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Posts tagged gratitude
Copy of d a r k . 2. L I G H T
Concept and images by me  Model: Byron Hunt

Concept and images by me

Model: Byron Hunt

I don’t live in darkness. Darkness lives in me.

We’ve all faced darkness. Sure, some more than others but we’ve all been there, experiencing it ourselves/encountering it in others.

We’ve also all experienced challenges and struggles; again, to varying degrees.

It doesn’t matter who you are or how much you have in your bank account. It doesn’t matter if your social life is poppin’ or if your abs pop. Darkness is equal opportunity. It affects people of all classes, of all races, of all backgrounds.

Some people have enough inner light to repel it. Yeah, they might feel down and out for a bit, but ultimately, the light triumphs. Glow baby glow.

For some people, the darkness permeates, and sometimes it’s harder to shake.

It doesn’t matter what your experiences are - being a human can be tough stuff! Just as we’re advised not to compare our highlight reels - we also should avoid comparing our “lowlight reels” so to speak. Our behind the scenes. Our challenges and obstacles. Our sucker punches life throws us.

We’re all on different journeys, with different psyches and pasts and mindsets and cumulative experiences. Maybe you’re a single parent eking out a life for yourself and your young. Maybe you’re a cancer patient fighting to keep a smile on your face and a resolve in your heart. Maybe you’re a teenager navigating your way in a world of bullies and heartbreaks. Or maybe you have a fantastic life by all general standards yet still feel empty.

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How beautiful is the relationship between the moon and the dark night sky. So contrasting, yet so incomplete without each other.

It’s all hard!! Try not to compare your “hard” and try not to feel guilty for feeling knocked down by life sometimes.

Just accept! Accept your emotions. The more you deny yourself feeling them, the stronger they become. As they say, what you resist, persists.

Life offers ebbs and flows. Peaks and valleys. No two experiences are the same - even within your own life! It depends on your current mental/emotional state.

Think about it - sometimes an issue that would normally knock you on your face barely fazes you, while other times, merely dropping a pen can elicit instant rage and a “F M L!!!!!!!!!!”

And the comparison can flow the other way too! Try not to diminish/discredit others’ experiences. Just because someone hasn’t confronted the same quantity/quality of challenges as you doesn’t mean their life is easier. Like I said, it depends on their current mental/emotional state, which depends on multiple factors: their upbringing, their relationships, their health, etc. Shoot, even their current spot on the hanger scale! We truly have NO idea what people are working with and feeling. So let’s all hug - or at least high five - one another - and show kindness and empathy.

It fascinates me how we all have inner worlds to which no one else is privy. Every time I pass someone on the street, I want to know their story: challenges they’ve overcome, accomplishments they’ve achieved, etc. WE ALL HAVE STORIES.

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I myself have experienced my own share of darkness. I’m definitely an empath, so when i feel, I friggin’ F E E L. And I take on other people’s energies/emotions. This sensitivity is both a benefit and a drawback. I appreciate it because it allows me to relate to and care for people on a whole other level (you fellow empaths can relate!), but it also gets me down and stresses me out. I feel the injustices of the world so acutely, particularly as they apply to others. Almost always, when I’m bumming/stressing, it’s on another’s behalf.

I’m still working on setting the boundaries for worrying about others, but as far as my personal darkness - my tried and true method for banishing the blues and maintaining a lasting zest for life - no matter my current situation - is facing it. Not denying it, or fleeing it, or resisting it. Leaning into it. Analyzing it. Letting others in. I’m a big advocate for therapy (and if you’ve tried therapy but didn’t connect with your therapist - keep looking! Vibing with your therapist is key).

And finally, be G R A T E F U L. Gratitude is deceptively powerful. So simple, so cliche…yet SO TRANSFORMATIVE. It truly makes all the difference. It may take significant effort initially to adopt an appreciative mindset. It’s a muscle you must strengthen, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

My trick is whenever I encounter a sucky situation or draining emotion, I think of three things for which I’m thankful. It’s straight MAGIC. It kicks those good vibes into gear and lights you right up.

No, really. Try it.

I also think of three ways the situation could be worse - and THAT also is profoundly effective. Suddenly, you’re feeling pretty dang good about your current status.

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To deny your broken bits is doing yourself a great deal of injustice. It is the broken parts of you that grew you the most.

You’ve heard it before but that’s because it’s da TRUTH: Every challenge/obstacle/hardship you face is a b l e s s i n g. It’s an opportunity to grow and evolve. To get smarter, stronger, and better. To relate to others and inform your future experiences.

Acknowledge, accept, and honor your challenges. Be grateful for them, for they’re specifically what you need to evolve. Customized launch pads to strength, success, and wisdom.

xx,

-w-

*This post is not meant to discredit the use of psychotropics. Take control of your own health and please also consider consulting a psychiatrist/other mental health professional if necessary!











E M B R A C E the B L I S S
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

When you focus on the good, the good gets better.

In moments of bliss and triumph, do you ever feel stoked…then feel uneasy and wonder when the other shoe will drop?

Do you ever look at someone you love (your kids, your partner) and think how much you love + adore them - and then immediately think of how crushed you would be if anything ever happened to them (at which point millions of awful scenarios play out in your mind)?

Why do we insist on conjuring up potential tragedy in moments of deep joy?

Because joy is the most vulnerable emotion we feel, even more so than fear and shame.

As Brené Brown advises in her new book, Dare to Lead, when we feel joy, it is a place of incredible vulnerability. It’s beauty and fragility and deep gratitude and permanence all wrapped up in one experience.

When unable to tolerate that level of vulnerability, our joy actually morphs into foreboding, and we immediately shift to self protection. We go on offense. It’s as if we face off to vulnerability and declare, “You will not catch me off guard. You will not sucker punch me with pain. I will be prepared and ready for you.”

However…

The collateral damage of this instinct is we waste the joy we need to build up any emotional reserve, the joy that allows us to accumulate resilience for if/when tragic things do happen. Boom: Another powerful reason to live in the moment.

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Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.
— Mother Teresa

In moments like these I tell myself, “Right now, life kicks ass and I’m going to be happy and ride this wave as long as possible.” Not to say you must be sad and miserable during life’s other moments; but during those highs, lose yourself in the happiness, lean into the joy, embrace the bliss.

What allows you to do this, while still fortifying you against what may come? Simply gratitude. Just be GRATEFUL. I tell myself, “No matter how long this lasts, it’s happening right now, and for that I’m thankful.” I commit to being grateful for however long it lasts, and just grateful it’s even happening at all. (The bonus is this actually attracts more things for which to be grateful!)

Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.

It’s allowing yourself the pleasure of accomplishment/love/joy/etc - really feeling it and absorbing it - but conjuring up gratitude for the moment and for the opportunity. It’s allowing yourself to recognize the sliver of vulnerability - that “Oh shit I have something worth losing now” feeling - and to just sit with it, and be grateful you have something you want, in your hand, that feels good to hold and recognize. We must stop every so often to celebrate ourselves and others, and our opportunities and wins, no matter how small. Things may go sideways later, but don’t let that rob you of the joy right now.

You don’t know what’s around the corner, so why sacrifice the present’s awesomeness for something that may not even friggin’ happen?

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I’m a big believer in positive thinking. And get this: Thoughts really DO have energy. This is not a mystical, hippie concept. It is quantum physics grounded in research and experiments of modern scientific tools. It is also backed by scientists like ya boys Einstein and Edison. Yeah, the heavy hitters. There is so much more to say on this (fascinating!) topic, but suffice it to say: Your thoughts have energy and it is scientifically proven. When you think negative thoughts, it attracts more negativity. When you think positive thoughts, it attracts more positivity.

Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.
— Steve Maraboli

In this vein, there are a couple of points I want to make:

  • This doesn’t mean you must force yourself to (try to) stay positive and high vibing every second of every day.

    • That’s just not feasible. Not realistic. As with everything in life, it’s about balance. Those “off” moments and low vibes serve just as valuable of a purpose. Not only do they amplify by the awesome moments/feelings/etc by providing contrast (think bright twinkling stars in an inky black sky), they also reveal our unhealed parts, aka opportunities for growth and evolution. It’s impossible and unintended for us to be jazzed 100% of the time, so remove that pressure from yourself right meow! Again, this doesn’t mean you reYOu sign yourself to misery and blahness during those “lower” moments. No, it’s about getting to a place where you embrace and are grateful for ALL life offers - the wins and the moments to learn and level up. It’s about loving yourself and others through it all

      • And what about those times when no matter how hard you try, you just feel dark? Stuck in those low vibes? Then just remember to bring it back to the breath, baby. Let that be your full focus. Breathe in, breathe out. (It helps to imagine inhaling love and positivity, and exhaling fear and negativity) If you doubt its power and think it’s something you can easily pass on - I dare you to try it just once. Yep, you’re welcome. (And no, this doesn’t make you a hippie - it just makes you a smart and effective BAMF.)

  • Don’t confuse faith you will prevail in the end - which you can’t afford to lose - with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, regardless of what they are.

    • This was a lesson shared by former Vietnam prisoner of war Admiral Jim Stockdale in Jim Collins’s classic book Good to Great (great read). Stockdale spent eight years as a POW and was tortured more than 20x. Not only did he fight to keep himself alive, he also helped other prisoners endure the physical and emotional torment.

So celebrate, and celebrate often - even if you’re just celebrating being alive. Embrace the bliss and love it for what it is.

xx,

-w-

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32 L E S S O N S
Images by Abbey Armstrong Photography   Edited by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Abbey Armstrong Photography

Edited by Brooke Richardson Photography

Age is irrelevant. Ask me how many sunsets I’ve seen, hearts I’ve loved, trips I’ve taken, or concerts I’ve been to. That’s how old I am.
— Joelle

Coming up on 32 trips around the sun. Thirty-freaking-two. That shit’s bananas, yo.

Absolutely W I L D.

I’m not old. I’ve just been young for a very long time.

I am fully committed to improving with age. Learning and evolving and polishing and refining myself in every single way - and ACCEPTING myself in the process. Loving myself through the evolution. That last part is key, yeah??

It’s about not resenting your current status/situation. Not bullying yourself through it. Not wishing it were otherwise. Just simply telling yourself, “Okay cool, this is where we are. I recognize that. I accept that. And I know I have so much more to give. So LET’S DO DIS.” Basically…”I see where I am, but I know where I’m going.” High five?! HIGH FIVE.

In honor of my 32nd birthday (or princess day, as I like to call it, because everyone should feel like royalty on their birthday) I’m sharing 32 lessons I’ve learned thus far.

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  1. Too much discipline can be as harmful as not enough.

  2. Gratitude is THE BEST way to get back to good when you’re stressed/sad/pissed/bitter/anxious/uncertain. It’s a magical salve!

  3. Love is an infinite resource. There is always more where that came from, so keep tapping into that resource and sprinkling that shiz everywhere.

  4. People care more about how you make them feel than how many degrees/talents/accolades/achievements/possessions you have.

  5. You don’t have to explain yourself.

  6. Let your intuition reign supreme. Save yourself time and regret and don’t ignore it/silence it/intellectualize it. Especially when it comes to the next point, which is:

  7. When it comes to relationships, someone’s potential is irrelevant if they’re not pursuing it. And as previously stated, honor your intuition.

  8. A messy start trumps no start.

  9. Minimalism is undervalued, in pretty much all areas of your life. This plays into the next lesson:

  10. Quality over quantity. With clothes. With friends. With business ventures. With home decor. With exercise hours.

  11. Your body is significantly more intelligent than you can even imagine. Don’t try to outsmart it. Which corresponds with the next few lessons:

  12. Your biography becomes your biology. Your body reflects your stresses/traumas/life choices.

  13. Adopt a holistic approach when healing your body.

  14. Get on the same team as your body. Don’t try to resist/fight/shame/bully it into submission. No matter how you abuse it, it still strives to keep you alive every second of every day, with every heartbeat. Now that’s love! Recognizing its loyalty to you is a game changer. Instead of wishing for a thigh gap, express thanks for those strong quads.

  15. Live intuitively, particularly regarding your health. Your body instinctively knows what it needs. Once you learn to tune into it, you’re set. Try not to intellectualize your fitness and nutrition. Don’t follow a certain regimen just because it’s the latest fad, or because a social media guru recommended it, or because your bestie glowed up with it, or because you want to look a certain way. Every body is different (what works for me might not work for you), and your body’s requirements fluctuate daily. So try to clean your palate (minimize the processed foods in favor of foods in their natural form), pay attention to what your body tells you after a meal/workout, and adjust accordingly. Once you vibe with your body, you’ll be blown away by its intelligence. Whether you listen or not, it’s constantly communicating what it needs for you to look and feel your best. Let it be the boss.

  16. How you feel matters far more than how you look.

  17. Confidence is K E Y. If you OWN it, it doesn’t matter what you look like, or how much you know, or how talented you are. And since we’re all works in progress, let confidence bridge the gap from where you are and where you want to be (with your body, your business, etc). Fake it ‘til you make it, if necessary, which leads to:

  18. Your thoughts are mind-blowingly powerful. Like the quote says, if you knew how truly powerful your thoughts are, you’d never think a negative thought. So get on those daily affirmations: “You is kind, you is smahhht, you is impohhhtant.”

  19. Nature is the best therapy. Instant energy re-charger and soul restorer.

  20. Energy rules the universe. It all comes down to energy. This isn’t hippie talk, y’all. Don’t believe me?! Even Albert Einstein says so: “Everything is energy and that's all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.”

  21. Your biggest act of kindness to the world is getting right with yourself. When you’re at peace and solid in who you are, it’s a ripple effect: you radiate love and acceptance. And this world desperately needs more love and acceptance.

  22. It’s always worth an ask. Whether you’re asking for a date, a promotion, or an extra side of hot sauce - you’d be amazed what you can get if you just dare to ask.

  23. Save yourself time and sanity and don’t try to do it all (STILL learning this). Your time and energy are worth money and are finite resources. Know when it’s worth it to DIY, and when it’s better to outsource. This plays into:

  24. Stop the glorification of busy. Stop considering an impossibly-packed schedule a badge of honor. The truly successful people know how to best invest their time and energy to maximize their strengths and yield the greatest results. They also understand:

  25. Re-charging and reflection are essential, for your productivity, sanity, health, and creativity. Inspiration usually strikes not when you’re actively/aggressively luring it, but when you’re taking a breather.

  26. Normalcy is an illusion. Everyone is “weird” so own your weirdness. Your uniqueness is your superpower.

  27. Feel your emotions, don’t repress them. What you resist, persists. If you ignore/deny/shove them down, they’ll just fester and pop up eventually - in magnified form. The trick is to feel them and let them move through your body without wallowing. Emotions are emotions - they’re not good, they’re not bad. They just…are.

  28. You can appreciate others’ beauty without diminishing your own.

  29. There are multiple types of intelligence; don’t judge your intelligence or others’ by one definition. Some people are masterful musicians (sound smart), or brilliant logisticians/mathematicians (number/reasoning smart), or natural athletes (bodily-kinesthetic smart), or gifted linguists (word smart), or…the list goes on. So the next time you feel tempted to judge someone for mistaking you/you’re, consider how you’d feel if someone assessed your intelligence solely on your calculus skillz. Appreciate and play to your strengths, and honor and acknowledge others’.

  30. Everybody has a story to tell. Stay interested in others.

  31. You never know what life has in store. Do your best to enjoy the ride. Celebrate the highs. Cherish the “minor” moments. Appreciate the tough times for the lessons they teach and the strength they impart. Stay jazzed on life and never ever become numb to its beauty.

  32. Balance is the key to life.

Let’s never stop learning.

xx,

-w-

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There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.
— Sophia Loren














where Y O U are
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
— Melody Beattie

It can be all too easy to wish life away. To focus on what you’re lacking/wanting rather than on what you already have.

“Once I earn my degree, life will be easier and I can breathe a sigh of relief.”

“My life would be so much more meaningful if I had children.”

“My life can really start once I’m married/have a life partner.”

“When my finances are solid, then I can catch my breath and enjoy life.”

How about enjoying life on the way to those goals? How about focusing on what you do have instead of what you don’t? How about celebrating your current situation?

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If all you did was just look for things to appreciate, you would live a joyous, spectacular life.
— Abraham Lincoln

This seems to blow some people’s minds when I tell them, but I can genuinely say I have never minded being single. I have never been the girl who needs to be in a relationship. I would much rather do my own thing than be with someone I’m not 100% into. Yes, a major part of that is I’m independent AF, but I’m also perfectly happy in a relationship.

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We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.
— Abraham Lincoln



The trick is I focus on the benefits of each status.

For example, the bonuses of flying solo are:

  • Crushing hard on that tall beautiful stranger at the gym

  • Considering your options

  • Flirting shamelessly (with other single guys!)

  • Receiving those cute initial texts

  • Creating nicknames with your friends

  • Going on a first date and wondering where it’ll lead

  • Being selfish with your time and covers ;)



And on the other hand, the upsides to a committed relationship are:

  • “Fun stuff” (yep, that fun stuff)

  • Cuddling

  • Someone to share life with (to include but not limited to: major moments, inside jokes, challenges, adventures)

  • Instant “plus one” to weddings

  • Someone to dress up with on Halloween (we all know this is the real winner and should be at the top of the list)

  • Someone to SPOIL

  • Having “your person”

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Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.

Same concept applies to other situations! For example, I can’t wait to have littles of my own someday, but until then, I’m soaking up the advantages of a current childless existence. For example, every time I take a nap whenever the hell I want, or sleep in, or take off on a spontaneous getaway, I think, “Couldn’t do this [easily] if I were a mama!” On the flip side, I can’t imagine the love you parents experience for your little ones, and the special moments you share.

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The takeaway here is just being grateful for wherever you are in life, while working toward what you want.

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Don’t settle! Don’t force anything! Don’t rush anything! Don’t wish your life away!

Sure, you may have moments where you feel less than awesome and just REALLY FRIGGIN’ WANT THAT promotion/degree/ring/bambino but if you spend the majority of your time focusing on the positives, then you’re golden.

xx,

-w-

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