This birthday is an interesting one, because the number is freaking me out a little bit – but at the same time, 2016 has (by FAR) been my best year yet. Lots of fun blog collaborations, The TODAY Show, a few more TV appearances, CPY Teacher Training, some fun developments in my personal life… maybe things just keep getting better the older you get? Fine by me!
It’s funny – I was talking to my Uncle when I was in New York last weekend and when I said I was turning 29, he just looked at me and said he couldn’t believe that. And I get that a lot – being carded on the regular, getting asked where I go to school, etc. When I was less confident about my place in life, I sometimes took that as “You don’t act your age” or “You don’t seem mature enough” or “You haven’t done enough” – but now, I realize that most of those thoughts came from my own insecurities.
Right now, I actually kind of love that I’m “youthful” and “don’t seem my age.” Yes, it has a lot to do with the fact that I’m only 5’2” and I have a round face haha, but when I focus on everything I have accomplished instead of everything I haven’t, I’m proud of my enthusiasm for life, my constant desire to learn more and, honestly, my refusal to settle. (1) I was lucky enough to find the right situation, but I knew I couldn’t just settle into a 9-5 job and be happy, so I created this blog on the side. (2) I refuse to believe that life gets boring as you get older. (3) I definitely won’t let anyone tell me that I’m “too old” for bright colors or flirty silhouettes or overalls, dammit 🙂 When I look back at the version myself that was solely seeking the validation of other people, I’m really proud that I’ve now created a life that inspires me every day… and I firmly believe that I’ve been able to do that by listening to my gut, working hard, being nice to others, and being open to growth/change. <- Woah, I could do a whole other blog post about that list there, huh?! 😉
This past year, especially, I’ve started to really understand who I am and what makes me both happy and healthy. Easier said than done, right? I know I’ve struggled (and still struggle) with the notion of self care. Too often it’s equated with being “selfish” or “spoiled” – but being able to recognize what you need and take advantage of those moments when you can give yourself those things is a GIFT. Getting enough sleep… going to yoga to exercise or just de-stress, but also not feeling bad about skipping when I’m too tired… seeing myself in the studio mirror and focusing on what makes me strong instead of what I don’t like about my body… taking the time to maintain a healthy diet, but also allowing myself to try that doughnut in LA (holyyyyy crap it was so good)… these are all ways that I try to practice compassion with myself. After all, we’re only human. You can hustle and work hard while still being nice to yourself and taking the time to figure out who you are. It’s not always easy, but you’ll be able to enjoy so much more that way.
To take it one step further, I’ve had to practice this kind of self compassion with myself through my “careers” as well… I put that word in quotes because yes, I’m aware that I’ve bopped all over the place. Acting gigs (and auditioning – it’s own kind of job), retail, babysitting, and now marketing – I’ve had a lot of jobs. And yes, I’m aware that salaries and benefits are extremely important… but I’ve also realized that I’m not a normal job kind of gal. And I’m not saying that because I don’t want to work – believe me, I know what it means to work hard and I actually enjoy being busy. That’s just not where I feel inspired. I feel inspired out in the world, connecting with people, creating content, and helping people understand what makes them feel confident and nourished and strong. That’s what gets me going! And instead of dismissing that, this past year I’ve embraced it.
You could say that my time at cool events or playing with food or doing fun shoots is hardly work – and I’ve felt guilt around that, spoiled almost, that I get to do this with my day? Who do I think I am? But the truth is that it’s actually a lot of work, and this year I’ve realized it could legitimately be my JOB. Ain’t no shame in that game anymore, huh? And I could back away because I once had a dream that didn’t pan out before… but dreams change, folks. And that’s not a bad thing. If I didn’t have my acting background, Learn to Cook might not have hired me to film their cooking videos, and then I might never have gotten invited to be on the freaking TODAY Show, which has lead to so many other exciting developments. It’s about being compassionate with yourself and allowing the journey (including failures) to be opportunities for growth.
“So, when we have self-compassion, when we fail, it’s not ‘poor me,’ it’s ‘well, everyone fails.’ Everyone struggles. That’s what it means to be human. And that really radically alters how we relate to failure and difficulty. When we say ‘Oh, this is normal, this is part of what it means to be human,’ that opens the door to grow from the experience.” –The Atlantic
So in year 29, I am aiming to stay confident but humble. To acknowledge that I’ve come a long way, but also not forgetting that there is always more to learn. I understand that I don’t know everything, because, (newsflash) none of us do! And that’s okay – good, even! The moment you get cocky/think you know everything is the moment you start missing out. As I’ve learned through yoga, breathe in the positive and exhale anything that isn’t serving you. Be curious about who you are. Trust that the universe is supporting you. It can be scary, but I believe it’s worth it. My crazy dream of running Lake Shore Lady and teaching yoga is becoming more and more attainable – and that’s pretty freaking amazing if you ask me.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes that seems especially fitting this year:
“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.” –Shauna Niequist