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Ten Things, Part Two
More recent musings/explorations/lessons from a life being lived
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A song I’ve been loving:
TEN THINGS, PART TWO (here is part one).
This weekend is Christmas so I’m sending this week’s letter earlier than usual. I debated sending it at all, but figured you can decide whether or not you’re in the space to read it. Regardless of the meaning (or lack thereof) this swirl of a holiday holds for you, it is an opportunity to practice nurturing yourself in the ways you say you want to; a time to practice showing up for yourself in the ways you’ve been meaning to; a chance to practice listening to yourself in the ways you long to; a moment to practice letting your own meaning, your own needs, your own rituals, your own time, your own grief, your own desires, your own anything matter.
Taking your time isn’t the same thing as being behind. Slow isn’t the same thing as being behind. A gentler pace isn’t the same thing as being behind. Not being finished yet isn’t the same thing as being behind. Not knowing or having clarity yet isn’t the same thing as being behind. Not meeting all your life goals by the time you’re 35 isn’t the same thing as being behind. Not having the outward level of success we’ve collectively deemed to be important isn’t the same thing as being behind. When we stop comparing our timelines, our pace, and our progress to anyone else’s, “behind” no longer exists; all that exists is our own unique path.
I will never not be amazed, awed, or split open by the presence I find in nature, by the lessons and wisdom I find on a coastline that one might think only comes in the form of an Instagram post, another book to read, another thing to consume. Witnessing nature teaches me more than most things. Noticing nature allows me to see myself and others more clearly. Spending time with rocks helps me take myself less seriously. Putting one foot in front of the other on a trail surrounded by trees gives me permission to take up space while also reminding me how small I am, how small all of this is, how eventually I will be dust returning to the earth. Taking in the sound of a fresh wave rolling in from an expansive ocean causes me to pause, to breathe, to hold a more accurate perspective about my life. If you find yourself confused or crowded with input, feeling distant from your truth or missing some part of you that feels far away, may intentional time with nature, in whatever way is accessible to you, offer the reminders, the mirroring, the moment of levity and solid ground you’re seeking.
I’ve been off Instagram this month and part of me doesn’t want to go back, which always happens when I take an extended break. I’m reckoning with feeling more present being off social media and also thinking I need the platform in order to keep being an author; with feeling a depth of spaciousness without all the noise and knowing it’s part of my creative process to share my work; with the tendency to be all or nothing and trusting the continued practice of balance might be more realistic. Instagram has brought so much goodness to my life while simultaneously stealing so much of my life, my presence, my time, my creativity. And making so many shifts in public while receiving constant feedback, projections, and judgments, whether positive or negative, can be a lot at times. I’m exploring how to hold it moving forward. No answers yet — just questions and an openness to what feels most sustainable.
You are allowed to unlearn who you’ve been if it isn’t who you are anymore. I’ve shared this before and it continues to be relevant as I find myself morphing and changing, older parts of me becoming more unrecognizable and new parts emerging that I’m just starting to get to know. There is so much pressure to be one thing, to stay consistent, to maintain the image we’re used to maintaining, to play the roles we’re used to playing, to do the things everyone expects or wants us to do. It is an act of self-compassion to know staying the same is what makes others more comfortable… and choosing to let ourselves change anyway. Change can be scary — and it can also be the thing that allows us to live a little more honestly, a little more free, a little more us. And we all deserve that.
Learning the difference between needing solitude and craving the safety of keeping others at arms length can point us toward what we might actually need. Learning the difference between loving alone time and feeling more comfortable not letting others in can point us toward where our practice might be. Learning the difference between honoring our introverted-ness and not wanting to do the vulnerable work of cultivating healthy relationships can point us toward both the wound and the answer. This has been a lifelong note to self.
It’s been almost a year since my first book was birthed into the world and I’ve barely processed it — it still doesn’t feel real sometimes. When we spend years on something and it finally happens, the aftermath can be confusing to sit with and take in. The finished product can feel like it isn’t ours anymore — like it no longer belongs to us. There is no going back to change it, no reassuring people what we meant to say, no controlling that everyone will like it, or like us. I’ve received the most generous, life-affirming feedback and some really cruel reviews alike. And I’ve slowly learned to make none of it about me and to instead stay devoted to what I’m here to do: to write, to express, to share this human experience in the ways only I can share, from the experience and vision only I have, knowing it will absolutely not be for everyone and was never meant to. I have so much more to say about this and will reflect more on a year of being a published author soon, but for now: Share your art. Share your heart. In all the ways you’re called to. The golden parts of doing so heavily outweigh the hard parts.
The way being a mother can both rip open and mend wounds simultaneously blows my mind. The way one thing can be both a grief-inducer and a salve at the same time is a reminder of how multidimensional we are — how complex and intricate our bodies and brains are — how deep this experience of being human is.
It’s okay to not be the first one to do something: to write about something, to create something, to have an idea, to think of something, to understand something, to know something, to embody something, to start something (I could go on). Being the first is less important than being in integrity. Being the first is less important than being aligned. Being the first is less important than being of service. Being the first is less important than being willing to not need to be the first (or best) at anything in order to trust what we have to offer and share is welcomed and worthy of sharing. You don’t need to be the first or best; you just need to be you, and trust what naturally comes from doing so. And when we can do that, there is room for others to share their gifts without us making it mean we are lacking something, in competition, or less than. There is room. There is room. There is room.
I've been in a deep season of letting go of needing to be the "best version" of myself. And wow, it isn't easy to let go of that ideal. Yet there is something freeing about letting my imperfect, wobbly, awkward, not-always-confident self be enough. There is something relieving about knowing I don't always need to be striving — that I can rest in the version I currently am, even when there is always more growth, learning, and shifting to do. There is something deeply compassionate about knowing there are so many things I could be constantly "working on" in order to morph myself into the ideal, and choosing not to -- choosing to meet myself where I am instead -- choosing to fully be right here, even when it isn't ideal.
You are allowed to give yourself permission to release the excessive compulsion to get better, to out-do yourself, to become the ideal. You are allowed to let go of the pursuit of perfection. You are allowed to not optimize every meal or opportunity or open spot in your schedule. You are allowed to rest in your humanity, in your complexity, in your flaws and not-so-cute quirks. You are allowed to let yourself be. And maybe, doing that brings the growth we think only efforting and obsessing will bring. Maybe learning to be ourselves as we are, right now, is part of what leads us to who we're becoming. I can't say for sure... but it's worth exploring.
Thank you so much for being here — take good care.
PS. To everyone gifting a subscription of Human Stuff to a loved one… I cry thinking about someone choosing to gift another person my work here. Thank you for your support and for connecting others to this little space — it means so much. I've so been able to gift free subscriptions to a lot of people the last few weeks and I'm so grateful to get to do so. 🤍
I’ve been consuming very little this last month and actually don’t have a whole lot to share link-wise. I thought about doing some research to find things to share just to offer something here — but I think the most important thing I can offer is an embodied practice of knowing when less is more — knowing when not giving you more to consume might actually be nourishing during this liminal time — knowing a break from sharing weekly links might be the most integrity-based choice for me. So, no links this week: just a reminder to look up, to let the wind be a guide as much as a NYT article, to get an extra 10 minutes of sleep when you can, to take a step back from taking more in and allow yourself to just be as you are, to do less, to read less, to learn less, to think less… to just find yourself in this moment and let that be plenty. I’m doing the same (and if doing more right now is actually what feels aligned for you… ignore this and listen to your own body. That’s the point — that’s the practice).
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