So I’m my late twenties… now what?

Halfway through 2019, and here I am: blogging/e-journalling with a creeping migraine. Some days I feel great about where I’m headed, the progress I’ve made. Other days I feel like I’m so far behind everyone else, why even bother trying?

I’m 27, turning 28 in a few months. Eek. Did I think I’d be here when I was eighteen? Definitely not.

When I was teenager, I thought I’d have everything together by 28. Maybe engaged, or married. Career thriving. Travelling the world. Making and saving comfortably. I thought I’d be the fittest I’d ever be, and basically just have all my shit together.

Now that I’m sitting here, reflecting on the past 10 years, one thing I know to be true is no matter what age you are, it never really feels or looks the way you think it’s going to. I have a pretty unoriginal theory that our physical bodies age at a much faster rate than our minds and souls, leaving us feeling like time has flown by before we’ve had the chance to really live.

I mean, yes, I have a lot more experience and am a completely different person than who I was ten years ago. At the same time, it feels like high school graduation was just yesterday.

Needless to say, 2019/Year 27 has been a year of renewal and realignment. It’s been a year of questioning old beliefs, digging up and healing old wounds, rediscovering who I am NOW today (not who I wanted to be 5-6 years ago), and updating my list of goals and dreams accordingly.

It’s been a year of learning how to set boundaries (still learning), and stepping into my flow whilst relinquishing control at the same time… I know, it hurts my brain too.

Where I think these next 10 years are headed is focusing on becoming the most raw, authentic version of myself possible. The most raw, authentic, creative, go-getting, stock-investing, TFSA/RRSP-maxing, take-no-bullshit, happy, conscious version of myself.

Yayyyyyy. I’m not gonna lie, I’m kinda scared. But then I remember life is extremely, extremely short. All of this life is just going to pass me in the blink of an eye, and none of this small stuff (overthinking, over-worrying, being scared) will really matter.

Then I just breathe, take it all in, and enjoy this beautiful fragile human life for what it is: a tiny blip in the grand history of time. So important and consequential, yet so meaningless and inconsequential. Everything we do matters, and nothing we do matters. Ultimately, therefore, life is what you make it.

What I wish for in my life is to have made a difference in the world for the better, to have loved and been loved, to tell great stories, to create, to laugh, to cry, to give generously; to stand up for what I believe in; to not waste a single second of my precious time and attention; to appreciate every moment, even the bad; to pass on, free of burden and regret.

What do you wish to accomplish in your lifetime?

🌻 #WhereHappinessBegins
IG: @WhereHappinessBegins_

Featured Image by Wolf Zimmermann on Unsplash

Choose longterm happiness over short-term gratification

@WhereHappinessBegins_ Fondation Beyeler Artwork - Cumulo by Tacita Dean

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There is no light without the dark. I don’t believe in the idea of false positivity. Or that the point of life is to always be happy, laughing, and dancing. Every emotion on the human spectrum has its place, cause, and purpose – even the ones we deem as “negative”.
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I don’t believe in burying negative/unwanted emotions with positivity quotes and meaningless feel-good advice that miss the point entirely.
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I believe in self-awareness and going deep to locate the ROOT of our unwanted emotions. If you’re going to distract yourself because you aren’t ready to deal with an emotion yet, at least be aware that’s what you’re doing.
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Choose longterm growth and happiness over temporary emotional bandaids, and lean into the entire spectrum of your thoughts and feelings. Because what you resist persists!
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An ignored thought/feeling will only keep getting louder and louder and louder until it is addressed. It WILL demand to be seen and heard, and likely in ways you do not want.
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Don’t be an ostrich by sticking your head in the sand 😝 Learn to pull back the curtain on the shadowy parts of your mind so that the light and warmth can come through.

🌻 #WhereHappinessBegins
@WhereHappinessBegins_
Artwork: Cúmulo by Tacita Dean
Location: Fondation Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland

Finding your passion when you want to do all the things

@WhereHappinessBegins_ Finding Your Passion Illustration @HeyAmberRae

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Does anybody else just want to do ALLLLLL the things? Oh man, I’ve stopped and started so many projects as a result of being interested in so many different things – and probably a little bit of FOMO, to be completely honest.
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I’m the epitome of ‘Jack of All Trades, Master of None’, and used to beat myself up for being a “quitter”. It certainly has its pros and cons, but really when it comes down to it, it’s about figuring out what you like/love vs. what you’re PASSIONATE about.
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How would I describe when you’re passionate about something?
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💭 You naturally already live and breathe “it” every day
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🤔 It’s constantly and consistently on your mind, even if you’re not taking physical actions toward it right now
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💁🏻‍♀️ You could talk about it every day, whether you’re sick, tired, or busy – which doesn’t mean you’d WANT to, but you COULD, and probably would get excited about it if somebody asked the right question(s)
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⚡️⚡️ Working on it, talking, and sharing about it energizes the crap out of you! Because if fills you with purpose
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I love what @garyvee says about documenting vs curating when asked how he continues to generate content over a long period of time.
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When you’re passionate about something, and you’re already living and breathing it, all you have to do is document and share your life; your thoughts, your actions, your progress.
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When you share your passion from your heart in a REAL way, it’s palpable and electrifying for others. When you create from an authentic place with authentic intentions, SOMEONE somewhere out there will resonate with what you have to say.
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That’s where the conversation starts, and the magic happens.

🌻 #WhereHappinessBegins
@WhereHappinessBegins_
Photo via @heyamberrae

Having Total Control vs Having a Life

@WhereHappinessBegins_ @RubyEtc_ When You're Controlling

🙄🙋🏻‍♀️ I’m a control freak y’all.
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Yep. I like to control things. Which is GREAT for detail-oriented work. It makes me very scrupulous and meticulous. Not so great for everyday life though.
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I’m a controlling free spirit. Contradictory, right?

Basically, I’m “spontaneous” until something seriously screws with my plans/vision. I’m adventurous until something unpredictable blindsides me —> What??? 😂🤔
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Up until my early-mid twenties, I wanted to control and contain the unpredictable; my emotions/reactions, my thoughts, relationships, events, other people’s emotions/reactions/actions.
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I would do this through subtle manipulation via domination, people pleasing, mirroring, lying, being passive aggressive, playing games, and “pushing” the right buttons so that things would turn out the way I want.
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Why? Because if I get to say what’s what and who’s what, my ego is safe – I’m safe. If I get to call the shots, control, and predict what’s going to happen, I minimize the risk of getting hurt or left behind. It means not having to deal with as many “difficult”, “annoying”, unwanted, and painful situations.
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My saving grace was my empathy and emotional flexibility. I never INTENTIONALLY wanted to behave that way, nor was it an everyday occurrence. But it was the result of operating from a place of ego, scarcity, and fear.
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In those oft fight or flight moments, I didn’t know how else to be. In a world of “winners” and “losers”, I didn’t think there was any other way to protect myself, or get what I want. And I chose to turn a blind eye to how it was impacting my life and the people in it.
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If you want total control, that’s fine. But understand that total control is an illusion. It doesn’t exist.
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In trying to never fail, never get hurt, and always get “what I want”, I also got an inflated ego, frustration, cynicism, resentment, judgement, and broken relationships.
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So I choose having a life. I choose imperfection. I choose laughter. I choose friendship. I choose kindness. I choose happiness, and I choose sanity.

🌻 #WhereHappinessBegins
@WhereHappinessBegins_
Illustration via @rubyetc_

Make a choice to stand for something.

@WhereHappinessBegins_ Know Your Worth Illustration by @AshleyMurrayCo🌻🤔💭
“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for everything.” – Alexander Hamilton
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This is a popular quote I heard a lot growing up. While I got it theoretically, I don’t think I ever understood what it meant.
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I’ve always been able to see multiple sides of an equation. This has been both useful and detrimental in my life.
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My Pros:
• I’m a great mediator in disagreements; between two opposing views
• Mostly open-minded to different opinions, experiences, and ideas
• I would do well on any side of a debate at school 😝
• When I DO decide on something i.e. an opinion or belief, I get REALLY excited; feel peaceful, grounded, and unstoppable from the sense of assuredness
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My Cons:
• Easily swayed/lacking solid ground to stand on because I can see merits to all sides/opinions
• Feeling a weakness in my identity and a sense of being lost/not knowing myself
• Prone to overthinking and rumination because there are SO many sides and factors to consider
• Prone to indecisiveness as a result
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As I continue to grow, experience, and develop, what I’m discovering is the balance between open-mindedness and making a CHOICE, i.e. choosing where I stand on an issue. They are not and do not have to be mutually exclusive.
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Making a choice doesn’t mean I’m necessarily saying the opposition is “wrong” or invalid.
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Making a choice doesn’t mean closing myself off to other possibilities or being rigid. NOR does being open-minded mean I’m forced to take on ALL other possibilities and opinions.
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A choice is simply a statement that while both A and B may be true and valid in different contexts, when held up against my own goals and values, I am more committed to B than I am to A. Or vice versa.
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A choice is nothing more than a stronger commitment and alignment with one option, over another. And for some people, it is much MUCH stronger.
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Regardless, in order to move the conversation along, I think we could all do with a little more willingness to acknowledge opinions and experiences that are different to our own.

🌻 #WhereHappinessBegins
@WhereHappinessBegins_
Illustration via @ashleymurray.co

None of us are entitled to our dreams, and we ALL have the right to pursue them.

I regularly find myself laying in bed, scrolling through Instagram, being flooded with thoughts of, “What is the point of blogging, or sharing anything online? Why do I even bother? I don’t stand a chance!”

Whatever your “thing” is, whether it’s photography, poetry, self-development, fitness, cooking/food, travel, beauty, music, business, female empowerment, dogs, cats – or any of the hundreds of other categories and specific niches under said categories – there are likely already hundreds of thousands of other people sharing and passionate about the exact same thing.

With that mindset, it can be pretty disheartening to attempt, well… anything in life.

*distant cries of all the projects I’ve started and stopped in my adult life*

But wait a minute. Why am I even trying to “keep up” with the rest of the internet?? And what is it that I don’t think I stand a chance in exactly? Being Instagram famous? Blogger famous? I mean, Seriously? Is this really what I’ve come to?

Here’s the thing. Pre-social media, in the days of the internet dial-up, I’ve been creative writing since I was 7-years-old, and journalling/blogging since I was 10 or 11. I read, wrote, drew, performed, doodled, documented, photographed. From a young age, I’ve been awestruck and inspired by art & artists, innovation & problem-solving, design, philosophy, and the many intricate details of human life and behaviour. I’ve always found different ways to express my inner world and tell stories.

My point is, when you are clear on the things you’re authentically passionate about and why, none of that other stuff matters. It doesn’t matter how many likes or followers you get. It doesn’t matter whether your passion turns into a full-fledged career, or remains as a hobby. Although, I’ll admit that being seen and acknowledged is way more fun than not at all. And how fun would it be to get to “play” and create for a living?

(Pssst. As someone who is a full-time creative freelancer who gets to work from home every day, be careful what you wish for!)

 

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer. – Jim Carrey

I believe the act of creating alone should be enough to bring you fulfillment, with or without recognition. So here are a few questions I’ve asked myself:

If the internet did not exist, would I still be doing this, or its relevant equivalent? If the internet did not exist, would I still want to do this for a living, would it be a hobby, or would I be interested in something different?

What is it that I truly want, and think I’m going to achieve by pursuing this?

For example, in my teens and early twenties, I was certain I had to be an actor, or writer/author. What I realize now in my mid-late twenties is what I truly wanted and want is a platform where I’m free to express my thoughts and be creative; to provoke deeper feeling and thought in myself and others; to open conversations; to help others alleviate pain and suffering.

That desire isn’t attached to any specific thing, vocation, or “dream” I have for myself. Nor is it attached to a specific platform.

It is ESPECIALLY not attached to any number of likes, views, or followers.

We are all blessed to be living in an era where making an income through our hobbies and passions is more viable than ever. On the flip side, many of us forget that it is actually a privilege to be able to do so – especially for the younger generations for whom this way of life is all they’ve ever known.

None of us are entitled to our dreams, and we ALL have the right to pursue them.

What you have to share, create, do, or say does matter, and can make a difference.

My only interjection is that whatever you pursue, do it because you truly believe in what you’re doing and why. Not because you desire fame or recognition, or because everyone else is doing it and you’re scared of missing out.

#WhereHappinessBegins
Instagram @WhereHappinessBegins_

Growing Pains: Why “Knowing How” Is Not Enough To Change Your Life and Habits

WHB Mandy Hale Change is Painful.jpg

I’ve been stuck. I’ve been stuck for a long time. Moreover, I’ve been stuck and waiting. Waiting for something to change. Waiting for my dreams to miraculously fall into my lap; for an opportunity to appear out of nowhere, and for someone to give me all the answers.

Answers about where life is going and what it’s supposed to look like.
Am I making the right decision(s)?
What am I supposed to be doing?
Am I a good person?
Do I have a purpose?
Was I right/wrong?
Will I have a good life?
Should I go on this date with this person? But where should we go, and what should I wear?

What I’m starting to understand is KNOWING will never replace DOING. Even if by some miracle, I were given all the answers and could see my entire life mapped out, it would still leave the DOING to get there. Even if I were given the answers about why I get depressed, why I procrastinate; if I could scrutinize and distinguish every detail about WHY I am the way I am, how my childhood has affected my adulthood, and the “reasons” behind all my actions, it would still leave me not knowing HOW to change, or WHAT to do with that information.

Knowing will never replace doing, nor does it actually produce the results we want. However, neither does knowing how and what we need to do to achieve what we want.

I KNOW that the source of my poor relationship to food and body-image has to do with feeling criticized by my family as a child and teen. I KNOW that when I’m stressed or depressed, I use food as a means to feel better. I KNOW that when I’m hungry and binging on food, it is usually something else I’m hungry for, or I’m dehydrated. I KNOW that to lose weight, I’ve got to eat less, DO more, stay hydrated, and get more sleep.

Does knowing ANY of that make losing weight and getting fit easier? No. Does knowing make me put my fork down? No. Putting my fork down is what puts my fork down.

It is the DOING of the action that gets results.

 

One of the most important keys to success is having the discipline to do what you know you should do, even when you don’t feel like doing it. – Unknown

The incessant need for humans to understand WHY and psychoanalyze our lives, our pasts, and every single decision we make easily becomes another form of procrastination that excuses us from actually taking the actions to change, or grow.

Of course, there is a necessary degree of knowing that must occur; the degree of which will vary under different contexts. For example, knowing HOW to lose weight may not help us lose weight, but NOT knowing at all is certainly a hindrance.

Therefore, there is a healthy degree of responsibility we must all take to be well-informed, and gather the basic understanding of the WHYs, WHATs and HOWs of any given situation. But that is where we must learn to draw the line, and not fall into the curiosity trap of analysis paralysis, OVER-thinking, and hesitation, which often leads to justification, resignation, and avoidance.

The most effective way to become unstuck, find “answers”, and change our lives (or aspects of it) is to do things in a way that is different from how we have become accustomed to doing them—simple, right? But not easy.

 

Insanity is doing thing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results – Albert Einstein

Growth does not feel good, at first. Growth is NOT fun – at first. Growth may even feel counterintuitive at times. You sure as hell can bet that when you’re running your first mile after months or years of inactivity, every cell in your body will be screaming, “NO! This is not right! What are you doing?! WHY are you doing this??? Stop!!”

As human beings, we are hard-wired for survival, which means doing things we know will keep us safe. It means not taking too many risks, or going past our comfort zone.

CHANGE feels really difficult and downright impossible at times.
STRETCHING YOURSELF past your current limits is uncomfortable. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. And as humans, we love to make it especially difficult by expecting to be at Point Z before we’ve even reached Point A.

Growth is not always fun, but necessary to your happiness, sanity, health, goals, and fulfillment in life. Taking Action To Grow is the only way to get the answers you’ve been looking for, whether that answer is a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’, to ‘Proceed’ or ‘Change Paths’.

Growth will NOT always feel intuitive. It is easier to be resigned or cynical about growth, than to have to endure the pain of change, which is really the pain of taking unfamiliar actions. Growth can be painful, but it is always less painful and more rewarding than staying stuck, living the same predictable cycles for the rest of your life.

#WhereHappinessBegins
Instagram @WhereHappinessBegins_