
However, this is 2014 and this is life on planet Earth. We have to face that fast-paced, polluted world and it’s up to each of us to develop a strategy for living that works for us. A strategy lets us, ideally, maintain a calm centered space, capable of handling each obstacle with grace. For me, my yoga and meditation practice, my nature hikes and dog walks, and my clean cooking and self-care routines have helped create a solid foundation I can stand on, always, regardless of which world I’m forced to encounter.
I work in an office filled with constant stress and deadline pressure, yet somehow, I am almost always relaxed. I sit in traffic with everyone else, with honking horns and white-knuckle wheel grips, but I’m patient. I make very little money, but I somehow have faith and trust that the Universe will provide (and it always does). I am rooted in a world I love, that supports me always.
This isn’t always easy of course, and getting to this point took practice, dedication, and an intentional effort each and every day. It all started with a mindful decision to live better — to think better thoughts, to make better choices, to be a better person. Then, it all came naturally. I started listening to my heart and my body, and living for me instead of for everyone else. …best decision I’ve ever made.
So today, ask yourself if you’re ready to let go of the stress, the worry, the frustration, and if you’re ready to draw in peace, patience, and joy.
“The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.” – Robert Green Ingersoll
I’ve faced defeat half a dozen times the past two weeks. Even one instance of this can knock me off my path completely, but over the past two weeks, I’ve done my best to dodge SIX deadly bullets. Six times in twice as many days I’ve experienced feelings of inadequacy and rejection so powerful and pointed toward the core of my being that I’ve been blown backward and forced to regroup… Dust the debris, shake my shoulders, and keep moving forward.
I last wrote about an instance where I didn’t get a job, and about how I recognized that the event was helping me learn patience, trust, and walking the talk I so openly write about. At the end of the post and at the end of the day, I was happy. I had recovered from the little defeat and hadn’t lost sight of my goal.
I then did this five more times. Each time became slightly more difficult than the time before as each event softly stabbed and scraped at the fresh layer of scar tissue being built upon the wound. I did my best to bear the pain and push through.
But, eventually, we all come to a point where we are defeated. We realize that those little cuts are plentiful and that we’re bleeding out. We’re no longer able to heal as we could if only one or two slices marked our skin…
Today, I arrived at this point.
Today, I felt defeated.
When we’ve experienced true, lasting, painful depression and sadness, we’re fearful of re-entering that space (despite knowing it will eventually go away) and we often develop strategies for staying positive and dealing with our dark sides. We try to be proactive about maintaining a positive mind.
Through my personal battles over the past eight years, I’ve developed a couple tactics that work well to banish the blues before they take control of my life, of THE LIFE I want to live.
1) A quick and easy way to deal with negative thoughts and feelings is to give ourselves a little pep talk. I count my blessings, remind myself of my talents and the goals I want to achieve, reflect on the experiences I’ve had, and tell myself that I am enough and that I have enough and that everything is just fine. I bring positivity into my life via a few moments of positive self-talk.
2) A more focused, purposeful way to let go of specific moments and to draw in positivity is by holding a simple fire ceremony to seal in your intentions. First write down the negative thoughts, feelings, or events on one sheet of paper and then write down positive affirmations or goals on another (these don’t have to be the rehashing of all bad things in our lives or recreations of our vision boards, but rather simple cues of the bad and the good). Then, burn the lists. Watch the flame devour your moments of defeat and watch the flame grow as it’s fueled by your positivity.
No matter how we choose to regain our strength when we’re feeling week, it’s important to first acknowledge our feelings and to let our bodies and minds fully express our emotions as to not create more toxicity within ourselves. Let yourself cry or scream when you’re sad and upset just like you *should* let yourself smile big and dance when you’re happy and excited! Let it all out, then do what you can to let go of defeat and regain your strength so you can keep moving forward.
After a particularly trying day (Christmas Eve of all days), I decided to hold my own little fire ceremony to release the recent string of defeats. I’ve cried more in the past two weeks than I have in the past three months combined and I do not want to let this sadness become a staple in my present reality — I’m positive and powerful and destined for great things as long as I stay focused on activities I love. I do not want to waste any time being stuck in sorrow caused by hearing “NO” too many times.
So tonight, I scribbled a few words about each of the six defeats on a purple post-it and set it aside. Then, I wrote dozens of affirmations on another post-it, filling up nearly every violet void with positive statements like “I am enough” and “I am responsible for my reactions” and “I am getting closer.”
I lit a candle and filled a small bowl with water (far too many house fires happen over the holidays and although I doubt many are caused by 20-somethings trying to create a sacred space for strengthening the spirit, I can’t be too careful).
I glanced over my defeat note, folded it in half, and held it above the flame. I watched as the sharpie chicken-scratch letters burned and charred then disappeared above the glass water dish. I let it go…
Then, I looked at the barely legible words on the second note, written on top of each other and numbering dozens more than the measly defeats. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply, acknowledging the truth of the words I’d written. I folded the paper and held it above the flame. I watched as the flame took my thoughts — I felt strength in watching this natural force envelop my hopes, taking control of what I gave it, doing with it what it liked — I let it go…
This simple act had a powerful effect on my sense of center. I felt better, cleaner, lighter, and more confident in myself. No longer was my solar plexus chakra feeling powerless and defeated. I regained a bit of my pride, and my head felt more at ease and my heart felt full again.
I may have heard “NO” a few too many times lately, but that doesn’t mean I’ll always hear “NO,” and that doesn’t mean that “YES” isn’t on its way.
Good things will happen — until then and even after they do, I’ll keep moving forward. No matter what.
“Sooo I’m being taught a lesson in patience, trust, and walking the talk.”
While solo dancing in my kitchen, confident and cool and so content with all the great things about to happen in my life, I waited for a pot of lentils to finish simmering on the stove top and the kale and spinach to wilt in the pan beside it. I smiled to myself, thinking that before long, I’d be offered a job paying nearly double what I make now… All my financial woes would be gone and I’d be on the path to having my student loans paid off by 30. Success and sweet, sweet freedom…
As my mukluks carried my spinning body across the linoleum floor, my phone vibrated. I glanced, assuming it was just another pre-Christmas email pleading for me to purchase half-priced presents from an online store halfway across the country…
Nope. Not that. It was… an email from someone I’d just interviewed with. All I could see in the notification bar was “I would like to thank you for taking the time…”
Heart. Dropped.”…taking the time” is never a good sign.
I hurriedly opened the email, only to find out the job I had locked down in my head only days before was no longer an option. They’d offered the position to someone else.
I collapsed on the floor in front of the oven. I was in disbelief. What?! That’s just. What?! I wasn’t prepared for this. NOT getting the job wasn’t a possibility in my mind… I’d banked on this turning out.
As tears slowly dripped from my eyes and onto my cheeks and neck, the greens started to sizzle and burn in the pan. This was not supposed to happen, I thought. But there it was. Black on white, pixel on pixel, “thanks for taking the time…”
I let myself cry. I was going to be late for work and those lentils weren’t going to be eaten. But this girl, this confident and cool and so content girl, needed a moment to cry…
During the past several weeks I’ve been taking a mantra and meditation class at my yoga school. Numerous times, I’ve heard the phrase “think of what you want, then let it go.” I’ve learned it’s best not to get attached to outcomes, but rather to understand the significance or motivation behind what it is we want and ask for that instead. For instance, instead of saying “I want X job,” we should think about the full reasons for why we want X job. What will X job bring into our lives? What are our motivations for wanting X job? We may realize the job itself isn’t the goal, but rather the goal is having more money to pay for something, or to build our skills in an area, or to simply get closer to a career we want.
For the job I thought I really wanted, the core motivation was really that I hope to be financially free. Soon. The job itself was of less importance in this particular circumstance. I needed to say “I want to be financially free,” instead of “I want X job.” Manifestation works with the bigger picture, not details usually (except for that Canadian surfer on the beach in Nicaragua… lol).
I’ve learned how to live on little, and I know there’s more to life than working solely for a paycheck. In my heart I know, for me, I can do much greater things for this world if I’m not bound by “having” to work. I have student loan debt that will plague my indefinite future (currently I’m guessing for at least 7 or so years if I continue paying my current amount), and because I’m not one to completely disregard my obligations and societal responsibilities, I know that I will continue finding ways to pay this off until it’s gone.
So, my heart was a bit broken to find out I didn’t get the job (despite being fully qualified, per the followup-feedback email I received — TIP to all those millenials and young professionals reading this — ALWAYS follow up after getting turned down. Ask for feedback. If they provide reasons, you can build and grow and better prepare for something else, and if they don’t you’re no worse off than before.).
In my head I was a bit confused. I didn’t understand why the Universe would present me with a perfectly good opportunity that would help me become financially free pretty quickly, only to have it NOT turn out as I thought it should. What!? I provided GREAT clips, I am FULLY qualified, and I had the best, COULDN’T-HAVE-BEEN-BETTER interview, but you DON’T want me to work there? Universe, this isn’t working for me… Come on…
Wait a second, I realized, who am I to say that job didn’t “work out”? Oh, so I didn’t immediately get hired? Which means that I don’t have to leave a city that I love and a job that I like to work in a city I don’t really love doing something that may only fulfill me a little bit, to get a bigger paycheck that in my heart I know doesn’t matter all that much?
Ok, Universe, I see what you did there… You made me grateful for everything I currently have. You made me actually kind of grateful it didn’t “work out” like I thought it would.
What is it that I want? I want to be financially free. I know in my heart I am not destined to be bound by money. But, I do know for whatever reason, I am bound a bit now and that for whatever reason, it’s probably a good thing. Gandhi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” So, I can wait. I have to wait. And that’s ok. I have patience that in time, when the time is right, I’ll be free from debt.
Who runs this place, anyway? Yeah… It’s not me. It’s not you. It’s someone or something greater than any of us can conceive of and it’s someone or something who knows what to do. It’s not my will that’s going to make things happen. I’m done trying to think I know what’s best… trying to plan my life away. I’ve given in to forces bigger than myself and I trust that everything — good, bad, beautiful, painful, exciting, dull — is making my life more complex and as perfect as it should be. And, because this particular job didn’t seal my fate for the indefinite future, the unknown is still an option. And, who is to say this “setback” wasn’t really a trail marker leading me to somewhere AMAZING. An AMAZING door to opportunity just around the bend 🙂
Walking the talk. What do I hope to accomplish in my life? I want to inspire people to live happier, positive lives while living the happiest, most positive life I can! I try to provide ideas for how we can do this, emphasizing acceptance and compassion and fun and bravery. Well, if I’m not living my advice, I’m a phony. I have to heed my own advice and just let it be. Everything that is, is just fine. Each situation we find ourselves in is an opportunity to learn a lesson and to spread knowledge and joy! No wasting any more moments feeling unnecessarily sad. Enough. I choose bliss.
After I gave myself a few minutes to cry on that kitchen floor and release the excitement and attachment I’d built up around the job, I came to some pretty powerful revelations and had to text my best friend the news.
“Sooo I’m being taught a lesson in patience, trust, and walking the talk. They went with someone else.” I wrote.
Her response? “Well that’s a bummer. I wonder what’s coming down the pipe for you now :)”
What perfect, honest, real, useful thoughts. Basically, 1)Tough shit, little girl. 2) Chin up and get excited for what’s next!
So, here I am again. Happy, grateful, and with more possibilities than *I thought* I had just days ago. No worries. No complaints. Life. Is. Good.
Thanks, Universe. For NOT giving me the job. You’re the best.