Friday, June 8, 2018

When the Darkness Comes Calling

You think too much.

You don't need to feel anxious about this.

Calm down. It's not that big a deal. Don't be so sensitive.

I am a healthy, happy person.

I have a quick smile and a loud laugh that erupts more often than trips out of my mouth. I dance in my kitchen and moonwalk my way out of my socks at night. I can make it through my day to day with no true fear that (barring some horror) I won't make it, even on my worst days.  And I'm pretty good at laughing things off - like those fun statements above that helpful and loving people use when I look at them with that expression.  You know, the one that's stuck somewhere between panic and despair, with a little bit of "This is what drowning feels like" thrown in.

At least, that's where the feeling sits, so I assume that's where the expression lies.

It's a bizarrely colored feeling, too. Have I told you that I see colors? I mean - yes, I can see the world in technicolor - but emotions and feelings, concepts and ideas...they're colorful in my mind. Although, they're not exactly in my mind, in my mind. They take up space outside my head, sometimes running to hide behind me so that I can't deal with them. The hiders, to be honest, are usually the negative things - fear, anger, anxiety, or - the most frustrating - a character who isn't letting me see her clearly just yet. These are the things I have to coax to the forefront of my mind, and often when I see them they are a sickly yellow, or maybe a CAUTION!! orange.

Somehow this looks cute? How is that possible?

Google tells me this is synesthesia, a brain dysfunction (or whatever) in which sensory paths cross and mingle or tangle. The outcome is that our senses manifest in abnormal ways. The most common form of this is having colors attached to letters and numbers, or seeing sound.

(The brain is a bizarre and beautiful thing, isn't it?)

It took me just under 30 years to realize that other people don't see the world in this way, that other writers don't first discover their stories as colors. My therapist was fascinated by it, but since it never seemed to negatively impact my life there was no real need to explore it or have it officially diagnosed. My current functional medicine practitioner encourages me to embrace it.  You are a vibrant color girl! That's who you are! 

It's just the way I see the world.

My anxiety is electric blue - and when I say electric, I do mean jolts and zaps when you don't tread carefully. It can be frightening, but there is a strange sort of luminescent beauty to the fear. More often than not it's only charged to the level of static cling. But sometimes it reaches levels of Jurassic Park Electric Fence Danger.  (I've talked about that before...check it out.)

This scene terrified me as a kid.

Sometimes, though, these colors go dark. It's not quite like someone turned out the light as much as it is that they poured horrible, sticky, inky tar over my brain. The brightest pink turns sour, rancid even, and I feel like I'll either explode or suffocate. Feelings have always been waves to me: they begin at my feet, and when they reach my chest is when they're most intense - often why it takes me a loooooooong time to feel and react to things - and when they are inky they threaten to drown me. My mom reminds me that as intense as they are, my feelings can't actually kill me, and so I do the things I've learned to help the tar go away - or at least to help the wave recede.

I am grateful that, though I have grappled with that Darkness, I have never felt abandoned in it. I have heard from those who have been left, untied, with no light, in that dark and scary place. And their stories frighten me. People with depression actually believe others will be better off without them alive. It's like walking through pitch black with no light and no idea of where safety is, or if there even is safety.

When the Darkness comes calling it can be disguised as many things: anger, fear, pushing people away when we need them the most. Because when the Darkness comes calling it isn't simply about turning on the light switch again. (No shade, Dumbledore...turning on the light can help.) No, it is about somehow extracting yourself from the tar, and it feels like all you have is a Q-Tip.

I am grateful my mental health has never pulled me that deeply into the tar. That Darkness looms, and dampens my colors sometimes, but ultimately I am alright. That's not the case for others. (If it's not the case for you, don't listen to the voice that tells you everyone else is better off without you. We aren't. We need you. Call 1-800-273-8255...they may have something better than a Q-Tip for helping you escape the tar. At the very least, they can Q-Tip with you.)

I guess I'm asking you to take a moment and remember that even the healthiest among us suffer. Even those who "have it all" struggle. The loudest laughers may actually be mired in an inky bog. This is not lack of courage. It is not lack of love.

It's just the brain, doing it's bizarre and beautiful - sometimes horrible - thing.

Monday, March 19, 2018

When The Answer Is No

I have been thinking a lot about rejection lately.  That's probably because I've faced it pretty regularly during this season in my life.  Some of this rejection has been career-related.  Some has been in the ever-constant search for that Special Someone.  And some has been self-rejection.  Rejection has seemed to become a recurring event in my life.

And it always sucks.

My experience with rejection seems to go like this: I read/see/hear the "No."  It's like someone has just up-turned a bucket of numbness over my head.  As the numbness trickles down my body I start to wonder if maybe this time I won't feel so horrible about it.  That thought, though, is evidence that the numbness is wearing off, because suddenly I can feel the acid burn in the pit of my stomach.  There's a pressure in my chest that makes breathing difficult.  It squeezes and squeezes until one fat tear spills onto my cheek.  And then...well.  The floodgates have opened.

Actually me once I start crying
"How to Deal With Rejection" has been a session at pretty much any conference I've attended.  I've sat in several of these sessions and here's what I've learned: Rejection sucks and it is all a part of the process.  You will be rejected. Everyone will be rejected.  It's not personal, so once you accept that it becomes easier to deal with.

Helpful, right?  You're left with little nuggets like this:
Self-help quote - Closed doors, rejections. They do not decide your fate, they simply redirect your course, you must keep moving because life's detours can also be meaningful.
I mean, it's a good quote, but seriously...Not helpful in the moment.

So I decided to write down the ways I actually, practically deal with rejection when it happens.  Maybe it'll help you, too.  So, without further ado, here we go:

- Take a deep breath.  And then take another one.  And another.  I know it feels like it will hurt to breathe.  There's a pressure on your chest that seems to be shoving your heart and lungs down into the burning in your belly.  It seems safer to take shallow breaths.  I know.  But I promise you, the pressure will actually let up as you breathe.

- Related: Get some fresh air.  I don't care if it's 7* outside - you need some fresh air.  Crack the window in your car and crank the heater.  Hug your heating pad and wrap yourself up in a blanket so you can stay warm while also being able to breathe something other than stale air.  I can't overstate how important oxygen is right now.  It is major.  

- Drink some cold water.  And I do mean cold.  Everything is kind of burn-y right now, so you need to counter that.  Later on you can have the comfort of hot tea, hot cocoa, or hot coffee, but right now just try some ice water.  It will help.  I promise.

- Also related to water - wash your face.  Seriously.  It's amazing how refreshing and humanizing this simple act can be.  Yeah, mascara may run and your eyes may still be red, but you feel better.  You know that first shower after you've been sick for a while?  Yeah...this is a miniature version of that.

- Eat something good for you.  I know the instinct is to drown your sorrows in fried food, chocolate, and alcohol.  And those things all have their place.  But if that's all you consume your body is going to feel crappy.  Try some sauteed veggies (I like fajita veggies, myself), or a fresh salad.  Something refreshing, that will help your physical self feel better.  It translates to the emotional self.  Really.

- You'll have to walk a fine line with this one, but listen to a song that expresses how you feel.  Personally, I like Chasing Dreams by Dave Barnes for creative rejection, and Sad by Maroon 5 for breakups/romantic rejection.  As I said, it's a fine line, because it can be too easy to be sucked into the vortex of "Woe is me," but sometimes we need to hear someone validate what we're feeling, and music can do this in ways nothing else can.

- You know that movie/TV show/book that never fails to make you feel better?  Yeah, go watch or read that.  Your brain will probably try to convince you to stick with the sad song.  Don't.  And I bet when you first press PLAY or open the book you'll want to stop.  Just sit with it for five minutes.  My most recent choice was You've Got Mail.  It didn't disappoint.  It was like being hugged by an old friend.

- And speaking of being hugged...find someone.  If you're a hugger, ask for a hug.  Sometimes I stop at my sister's house just because I know I'll get a hug from her and at least two of my nieces.  If you aren't a hugger, that's fine.  But find your someone anyway.  You know that someone - the person who can sit with you without saying something, or who can listen to your disbelief and pain, or who can make you laugh (or at least smile).

- Go to sleep early.  This one is tough, I know, because when you go quiet is generally when your brain is finally able to run through all the things.  And it's easy to replay the rejection again and again.  Do what you can to stay in this uncomfortable place.  You may cry (I always do).  You'll probably need to focus on those deep breaths again.  But turning to face that rejection head on will lessen its power.  It will allow you to stand up and try again sooner than if you try to ignore and/or power through the pain.  Also, as an added bonus, this quiet time is when you are finally able to hear what you need to recover.

Because that's what all this really comes down to.  Your body will tell you what you need.  If you can sift through all the noisy pain of rejection, you'll be able to know exactly what will help.

And at some point, you'll be able to face the idea of trying again.
| The sun will rise and we will try again. That's God'd grace. Try again my children
From 'Truce,' by Twenty-One Pilots

Monday, August 28, 2017

Counting Seconds

Once, when I was very young, my dad shook me awake in what seemed to me to be the dead of night.  I'm sure it was only about 8 o'clock or so, but to my sleep fogged mind it was midnight at least.  I don't remember everything about that night, but I do remember the disoriented fear that melted into relief when all was well.  He hadn't woken me up because something was wrong.  He had woken me so I could join the rest of the family as we watched a storm.

Thunder storms are rare in southern California.  Rare enough, at any rate, that I remember sitting in the living room in my sleep shirt, watching through the sliding glass doors, counting seconds between flashes of lightning and deep rumbles of thunder.


It's not a scientifically sound way to tell how far a storm is, but it works as a rule of thumb.  

Thunderstorms are rare in Southern California, but they are decidedly un-rare in Nashville.  And so I find myself counting seconds an average of once a week.  

Sitting at my desk at work...1...2...3...4...5...

Cooking dinner in my apartment...1...2...3...4...5...

On the edge of sleep...1...2...3..4...5...

Listening to hear whether the storm is moving toward me or away, trying to guess how intense it will be when it's directly overhead.

Friday night I visited my Mimi in the hospital.  She had fallen a couple days earlier, had been stricken with pneumonia, and was gasping for breath.  We were told to see her if possible.  

So I did.

I glanced at the monitor showing her heart rate and breathing, looking for some sort of answer, some sort of clarity.  In an odd, sort of disconnected way, I noticed I was counting seconds once more, though this time with no real reason to do so. 


She passed away yesterday morning.  

I am reminded, once again, that this part of grief - the beginning of the eternity that is grief - is a thunderstorm.  Something triggers - a smell, a song, a memory - and I start counting seconds, waiting for the boom of thunder, wondering whether the storm is moving toward me or away.

I hum a Dean Martin melody, and I remember when I was in ninth grade.  Mimi telling me that no, the song was wrong.  Being loved by someone doesn't make your life valid.  You are certainly already somebody before somebody loves you.


Standing in my kitchen, remembering mealtimes with her, remembering that she may have told me not to get my hopes up when trying out a new recipe, but that she was also the first to sing my praises when it turned out well.


Giggling during Pascha liturgy, laughing when we were absolutely not supposed to.  

Being SO MAD when she flew out to be with me after knee surgery, because she made me walk around the next day.  She made me pick up the project that had led to the injury.  She told me in no uncertain terms that the danger was not in the setback, but in the giving up. 

Learning that, "as a seamstress you rip what you sew," and not understanding the pun until far later.  

Looking up after a mistake or a setback to hear her say, "Oh well," before laughing about it.


Counting seconds.  Wondering whether the storm is moving toward me or away.  

Trying to guess how intense it will be when it is directly overhead.






With the saints give rest to the soul of Your servant, oh Lord, where there is no darkness, so sighing, so sorrow, but everlasting life.

And for our funeral song, we sing the song: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Thoughts from the Road

There's so much space.

Not in my car, mind you.  No, that is packed to the brim with as much of my life as I could fit in a VW Bug.  Just around.  There's space.   Space for imagination to roam.  Space for tall tales to grow.


I am not, and never will be, a desert dweller.  It's so dry - too dry.  But I have to admit that Disney certainly gets their landscapes right - I felt like I was driving through Cars.

The bugs on the windshield are a nice touch, don't you think?

210 miles into New Mexico every thought cleared from my mind except one:  What the actual f*** am I DOING???

Six miles later I thanked God and the sky for the torrent that expressed the sadness I couldn't.  On and on we drove, eastward, through all that space, cutting in and out of rainstorms as sudden and angry as my grief and fear.

I like the driving.  It's surprising, if I'm honest.  I wiggle and fidget and can hardly sit still at a desk, but driving hours on end seems to fit well.  I enjoy the sense of kinship I feel with other drivers, even the faceless long-haul truckers.  Especially the long-haul truckers.  I can identify them by their cabs, and I want to wave as we pass each other, following those unwritten rules of road etiquette.  Instead I just tap my thumb on my steering wheel and whisper, "You're doing great, girl," though whether I'm speaking to my car or myself I don't know.

I'm a terrible travel buddy, able to sit in silence for hours, listening to podcasts or music, or just caught up in my own thoughts.  What do I think about that conversation?  How different would that experience have been if I had acted on impulse instead of following whatever social script has been downloaded into my brain?  What will my job be like?  Do I already love my empty, little apartment?  (Yes.)  What are my characters doing?  When will I be able to let them soar again?  What will life be like in Nashville?

My mom doesn't mind the silence, either.  She says I'm the perfect travel companion.

I'm so glad she's here.

Every so often we pass a cross on the side of the road, and this is somehow a great comfort to me.  These odes to loved ones lost not only offer a reminder to be careful, but are evidence that we will never be forgotten.  After all, if a stranger moving her life from Santa Barbara to Nashville can see them and offer a silent prayer for the unknown, then how many others do the same when they pass?  In Orthodoxy we do not offer "Rest In Peace" as a wish for the dead, but rather, "Memory Eternal."  May his/her/their memory be eternal - everlasting - ongoing.  I feel as though, in the split second it takes to zoom past, the memory of these people is, indeed, eternal.

We are now over halfway to Nashville.  I haven't yet changed the clock in my car to central time.  I don't have it in me.  Not yet.  I am in between homes right now.  Once I'm there I'll make the change, but for now I'm appreciating that feeling of connection with my California tribe.

Amarillo smells like cow dung, and somehow this makes me sadder than I think I would be in another place.  The sad and tender part of me feels the smell as an insult, even though I normally wouldn't mind it.  Tomorrow we land in Little Rock, and I hope - oh, I hope! - it smells better than here.

 And then?  And then Nashville!  And then my sister, my brother-in-law, my four incredible and hugable nieces.  Friends and relatives and a church community, all already rooted, ready to make me feel like less of a transplant and more grounded.

And then the adventurous side of Steph will be bigger than the sad side.

Pray us there, friends.  Love to you all.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Me, My Anxiety, and I

Several months ago I wrote a post in which I promised I would talk about why I'm going to therapy: My anxiety.  It's taken 6 months for several reasons, two of which I feel I need to state here.

1. I don't want to give anyone the idea that I'm a big bundle of nerves all the time and am therefore not capable of doing anything, or that I need to be handled with kid gloves.  I am a bundle of nerves much of the time, but I am capable as shit.  And I promise you, the kid gloves only serve to make the anxiety worse.  Give me your authenticity - what you really think and feel and dream about and fear and hope for and can't abide by - give me something to connect to.  None of that will make me feel anxious.  I promise.

2. I feel gross using the phrase, "my anxiety."  Too often I've seen it used as a way people justify rudeness, flakiness, or just a general sense of discomfort.  I truly believe in removing the stigma - please, God, can we get rid of the mental health stigma?? - but seeing people flippantly say, "Oh, my gawd, I am so stressed I'm literally having a panic attack.  Literally." while standing in line at a coffee shop doesn't do much for the cause and makes me question the validity of using that language in my own life.

So, disclaimers presented, I guess I should  tell you a little about my experience as a fairly anxious person.  Here I go:

It's normal.


My life?  It's a normal thing.  I'm a normal human.  (Well, maybe not completely normal, but my abnormality has less to do with anxiety and more to do with a goofy sense of humor and quirky view of the world.)

I go about my day and do my work and see my friends and family and laugh and cry and generally experience one or more anxiety episode a day.  I think of these as my "anxiety responses."  What am I responding to?  Any number of things, really.  I've started paying attention to my triggers, and have compiled a partial list for your entertainment.

A Not-At-All Comprehensive List of Things That Trigger An Anxiety Response in Stephanie
- Not getting enough sleep
- Eating sweets
- Eating some "healthy" foods (I'm lookin' at you, sweet potato)
- Not eating enough throughout the day
- My (very peaceful and gentle) alarm going off in the morning
- Slicing vegetables
- Making eye contact with another driver at an intersection
- Feeling unprepared for an upcoming event
- Feeling unprepared for a hypothetical event
- Having a busy schedule
- Having an open schedule
- Sitting at my desk at work
- Parking my car
- Coffee hour at church
- Walking in a large crowd
- Literally nothing at all

None of these items always causes an anxiety response!  They just do sometimes.  These are some of my general triggers.  Something happens (or doesn't) and the wave of anxiety hits.  I've learned to breathe through this experience, or to maybe take a nap or hit the gym.  It's certainly uncomfortable, but not debilitating.

Sometimes it feels like this.

Or maybe this.

Sometimes, though - sometimes it almost is debilitating.  Sometimes the wave of anxiety gets stuck in my chest.  Every so often I blow something from that list way out of proportion, or maybe more than one combine to make a SUPER RESPONSE that I can't seem to shake.  Or maybe something happens, something bad or good (like signing with an agent!) that trips my brain up enough that my body can't tell the difference between fear and excitement so I end up stuck in the anxiety cycle.  Or maybe - and this is the worst of all - maybe I find myself in a waiting season of life.

I am a doer.  I do.  And when I do, I do well.  I am confident and capable.  Powerful.

One could even say I'm super.

But when I've done all I can and am stuck waiting?  When I'm chained in the train yard when I should be powering along the tracks?  That's when the anxiety kicks in.  This anxiety:

This is the anxiety that shuts me down.  This is when my skin is electric, jolting not only me, but those near by.  This is when I don't want anyone to touch me, because even a pat on the shoulder might tear apart the tenuous grasp I have on myself, and I might actually explode.  This is the anxiety that makes me forget how to breathe.  It is the voice that tells me I will never be good enough.  That no matter what I do, it won't be enough.  It traps me in a loop, endlessly caught between the need to DO and the knowledge that it won't be enough.  I become a malfunctioning oscillating fan, clicking over and over again, unable to move to the next position.

Until I remind myself to breathe.

And breathe again.
Inhale.  Exhale.  Inhale.  Exhale.

And then I text my mom, or I walk through my office and find my dad, and I say to them, "I am feeling anxious about ________."

Suddenly the fist around my heart relaxes, and the knot in my chest loosens just enough.  I am okay again, at least until the next time it hits.

I'm learning, thankfully. I am discovering things that help.  Things like talking about it: telling someone, joking to the people at the gym about a workout being a good place to direct my anxiety, laughing at the fact that, "surprise, surprise, I'm anxious today."  It helps.  And so do a lot of other things.

Look!  I made another list!

A Not-At-All Comprehensive List of Things That Relieve Anxiety In Stephanie
- Talking to my parents
- Being with loved ones
- Public speaking
- Working out
- Eating a nutritious meal
- Taking a nap
- Laughing REALLY hard
- Roller coasters!
- Writing
- Talking to my therapist (duh!)
- Prayer/mediation
- Seeing people talk about things they really love
- Sitting at my grandma's graveside

See? Normal. Ish.

Friends, I am doing well - so freaking well - and I hope you can see that.  I hope you are doing well, too.  If you're not, well, drop me a line.  And maybe we can breathe together.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

"Here Is the List Of Jews You Require."

You know, usually I sit down at my computer with fully formed thoughts.  Maybe the post isn't formed in its entirety, but the major ideas are fleshed out.

Not tonight, though.  I can't think.  It's loud out there.  People are frightened and furious - and with good reason.  This most recent 'transfer of power' has been anything but peaceful, and the things being rolled out of the capitol are hurting people in a very real way.

I generally try not to post about politics because they elicit such a passionate response, and also because, like many Americans, I am not as informed as I should be.  (I'm not proud of that fact, but there it is.)  That's changing - partly because I'm somehow becoming a grown up, and partly because we now live in a world in which you have to actively try not to know about what's going on.

Do you know what's sad?  I've written three, not-very-expressive paragraphs, and I am already afraid to post this.  You see, I'm a people-pleaser.  I want people to feel encouraged and uplifted by what I share, and I'm sure some people I respect are probably mad at me for that second paragraph.  And other people I respect are probably upset over my third.  Even mentioning what's going on in our country right now is upsetting to people.  Some are angry about Trump, and what he's done.  Others are angry at those protesting.  "But look!" they shout.  "Other people have done this, that, and the other."

And you know what?  If you're saying that, you're right.  Obama did this.  Bush did that.  Clinton did the other.  That doesn't invalidate what's happening now.  Life doesn't work that way.

So I have to decide where I stand.  Amazingly, I may stand shoulder to shoulder with someone on one issue, but against them on another.  And that's okay.  I have to be able to look in the mirror and know that I am treating people - all people - with dignity and respect.

And with that in mind, I have a story to tell.

On September 9, 1943, Nazi forces landed on the Greek island of Zakynthos.  The Nazi commander went to the mayor of this island and demanded a list of the local Jews.  There was no secret as to what would happen to the people on such a list; they would be deported to death camps.  The mayor went to the local church leader, Metropolitan Dimitrios Chrysostomos, for help.  Chrysostomos went to the Nazi commander and tried to reason with him.  It was pointless.  The Nazi would not listen to reason.  He demanded the list.  So, Metropolitan Dimitrios did the only thing he could do.  He took a list from his pocket and handed over.  "Here is the list of Jews you require," he said.

There was one name on the list: Metropolitan Dimitrios Chrysostomos.

Here is the list of Jews you require.  It is a phrase that plays through my mind again and again, day after day, and it has become louder in the past week.  I am in awe - what a courageous thing!  And I am frightened - will I have the courage to do the same?

Make no mistake, I will be faced with this choice.  I am faced with this choice.  It's easy to look back at history and wonder what we would have done in that time.  Today, now, we are offered a rare gift: the ability to see that what we are doing now is what we would have done then.

I know thing are never as simple as we want them to be.  I know that there has to be some sort of protocol in place to ensure everyone's safety.  Turning away people who are fleeing the horrors of war, detaining people who have already worked so hard to find a better life - denying an entire swath of people entry into the 'Land of the Free' because of their religion - this can't be the way.

I don't have the answer.  I can only act the way I have been taught:

"'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" -- Matthew 25: 35-40 (NIV)

I know these words aren't much - my words in this post, that is...Not the Lord's - that they are gentle where some would rather see strength, and soft where others prefer power.  I know.  I know some people are probably rolling their eyes because I am making the leap from what's happening now to the horrors of the Third Reich.  "That would never happen in America!" you say.  And I hope and pray you're right.  I believe you may be right.

But know this: when I am asked to hand over a list of names, I will take a deep breath, and - shaking, no doubt - offer my own name instead.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year, New View

Happy New Year's Eve, friends!!

During this time of transition, as one year (finally) ticks into the next, our thoughts naturally turn toward change and growth. We talk about it with our friends and coworkers. Are you making any resolutions this year? We acknowledge that we should probably start eating better, drop a few pounds, quit smoking, save X amount of dollars, or some other such ideal, and we set a super ambitious goal. We may even map out a plan that we are determined to follow. We're amped up for the new year, and we can't wait to get started!

And then January 3rd rolls around.

We didn't make it into the gym, we ate outside our predetermined meal plan, we miscalculated our budget. We stepped off the track we set for ourselves. Discouraged and annoyed and guilty, we decide to just give up. We give in. We're done with those stupid resolutions – until next year, that is! It's a vicious cycle.

Or, "Sincerely, January 3rd."  Either way.

But maybe this year don't enter into it. Don't make a resolution. Set your intention instead. There's a difference there, folks. In making a resolution you set yourself up for discouragement. Resolutions are outcome oriented, and as such can easily connect our sense of success and value to a very specific result. Intention, on the other hand, is not connected to any outcome, but rather the way of being. With this in mind, I have spent the last few nights journaling. I reviewed 2016 and looked honestly at my hopes for the future, and I asked myself this question: What do I want 2017 to look like?

This applies to all areas of my life: family, social, love, career...everything. I jotted down some of my hopes for 2017. Some are major and specific (being published! a book deal!), and others are a little more general (“tasty food and healthy choices”). Rather than making a resolution to wake up every morning and write 1,000+ words, or to eat by a very specific diet, I asked myself how I wanted to go about achieving these things. How do I want to live this year?

Good ways to live here, friends.

I believe that typically, when asked these types of questions, the first word or phrase that comes to mind is what you should go with. This has been true for me in the past. I have set intentions to be independent, courageous, and – last year – purposeful. All of these words jumped to mind almost the exact instant I thought about setting my intention. This year, though, it took a few days. I let the question roll around in my mind and then, yesterday, I landed on it: Release.

It's a print!  Get it here.

My intention for 2017 is to basically live my life and see what happens. Rather than stress about how I am not achieving some resolution I pressured myself into, I am going to follow the things I love and consciously let go of trying to control the outcome. Here, from my journal, is what I'm hoping for in 2017:

But I am looking for release.
Release from fear.
Release from anxiety.
Release from perfection.
Release from the past.
Release from old ways.
Release – to give me the freedom the life...set out for me.

I'm sure we're all eager for 2017 to hurry up and get here already, right? Let's make this year mindful and intentional. I would love to hear (or read) your intentions for 2017...share in the comments!

 Happy 2017!!