Inward Journey

It’s taken me a few months to gain some clarity on the wild ride I had in Australia. Truth be told it came with a lot of very high highs and low lows. There weren’t very many average moments. If you aren’t familiar with Gabor Mate, I recommend you listen to some of his content if you are intrigued by psychology, trauma, and parenting. The reason I mention him is that he has a talk on children and their emotions. Children in the purest form tend to feel every emotion without restriction. Meaning they haven’t undergone the process of numbing emotions or even selecting them. Which makes them extremely dependent on their parents to teach them how to self-sooth.

Well, Australia in the best sense was an unnumbing of emotions, that required for me to trust the divine to teach me how to self-sooth while still being dependent on His care. I’ve been known to be perceived as a runner. My time in Australia gave me some time and experience to wrestle with if I believed that classification to be correct or not. Accordingly, to the enneagram, I’m a 7w8. If you haven’t done much research on the enneagram, I highly recommend you do. It’s given me insight into my subconscious process and some of the demons I’ve needed to face in order to become a healthier version of myself.

Although I’m classified as an enthusiast, someone who really goes after the zest in life. We are known to indulge in experiences and love variety. Our main fear is running out of options. Therefore we are natural-born planners and constantly creating an escape route, an escape within relationships, jobs, countries and everything in between. As you can imagine, committing doesn’t come naturally to us.

Another great fear of 7’s is pain. Particularly emotional pain and therefore last year I needed to undergo an emotional cycle of facing some of the emotional repercussions of my past I wasn’t ready to deal with. I honestly hadn’t felt this anxious, confused, vulnerable since my late teens. It truly was ugly and I still revisit those thoughts and insecurities. But as a generally positive, “do- it yourself” kinda person, I also needed to face the realities of life which include the scars, dark nights, and an enthusiasts biggest fear, moments of stillness.

But in order to live a full and healthy life, they require an ability to be vulnerable and to trust that whatever situation or outcome arises, you are loved and taken care for all the while sitting in the discomfort of pain. That being said I wanted to share some of the miracles I’ve experienced during my time in the land down under.

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From the very moment, I decided to quit a great job in Los Angeles to make attend Hillsong College, it’s as if I was Tarzan, swinging from vine to vine- never sure if the next vine would appear, but it always did. For instance, my sister married last year in September. Her wedding would be in Germany and as you can imagine, leaving my job for two weeks, while spending money on the wedding, etc. required a leap of faith. As frugal as I was during those two weeks, I still had rent to pay. Since my rent was tied to my college and rent was already a week late, the college basically put me on financial probation. To make matters worse, Hillsong by the government is required for people to attend 80% of the class to keep their student visa. This meant that I was already at 65% in attendance due to my leaving for my sister’s wedding for two weeks. And I wasn’t going to be able to acquire the needed attendance if I didn’t pay the fee’s within the next days. But I wasn’t going to be paid for another 2 weeks. So as you can imagine I was worried. This would ultimately mean that if I didn’t pay the outstanding balance instantly, I’d have my visa rebuked and would need to return to the US.

As I saw in class debating my options and outcomes, completely uncertain of how I’d proceed, I gave God an ultimatum. It was like “Hey, you need to pay this if you want me to be here. I really can’t make this happen on my own.” A few minutes later during the break, I asked one of my classmates if she knew if there was any way to navigate the process in order to buy myself some time. She mentioned that she had a similar situation a few months ago and college was strict on their policies in that regard. As it became time for us to return to lecture we parted ways. After class, this classmate approaches me with her credit card and tell me to pay it off. This was definitely a substantial amount that any student would have a tricky time covering. So the fact that she was willing to front me this large amount without even knowing if I was going to be able to pay her back was insane! She literally paid my outstanding debt then and there without me even asking her. I actually often asked her if she was sure to want to pay the debt. Only a few days later I acquired some help in processing my taxes. At first, my return seemed quite insignificant but the second time around the amount tripled! Then the next day my mother called me that I had received a cashier’s check for $100 from my bank in the US for no apparent reason other than to thank me for being the customer. Then to top it off, I received a call from the assistant manager at my work, calling me to let me know the company had exceeded their anticipated sales, and therefore every employee would receive an additional $250 to their next paycheck!

Basically within 10 days after being on financial probation, I received $2,000! Which was greater than the amount I had owed.

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Then a few months later, I decided to visit New Zealand in order to renew my visa. As you may have heard, New Zealand isn’t a cheap country. After a beautiful week exploring the country, I returned to my job that required about a 45-minute commute (and didn’t offer public transportation). After my first shift back at the job, I hydroplaned on my way home into the car in front of me. This completely wrecked my car and especially since I didn’t have insurance, this was devastating. The guy that I ran into, was kind enough to drive me back to my work which gave us about 10 minutes to chat.

This car accident required for me to leave that job and lead to an impromptu purchase of a one-way ticket to San Francisco. Four days after purchasing my flight, the guy from the car accident calls me and offers to give me the car that I hit in the accident! His car was an upgrade and since miraculously there was no damage done to his car, only to mine, I at first had a difficult time accepting the offer. He then reassured me that he’d sign over the papers and now months later, I can tell you that man didn’t have an ulterior motive. He truly was sincere in his offer. The cherry on top was when a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a few months messaging me on FB during that week telling me that God had prepped her heart since December (two months) to gift me some money. She transferred $1300 into my account, the EXACT amount of money I lost due to the car accident! Pretty insane!

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While being in Australia, my desire to obtain my masters became louder and louder. Majority of friends and family wanted me to move back to the US so I could study for the GMAT and “come home”. During those months, I didn’t feel like it was time for me to return to the US so I looked at academic alternatives. That’s when England popped up for me. In England, you don’t pay a processing fee (which in the US you pay about $100) and they don’t require for you to take a standardized test (such as the GMAT or GRE, that can also require months of preparing and fee’s). Therefor on a random Monday morning, I decided to apply to a few universities in England and just see what happens. In March I started receiving my first acceptance letters. As I have German citizenship, I was hoping to acquire the EU/Home status fees instead of international fees, which are doubled the price of the EU fees. All of the applied universities accepted me, but with the international status which differed from about £16,000 to £21,000. Technically I should receive international fee’s since I haven’t lived in Germany within the last three years. Long story short, University of Birmingham and Nottingham University both offered me EU/Home status. But the University of Birmingham had also offered me a £5,000 scholarship. As this seemed a no brainer to me, I accepted their offer. Then a month before the university would start, they emailed me informing me that they made a mistake and I shouldn’t be receiving the Home status. A bit worried at this point since I had made so many decisions based off of this offer, I gave them a call. After a 10 minute chat, the admissions representative agreed that this was an unfair situation to place me in so short before the start of school and they would honor the fee they had quoted me with. That being said I am paying only $5000 for my masters, which is outrageously low!

 

I can testify that if we take a leap of faith there is a God that wants to reward our trust. The reward won’t always look like what we want it to, but it’s always what we need. Sometimes it’s a lesson, and sometimes it’s a free Subaru. However, these roads are often unpaved and definitely, aren’t comfortable. We are required to test our courage and often the miracle doesn’t arrive before the “devastation” but afterward. These journey’s require growth, perseverance, vision, and surrender.

I’m starting to understand that I should never find security in my external circumstances such as a job title, finances, degree or even friends and family. But there is confidence much greater that builds a bridge between security and freedom. That is the relationship you have with your maker. Going inward and creating a space for solitude, and peace. Listening to your heart is of far greater wisdom. So, pause on that tv show.  Put down your phone or say no to that Bumble date you aren’t really excited to go and listen to your heart.

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What’s the plan?

As you may have read in my previous posts, last year was a rather challenging one. But in the best and worst of ways. So instead of extending the process, I decided to take a moment to catch my breath. The process of shedding layers was happening too quickly for me to trust this metamorphosis.

As a massive risk taker and enthusiast, having a plan B isn’t necessarily in the back of my mind. I give things a go, see if they work out and then go from there. I’ve always prided myself on my independence, flexibility, and adaptability. So far that has worked out really well for me. But this time around I seemed confronted in too many ways for me to feel assured. Unfortunately it actually took a major hit to my confidence, which clouded my clarity in efforts of moving forward.

Therefor a bold decision in February lead me to book a flight to Auckland in order to change my visa to a work and travel, and enjoy Sydney a bit longer. Two days after arriving in Sydney I took another massive hit. Literally hitting another car- I was completely fed up. I had enough of it all, and was ready to get back to my comfort zone. My impulses compelled me to buy a one way ticket to San Francisco and start over. My emotions hijacked me without giving myself a moment to even think about it- the drama heightened.

A few days later the guy I ran into, calls me to check in on me. Plot twist, the guy called to offer me his car! He shared that he empathized with my situation and had an extra car, therefor being able to gift me his. I literally laughed in astonishment. It felt like such a surreal conversation that I was unsure how to actually process such a grand gesture and kindly let him know I had to sit on the offer for a few days.

As someone who believes in God miracles- this definitely felt like one of them. My mentor on the other hand suggested I question this “God miracle” and use some wisdom towards this.

Boiling all this content down- here are two massive lessons I am currently learning.

  1. To know and own my value regardless of my occupation, finances, belongings or social status for I am worthy regardless.

     2. Slow down and ask some difficult questions. Is this a want or a need? Does this suit me?

Within the last months I noticed that my lack of confidence and fear of failing kept me from making decisions that reflected my values. Which continued to chip away at my confidence. But confidence is a feedback loop! In order to gain confidence, you must be confident. You may wonder where to start. Start with setting boundaries – healthy boundaries in your friendships, relationships, work environment and time. Confidence is built on self respect – and even if you have to fake it till you “believe” it. I guarantee if you cultivate this habit now, you can prevent yourself from massive heartache! You’ll be so grateful to have learnt this lesson rather sooner than later.

If you are really struggling with boundaries, it may be because you’ve lost sight of your worth, or have an inaccurate view of your self worth. Try reflecting on things you love about yourself. Maybe ask trusted ones what they like about you and deliberately try to reacquaint with yourself. Journal about a moment you did something that made you proud. Listen to a song that reminds you of a version of yourself that you love. If there is an activity you love doing- go do it! A major help for me as well has been taking personality tests! They’ve helped me asses my strengths better.  You get the point- pat yourself on the back, tell yourself you are a good looking beast that has been created by an Almighty God and you ARE God’s gift to earth. Then go think about boundaries that will not hurt you, but help you flourish.

All that being said, New Zealand helped revive me. Partly the serenity and majestic landscapes. Partly the bold adventure of renting a car with two strangers I met off of Couchsurfing.com. But even more so the words that resonated in my heart while adventuring the gorgeous Island.

“Arise, my dearest. Hurry, my darling.
Come away with me!
I have come as you have asked
to draw you to my heart and lead you out.
For now is the time, my beautiful one.
11 The season has changed,
the bondage of your barren winter has ended,
and the season of hiding is over and gone.
The rains have soaked the earth[n]
12 and left it bright with blossoming flowers.
The season for singing and pruning the vines has arrived.[o]
I hear the cooing of doves in our land,[p]
filling the air with songs to awaken you
and guide you forth.
13 Can you not discern this new day of destiny
breaking forth around you?
The early signs of my purposes and plans
are bursting forth.[q]
The budding vines of new life
are now blooming everywhere.
The fragrance of their flowers whispers,
“There is change in the air.”
Arise, my love, my beautiful companion,
and run with me to the higher place.
For now is the time to arise and come away with me.” 

– Song of Songs 2: 10-13

It’s a new season friends! And I whole heartedly believe that my efforts of not shying away from these storms will shape me into an even better wholehearted version of myself. If you by chance have some tips or thoughts on any of this madness- please let me know. I love hearing about the storms you’ve conquered as well.

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Surrendering To Love

At the beginning of this year I was asked to prepare a mini-sermon for my class. The theme I kept encountering was on surrender. Funny how I never anticipated for this to be the theme of my year…

A couple months back I had a housemate ask me a startling question. She looked me straight in the eyes and asked: “Are you upset?” Taken back by her question I  really didn’t know how to respond. She quickly countered with: “Upset isn’t the correct term. You just seem restless.”

It’s been a few months since I’ve written. Mainly because I’ve felt conflicted writing about depression when I felt like I was in the midst of it. How could I help someone else, when I was full frontal facing it myself. This season had hit me to the core, often feeling dazed and confused about the predicament I found myself in.

Twenty-six has been a year of detoxing. Intentionally listening to the narrative I cultivated, and the self-worth I believed to deserve.

My wilderness has taken place in the beautiful country of Australia. Where I’ve fought kangaroos, conquered cockroaches, survived on chicken broth, dislocated ligaments, gotten into a pricey car accident, and wrestled with doubt and shame. It’s also where I have been surrounded by an incredible community. Where I have gained tenacity and grit. A wilderness that has softened me, making me even more compassionate and gentle. Less self-centered, less worrisome, and a whole lot more brave!

The process of surrender has done its magic. Unfortunately surrender didn’t come easy,  but it has brought peace, and liberated me to love the process I was currently in.

“Surrender your anxiety! Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God. I am the God above all the nations, and I will be exalted throughout the whole earth.” Psalm 46:10

Surrender isn’t passive. It’s actually an active verb of giving over or yielding to. For me, it’s been a process of deliberately taking moments to pause. To reflect on the goodness within my life, to take deep breathes and remember to watch the leaves in the wind. To be compassionate towards myself in the process. It honestly takes a whole lot of mindfulness. Surrender is an invitation to smile. Surrender means accepting what is, and letting go of what isn’t. It’s acknowledging and loving every imperfection, every struggle, and every heartache. “Empathy and connection require us to know and accept ourselves before we can know and accept others.”(Brene Brown) How sweet that my God has never asked me to be perfect in order for him to use me. He loves our humanity.

As I’ve been reading I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) by Brene Brown, she synthesizes it so perfectly. “Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us. To let fear soften us rather than harden into resistance.”… “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and wounded, but between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

So here I am, 7 months after I spoke on surrender. And I am so grateful that I got to learn to become more compassionate towards myself.  To learn to smile even in the confusion, to ask for help even when I wanted to isolate. To trust the pain was only temporary and that God would revive what felt dead. I’ve gotten to experience His goodness firsthand and relearn to trust my Creator. To love myself fiercely, and to be vulnerable, to truly be authentic with the process. More importantly, I am learning that I am so much more resilient than I dared to believe and He will never leave or forsaken me.

Thank you to every angel that accompanied me on this journey! I am eternally grateful.

 

Identity Stories

In the more recent days, I’ve been playing this tiresome tug of war with my value. Do I believe to be worthy of great love? Am I significant to my friends and family? Do I value my opinions, the thoughts I have and the way I look?

In a world where humans let others define their worth, dependent income brackets, hotness levels, their productivity or charm, it can be incredibly difficult to feel valued when we fall short. Therefore I’ve been purposely shedding “value layers” that society has placed on me, in order to really know my worth and value for myself. Because of this, the timing of this topic couldn’t be more perfect. 

If you’ve ever been intrigued by mythology, you’ve probably come across the more common Greek origin stories. Personally, I never spent much time reading mythology until we were prompted to look at the Egyptian, Babylonian, Canaanite and Greek Origin Stories. Once I sat down and actually read them,  I noticed the similarities and vast differences. In comparison, it made me appreciate the Christian/Hebrew Origin Story so much more.

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Most research on Egyptian Creation Myths dates back to 2780 – 2250 B.C.E, which are considered the Old Kingdom times. Similar to the Bible, the Egyptians also believed that in the beginning there was only water and chaos. The sun god, Ra rose from those waters and procreated with himself and spat out Shu (god of air) and vomited out his daughter Tefnut (goddess of moisture). When both of his kids lost themselves in the chaotic waters, Ra (Sun god) sent out his eye to find them. Shu and Tefnut returned to Ra and when Ra wept with tears of joy, humans grew from the earth.

It’s a sweet story, but nonetheless, it clearly expresses that human life wasn’t intentional. Humans were mere byproducts, even if it was caused by a joyful occasion. This comparison may seem far stretched but hear me out. I believe there is a deep innate desire in every one of us to be loved and desired. Unfortunately, I’ve had friends who’ve struggled with knowing they were unintentionally conceived. It’s crazy how this could shift your perspective of being unworthy or unloved and embed a strong belief of inconvenience and even insignificance. I’m sure the Egyptians didn’t feel or believe that they individually had much significance towards their creator. 

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This origin story is considered some of the oldest known to man. Apsu (or named An), god of fresh water, and Tiamat goddess of salt oceans basically mate and have two new gods. Ea (or named Enki) and the other grandkids become extremely disruptive and difficult to deal with, so Apsu tells his wife that he wants to kill them. Ea (the river god) hears this and decides to put a spell on Apsu that “kills” him, but basically makes him inactive. So then Ea has a son called Marduk, who fought battles for Ea and requested that he may become the god of gods. Later on, when he did become the main god, the Gods complained that they had to serve Marduk and do the labor. So plan B for Marduk was to create mortals (humans) out of clay to be the laborers instead of the gods.

Again, we have an origin story with water. This story takes a bit of a different turn- meaning I want to shift our focus to the deity.  If the gods were wanting to kill their offspring and having to rival for power and authority, how much power can they really be possessing? I don’t think I need to even address the moral issue here…

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Chaos and water (AGAIN- see a theme here?!), chaos had the name of Baad and Arapel was the god of cloudy darkness. After a lengthy line of mating with each other etc. Teshuqah is a god that wants to rule, reign and create. Through this process, different gods were made for different purposes: heaven, earth, time, sunrise etc. Eventually, all these gods arise and fight each other but the strongest one of them all is named Baal. Baal essentially wants the earth to be beautiful, so he creates humans and animals to inhabit it.

Very similar to the Mesopotamian Origin Story, with the deity struggle.  Therefore again my actual struggle is with the gods. But at least Baal created humans and animals to make the earth beautiful.

 

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According to the Bible God created Heaven and Earth. Darkness covered the earth and God said: “Let there be light” and there was light. For 6 days, he speaks to water, he speaks to the stars and the sky, he speaks to vegetation and birds etc. God continues to be pleased with creation but it isn’t until the sixth day that God says “Let us create man in our image, according to our likeness” and then there in Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that he had made and it was very good indeed.”

Genesis is such a rich book and one of the most difficult to understand. But I believe when it comes to value, there are two important things to remember from the Christian/Hebrew Origin Story.

  1. God created us in his image
  2. God was incredibly pleased with how he created us.

Both are extremely difficult concepts to grasp. It doesn’t matter how often I read and reread it, I don’t think I’ll ever understand the fullness of what those sentences mean. Throughout the Bible, there are verses that say that God himself thought of you before birth, before time and wanted you to be a part of this life. That means that you and I weren’t merely an accident or created to amuse a God. But even crazier than that, God himself was and is extremely pleased with us! In scripture, it says He knows every detail about us; our specific laugh, our individual physical attributes, even our hearts desires. That doesn’t just apply to a particular race, age, or gender. No this applies to every human being that has walked the face of the earth! So essentially we could literally do nothing, or even worse, mess up in every aspect of our lives and still- YHWH, my God, would still love me unconditionally and say I was worth every second, minute and year spent on this earth.

It’s honestly a bit daunting to believe this truth when I at times can so viciously pick myself apart. Entertaining thoughts of inadequacy and failure. There are definitely days where it becomes unwillingly difficult for me to like myself. This is where the creation stories come together, our values, our beliefs of why we are here and why we exist actually play a major role in how we see ourselves. If we believe that we are sheer accidents, then why would it matter that I value myself or others? Why would it matter what I think of myself? What’s crazy is that what we think of ourselves actually makes a world of difference. It determines what our relationships look like, what type of job we have, how much money we make, even how happy and content we are with our lives. I can’t stress enough that our beliefs about our value will and can shift everything, either negatively or positively.

It’s my prayer that you would grasp just how incredibly essential you are. That you were created with purpose and significance. You are a mathematical walking miracle that is surrounded by one hundred billion galaxies! I believe that He is very pleased with you and God thought the world would miss out if we didn’t have YOU in it!

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Why Jesus

Public Service Announcement: I AM ATTENDING BIBLE COLLEGE.

It’s still crazy to believe I’ve taken this road. Especially as someone who never considered this path. Heck, I didn’t even want to attend Pepperdine University due to it’s conservative/ religious views. And now I am going to Bible School?!?

Honestly, I’ve kept it under wraps for various reasons. Some were due to my lack of confidence in my decision, and some of it was honestly because I at times can be a bit too concerned with what others may think. Especially when it comes to my faith, I’ve been rather private for most of it. Also because of my lack of knowledge when wanting to defend my faith. But man I have experienced the GOOD NEWS. I have experienced his graciousness, his favor and his radical love and freedom.

My relationship with Jesus hasn’t always been mutual. For many years I wanted to engage spiritualism, as long as it didn’t involve Jesus. I loved the mystery of crystals, chakras, mantra’s and was clearly enticed by New Age Spiritualism. If you don’t know about New Age, it is a term used for a range of different esoteric beliefs that combine Mind, Body, and Spirit. But ultimately New Age is heavily focused on the self, and after much trial and error, I was confronted with innate human flaws. Due to my errors, logically it doesn’t make sense to elevate myself to believe that I am essentially God.

Transitioning from Buddhism and New Age to Christianity wasn’t a glamorous one. Christians oftentimes came across pretentious, self-righteous, judgemental and ignorant. But every time I stepped into that small Church, I wept because God spoke so distinctly to my broken heart. Years later I’ve come to realize that these so claimed Christians have never encountered God, rather claiming his name for power and authority.

Therefore my next blogs will be on a series of:

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After reading the Origin Stories of the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greek, and Hebrews, was I able to see the similarities and vast differences between them. I was drastically enlightened by how different cultures see the human relationship to the divine. More than anything the Origin Stories validated how beautiful and special the Christian faith it. It often times feels too good to be true and defines human identity their sacredness.

 

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July’s blog post will examine grace. Christianity is the only religion that is not based on our works to receive salvation, but we’ve been gifted with grace. Martin Luther once said: “I preach grace every day because every day I forget.” Grace is a precious undeserving gift that brings joy and freedom. In this post, I’ll discuss why grace is so crucial to mental and spiritual freedom.

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In August I want to focus on the Upside Down Kingdom. Discussing Jesus’ values and how incredibly contradicting they are to today’s culture. How drastic, sacrificial and people-oriented He is. At Bible College we consistently pray that there may be less of us and more of Him (Jesus) and during this blog, I’ll get down and dirty with just how raw and crazy that prayer actually is and just how good it really is.

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If you have questions on any of the upcoming three topics, please message me in the “What Do You Think” form. I’d be more than happy to incorporate your questions and thoughts. This series is to shed light on the joy, freedom, and healing I’ve received mentally and spiritually from Jesus Christ. Why I am so passionate about this good news and also to give you some insight on why I’ve committed to this gracious omnipresent loving God.

So do me a favor like this post if you are excited! Scroll below to subscribe and commit to this wild ride of a journey with me!

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Detoxing

One moment I am standing on this metaphoric mountain of joy. I feel like I’ve conquered all my demons and life is at an all-time high. A smile so big you can’t see my eyes. I laugh at myself for ever having worried. I feel so certain that I’ll never get off of this “high” on life.

Literally the next day…

Why did I leave my comfortable job?! I can’t stand this heat! Why am I breaking out?! I’ll never find my hubby with this skin. Where’s the hidden stash of chocolate? Why am I being so emotional? Is this dramatic? Why did I ever agree to stop drinking?!

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Have you ever had those days that completely blindsided you? A moment where you felt you had conquered the world, just to realize seconds later how unstable you really were?

This literally has been a preview of some of the more recent moments within the last months.  Granted I’ve been doing some heavy inventory of my past, rehashing emotions, abandoning certain beliefs. While simultaneously acclimating to a drastic change (moving to Australia), and living on a rather tight budget and schedule.

That’s when it hit me- I am purifying myself. I’m transitioning.

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I truly have been gifted with such a precious season of reflection, rest and discomfort. A season of spiritual and mental growth, of dreams, friends, and purpose. But being gifted with a season of growth means I’m having to actively give up comfort.

My life has so drastically changed that I hate to admit, but sometimes I secretly still crave a cigarette. Even though I stopped smoking years ago. The craving is purely emotional, thinking I gave up every bad habit, and now need to balance out this cleanse I’m in.

Going through a cleanse can be a Kickstarter. We cleanse our homes in the spring, we cleanse our bodies after the holidays but do we actively seek to cleanse our minds?

Here are 4 things that have helped me during my cleanse

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Since moving to Australia, I have seriously downgraded! Everything from my clothing, to the books I have, to the car I drive. I never really understood the advantage of downgrading until moving here. But it’s made me less concerned with my appearance, it’s helped grow anticipation for things I really want/desire and it’s brought value back to the things that I have. On top of that, my room never looks cluttered, which has made my room a safe haven for me.

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My environment has changed drastically as well. My friends are all on a path of self-discovery and desiring to achieve their highest potential. This has really helped push me forward when I’m having a difficult day. They pick me up and help me continue my race even when I am throwing tantrums. So often I’ve felt alone in my journey of bettering myself, but here I have a plentitude of people that are on a similar journey as well.

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If you’ve been to Australia, you’d get the joke that we are 10 years behind in this country. Personally, I LOVE it! If I watch TV, which has been seldom, it’s rare that I’m bombarded with hyper-sexualized ads and the music I listen to is more often than not kid-friendly. You may be thinking that that’s incredibly boring. But honestly, it’s so refreshing. The media does influence our thoughts and behaviors. If you believe to be ugly and incredibly discontent with your looks- take notice of what you are watching and who you are comparing yourself with. If you believe this is a violent world- take notice of how much of the news you watch or read. It’s ridiculous to believe that media doesn’t have an influence on our thoughts and actions since psychology is a key component of the media. Ever drive faster or more reckless when listening to a particular song? Newsflash, they do alter your behavior.

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Mindfulness is an essential practice here. I want to be a responsible creator with my life who is mindful with how I impact others as well as myself. That means taking responsibility for my thoughts and feelings by selecting, shaping and being in tune with them. It’s a muscle that either gets used or lost. Mindfulness can be practiced by noticing if you are hungry or rather thirsty. What thoughts do I feed on and why? Was my response appropriate? Do I really mean what I say?

These are just a couple of things I’ve noticed that have dramatically impacted me. I don’t recommend you do all at once. But pick one to focus on for a season and I promise you, you change your life positively.

Ps: The picture is to represent the emotional and physical fatigue I go through while detoxing. Trust me, it’ll take you on a rollercoaster.

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8 Weeks Sober

8 weeks ago I was confronted with a difficult decision. A decision to become sober. Not necessarily for the rest of my life, but to abstain from alcohol at least for the time being. When confronted with this decision I was surprised by my resistance. I was surprised how unwilling I was. I’d blame my unwillingness on that if I really wanted to take a break, I could. So, therefore, I didn’t really have a problem…

Then I heard someone speak on the matter of being sober. She said if you can’t abstain from alcohol for at least 6 months, guess what?! You’ve used it as a coping mechanism. So there it was. There was the unwanted truth, the unwanted confrontation that I needed to take a break from it.

I honestly never considered myself to have a problem with alcohol. I previously worked for an adolescent treatment center and was well aware of the signs of a substance abuse and still, I don’t label myself as an alcoholic. BUT there are layers of dependence. There are those that can’t function within their job without a sip of alcohol, and then there are people that can’t kiss someone without having at least a cocktail or a shot depending on how hot their date is.

Personally, I’ve realized that both dating and alcohol were not always but during hardship and confusion used as coping mechanisms/ ways to escape. If I was feeling insecure about my appearance, I’d go on a date. If I had an exceptionally difficult shift at work or I was frustrated I’d have a drink. And more often than not, a drink would turn into multiple drinks. At the core, they haven’t helped me process my emotions in a healthy manner but instead would help me to deflect.

Now as I’ve been reflecting on the term sober, it’s actually not always associated with alcohol or substance use. But the term sober also means sensible and solemn. Solemn means to be characterized by deep sincerity and sensible means doing or choosing in accordance with wisdom.

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That means anything you use to self-medicate, (examples such as shopping, food, movies, dating, sex, porn, gambling etc.) really anything that you use to fill that void can become addictive. Russell Brand says wisely “This is the age of addiction, a condition so epidemic, so all-encompassing and ubiquitous that unless you are fortunate enough to be an extreme case, you probably don’t know that you have it.”

Here are some examples of subtle layers of an addiction:

You really want to travel to Bali, but you can’t seem to save money for the trip because your weekends involve parting, or you simply can’t stop buying that Venti Latte at Starbucks every morning.

You really want to start exercising at 6 AM, but you can’t seem to put down Instagram at 11PM and therefore sleep through your alarms.

You really want to lose 5kg, but you can’t say no to the free cookies in the office kitchen.

You really want to break up with your boyfriend, but you keep excusing his behaviors because you don’t want to be alone.

It’s a power struggle and these last 8 weeks have been uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because I’ve had to face some real truths and claim back my authority over my feelings, attitudes, and behavior. Simultaneously it’s been incredibly empowering. I feel like I’ve already made some breakthrough and starting to form habits that will take me to the next level. The beautiful thing is I don’t have to do it alone. It’s been so helpful to be in a  community of people with the same intentions and efforts.

If you are struggling with something, please reach out to me, your friends, or your community. There are plenty of resources out there that can help you with tweaking small adjustments in your life, or overcoming some major hurdles.

 

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