One-Size-Fits-All Doesn’t Apply to Life

If I could set my own clock that the world had to go by instead of our current timeline, I would have work start at like 11 AM & everyone stay up late with me. Bedtime would be no earlier than 1 AM- can you tell I’m a total night owl?? 
But obviously, not everyone is like that! My husband, for example, has basically lived an entire day by the time I open one eye. He gets up before the sun every day, and when we first got married, that was difficult for me. Not because I have a problem with it, but because I compared myself to him. 
 
Let me elaborate. 
 
I felt like I wasn’t as capable, productive, or responsible as him, just because my body/mind doesn’t work the same way. I have tried waking up early many, many times, and no matter how I try I really can’t convert myself to an early bird at this point in my life. (maybe someday!) 
 
But what I lack in the morning, I make up for at night. I am REALLY creative at night. I’m like, on a mission to get stuff done, come up with new ideas, re-organize the entire house- literally do anything at night. It’s not that I’m less productive from someone who is an early bird, I’m just different. I need a different environment and schedule to thrive. I also need more sleep! And that is OKAY.
 
Moral of this whole story is that we ALL need different things to succeed. And when I say “succeed”, I don’t mean “get rich” or “finally get the job”.
When I talk about success, I’m talking about living life as the best possible versions of ourselves. This entails many things besides money or status, such as physical & mental health, solid relationships, smart usage of money, strong connection with God, etc. 
 
That said, in order to succeed- or live our best lives- we each require different things. 
 
We are motivated by different things, we function best in different environments, and we require different food, different routines, different pillow softness, different hype playlists- you get the point. 
 
My point in this is to say that we all need to freakin’ STOP always looking at each other and listening to each other for what to do and just get quiet for a sec.
No expert or friend can fully tell us what we need because we are all very different from them. While there is no shortage of amazing and useful advice out there (I’m currently giving advice, I know), it’s sometimes so overwhelming that we forget to actually assess our own needs and decide things for ourselves. 
This means we need to individually pay attention to the unique needs of our own body, spirit, and mind.
We can’t expect to find all the answers by looking to everyone else’s standard and expecting ourselves to fit perfectly in that mold. 
While Whole 30 might be great for Jess, Paleo might be great for Carly, and Keto might be great for Anna, (& potato chips are great for me) none of those might be right for you. It’s okay not to match the exact routines of people we look up to or even just people around us.
And yes, we can seek guidance and wisdom from one another, but when it comes to specific stuff? We have to figure that out for ourselves & discern what God is saying we specifically need. And, what’s sometimes even more difficult than figuring out what we need is actually sticking to it and not guilt-tripping ourselves for having unique and specific needs. 
 
So, here’s to doing my best work at midnight instead of 7AM with less guilt, and more acceptance of my own unique tendencies. Here’s to ordering gluten-free pancakes because I’m allergic to wheat without feeling like a diva. Here’s to spending extra money on a manicure every few weeks because it makes me feel more like my life is in order. 
^ Small things? Yes. Insignificant things? No. 
 
What is a perfectly normal trait you have that you’ve been feeling bad about? 
 
How can you give yourself acceptance to just be the way you naturally are without trying to conform to what you feel pressure to be instead? 

Less Watching, More Doing

We all spend a lot of time on our phones watching other people do stuff. That’s just kind of how social media works, right? Like, in one scroll, I can watch someone go surfing, another person decorate a cake, someone else go to Coachella, or exercise, or do their makeup- you get the point. 
Now I know that seeing other people do awesome stuff can have a discouraging effect on us because it makes us feel like our lives aren’t as cool or interesting.
But what if watching those things also kind of subconsciously tricks our brains into feeling like we’ve actually done those things ourselves? And what if we end up trying fewer things in life because we’ve seen other people try them, and in some sense, feel like we’ve already experienced them?
 
My point is, I think we all need to be better about actually doing stuff. We’re great at watching other people do stuff, because that’s really easy. But we need to be pushing ourselves to break our habits and find time to do a little more living- even in small ways.
What if instead of getting stuck on a coffee account on Instagram watching latte art for 30 minutes, I actually went out and bought an extra gallon of milk and practiced latte art myself?
What if instead of watching other people play pickup basketball on someone’s IG story, you actually went and joined a pickup game or at least just shot around?
What if instead of watching other people living their lives, we went out and did more living of our own?
As a generation that’s lost touch with in-person participation and settled for watching others participate in life through a screen, let’s push back on that.
Bake a cake this week instead of watching someone else do it.
Take a dance class instead of watching someone else do it.
Live your own life instead of watching someone else live theirs. 
We have to take responsibility for our lives and how we experience the world. We have to hold ourselves and each other accountable to actually feeling sand under our toes, hearing live music being performed, tasting food- not just watching those things being displayed on a six-inch glass rectangle.
Let’s just start small- put down whatever device you just read this on & enjoy the day YOU get to experience. Have fun!

This Popular Advice Is Actually Making You Unhappy

I’d love to share with you one very simple and practical tip to have a better day. You might not like this idea at first, so please stick around and read the whole thing! Ready? Here goes! 

Stop thinking about yourself so much! 
If you haven’t noticed, we’re a little obsessed with ourselves. 
We’re constantly taking and posting photos of ourselves, sharing about our lives, and encouraged to only think about what will make us the happiest. 
But it’s funny that we’re told, “just do what makes you happy!”, because this very way of thinking sets us up for unhappiness.
  Did you know that the more you focus on yourself, the unhappier you’re likely to become?
Why? Because the more you think of yourself, the easier it becomes to zero in on your flaws, your difficult circumstances, your pain and your problems. It’s incredibly easy to dig yourself in a hole of self-pity when you’re only thinking about your own life. It’s also very easy to spiral through negative thoughts and become anxious. 
Now hear me out. I’m NOT saying to neglect yourself. I’m all about self-care, taking time for personal growth, etc. I’m also willing to bet that someone reading this right now probably needs to take care of themselves a little more! But generally speaking, we all naturally think of ourselves enough, so this is just an exercise of shifting our attention elsewhere when we can. This idea is not only counterintuitive to human nature but also counter-cultural. It’s not popular to think of others. But it’s the only way to have a meaningful life. 
Many people think that the key to happiness involves acquiring all the things on our wish list. Like the perfect body, a loving spouse, all the cutest furniture we currently can’t afford, an amazing wardrobe, our dream job, dream car, or dream home.
But here is something we forget: we can accumulate all those things and still feel deeply unhappy. Why? Because what really makes us happy is a meaningful life. A life spent fulfilling a greater purpose beyond collecting shiny things for ourselves. That’s the bigger picture. 
So when you feel thoughts of inadequacy, hopelessness, anxiety, or anything similar start to creep in your mind, just try this simple exercise. 
Just think of other people. Let your mind wander to others. Think of your parents or your siblings, think of your friends and family, think of people you don’t even know who are living in third world countries or people living in slavery. Zoom out from the bubble of yourself.
 I bet you’ll realize that even though your own problems are real, you might not want to trade them for another person’s problems.
 The point of this is to distract yourself from only thinking of you, because our minds can sometimes be a dangerous place if we’re fixated on ourselves for too long. 
So take your imagination somewhere new, even just for a few minutes. Let this concept broaden your scope of thinking and expand your dreams into new territory- one that involves many more people. They say that the best dreams are the ones that require the biggest teams. Actually, I think I just made that up. Ha!
Try this out, and let me know how it works for you! 

Read This If You’re Overwhelmed

Here is your official reminder that today doesn’t have to be anything like yesterday.

 The world will try to pile shame, fear, pain, sadness, anxiety, onto your shoulders little by little so that you don’t even realize you’re carrying more every day. But now, as you’re reading this, is your chance to take a deep breath & physically drop your shoulders, relax your neck, and close your eyes. 

 Think of yourself physically dropping the burdens you’ve been carrying like taking bricks out of your backpack and dropping them to the floor. When you’ve dropped the heaviness of yesterday, you now have room to pick up joy and thankfulness for today! 

 

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In my own life, I’ve often beat myself up for not making good use of my time. For example, if I sleep in too late or spend too much time on my phone in the morning then I would usually feel discouraged for the rest of the day, as if I had wasted all of it.
But I recently read about the idea of breaking your day into quarters. If you mess up during one “quarter”, it limits your negative feelings to just that part of the day, and it helps you reframe your thinking so that you realize you can start over in the second half of the day! 
The truth is, we can “start over” or “drop” some of our baggage at any time. It’s just a matter of our mindset. I know it’s easier said than done, but I want to encourage us all to start our days out without the difficulties of yesterday by visualizing it in our minds. 
It’s a new day today, and I hope you enjoy it!! 

Time To Bloom

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE springtime!! The idea of flowers blooming, ice melting away, and more sunshine makes me feel like it’s time for a new beginning, not only in the weather but also in my personal life. 
 
I think all of us have little seeds planted in our hearts that have been iced over, and we need to work on defrosting those little seeds so that they can become beautiful flowers. Let me explain what I mean with a personal example. 
 
I tend to be critical. The word “critical” in itself just takes on a negative connotation. So I have, for the longest time, been kind of embarrassed of this trait.
I mostly focus on the bad side of this quality, and frequently say (out of obligation) that I should be more accepting and view things with a less analytical lens. 
However!! There’s also a huge benefit to the way my mind works. I’m able to notice small details, easily see where things aren’t working well, and come up with ideas for improvement. This set of skills is highly coveted in a variety of different important jobs. My negative view of the useful abilities I have does me no good.
 
In this example, my critical thinking is the seed.
The embarrassment, shame, and unwillingness to acknowledge it as a strength is the ice that keeps the seed from flourishing.
But I can melt that ice away by reframing my thinking. I can acknowledge the benefit of having an analytical brain, and come up with ways to harness that strength in a productive, constructive way.
I can also work to eliminate the unnecessary use of this skill in settings that aren’t so helpful- like when I go to the movies and pick apart all the bad things about it and annoy poor Devon to death, for example.
What little seeds are planted in your life that you’ve iced over? What have you buried down and stifled? Chances are, you’re really passionate about something that hasn’t even surfaced in your life yet because your fear or negative thinking has kept it frozen it underground.
You have the power to bring that little seed into the sunshine, & you should!! It’s time to bloom! 

What’s Your Speed Limit?

Imagine you’re driving a normal speed on the freeway, like 70 or 75 miles per hour. Now imagine your exit comes up & you don’t touch the brakes. Now you’re on the off-ramp, still going 75, flying through neighborhoods & traffic lights & stop signs.

I’m sure you’d never do that.

But are you speeding through life?

There are no speed limits in life, so sometimes we abuse our own limits. We push way past the appropriate speed, ignore the warning signs in our life and blaze through red lights without even realizing the consequences until we get that speeding ticket in the mail. For some of us, that ticket comes in the form of a doctor’s bill after our health deteriorates. Maybe you start forgetting important appointments, lose some of your hair, or you make a huge mistake at work.  

Everybody’s different, but nobody escapes the kickback of unmanaged stress from flying through life without taking care of themselves.

Let me start by saying that some situations require us to operate at lightning speed. We have to learn to adapt to that in order to cope with life’s challenges! But it’s all too easy to forget how to slow back down. I know I find myself rushing everywhere- choosing the shortest line at the store, weaving through traffic, and sometimes even cutting conversations short- but for what? And more importantly, at what expense?

The value of time is underrated.

Our society glorifies money and status, but what are either of those without the time to use them?

The thing is, many of us are operating out of a mindset of scarcity. We perceive that we don’t have enough of anything- enough time, enough energy, enough money, etc. So we move at full speed to make up for it. But I believe the problem isn’t really a lack of time, it’s a lack of priorities.

Even if there were 30 hours in a day, I still believe we “wouldn’t have enough time”. Why? Because we are encouraged to over-commit, and we often fail to set boundaries! (Speaking from experience.) 

I am NO expert in this. In fact, I am one of the worst people at time-management that I know- and that’s one of the main reasons why I’m writing this!

So here is my reminder to us all- stop sprinting through life. You weren’t made to go that fast!! Whether you are a bored college student with no homework or an overworked mom with 4 kids- you can slow down. You can do it. I don’t care if you have to lock yourself in your room & put on a movie for your kids instead of playing with them like you normally do (call me & I’ll come babysit, my treat!), or if you have to skip class and take a nap, or if you have to spend extra money on a massage (self-care, am I right??). You are still a good mom, you are still a good student, you are still a capable person. Prioritize your time and cut something out in order to spend it more wisely. Take care of yourself by slowing down in the moments between it all.

Your time = your health & well-being.

Help, I’m Stuck In My Head

 

Let me invite you into my brain for a minute. I know my struggles aren’t totally unique, but I am also keenly aware that there are many people who excel at the things I am terrible at. Hopefully, someone reading this can give me some advice!!

To start, I’ll give you some context. I am introverted (the technical definition of an introvert is someone who “recharges” by being alone, and loses energy by being around others) but I love people. This provides an interesting but frustrating paradox in my life- I want to be around people, but I’m always scared of losing all my energy in order to socialize. I’m not exaggerating when I say I am  e x h a u s t e d  after social interactions. I hate typing this out because it makes me sound like an old scrooge who hates people. Which isn’t true!! But something has helped me come to terms with this a bit more. I’ve recently learned a lot about myself through a personality test called The Enneagram (take the test here). If you didn’t know, I’m obsessed with personality tests, and this one is my latest obsession. Through this test, I am identified as a Type Five- “The Investigator”. That means I’m the “Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated”.

…..sounds like the life of the party, right? Ha! Getting the test results made me feel like an evil nerd with some secretive plan who locks themselves in their basement all day. For a while, I was like “…… why am I not more fun??” But in actuality, this test made me feel very, very understood. It pointed out certain truths for me that helped me understand why I am the way I am. For one, it made me feel less guilty for having such a hard time being around others. Type Fives have limited energy, and once we run out, it’s not good. When I hit my max capacity for social interaction I find myself fleeing the scene with an urgency similar to when you’re looking for the bathroom after a strong coffee. (Sorry, too much?) It helped me identify that spending time with people is a big sacrifice for me because of how much it takes out of me. Part of why it’s so draining is because I live most of my life in my head. I have crazy stuff going on in there all the time! And when I’m with others, I am required to not only figure out which thoughts to share, but also to actually share them- which is difficult. Isolation is a key quality of my “type”.  I can spend an entire day by myself and never get bored!! I can sit alone for hours and be perfectly entertained by my thoughts. It makes the internet even more dangerous too, because I research endless topics and give myself even more to think about (Another characteristic of a Type Five is our obsession with collecting facts and information). When I have to get out of my head, it’s a challenge. Which brings me to my main point.

I am stuck in my head! I have an incredibly difficult time putting ideas into action, and part of this is because of my crippling perfectionism. I’m the person who will write something out on a post-it note and re-write the exact same thing on several more post-it notes until I like my handwriting enough. I literally have multiple drafts of POST-IT NOTES. Hopefully that gives you a good idea of the severity of my situation. On a few of occasions, I’ve succeeded with getting an idea into motion and actually carrying it out. But man, I am slow. For the most part, things take me a long time. I procrastinate because I’m afraid of doing things poorly. And when I do take a crack at something, I often nix it before it even has a chance. Like the video I recorded the other day and then deleted instead of posting. Or the countless blog posts sitting in my documents that I just won’t publish. I have ideas for songs, museums, tv shows, stores, apps, art, books, and LOTS more. I have SO many ideas, but they all feel stuck in my head.

I know this is a mental obstacle for me to overcome, and I recognize that there are ways for me to get out of my comfort zone and accomplish more. I’m not making excuses for myself. I’m just sharing something that I have a feeling more people relate to than I realize. And I have a sneaking suspicion that some of the happiest, most successful people are the ones who got over whatever hurdle that kept them from making their ideas into a reality. I’m still on my way, but I’ll get there! I’m 22 and I don’t pretend to have it all figured out. Most days, I’m hard on myself for all these shortcomings. I’m really good at picking them out! But I also have to say, I’m thankful for the gifts and abilities I’ve been given. I am more than my procrastination, perfectionism, and anxiety. I’m more than my limited amount of energy and tendency to hide out. According to my “type”, I am also insightful and curious. I am “able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills.” I am “independent, innovative, and inventive.” At my best, I am a “visionary pioneer, ahead of my time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.”

I am all these things, and more! Today I am celebrating the small victory it was for me to write this in one sitting and actually publish it the same day. Thanks for reading along!

(All information about The Enneagram and Type Five is cited from www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-5 )

(If you’ve never heard of The Enneagram, I AM URGING YOU to take this test!! It’s been one of the most helpful and insightful tools in learning more about myself as a person. You will not regret looking into it! There’s a whole world of information about it, too- books, podcasts, Instagram accounts, and tons more.)

 

 (Photo courtesy of www.letterfolk.com)

The Wedding Advice I Didn’t Need To Hear

A recurring theme in the wedding advice I received while planning my big day was something along the lines of, “Just be prepared for something to go wrong! It will still be wonderful, but know that something bad will probably happen!”

My dad actually said to me, “It might rain, or you might break your leg the day before! And if you had to walk down the aisle in a cast, that would just be a fun memory!”

………… 

…..A fun memory!?!?!!?!?!?!

HE ACTUALLY SAID THAT!!!!!!!! The fact that it was an attempt to comfort me makes it even more unbelievable!! Haha! 

He meant well, and so did everyone else who gave me similar advice preparing me to expect something traumatic on my wedding day. I’m all for realism, and I think it’s a good idea to be logical about it all, but nothing actually went wrong. 

I spent all this time wondering what thing was going to go wrong at my wedding, and it was wasted time- because nothing did. And even if something bad happened, there was no way for me to anticipate what it would actually be in advance. I know that not all people are fortunate enough to experience such a seamless wedding. But it got me thinking. Do we think about all of life this way?

 It’s like we sabotage our plans before we even put them into action. We let worry steal our joy before we even have anything to worry about. What if we stopped expecting the worst, and started expecting the best?

I know why I don’t think positively. It’s because I subconsciously protect myself from disappointment. I don’t want to get my hopes up only to be let down. I don’t want my pride to take a hit when others see that my confidence ended up being shot down. But that’s wrong. It’s wrong and it’s not worth it to think like that. I don’t want to live my whole life preparing for something to go awry. Yes, bad things happen, and when they happen we take it one day at a time. But good things happen too. And what’s even more awesome is that we can create good things in our lives. We can’t control everything that happens in life. But we sure can control our thoughts. We can choose to expect the best!! And more importantly, we can cover our hopes & dreams in prayer.

I’m working on this every day, and Devon really helps to be my accountability partner. It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re just starting out chasing your dreams. But the Bible tells us that “death and life are in the power of the tongue”. So we know that what we speak- not necessarily out loud, but in our head- is so important. So I’m ready to replace “something will go wrong” with the knowledge that nothing has to go wrong, and the hope that things will go right. 

 

 

 

Three LA Dinner Date Options- French Edition

    If you know Devon and me, you know that we take going out to eat very seriously. We LOVE trying new restaurants as a couple, probably a little too much. We even keep a list of all the restaurants we’ve tried out…it’s a bit excessive. But on a more serious note, I will forever be appreciative of how intentional Devon is about taking me out on dates. Going out to nice dinners always makes me feel incredibly special, and I’m so thankful to have a best friend for life who shares my love of good food!

    In this article, I’m sharing reviews from three different French-inspired restaurants Devon has taken me to. Gentleman, put these on your list for your next special occasion dinner date!

1. PERCH

    An otherwise ordinary street in the heart of Downtown LA boasts a hidden gem situated in the skyline. Perch is a rooftop treasure, combining excellent cuisine with tasteful Parisian trendiness. The decor is ornate but affords a sophisticated atmosphere, pairing velvet upholstered couches with live music and a decidedly socialite nighttime clientele. To get here, you must first locate an unassuming lobby with little to no indication that an exclusive experience awaits on the other side of an elevator ride. In addition to the seductive secrecy of Perch, versatility is one of its finest qualities. You can confidently come to Perch for casual brunch, a cocktail outing, or an upscale date night. The unrivaled view offered here makes Perch a coveted destination for Los Angeles residents and visitors alike.

(If you try this place out, PLEASE order the mac & cheese. It’s infused with truffle & peppered with bacon- I dream about this mac & cheese!!!! )

2. CAFE BEAUJOLAIS

    The simplicity of Cafe Beaujolais offers a traditionally romantic atmosphere lavished in French allure. Flickering candles swathe this open space in sultry light, setting the perfect mood for couples of all ages. Enjoy your momentary transportation to France, as servers with thick accents take your order and present genuine French dishes bursting with distinct flavors. Cafe Beaujolais hides away in Eagle Rock, humbly providing some of the most authentically European food in Los Angeles. Save some money on airfare to France, and opt for Cafe Beaujolais instead- you won’t be disappointed!

(We came here for Valentine’s Day and enjoyed their three-course Valentine’s special. I chose the apple tart for dessert, and it was absolutely phenomenal. Also, if you can spot it, there’s a piece of French bread on my plate in the first picture- the bread here is FANTASTIC. Small detail, but an important one. Bread is a great indication of a restaurant’s attention to detail- if overlooked, bread can easily be cold, crunchy, or stale. When a restaurant brings out fresh, warm bread, I expect good things right off the bat.)

 

3. BOTTEGA LOUIE

    Gorgeous marble flooring & high ceilings provide an immediate impression of grandeur and luxury at Bottega Louie. The open layout of the restaurant allows guests the option to view and choose from an eye-catching array of trademark French desserts in glistening glass cases. The option to customize a box of house-made macarons remains a staple attraction here, and the beauty of sunlight in this pristine space makes for a great daytime pastry run! On the other hand, Bottega Louie holds its own as an impressive dinner spot that emanates opulence. The servers maintain professionalism to the extreme, and each dish is carefully crafted. If you’re looking to make your date feel special, look no further.

 

 

Devon & I loved all three of these spots! Have you been to any of them? If so, what did you think?

What I Wish I Knew When I Graduated College

I’ve finally figured it out. After months of uncertainty, confusion, and overall anxiety about what to do with myself post-grad, I have realized what’s actually going on here.

I am nearly positive that all adults are getting together at some huge annual convention where they collectively (and secretly!!) decide to pretend they know what they’re doing!! Even if they have no idea!! I’m currently waiting to be invited to one of these meetings.

For real though, the moment I realized we’re all just “winging it” was a huge relief. As the end of my college career approached, I naively assumed that when I graduated, things would immediately fall into place. I genuinely believed that within a few months, some fantastic opportunity would fall out of the sky directly into my lap. I thought that a couple of job applications would result in an awesome, fulfilling job.
So when a few months passed and that didn’t even come remotely close to happening, I felt a deep sense of failure. I felt like I was stuck in a cloud of anxiety that obscured all truth and direction from my life.

I wish someone had told me that it would feel really strange to graduate. I felt out of place, left out, and lonely. Many times I wondered if it had even been worth it for me to work so hard to graduate a whole year early and in turn, feel completely isolated from my friends. I felt like I graduated with grandiose ideas, but then just floundered in anxiety and uncertainty for months. I waded in negativity instead of focusing on all the amazing blessings in my life.

The reality of life is that things take much longer than you think they will, and probably much longer than you want to wait. It took me a while to get this, but I am finally understanding just how important it is to take the pressure off of myself, be patient, and be okay with figuring things out along the way.

Nobody ever gets an instruction manual or a map of where they should go. Can you imagine if there were some life map where everyone had a different colored line to follow like a subway line for their life? Like Google Maps but for life decisions instead? That would be awesome. But actually, that wouldn’t be awesome.

The unpredictability of life is what produces character in us. Challenges are what make life meaningful, and without them we would miss out on the deepest kinds of joy. Like the joy that comes when you finally reach a higher understanding and feel like a light has turned on and reached the darkest corners of your pain, or the joy that comes wrapped in sorrow, or the joy that comes from the best surprise of your life. The uncertainty of the future reminds us that we are not on earth to chase pleasure. We are not here to idolize happiness or money or success. We are here to live with purpose and grow every day. And not knowing where we’re going humbles us and helps remind us of the insatiable yearning we all have, deep down, to live a life of meaning.

I think we all walk around with anxiety weighing on our shoulders. We buy into the lie that we have to get everything perfectly right, and we end up taking on incredible stress about it. We hold onto our plans with white knuckles and melt down when things don’t go according to that plan. It’s probably going to feel uncomfortable and even unproductive, but letting go of your timeline and accepting God’s timeline is the best thing you can do for your anxiety.

I’m trying to remind myself this every day. It’s a daily challenge for me, but I know that giving up control actually leads to freedom.

Thanks for reading. If you liked what you read, I’d love for you to subscribe to my blog! You can do that below, or to the right of this article.