When I was young, I had a dentist tell me I needed braces, so I never went back.. I liked that my teeth were maybe a little too big, the chip in my tooth was well earned in a soccer game and my imperfect teeth, I felt, made me me. It was before I started succumbing to the feelings of rejection and self judgment that led to bouts of unworthiness, depression, body dysmorphia, anorexia. In the words of Pink, “everyday I fought a war against the mirror.” When I found my teaching job, I realized that just by shining my light and being me, I could change someone’s life. It was not my looks, but my soul, my compassion, my quirks that made a difference and I loved myself for once✨But it is a constant battle I will always fight. Sometimes it rears its head without you even knowing that your insecurities are winning. Recently, I had more energy than I have in a few months and the epiphany set in. I was suddenly and unknowingly being nice to myself again, taking care of myself, feeding myself and it made me both happy and sad. Sad that our minds can make us be so mean to ourselves. Happy that I finally found compassion for myself again. Happy that I had a breakthrough in realizing, how was I supposed to be a beacon of light when I didn’t even have the energy to do so? How can I make sure kids love themselves and are being kind when I can’t even be kind to the one person who matters most? We make a difference not because of how we look, but because of how we make others feel. By showing them it’s wonderful to love yourself just the way you are and to smile because you do. There is so much power in not allowing your biology, your insecurities, your predispositions, your tendencies, your reflections to bring you down (it’s ok if they do at times) & letting your soul & heart lift you up. I think little me realized that my smile was a reflection of my soul and that was what mattered💫If only we all had that wisdom and knew that our imperfections, the chipped teeth, our battles we’ve fought against our mind and doubts make us beautiful because they make our heart and souls strong and empathetic. So fight that war against the mirror, and win. Even fight the dentist if you must😝
I read an old quote recently that came up as a memory on Facebook. I had posted it when I was in high school and to this day, it still resonates with me: “Before you can conquer a beast, you must first make it beautiful.” ❤️Recently, I had one of those Earth quaking moments. Those realizations that change the course in your life and you can never move backwards from. It was a moment where I looked at my past, I looked at the people who have caused much pain in my life, and I felt love towards them. I put myself in their shoes and empathized with where their hurtful actions come from, and realized that they do NOT have to do with me, but unfortunate things that may be going on in their own life. These actions are NOT proof of my worth, but testaments to the place these people are at on their course. I let go of the control of the things and the people I cannot change and the people I can’t make better. The people that are on their own self journey, and though it may be influencing mine, that too is part of theirs✨There is power in accepting the things you can’t control. Power in accepting that other people’s treatment of you is not a reflection of what you deserve or what you are worth. Abuse does not mean you are weak or that it’s the type of love that is meant for you. A person’s detachment does not mean you are not worthy of time. It means these people are working through their trials and you are there to be a part of it. It’s okay to be hurt. It’s okay to be angry, to be sad, to feel confused or to be in denial. In fact these things are necessary human responses that allow us to process our life and our own journey☀️But there comes a point in the process, where the hurt may still exist, but there is also acceptance. You come to realize that these hurts and these tears and this anger that come from this person, they are beautiful. Because they are YOU. You would not be you without the rock bottoms you have lived in or the darkness you have stood in. You come to realize that you are beautiful because these things and these people that have made you feel the opposite do not get to determine your self worth. You are a beast and you are beautiful🐗
I once fell in love with Turkey when I visited the country. The colors, the passion, the kindness, the apple tea in every shop. So much so that for a while I wanted the word “love” tattooed in Turkish, and I wanted it even more when I found out that translated it looked like the word “ask.” Because you never know someone’s story until you ask✨You don’t have the answers, you should never judge or assume about someone’s life because you don’t know the history that has led to their current smile. Maybe we post nice photos or statuses but we all still have our things that we suffer with. We are all doing our best with what we’re given in this life✨ There’s moments where we are met with the fragility of life. You never know when it will rear its ugly head for you or someone close to you🌊 The fresh scars I for the first time saw on the wrist of one I almost had to say good bye to. The ones that nobody saw because they hid them under their sleeves. Reminding you that, yes, life can change in an instant, so hold on to the things, the people that make you happy. Hold on to them and love them like hell, because you both deserve it. Reminding you that you don’t know everyone’s story, so be kind. Love them for your sake, love them for their sake, love strangers, love YOU! Love regardless of your fear because you never know if they will be gone. Love because there are those who are wishing they were. It is a constant fact that they can be. Love others BECAUSE of your fear for you know that everyone too fears in some way, struggles in some way, so have empathy💕When you have love to give, wear your heart upon your sleeve for the sake of those family, those friends, those strangers who may be hiding something under theirs. Love because we’re all trying to figure it out. Be kind because we’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got❤️💕#worldmentalhealthday We can’t always know who is struggling, we don’t wear our mental illnesses, ailments or hard times on our sleeves, we often don’t understand (and many don’t try to), but we CAN always help by showing compassion to those we meet, showing them they’re worthy and trying to understand even if we don’t know how to.
A couple weeks ago, we took a group of students to the redwoods and guided them on an 11 mile hike where along the way we passed around 4 waterfalls. At one point we even hiked down steps that descended alongside the biggest cascade! I was awe stricken by the waterfalls, the giant trees, the ferns that decorated the forest floor (which did you know is called bracken?😳) and I felt so grateful to be able to show these students one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever been on🌲🌲 These students were some of the most dedicated, intelligent, determined young adults I had ever met and they inspired me and saddened me at the same time. These students had their sights set on schools like Yale, the cross country runners woke up at the break of dawn to run 16 miles before they would later embark on that 11 mile hike. Their dedication, their determination for their future is something to admire, yet at the same time I could see how society’s forward looking mind set had filtered into their every moment. The 11 mile hike became a race to the finish, to the point I could barely even keep up, and the waterfalls didn’t even encourage a second glance from the ‘finish line’ mentality🏅 I was once one of these students. I felt society’s pressure. I never stopped moving, playing sports, doing homework. I never stopped thinking about how every little thing would influence my future, what college I got into, even when the present passed me right by💨 Now, I stop, watch, listen to, play with the waterfalls. Now I am much happier✨ The students themselves did not sadden me, but society’s influence does. Setting your sights high for yourself is admirable. Believing you can be successful is inspiring. 24/7 dedication is incredible. I’m in no way saying that these things are bad, I’m in no way saying these ways of life are wrong. I’m saying that we as a society should find a balance and teach balance. That the future IS important, but the present is too. School for some IS important, but it isn’t everything, it’s not the only way. Pushing yourself IS important, but so is allowing yourself to slow down so you don’t push past the beautiful things in life. Balance IS important✨🍃⛰💫
Being in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, we were surrounded by so many giant, strong and powerful trees🌲Beings that make you feel grateful to feel small in this world🌎 We saw thousands of year old trees, we saw the biggest tree in the world and we also saw evidence of old logging, stumps that stood alone, missing a part of their whole. History told us a story of how people discovered these enormous, never before seen trees and wanted to share their discovery. Wanted to be the first to speak of these unheard of trees🌲🍃So in 1875, people cut down the trees to give proof of their existence. “At least three nearby sequoias died to prove that they lived.” And yet the slice of the trunk still went down in history as a California hoax… I love these trees, I love nature and it’s sad how often this tale happens, that something must die just to prove our own knowledge, support our ego, eradicate our fear of the unknown. It happens with species, animals, plants, phenomenon all over the world. We feel we need to completely understand or discover and then exhibit in order to respect the species, respect our own species’ knowledge capabilities. We say that language separates us from every other species and yet most never try to speak their obviously functioning language. Many never stop to think that their language could be more evolved, beyond our comprehension, a spot on perception of vibration, energy, sound smell and maybe we just aren’t there yet. Why do we need to know everything about something to give it value? Why do we have to see pictures of a species to respect their illusive existence? Why do we have to hurt animals to prove they feel? Why do we have to kill, to invade to prove they exist? Why do we have to kill to prove that WE exist, that we are superior?
I’d never seen my shadow cast like this before!🌒To the point where I was looking out from the top of a mountain to see my shadow doing the same. It was a neat perspective to see yourself standing on top of a mountain in that way. Knowing that because you were on top of the world, because you made it to that high point, the earth was able to capture you and show it to you. Not through a picture of yourself that you saw later, but right there in front of you, a tangible view of yourself, your imprint on the earth while you’re still present. It felt empowering⛰Standing there looking at the shape we created on the planet. Thinking about the shadow we cast on the earth, literally and metaphorically✨ I’ve been thinking about my shadow side a lot lately. The parts of ourself that we aren’t proud of, that we feel are hardest to love. Reactions and insecurities that our own personal histories have caused in us. I’ve felt some of mine rearing their head lately and it’s been a battle to keep them under control. To quiet the monkey mind, if you will🙊To accept that though these parts feel unloveable, they need the most love. We may feel they make us ugly, but they make us beautiful because they make us who we are. They may make us feel weak, but they really show the strength and power we have and have had to use to overcome the incidents that caused these insecurities in the first place💫We always see ourselves so differently from the way others see us. I am so lucky to say that now I have people in my life who make me feel that my shadow side is worthy and beautiful. And now it’s time for me to view it the same. We all see others as strong when they reveal their truths, when they have the courage to be raw and authentic, even when it’s with emotions that society may deem ‘negative.’ Now it’s time we start seeing ourselves the same. That our struggles make us strong, wise, beautiful, courageous and give us trials that, if we see them this way, we can turn them into a positive lesson and impart them on the world around us. We can cast our light if we accept our shadow✨💜🐾⚡️🌕
Besides gratitude, one of the biggest lessons I learned in China was about my ego, about accepting non negotiable things I have when it comes to my own happiness✨ The particular camp we were scheduled to work at was one that was completely unexpected (I haven’t posted any pictures). It was an environment that made me feel trapped, isolated and with a lack of freedom. These things were no one’s fault, they were not intentional. They were simply cultural differences, variances in ways of life🌎 But I learned that just because something is from a different culture and I want to do my best to understand, respect and accept different ways of life, they will not always align with me, and that’s okay. I was trying with all my might to stay and teach in an environment that was not conducive to my well being, just so I could say I did it. So I didn’t have to explain why I was leaving, so I didn’t feel like I was giving up🌻 These are all struggles I have always battled: perfectionism, fear of failure, belief that choosing yourself first means giving up instead of showing courage. But I had to reframe my perspective, understand that it is okay to choose myself. That if I know I’m not happy and will not be, it is okay, it is wise to make a change. And it is best for everyone if I do💫 Best for me, best for those whose energy is influenced by my own, and even best for the children. Because I want to be myself for the kids, for the world. I want them to have a role model who is inspired, excited about life, goofy, uninhibited, and if I can’t be those sides of me, if I can acknowledge my unhappiness and leave the situation, it’s not giving up, it’s choosing me, choosing my purpose of spreading light and it’s okay to do that. It’s okay, it’s good to recognize when you feel you’re not shining your light and bring yourself back to the spaces that help you shine it. That’s what we’re here to do⛰🦁🐞🍄☀️🌈