The Hometown That Held You

You know two things about the place you were raised, you love it.. and you hate it.

You hate the trapped feeling it gave you in your teenage years, like you’d never get out, like you’d be shackled to this place forever. You hate how the people here seem like they never change, like they never grow. You hate watching everyone who got out live a new life in a new place when you’re still here, waiting on someday.

You love the security of your comfortable patterns here. You love the feeling of knowing all the back roads and where to get the best burgers. You love that your friends are only ever 20 minutes away from you and you love that you always know what to expect from the people that live here.

Someday comes.

Here you are, not shackled anymore but the truth is, you’re still tied. Tied to this place by heart strings and memories. This is the place that made you from scratch. The place that built you up, and in some cases tore you down. Be grateful. Grateful for those tear downs, because without them how else would you have learned to build?

We think we hate the home that held us, the easy breezy back yards we’ve played in since we could walk. You think you want new back roads and Sheetz instead of Wawa.

As you move on you’ll miss your once too small town. You’ll miss the people who reapted the same jokes. You’ll miss being able to go anywhere and see someone you knew.

Once someday comes, yesterday is gone. Tomorrow takes your breath away as you build a new life in a new place, but it doesn’t have the warmth of home… not yet. It doesn’t hold you when you cry anymore, it expects you to get up dust yourself off and get on with it.

All the love you have in the place you left will pull you through. You’ll know it’s possible to build here because you were taught how to do this before. Don’t let missing those comfortable patterns trick you into turning around. Stick it out through the days that are tough on your heart, be grateful it’s still beating. Be grateful it can feel something, even if that something is pain.

You will go into the next phase of your life unaware of what it will bring. Newness might go easy on you, it may sweep you away in a feel good feeling. It may be hard on your heart, the change it brings may unsettle your soul. Either way the good will always loop back around to pick you up.

Someday is here, it’s always here. Someday you’re going to get where you’re going, and you’re going to go where you’ve been.

Just remember that in all this coming and going, home is where the grateful heart is.

xS

The Protection of Peace

It took me almost 20 years to create a space for myself in this world. I was chained to a bleeding heart and a need to have a tidy little life. I was unable to use the word No and I made sure I reacted to EVERYTHING.

For me, I felt that not reacting to things would leave loose ends in my life. I thought people needed to see and hear how I felt for them to get me. The truth is, they don’t need to get me…or know me. Now, as things get messier and people’s true colors are displayed on the canvas of life, I’ve come to realize not everyone deserves a reaction. Not every situation needs an attached feeling. Sometimes things just are what they are, and they can’t be changed.

I’m a HUGE believer in the concept of karma. The idea that what you put into the world is often what you get out of it is so appealing because, it means that regardless of the turmoil around you, if you create peace you will receive it. You don’t have to make every feeling known and you don’t have to explain yourself to everyone. Some pictures are better left unpainted.

Sometimes, we get stuck in situations that don’t reflect our own karma, and this, is because the universe is testing you. We can’t control the things that happen to us, or the things people say to us, but we can control our reaction to it. Your karma comes from how you react to situations. Do you scream and yell? Or do you create a solution? That solution can be anything from resolving a situation, to just straight up blocking someone from all aspects of your life. When a person finds a way to infiltrate your peace, it’s your job to suppress their influence.

I reacted to situations in ways that made me nasty. So, I stopped reacting. I channeled that energy into laughing with my friends and telling someone I love them. Sometimes in your most negative moments you just have to completely change your focus. Drop the entire situation, text your friend that you appreciate them, take any opportunity you have to erase a bad feeling and fill it with kindness. Maybe not kindness toward a person or situation that bothers you, but kindness toward something. Take that energy that you would have put into the world in bad taste and reverse the whole idea. Drop the black paint and pick up yellow. Start painting your life with love, in bright colors.

You never need to defend your existence to anyone, especially those who aren’t even capable of stabilizing their own. People will do their best to step into your life and make space for themselves. They’ll take up room in your thoughts and will fight to make sure you hear them in the moments where they couldn’t be more wrong. Looking out for your own peace will make it possible for others to understand how they’re disturbing their own, by trying to uproot yours.

My life has tested me in the most extreme ways and because of that, there are so many negative things that can’t reach me. I’ve found that lately my peace is almost untouchable. I know who I am. I am a fierce friend, and an even fiercer opponent. My heart is soft but selective. My circle is small but strong. And thanks to these qualities, my peace is safe and sound.

I made my life my art and painted yellow with a wide brush over everything. I’ve learned not everyone deserves to be a part of your picture, in any form. Not in darkness and not in light. You can exist on your own wavelength while they exist on theirs. Parallel lines that never touch.

Make your peace your prerogative. Take control of your canvas. And paint your life in colors that complement each other.

xS

No Map Necessary

In the age of social media, it’s far too easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing. It makes it effortless to trace the steps of others in the hopes of achieving the same success. I’m here to say, that’s not how it works.

Life is a series of twists and turns, of ups and downs. We don’t all move the same, so all our paths are different and difficult in their own way.

We often get stuck in the mindset that we have to conform to society’s timeline, and we forget that we don’t actually exist in a straight line. The world claims that to be an acceptable member of society you need to have a specific track record. The major stops on the road to success are listed in a time order and if you do it any other way, or not at all, somehow, you’re wrong.

Go from high school to college have several internships while you’re there along with a paying job. After graduating, get a job while getting your masters, then engaged, then married. Kids who play t-ball, ballet, or soccer. Grandkids. It’s so hard to time these things just right, and that’s because society is just setting you up for failure. How do you know you will fall in love enough to get married in your twenties? What if you don’t want kids? Can you go back to school as a working mom?

The short answer is, life isn’t a strategized race to an end point. The long answer is that people have probably whispered to their friends about how you must have made a bad choice along the way to be moving this slow on the timeline, or not be on the right track at all. The truth is, if we all do it the same, our success loses its value. If we are all equally successful in the same way, we are all equally boring.

Some people could benefit from a gap year between high school and college, you don’t have to have it all planned out at eighteen. Almost everyone I know is in massive debt and half of them have no idea what they want their life to look like. Some of us are just in college because our whole childhood we were taught that this is where we we are supposed to be at this point in our lives. They said that if we didn’t do it now we would never get it done, as if it was a life requirement. You cannot pass go and collect two-hundred if you don’t pick a university right now!

The world is down our throats about our future, our plans. How do we respond when we hardly have a clue?

I know people who went to trade school, had kids, and own a home now. They didn’t get stuck in a rut because someone told them they’d never amount to anything without a college degree. Other people went on to have pet kids that they send to doggie day care while they go to community college and save up. Some moved across the country and interned for amazing companies or hiked mountains for a few months. Some are couch surfing while they figure it all out.

Wild WorldThe truth is, we have time. Everyone thinks by twenty-one that you should have already made huge successful steps toward a future that you have made up your mind on. You don’t. As people, we are in a constant state of change and growth. What is right for one person at this time could be catastrophic for another.

What I’m getting at is that it’s okay if your life doesn’t look like everyone else’s, now or ever. We are all learning and deciding for ourselves what sparks our joy.

So, when you’re deciding on life’s next steps, small or large, don’t use the map. Pick a path that looks interesting to you, or don’t follow a path at all. Your existence should be completely unique and built by no one but you.

Choose your own battles, climb your own mountains, and of course…pick your own sunflowers.

xS

The Here and Now

Most of us exist in a fast paced world, and if you think you don’t, I hope you’re right. The rat race tends to get the best of us even on our good days. We hardly ever take the chance to sit on our porch and breathe in the day, because we spend so much time preparing for tomorrow. This life has taught us that if you’re not working or moving, you’re not living…you’re not taking the right advantage of the time.

I came across a quote this week that explained this need humans have to always be looking toward the future, and worrying about the next step they need to take in building their lives…

“Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.” – Eckhart Tolle

In a world where the next thing is the best thing, and enough is never enough, can we find peace?

Yes.

It takes a while to understand that you only completely exist at one point in time, right now. Yesterday you were your past self, tomorrow you are your future self, but today you’re you.

If we accept that we fully exist in this moment, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, we can actually experience life in real-time rather than experience it in a serious of past memories and future dreams.

Laugh about it now…and later….but definitely now.

Today you can be everything you weren’t yesterday and everything you want to be tomorrow. All it takes is a change in perspective. There are so many past moments that we get hung up on, and so many future moments that we anticipate. Yesterday you were excited for today, so enjoy it…you don’t always have to be thinking about tomorrow.

0d8ddc8a6f642aaf84ffcc4551e485ffWe are so busy  filling our calendars that we forget to enjoy where we are. Sometimes it’s nice to just relax and watch the wind blow by. Be sure to stop and smell the sunflowers, wake up one day without a “to do” list. Go with the flow once in a while.

Obviously, you’ll never move forward if you never think ahead but, think about now too. Enjoy the goals you’ve accomplished, and the pursuit of new ones. Take in every moment of your life while you’re living it. Life is so beautiful it’s worth looking back on and remembering but, be sure to live in those moments while you’re in them.

Try not to tarnish what will soon be the past with the plans of the future. Don’t mix up time and life, you’ve got a whole lot of life… just not a whole lot of time. You won’t be able to remember it all, and you certainly won’t be able to prepare for it all…the only thing you can do is live it all. Make sure you embrace and enjoy right now, because it will join the memories of yesterday all too soon.

Never forget to cherish the journey, it’s just as important as the destination.

xS

Taking the Time

In light of my past vacation I wanted to write about time. Time, our time, does not go on forever. We only have so many trips around the sun so, it’s important to make every rotation matter.

My trip was scheduled for two weeks after my spring break…genius! At first, I was stressed and didn’t want to go, and then I thought “fu*k it!” We only get one life and we have no way of knowing when our time is up. Some get many years some get few, and if I end up being one of the people who don’t get the time I deserve, I want there to have been life in my years.

There are some obligations in life that we just have to fill. Like working whether we like it or not. That being said where there’s a will there’s a way. When an opportunity to experience something new or do something that makes you happy presents itself, go for it! There will be other ways to make up the work your missing, or the vacation days your taking.

We spend so much of our lives working and worrying that we forget to take the limited time we were given and use it to be alive. I find so many of the people I know are just going through the motions. Something we can all practice is not letting life get in the way of living.  Life provides us with so many opportunities to fill our moments with joy and excitement so, we better take life up on the possibilities while we’re here.

Complete your work ahead of your vacation to make it stress free. Take a day off and worry about it later. We are so busy progressing that we forget to sit back once in a while and enjoy the progress we have made. The western world has put us in this rat race mindset making us think we constantly need more, that we need to put all our hours into work. Work through lunch, work past dinner, go in extra early, stay late. No. Refuse to give your life away to just anything. Make the moments count towards something.

One day we will wake up and look back on our lives, at all the opportunities we missed, and all the chances we didn’t take. Or, we will smile at all the things we were lucky enough to have the chance to do, and we will laugh at the memories we made with the people who matter most. We will have made an imprint on the world even if it was just footprints on a white sand beach.

Put good energy into the world, and make your rotations matter.

xS

Self Care is for YOU

In the spirit of my last post about the importance of mental health I wanted to write about self care. Many people think “self-care” and, assume pedicures and spa days. While I am no stranger to a deluxe pedicure or a 20 minute face mask, it is important to remember self-care is not always as glamorous as a fancy 19 year old’s Instagram posts make it out to be.

Self care can come up in a variety of ways and is considered anything you do for YOU. Sometimes locking ourselves away so we can have a loud ugly cry in private, and not break down in the line at Walmart, is what we have to do to self-care. Remembering to eat or taking it a step further and making your favorite meal can result in a much more fulfilled day. Sometimes the most we can do for ourselves is just take a shower. Washing off the day, climbing into bed and just taking a deep breath is one of the best forms, in my opinion, of self care.

We tend to get caught up in the way the media portrays self-care and think to care about ourselves, we need to shove a whole Acai bowl down our throats. This is not the case. Just because your yoga teacher eats a banana when she’s sad and buys $100 yoga mats it doesn’t mean that, that is what will improve your life.

Self care is all about YOU. You need to have some kind of understanding about who you are as a person in order to help calm your own life or, excite it if that’s your style. Jumping on the bandwagon of Sunday morning yoga class and an afternoon brunch with the girls is not going to help you, if that is not how you function. We all move about this life in different ways, taking time for ourselves to do the things we like or need is very important to living a productive healthy life. Every now and then it’s good to take a step back from the world and put a little effort into yourself. 

Put good energy into the world, and put good energy into yourself.

xS

Stand Up, Speak Up, Wake Up

Good health is not just the absence of physical disease, it is the state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. It aids in determining how we, as individuals, handle stress, enjoy life, and make choices. You will not have a healthy body if it’s not accompanied by a healthy mind. When we are free of depression, anxiety, addictions, or stress, we are more capable to live a much fuller, more enjoyable life. Unfortunately, we live in a world tainted with brokenness, volatility of human emotion, and imperfection. While positive mental health is strongly encouraged, it is not always granted.

Here in Mays Landing, New Jersey, we’ve woken up to the tragic phone calls and group texts. We’ve attended the candlelight vigils. We’ve attended the grief counseling. But each time we watch a little piece of the community drift away, it only gets harder every time we lose one of our own. Here in this community, we are doing more than lending an ear. We are hosting a charity event called The Wake Up @ Lake Lenape. The event is directed towards continuing the conversation about mental health and suicide that is already circling our community. Here in Atlantic County we have faced tragedy and have felt the deep loss of suicide. Together, we have struggled and together, we must continue to rebuild. Not only is this event meant to spread positive mental health, it is an event taking place to show others that there are people who care. This community cares.

Regardless of who you are, and whether you have known it or not, every one of you has been touched by mental illness in some way. Whether it was a brother, sister, friend, co-worker, mom, dad, neighbor, the list goes on. Facing a loss of any form is difficult, but facing one you never saw coming is torturous. The truth is, you never know when you might lose out on a life the way so many have. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. On average, there are 123 suicides per day. These individuals are blinded by hopelessness and isolation. Just because a suicidal person may not be asking for help, doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted. Even though you may not be going through a mental disorder yourself, it doesn’t mean that the person beside you isn’t…but what can you do? A lot more than you think.

It starts by taking part in the conversation and helping bring forth change. Speaking up and freely talking about suicide and mental health creates a culture where people can get help without shame. It encourages others to ask for help, knowing that there are people who are willing to lend a listening ear. Being silent and turning a blind eye does not help you or anyone around you. There is no set “program” for good mental health, but increasing the range of choices available for those who need it, increases the chance for more people to adopt and maintain positive mental lifestyles.

You can say “not me” but you should do everything in your power to prevent yourself from saying “why me?” So, for the new year I invite you to spread the mental health message and join the fight against suicide by following The Wake Up Project and if you can, attending the event. If not for you, then for the people in your life you love the most.

And if you are going through something, and you happen to stumble upon this little post, know that we care. Mistakes and defeat are all a part of life’s wild journey. These feelings of self-loathing, despair, or anger are temporary, and you will get through it. Choose to fight through the darkness and the sadness. We are here for you, and whenever you feel like wanting to give up, know that there is so much life worth fighting for. Just because you can’t see it now, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Above all else, stay. Stay because nobody else could ever play your part. You have a purpose and soon enough, you will find it.

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Support the cause and the event by following @thewakeupp on Instagram!

 Visit www.thewakeupp.com for more details

 This special post was written with love. Together, with Sophia Cuerquis.

Put good energy into the world,

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xoxo S