The Meaning Behind Mindfulness

A sign at a Christmas tree farm we visited last weekend read, “Be Kind. Everyone You Meet is Fighting A Battle.” I typically rank signs like these in the same realm as your oft-lampooned “Live, Laugh, Love,” straight-from-Home-Goods, signs in terms of sincerity. But (whew) if this year out of all of them hasn’t made me aware of just how many private battles we’re all fighting.

I was on the phone with a friend a few weeks ago, and she’s going through her own battle of sorts. She’s in a bad financial situation that kind of happened to her, not out of irresponsibility, her job is killing her, and her relationship seems to be coming to an unfortunate crossroads.

Suffice it to say, she’s kind of stuck, and stuck is a place we’ve all been. Stuck is when you start to feel like things are spiraling downward, you’re fighting to take a breath, but it just feels like quicksand – the more you struggle, the more it swallows you up. Everything you liked that seemed benign is suddenly cast in a sinister shadow. Your world is more threatening. Your days start to become chores.

Stuck can turn easily, almost imperceptibly, into depression.

If we’ve all been there, then surely we’ve all seen it through somehow, right? Think of what you did to untangle yourself from whatever sticky mire you were caught up in. Did you get out of a crappy relationship? Did you move, get a new job, lose weight, seek therapy, get on medication? In a way, stuck is the universe’s way of telling us something needs to change. But why does that feeling have to wash over us in such an uncomfortable way, and only when we’re at rock bottom?

It doesn’t. That feeling is there all the time. The universe is giving us guidance all the time. We just ignore it when things are going OK. We don’t listen because we assume, “things are fine. This must be what the universe is telling me is right.” By the time we decide to listen, the voice is screaming desperately to be heard. Everything feels urgent, drastic change feels non-negotiable.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The key lies in the switch we make from adolescence to adulthood.

As adults we are no longer steeped in deep, stimulating, challenging thought like we were as kids in school. Society has organized our lives in a way that we essentially think we’re “fully cooked” when we graduate from whatever ends up being our highest level of education. Stick a fork in me, I’m done!

But to the total contrary, now we’re out in the real world, and it’s our turn to seek out the challenges that keep us growing. News flash: We’re never done. Just let it sink in. It’s a beautiful feeling. It means all those meaningful decisions of your youth that led you where you are today are actually only the beginning. You still get to decide your destiny every day. But you have to do the work.

So what about those cues from the universe, the ones we’re ignoring? That’s where the work comes in. The object of the game is to start listening, to be aware, to begin to become mindful. Mindfulness is the key to channeling that intuition we all have, and keeping ourselves on the rails towards something great in our future before the shit hits the fan and we find ourselves stuck.

My friend on the phone asked me, “how did you turn it around? What did you finally find was the core of the issue you needed to fix?”

My answer was that it’s different for everyone, and it’s not just one thing. But the magic came when I started finding stillness in myself, and actually listening for once. I started noticing my reactions, I started processing the old mental schemas that made me react in irrational, self-loathing ways, I started to come toe-to-toe with the malicious intentions of my own psyche, and I started to heal.

That’s a can of worms, let’s be honest. The short answer is there’s no silver bullet, no easy way, but there is a powerful and effective way, and it’s beginning to know yourself in the way that inner voice has been shouting to be heard this whole time. I invite you to follow my mindfulness video series, start a conversation, and let’s begin to forgive, heal, and fortify ourselves together.

How have you coped with feeling “stuck” in the past?

LUSH Haul FT. THIS IDIOT

You guys, I save my true feelings for a place like this where I can write them down.

The truth is I’m disenchanted with YouTube right now. Their algorithm is designed to favor only the people who already have giant followings and will therefore make YouTube more money.

I almost didn’t even post this video because I have such a bad taste in my mouth with them right now. But I did. Because my freak flag knows few bounds. Enjoy.

How Buying A House Made Me Richer

You probably already know, I just bought my first house, and I never want to leave. I get to wallow in self-indulgence looking around at all the plush carpet, granite countertops, high ceilings and, well, empty rooms I just “bought” and even utter, “yay, me!” if I want. But what it’s done to my outlook on life is what I find most surprising.  Continue reading How Buying A House Made Me Richer

My New House

 

It’s easy to boil things down to milestones. We tend to associate our 30s with “settling down” and other adult-isms. When 2017 rang in, I was almost afraid to set my sights on a resolution so grown-up as owning a house, but it’s incredible what happens when you put positivity into the universe: you get it in return.

The story is simple, because the process was simple. I put down a small sum of money on a large pile of dirt back in January, and for the next six months I watched a house emerge from nothing. First came a foundation, then a frame, bathtubs, ducts, fixtures, lights. I was positively vibrating with anticipation at the time of this video’s filming.

We’re all moved in now, and nothing is perfect, of course. Building on top of a dirt mound means evicting its former denizens – loads of critters, mainly roaches, but that’s what an exterminator is for.

Feverishly cleaning and patching dings in paint as we break in the new dwelling has turned me into my mother, and I finally get it. When it’s yours, it’s just different. No one will value your space like you do.

Affordability in a place like Austin, Texas, growing at a breakneck pace as it is, does mean compromising on certain conveniences. We’re not spoiled as we were renting, living in a glorified shack but mere walking distance to the waterfront, 50 years of tree cover lining the neighborhood roads, millionaires paying the sky-high HOA fees to keep the roads clear of any offending debris.

But now we’re the guardians of a new chapter. This place is ours. And the feeling I can’t seem to drink in quickly enough is the overwhelming sense of gratitude I have for where I’ve come from and where I am. To assume I’ve deserved every blessing I’ve enjoyed would be arrogant, not to mention grossly untrue. I’ve been very lucky.

But to assume I’ve been handed this life would also be inaccurate. The money I paid to own a mere percentage of the place I call home (shout out to the bank for trusting me and stuff), was earned by me and only me. And that feels insane, and humbling, and awesome.

We can’t build our futures on an unsure foundation. That’s a lay-up of a metaphor in this case. I hadn’t anticipated feeling so sure about a big decision like buying a house, but when you put your trust in the universe, it pays dividends of confidence in each step you take. And with each small step, you can really amaze yourself at how far you’ll go.