[Self Discovery] Set Your Intentions With Energy from the New Moon

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Earlier this week, we gracefully glided through Summer and into Fall with Tuesday’s Autumnal Equinox and tonight, there’s yet another celestial transition as the moon silently shifts between phases and lands in Libra.  On a celestial level, New Moons signify that the Sun and Moon are in the same Zodiac house; on a more personal note – they also mark pivotal moments and serve as catalysts for fresh starts and new beginnings. They’re the perfect time to finally attune your intentions and focus your energy on where it’s deserved in your life.   Libra, the 7th symbol of the Zodiac and an air sign ruled by Venus – the Goddess of Love and Beauty, is characterized by two scales – a nod to balance and equilibrium.  With the New Moon entering Libra, it’s a time for internal harmony and tranquility, as well as a time to focus on the relationships in our lives – whether they’re romantic, business partnerships or familial.

In the past, on Full Moon nights I’ve set out my crystals to absorb the energy from the moon’s rays – but tonight, instead of harnessing moon’s energy – I’ll be zeroing in on my own.  As the New Moon dawns, it’s a chance to reflect over the past four weeks and rebuild, refresh and renew your dreams.  On a personal level, I’ll be focusing my own energy on my intentions for the next month, diving into my soul and forging my own passionate path.  Between my projects for Disney and my work for The DJ List, I’ve started to feel my own dreams take a backseat to the work others are placing in my hands. I have a wedding to plan, a few business plans to craft and websites to code – there’s so much to do, that I’ve skirted away from doing anything.  More and more, I’ve felt the need to reevaluate my priorities and get back on track and this New Moon couldn’t have come at a better time.

Since part of the preparation of the New Moon is to hone in on intentions, to focus mine I’ll be getting my arts and crafts on – but you know, in an adult type of way (e.g. with beverage in hand!).  You might think scrapbooking is a thing of the past, but it’s a wonderful way to conceptualize your dreams, plan your passions and forge forward where you didn’t think possible.   If you’d like to take part – find a calming space in your residence and clear it of any mental clutter, and then craft an alter of your own for the evening.  Grab a candle or some incense to cleanse the area and if you have any crystals or gems, this is the perfect time to harness their energies.   This is all about what you aspire to be and the person you’re working so hard to become – so snag a journal and some pens, magazines + glue /tape, and have at it!

[Write On] Writing Is My Therapy, What’s Yours?

Coming off of a whirlwind weekend through the Pacific North West – the last thing that I wanted to do was come home and get all ‘serious’, because I’m in a whimsical mood where I want to flirt with the world and uncover it’s beauty; there’s so much wonder in the world that I’ve uncovered through wanderlust – but I can’t quite into that yet, because there are much more pressing issues at hand.

Growing up, a menagerie of professions floated through my always meandering mind then out through  my fingertips like grains of sand in an hourglass.  Doctor, Firefighter, Astronaut, Model, Engineer, Scientist…the one constant, was that each and every phase was documented in the tattered pages of journals.  These journals fill my closets and overflow dressers, oozing with emotion and filled to the brim with equal parts adventure and awe, delight and despair.   They’re  momentary physical manifestations of my deepest darkest secrets and unexplained feelings that have transformed into coherent thoughts, phrases and paragraphs.  My journals are wishes on stars and inside jokes with myself, thoughts catapulted into tangible words; my catharsis, my hopes, my fears, my therapy. 

Now, there – I said it – the dreaded T word that ironically, we’re unwilling to talk about.

And isn’t that the problem: that we don’t want to talk about therapy.  

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Therapy comes from the Greek word ‘Therapeuein’ and has slowly manifested from medical treatment to something with healing powers; but for me, I like to think of it a little differently. Therapy is what wakes you up in the morning, it’s what makes you come alive, what makes you passionate, what makes you an unapologetic version of yourself ready to tackle each day with vigor and vengeance.  And when you put it that way, therapy is something that we all could use, really.

From a young age, I always felt…well, off.  There wasn’t much of a way to describe it other than I felt different, and was unsure how to quantify the notion. It could have been growing up biracial in a community that lacked any semblance of diversity, or the separation of my parents at age three, or my maligned impression of my own beauty – but somewhere along the way to adolescence, like most all of us, I got lost in the cobwebs in my head and I stayed there….for a while. The sun could be shining, and all was right with the world – but I misplace one little item and I become my own worst enemy, fail a test and the world feels like it’s falling out from under your feet, and most of all, I was afraid of the thoughts that might creep in.

My parents and teachers did as much, if not more, than what they would be expected to do but after a while the job was handed over to professionals.  I refused to put together their pedantic puzzles and instead asked why I couldn’t just talk. Over and over, I heard: We can talk after you draw-paint-x-y-z; but, I didn’t want any of that – I wanted to talk, I wanted to figure out the what’s and why’s for myself. Then, collectively – they suggested writing; so, I wrote.  

Call it what you want – chicken scratch on scrap paper, pages of adolescent poetry, the notes of a novice journalist; but writing soothed my soul.  I could direct all of my energy, regardless of intent, towards a piece of paper and within moments would reach mental clarity. In reality, what I was really doing was creating, jumping on board an eternal pursuit of passion and uncovering that je ne sais q’uoi that we’re all in search of. For the next person, their therapy could very well be painting, or drawing, or beading, or yoga – or running, walking neighborhood dogs, photography, dancing, crafting or music.  But for me, it was writing.

My paper journals were filled too quickly, and besides – I hated  my handwriting.  Growing up in the 90’s meant that there were multitudes of media at my disposal so when I got fed up with keeping physical journals, I turned to the internet. And let me just say right now, the internet might be a black hole for any and all forms of current productivity – but it’s my savior. Even if you feel distant from your physical support system, there’s someone halfway across the world that understands exactly what you’re going through because they’ve just gone through it.

Online there were so many resources that originally, I was beside myself…but I started a Live Journal, and by my Sophomore year of high school added Dead Journal and an onslaught of Xanga’s to the mix.  My junior year of college, I transferred to Tumblr, and within the last two years I’ve found homes on Blogspot and now – WordPress.  The beauty of an online writing culture is beyond the scope of my breath, so let this entire post be a testament to it: from my heart to my head, and then fingertips on plastic -being part of this greater community where we support, stand for and sing each other’s praises has emboldened me to pursue a career I never thought possible.  And because of that, my voice is heard; and because of this, I have to speak up. 

As I grew up, both in the real world around me as well as online – I made friends in chat rooms that I still keep in touch with, and we bonded over being able to discretely spill our souls and be an 110% unabashed, unapologetic version of ourselves. Personally, I had family, friends, neighbors and teachers alike – a solid group of mentors and peers that I could turn to, but my pride got  in the way and the ego is tricky to maneuver.

That’s when the ideas of thinking versus knowing come into play, and so very strongly:

Instead of thinking that the world can pull you out of that hole you’ve been digging,

it feels like they’re going to point, laugh and leave you to your own disillusioned devices.

Mental Health Awareness is about more than just assigning mental conditions to definitions and sending patients home with a goodie bag.  We’re so willing to throw prescriptions at the problem, prescriptions that have been shown statistically to do more harm than good, yet we’re still not willing to treat the real issue at hand.  Putting a band-aid on a festering wound without cleaning it properly can keep a disease in your body, just the same way that adding layers of psychoactive cocktails to your mental state without proper discussion can perpetuate a psychotic episode.

How many people that you know have a physical health condition – do you have a friend with asthma, know a distant relative with MS or Parkinson’s Disease, have a parent with high cholesterol, cancer or a bad heart? I think it’s safe to say that each and every person on this planet knows someone at a personal level who falls into at least category for a physical or bodily ailment, so why – why – why aren’t brain injuries, impairments or diseases held in the same light?  From a young age, we’re scholastically – then medically – required to have physical checkups every year, why aren’t there annual mental health checkups?  When we’re physically injured, doctors prescribe ‘Physical Therapy’ – so why is going into ‘Mental Therapy’ something so frowned upon? We’re given days off of school and work due to physical injury or ailment, so why is it so poorly looked upon to take a “mental health” day?

 It’s all in the stigma and as a society, we need to get rid of it.

It’s the same way that beautiful girl next to you on the bus thinks that her size –whatever- pants make her look like an elephant, or that her face belongs in a paper bag when it’s goddamn naturally beautiful; I know this happens, because I’ve been that girl. It’s the guy at the gym bench pressing 300 think’s he’s a weakling, the straight A student who fumbled on a question that thinks they’re an idiot, the artist who’s been stuck for on a project for three weeks to no avail.

We get so wrapped up in our quests for greatness that I think we often forget that we’re human.  Humble yourself.  Remember that we’re on a giant rock smashing through space at atrocious speeds; things are bound to get chaotic every now and again for all of us.  You’re not alone.  

Therapy comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, creeds and species – I volunteer at cat shelters because it feels good to give back to a species that’s given so much to me, I write  because it calms my nerves and assuages my anxieties, I reach out to acquaintances because I feel better for being part of a community than I do when I’m alone, I talk to strangers because if we talk to strangers they’re now our friends, I smile into the sunlight and dance in the rain because I can and it’s wonderful.

Take a walk around the block and smell every beautiful flower, call your parents because they used to be you, leave post-it’s with happy faces around your office, skip to work, draw, create, craft,take a stand, take a Mental Health Day, call your best friend just to talk because you know that’s exactly what they’re for, start a blog, start a book, start a revolution – there are people waiting for your voice to come alive

Writing is my therapy – what’s yours?

How do you make the world come alive for yourself and those around you?

 

[Self Discovery] My Favorite Ways to “Treat Yo’self”

My words have been perpetually jumbled and I’ve pressed delete more times than I wish to recall. It’s been a trying week, and the more I dive into the minutiae of my life – the deeper I sink into this reality of a writer’s block. Not only is it real, but it’s really frustrating.  In the last seven days, I’ve seen more doctors than friends and have had my body groped more times by strangers in white coats than my boyfriend. Suffice it to say, I haven’t been the in the brightest mood.  What I’ve forced myself to remember is that at the end of the day, things can happen to you and around you, but they’re just things. Good and bad are human attributions that have a permanent ability sway our emotions.  Things are what they are; if you take the facts and remove all falsities, the truth you find shall set you free.

There’s been an Instagram hashtag going around – #100HappyDays and though at a basic level I appreciate the notion, I think it’s absolutely 100% ridiculous.  Each and every day is what you make it, but if you go around with your ‘Happy’ blinders on in perpetual search of it, and think that including words like ‘blessed’ and ‘thankful’ while posting daily pictures to your social media accounts are poignant ways to display your affinity and zest for life – you’re doing it wrong.  Happiness isn’t a beautiful butterfly, or mystical creature, that you need to hunt and capture day in and day out; instead – if you live each and every day with the intention to be the best version of yourself and push yourself to evolve from the amazing person you are into the fabulous person you want to be – happiness will become you.

And this brings me back to my mood from earlier – the more deliberate myself over my doctor’s dictation and mull over, the more removed I’ve become from my emotional state.  The only self remedy to get myself out of this über funk, is to treat myself like I know I deserve.  Here’s the thing with life – being that it’s what you make it, once something pushes you into a bad mood, it’s up to you as an individual, and only you, to at the very least find a way to bring yourself back to neutral.  If you bring math into the equation, and you’re at a low – one of the only ways to balance that out is to do something positive for yourself – and that’s just to get back to neutral.  To boost your mood, get out there and try something lavish, extravagant and or over the top – like they gleefully gush on Parks & Recreations – ‘Treat Yo’self’. So, below are some of my favorite ways to pamper, divulge, devour and marinate in the beauty of the world – and leave all those anxieties, woes and worries deep in the dust.

Change your passwords to positive affirmations: I’m not saying to change all your passwords to “ILoveYou143” but if you start including things about you being awesome, or the day being great, or changing the world in your work passwords – you’ll find yourself repeating a daily positive mantra, which truly goes a long way in pushing towards a positive outlook.

-Indulge in a lengthy Bubble Bath: Try out some scented Epsom salts for a delicious scent, and I highly recommend putting some oil in the tub (you’ll thank me later!)

– Find a new hiking trail and take your camera on an adventure

Take a good book to a lush and lovely park: Sometimes, one of the best ways to escape this world is to engulf yourself in another. I used to love reading anything and everything for fun but over time, I’ve gravitated more towards non-fiction science books – great for learning and expanding your mind, but they’re not exactly easy or quick to read.  Instead, when I’m feelin’ down and out I grab a trashy beach read, or anew psychological thriller, and head down the rabbit hole between the covers.

Upgrade your wardrobe with a snazzy new find: Retail therapy is real, and if you don’t trust me now – go out and just buy that fabulous coat/dress/jacket you’ve been yearning for and tell me you don’t adore staring at it in your closet.

– Find some live music and dance your cares away

– Wine and dine yourself and indulge in your favorite meal (*cough* sushi *cough*)- 80% of your body’s serotonin receptors are in your GI tract – if they’re not being stimulated, neither are you – so head to your favorite local spot and get your chow on.

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Flower bomb your neighborhood and go back and water it: Make sure you remember where you planted them, so you can water them – and occiasionally take pictures while you’re strolling through your hood, and appreciate the beauty you’ve deposited in the world

-Visit a museum on a topic you love

Get some stand-up comedy in your life: These guys are paid to make you laugh; let ’em do their job!

– Breakfast for dinner (because why not?!)

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Pick a new penpal and send a handwritten letter; whens the last time you got one? I know they make my heart incredibly happy

– Find a tranquil location and take a nap

 

– Donate your old clothes, books and movies

Volunteer at an animal shelter: Bonus points if you take one home!

What’s your favorite way to get out a slump – or just treat yo’self right? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Self Discovery] Eliminating Toxic Relationships From Your Life

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By default of my personality I’ve always placed an increased emphasis on my external relationships; often times, according to my mother, much more than is necessary.  As I reached elementary school, I could pick up on body language and unspoken emotional change and by 5th grade, I’d accumulated so much stress and anxiety that I developed an ulcer. Not to mention, by the time I was in high school, my mom could accurately pinpoint when a friend of mine was going through a personal issue because I’d physically embody their pain and get sick.

In my early 20’s, I discovered that – like many of my new friends – I was an empath.  Don’t get it twisted: these are things that effect everybody, empaths  just feel them more; where others simply abide by a ‘Captain Save a Ho’ or ‘Mother Theresa’ complex. Relationships to our community, our family, our friends and most importantly ourselves define us within the macrocosm of the world and microcosm of our minds. Without  taking an honest personal inventory of your own behavior and the traits in others that you’ll stand for, you might fall into a situation that’s not only toxic, but difficult to get out of. To her credit, my mother was – and still is – absolutely correct.  Not to say there isn’t an inherent value to those interactions, but what I hadn’t done was take a personal inventory of the traits I valued in my relationships, including the one with myself.

What my mom taught me as a strong, intelligent single mother was that the most prudent, important, passionate relationship you should be in is with yourself. So if your relationship with yourself is toxic, you’ll be inviting more and more toxic energy and personalities into your life.  Plus, the human body is surrounded by an ‘invisible’ field, manufactured from the copious amount of electromagnetic energy emitted by your heart – and that energy field can shift depending on your mood. The energy you radiate out into the world reflect back on you through your relationships, and a toxic relationship can very well have a negative impact on your life.  A continual one, if you let it.

Toxic behavior is two-fold: first, someone has to engage in it – and secondly, someone has to be around to receive and internalize it. By choosing to engage in toxic behavior – you’re enabling the other party to continue to behave destructively and silently approving their behavior, towards you – and everyone else. The definition of ‘insanity’ is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results; and some could argue that being in a toxic relationship is insanity in it’s purest form. Whether it’s constant low jabs at your personality traits, quirky afflictions, friends or your romantic relationships, unnecessarily rude commentary or a refusal to accept responsibility for their behavior – toxic relationships come in all shapes and sizes. The good news is that they all have the same cure: taking a step back and reconsidering where you stand within your own world, where you’re going and who you want by your side when you get there.  Do the toxic person and relationship fit in conjunction with that?

For me, it all comes down to one simple definition – what it means to be a friend.  Over the course of my almost 30 years, that’s changed….a lot.  Make a list, make a few even – goals, dreams, the great qualities your closest friends all share and the type of people that you’d like in your life. When I was in Middle School, it was someone who wouldn’t look at me as freakishly tall (I was 5’11 in 6th grade); in high school, it was someone who shared my taste in music.  Sometimes, friendships are formed in much deeper, darker places. Back at the end of high school, then again in a similar fashion two years ago, I was going through a downturn – I lacked confidence and emitted insecurity, but I was still partying and trying to form new, formidable friendships.  What I failed to understand  was that all I was going to find were relationships that were a projection of my emotional state.  Too often, instead of taking an honest look at ourselves, it’s easier to externally project our insecurities in various ways; destructive behavior and destructive relationships being two of them.

20140606-141345-51225365.jpgAs time went on, I crawled out of the hole I dug for myself – but still, in vain, thought all of the friendships I made at the time could be maintained.  I accepted partial blame for relationship fails and mishaps – and having a penchant for the past, I would get nostalgic about all the great things about them and fun we had together.  I have to remember, over and over again, that neither of us are who we once were, which can turn nostalgia into a real life nightmare if you don’t nip it in the bud.  You can cherish memories, but they’re just as well kept in a box in your closet to pull out every now and again when you feel like being reminded about all the crazy stories, memories and people that have molded you into the fantastic individual that you are. If you continue to live in the past, you’re refusing to live in the present – which is a beautiful place to be.

An unfortunate truth, is that if there’s a toxic relationship in your life, you’re just as culpable for it as they are if you’re not willing to confront the situation and do something about it. Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten, that I remind myself of all the time is that ‘you don’t have to like everyone, and not everyone has to like you.

Understanding that a friendship is a two way street, there are always two ways to fix it – changing your behavior, or trying to change theirs.  That said, only one of those is actually up to you, so it’s time to make an important decision: do you want this person in your life? Do you, honestly, wholeheartedly, positively, absolutely without a doubt want this person to bear witness to your most intimate moments and are you willing to be around for theirs? Just to put it out there – if this is even debatable, you might want to lean towards a solid ‘No’ – but we can get to that later.  Remember, this isn’t about  them – it’s about you, and what you need in your life have the best version of today and build a better tomorrow.

If your answer is yes – if you think there’s a capacity for change and you want to actively fix the relationship, step one is fixing your approach to it. Is your friend dependable yet leaves snide comments? Acknowledge what they both can do, and not do, for you.  If you need help moving, I’m sure they’d rock but if you want an opinion on your next career move, you might want to take theirs with a grain of salt. Do you plan your departure before your arrival? Does their name showing up on your caller ID make you anxious? Communicate with them less; they’ll get the picture. Establish boundaries, set time limits on hanging out, don’t be afraid to tell them ‘No and last but certainly not least – stand up for yourself, explaining how it feels when they bring negativity in, or shut you down.

However, if your answer is a solid ‘No’ – it’s time remove this person from your life. A month, a season, five years or indefinitely – that’s a personal decision; but from my experience, if you have the slightest inkling that it’s time to break ties, do it for good.  Moving on doesn’t make you a bad person, and not being able to reconcile a relationship doesn’t speak to a personal pitfall – it says that you were strong enough to let go.  Draw up a pro vs con list, write a letter – maybe even send it if it helps your mental state.20140606-122106-44466407.jpg

Just because you move on from them, doesn’t mean you don’t value them – it just means you value your life, your time and your self more. Don’t be snide, take to social media or engage them with negative behavior – putting energy, positive or negative, into a relationship is a sign you’re not actually ready to break your bond.  From personal experience, I’ve found that completely detaching from the person – putting distance, both physical and emotional, between the two of you ensures that the relationship has time to fizzle out instead of simply being on hiatus.  Don’t purge your feelings about this person as word vomit to anyone who will listen – just because you’ve had an epiphany about a person, doesn’t make it another person’s truth.  One persons toxic relationship could very well be someone else’s best friend under different circumstances, guidelines or frames of mind.

At a time where social media reinforces the idea of quantity means far more than quality, and a Facebook or Instagram like is coveted more often than a smile – it’s time to re-evaluate the breadth of our social circles.  In the past week, I’ve deleted over 300 people from Facebook, 70+ from Instagram and unfollowed about 100 from Twitter. If you’re anything like me, you’re a social butterfly that manifested into a social media whore (and I say that so lovingly) – and you’re constantly bombarded with social ‘stats’.  Your number of “friends“, “followers” and “likes” all reinforce the erroneous idea of quantity over quality.

Take the social networking site Path.  Unlike Facebook, which caps users at 5000 (seriously, name 5000 people you know personally without looking at a computer; probably can’t do it) – Path caps users at 150. 150 – that’s Dunbar’s Number; it’s the supposed cognitive maximum limit of the number of functioning social relationships that one can maintain and it appears over and over across human society. The smallest group, three to five people, is a “clique“; think of them as your intimate support system. From 12 to 20 is the “sympathy group“: people you feel especially tied to. 30 to 50 is the typical size of hunter-gatherer overnight camps, generally drawn from the same pool of 150. A 500-person group is the “megaband” and at 1,500 you’re a tribe. Fifteen hundred is roughly the number of faces we can put names to, and the typical size of a hunter-gatherer society.

Whether it’s clearing out your phone, your social media accounts or the physical space around you – it’s important to take an inventory of your relationship to the world, and it’s relationship to you.  After all is said and done, the honest to goodness best way to eliminate toxic relationships from your life is to prioritize the ones that are equally beneficial, supportive, loving and adoring; and remember, that starts with the relationship to yourself.

[Self Discovery] Give Your Vocabulary an Attitude Adjustment

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In our current state, we’re all so immensely interconnected to the world around us – and with advancements in technology, physical connection to one another has manifested into almost entirely verbal or written contact as opposed to non-verbal communication.  Whether it’s through the outsourcing of jobs (last year alone, the US outsourced approximately 2.5 million positions abroad), the high number of students pursuing jobs and degrees overseas, or simply the number of combined online users at any given moment, we’re all establishing, forging, solidifying, quantifying and manifesting relationships with peers, mentors, friends, family, a love interest, pets, etc.

The one thing that we all have left to our devices at the end of the day is language: the natural, or – if you’re rather big on the interwebz – maybe not so natural, ebb and flow of conversation, conflict and camaraderie.  More than just the words you pick and the order they fall into – language refers to your intonation, and even further to the intention of every single single word you pick; it’s the pitch you use while excited, the rumble you use when agitated and the cadences you manifest when you’re swept off your feet by love.  Even though words can manifest into a fairy tale of emotion, at the end of the day – they’re all we’re left with, so it helps to pay attention to your everyday vocabulary.

Between friend incidents, car accidents and a nasty bout of stomach flu – over the past few weeks, I’ve seemingly had a lot thrown in my face – that said, I’ve also been more aware of my relationship to the world around me: physically, emotionally and mentally. I’ve noticed that a lot of that relationship is dictated by something as simple as diction – or word choice.  If you want to live a positive life, surround yourself with positive people, positive thoughts and positive mantras; if you’d like a negative one, well – you see where I’m headed.  It’s something so simple and so basic, but when you look at the studies that’ve been done on positive thinking, emotion and word choice – they’re so telling.

Everything in Life is Vibration
– 
Albert Einstein

Through quantum physics, the vibrations of the natural world are revealed; they energetically complex as physical actions and as inherently simple as a single word.  But, as experiments have proven – even words have the power to transform you.  Whenever we marinate in our negativity – we run the risk of releasing destructive neurochemicals in our brain and just the  utterance of the world ‘no‘ can stimulate stress hormones to be released. Back in the early 90’s,  Dr Emoto performed a number of experiments on water – you know, that fundamental building block of life that we’re 60% comprised of – and the results are astounding.  He was desperate to understand the physical effect that language and the environment had on the crystalline structure of water molecules once froen.  What Dr. Emoto discovered is absolute astounding, yet positively predictable – the structure of molecules that were bathed in positive words were far more beautiful and symmetrical than molecules doused with darker thoughts.

“You make me sick, I will kill you”           vs   “Love and Appreciation”

              

(Images: High Existence)

I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past – which is partially why I’m writing this article, but the other reason I’m penning this is I also want to make a difference for my future; and if all it takes is removing a few words from my vocabulary, bring it on.  So next time you’re speaking and prepared to mutter any of the following, take a personal inventory and ask yourself what you really mean; and then find a way to spin it in a more positive light!

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– No / Not: Any way you spin it, ‘No’ has an absolutely negative connotation.  If said with immediacy, ‘No’ can also indicate an unwillingness to consider a new way of thinking – or thinking at all. One thing I’ve done with people that have habitually said ‘No’ to me (e.g. my parents) is give them a while to think about my question / situation / idea before they even need to answer.  So, if you’re preparing yourself to say ‘No’ – take a moment and ask yourself what you really mean.  If you’re declining an invitation – try “Thank you, I have other plans”

– Should: Like Nike says – Just DO it!  Should implies that there’s something – mentally, physically, emotionally – restraining you from wanting to do it; so if you’re not feeling into it – take a personal inventory and figure out your ‘Why’ before it’s too late.  Also, for some reason ‘Should’ is usually followed by….

– But: More often than not, whatever follows the word ‘But’ never seems to go well; instead, just use ‘and’

– Can’t: You can do pretty much anything you put your mind to, so the second you tell either yourself or someone else that you ‘Can’t‘ you’re imposing limits on your own reality.  Instead of saying ‘Can’t’ – say what you’re really meaning: Right now isn’t a good time – or – I’m tired, I will once I get some rest – or – Tomorrow would be better for me.

-Maybe: It’s like ‘Try’ and ‘No’ had an illegitimate child, and everyone is babysitting it.  How many times have we heard someone say ‘Maybe’ and seriously wished they could stop being so indecisive and pick an option.  ‘Maybe’ is doubtful and incredibly passive, instead – become an active participant in your life and start saying ‘Yes’; you never know where it could take you.

– Hope: Hope is wishful, lustful…and often fleeting. It looks towards the future in a passive – almost lackadaisical fashion instead of taking the bull by the horns and actively going out and doing something about your future.

-Problem: Let’s face facts for a second, shall we – none of us really experience daily problems.  There are situations, challenges, inconveniences and unexpected issues along the roads of life but having a “problem” imposes a “problematic state of mind” that can can become a negative feedback cycle instead of actually helping you move forward.  So, next time you think you have a “problem”, instead realize there’s a solution out there that can’t wait for you to discover it.

If you’re in a new location and aren’t sure which direction to go, just act boldly like you’re supposed to be there and you’ll find your way in no time. If you go into a stressful situation with a ‘Fake it Til You Make It’ attitude, you’ll notice that sooner or later – you’re making it.   And if your mind is spiraling downwards, don’t tell yourself “No, I have a problem” or “Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow…” – get up, get out and get living. Just one step in a positive direction can completely alter your current trajectory.

So, tell me – are there any other words we should remove from our everyday lexicon?

 “We are what we pretend to be,
so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
Kurt Vonnegut

[Self Discovery] The Best Advice I’ve Ever Gotten

When I was younger, my step mom and I would frequently dissect social scenarios and discuss what it meant to simply be.  As the child of two incredibly intelligent mathematicians, this was probably one of the most helpful things that she ever did – and, to this day, still does.  I call her, sometimes more often than others, for both commentary and brainstorming solutions to the current conundrum, however big or small, I had at hand.  Like my natural parents, my step-mother has a strong footing in math and statistics and like my parents – she’s incredibly nurturing, loving and supportive.  The main difference being that she’s an empathetic extrovert and a social butterfly, whereas my parents fall more on the introverted side of the spectrum.  Simply put, her advice makes sense; it sticks.  But why? First, it’s because on an emotional level – we understand each other, and operate relationships in a similar fashion.  But on a larger scale – as humans, we tend to not ask questions or seek advice that we couldn’t somehow  manifest for ourselves.

Over the years, I’ve collected the advice – sometimes on scrap paper or text messages to myself, other times in journals – and I’ve kept it close to my heart all these years.  And not just from her – but from my relatives, friends, teachers, blogs, Reddit threads, basketball coaches, college TA’s….you name it, I took their wise words to heart.  I’ve always been told that ‘experience is the hardest teacher, because you get the exam before the lesson‘ but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that living vicariously through the rollercoaster of experiences – ups, downs and in-betweens – of my peers serves me just as well as if it had happened to me.  Around the apartment, I have daily mantras scribbled on mirrors and from time to time – I stumble upon them and marinate for a minute to let the words soak in.  So, I wanted to share some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten because, let’s face it, from time to time we could all use some.

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(1) Anyone chasing a dream is bound to fail once or twice in its pursuit; passion is what picks you back up and urges you to try again.

Success doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a day in and day out struggle with who you are and what you want to achieve.

Let go of any preconceived notion that you should know what you’re doing and learn to live in the moment; after all, life’s about the journey – not the destination.

(2) “Never let your schooling get in the way of your education” – Mark Twain

I’ve learned more about social dynamics and street smarts in the five years I’ve lived in Los Angeles than I had in my previous 24 years.  I’ve met people from different and exciting backgrounds and picked their brains on our differences and similarities in our lives.  I feel privileged and honored that I have such an awesome variety of people in my life.

(3) What people think about you is none of your business.

(4) Marinate in the splendor that is alone time, it’s a beautiful thing.

I’m an only child, which means I know how to entertain myself – I’ve been doing it my entire life. As much as I love being a social butterfly, at the end of the day there’s absolutely nothing like curling up with my cats, some hot tea and a good book.  If you can’t enjoy some self imposed isolation every once in a while, you might actually need to take some you-time to figure out why.  Besides, if you don’t want to hang out with yourself – why would anyone else?

(5) There’s no perfect time for anything; but the  best time for anything is always now.

(6) The beauty of life is that people fall together; cherish and appreciate them while they’re with you. The tragedy of life is that people fall apart; understand that we all have our unique path to continue on and it’s okay to go down ours alone.

(7) You don’t have to be friends with everyone, and not everyone needs to like you.

I had a problem when I was younger – I had this overzealous urge to be loved and not cause conflict.  This made me quiet for a while, and this made me hide parts of my personality.  Now that I’m older and have the confidence to be myself – I’ve realized that you can be nice to everyone without having to be friends with everyone, and it’s okay if people don’t like you.  People don’t need to like you – just so long as they can still treat you with decency and respect.

(8) Never miss an opportunity to shut up;better a moment of silence than a lifetime of regret.

(9) “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu.  

More often than not, anxiety gets a hold of me and decides to make an awkward appearance.  I’ll think about past grievances and what could’ve been done differently, then I’ll consider ‘every-case-scenario’ for the future and overwhelm myself.  What I’m forgetting in those moments is that in the present, everything is okay.  The past has come and gone, and the future hasn’t matriculated yet – firmly ground yourself in the present moment and you’ll free your mind

(10) The only expectations you need to live up to are your own.

As always, time is the best teacher and the best advice is something that you give yourself; what are your daily mantras that keep you keepin’ on every day?

(11) Being alone and happy is better than being miserable and in a relationship.

and, last but not least –

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” — Buddha

[Self Discovery] The 10 Things Great Minds Do For Each Other

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
– Albert Schweitzer 

Our twenties is a time of self-exploration and discovery. It’s a  rite of passage and mental manifest destiny we’re all forced to come to terms with once we enter “the real world” and figure out what it means to be a contributing member of the community, or on a more global scale – a contributing member of the human race. These are the years that we change jobs, cities, significant others, interests and musical taste as frequently as we change socks.  Just like there are laws of physics, there are also laws in the physics of our mentality: external change catalyzes internal change and propagates our growth as individual.  We need to remember that it’s not selfish to take an adjustment period to get reacquainted with your life, it’s honest; because if you can’t take a moment’s appreciation for your newly acquired situation – was there really a point?

As we work our way back into the folds of life, back into social circles and bar scenes – you have a unique opportunity to look at things with a fresh perspective. Sometimes, that perspective pulls you out of prior relationships as it pulls you into new ones – and it’s helpful to know what qualities to keep around in a person, and what to avoid.  I’ve seen (and read) a heaping dose of articles on toxic friendships lately, and just like a regular friendship – that’s a two way street, too. Whether it’s actively toxic, or passively toxic (read: enabling).For a toxic friendship to persist, both parties have to be engaging in toxic behavior.  If you’re an emotional hypochondriac and sit there using those traits as a litmus test, solemnly and discretely analyzing your relationships – you’ll probably think there’s at least one person in your world that’s ‘detrimental to your existence‘.  Instead of trying to find the negative, I want to look at the positive; if small minds tear each other down, great minds should build each other up. So, I’ve come up with a little list of qualities that you should both look for in others and manifest in yourself.

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The 10 Things Great Minds Do For Each Other

1. Encourage Growth

A good friend not only accepts you for who you are but challenges you to become the person you want to be (not the person that they want you to be) by allowing you to challenge the limits of  your comfort zone.

2. Focus on the Positive

Life follows a stereotypical pattern of twists and turns that translate into a sine curve of highs and lows. We need to both celebrate our victories and acknowledge when things aren’t up to par – but unless you’re actively working on improving something in yourself, marinating on the negative isn’t going to get you anywhere but stuck in a negative feedback cycle.  And they’re as equally detrimental to ourselves as the people around us.  Humans aren’t magnets. Negative doesn’t attract positive; positive attracts positive; you’ll get back from the universe exactly what you put into it.

3. Allow You to be Wrong

As a species, we don’t have all the answers yet – so it’s silly to think that any one individual does, either. We need to allow ourselves to be wrong in the pursuit of what is right – through empirical evidence and healthy, intelligent debate with our peers.

4. Laugh With You, Not at You

First things first, your friends should have a sense of humor.  If they don’t, there actually might be something wrong with them and you should probably should just stop talking to them all together.  Anyways, I digress. Funny happens all the time and I’ve actually laughed out loud at myself before, but when a friend actively pursues a facet of your life for their enjoyment, it might be time to cut them loose.  A good friend can find humor in the moment, but knows how to let it go and not project the humor onto you.

5. Emotionally Supportive

When life turns sour, it helps having people around that bring over vodka when all you have are lemons.  But, depending on the situation – some friends might become Negative Nancy and have nothing nice to say, a few will turn the conversation to their life and their problems (which of course, still matter – but this isn’t the time or place for it) and others will simply dip out of your life.  The positive influences in your life will find a way to give – whether its their ear, a shoulder to cry on or a couch to sleep on and silence is golden, especially when someone is at their most vulnerable.

6. Give Space When Necessary

When Galileo discovered that there was a flaw in the geocentric model, there was an uproar.  Sometimes, when people come to the realization that the world is about more than just them, they react the same way.  Everyone has a personal universe to deal with that we simply can’t know everything about.it.  We have to learn to respect boundaries and allow the people in our lives to cultivate their own worlds.

7.  Brainstorm Solutions

One of the greatest things about having a group of peers is that you get to constantly crowdsource solutions. Is your boss being too hard on you? How do you train for a marathon? Should you move to a new city?  These are all things we deal with in our life and we should feel confident that we can reach out to the people in our lives in search of our own answers.  A good friend will engage you and play devil’s advocate to get down to the root of your question.

8. Constructive Criticism

It’s okay to have an standpoint on a person, and often there’s a time and place to voice it – but unless you can find a proactive way to express it, you should probably keep it to yourself.  If you’re forming a negative opinion on someone’s life, make sure it’s not a mirror that you’re holding to your own.  Instead, take a step back from the friendship and really examine what’s bothering you.

9. Value Time

Time is valuable, and other people’s time – doubly so.  A good friend understands that everyone has their own time table and own rate of life, we simply don’t all move at the same pace in life.  So, when it comes to hanging out and getting together – they’ll let you know when they’re running late and are conscious that your time matters, too.

10. Inspire Greatness

We’re all made of stardust, and I truly believe that within each of us – there’s something amazing.  When a beautiful soul meets another, they burn brighter together – just like when two candles meet.  They listen to your ambitions, goals and lofty visions. Instead of diminishing you, or them, they’ll encourage you to chase down your dreams and convert them to reality.

I hope you guys all have friends in your life like this, because I know I do.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art….
It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
– C.S. Lewis –