self-assessment: can we pause to appreciate how far we’ve come?

can we live the questions? can we move through them, or more appropriately, can we allow them to move through us?

there is so much dominating my being right now: doubt, uncertainty, excitement, Love.

i have a strong sense of potential, and in-turn, an intense awareness around my fears of failure.

i’ve lived most of my life sculpting a box around myself — around who i should be, how i should act, what type of person i was. it was protective, for a time, and i’m grateful for it.

but in a cliched way, entering my 30s felt like entering a new plane of existence. i eventually realized i didn’t have to play by the rules presented to me throughout my youth. so the past couple of years has been reckoning with the truth of who i am versus the story i’ve adopted from a place of protection and external acceptance.

this has taken me many places, ones that have deepened my understanding of how unconventional i am.
my lack of desire for a traditional, committed relationship has informed me that i am not monogamous. i honestly don’t think i ever have been, but didn’t have the language or the understanding to come to terms with this.

this space to explore has made it clearer to me that i am also queer. another thing i believe i’ve always been, and yet, for so long, i couldn’t fathom how to integrate it into my identity. plus, i wanted so desperately to be accepted by straight men, and therefore avoided things that would compromise this.

i’ve learned a lot about my sexual preferences over the past few months. as someone with sexual trauma, there are lots of things that don’t currently feel safe or good. but i didn’t know how to give myself permission to accept this, to seek pleasure beyond those acts.
doing so these days is really exciting. i’m finding my kinks, moving towards embracing them. i’m learning how to tell partners what i like, what’s on the table, and what’s very much not.

getting older has also brought with it a sense of responsibility — to myself, to others, to my time on this Earth. i’ve been sitting with how to integrate my various selves into my writing, to create space to honor the collective suffering that seems to always be taking place somewhere on this globe.

i am working towards finding a “niche,” which is really about honing in on what interests me, what turns me on, and the ways i can bring these elements together to write about them.

i’m reminding myself, time and again, that when i speak to life experiences, to keep them personal, to avoid projecting my truth onto others.

i am learning that i have so much Love to give, and the ways i so desperately want to help others heal.

i’m learning how to deconstruct my resentment towards straight men from a lens of compassion. the more i engage with “typical” straight dudes, the more exposed i become to the pain of such intense emotional repression. and the more my heart breaks for them.

i’m trying to practice critiquing behavior from a cultural lens instead of attacking an individual.

i’m working to set down my “hater” card, because although calling out problematic behavior is beneficial, being a hater serves, from my perspective, no purpose. other than adding to general negativity.

but in doing so, i still want to be able to talk shit, to find the playful middle ground between shitting on others and fucking with them. because i believe not taking ourselves too seriously is actually healing for everyone involved.
and apologizing when i’ve accidentally taken things too far or hit a button offers me space to practice accountability.

it’s wild to think how recently i’ve moved from a place of self-detestation. i mean, it’s not as though i’ve completely freed myself from this practice, but the shift has been dramatic. which reminds me to appreciate myself and how far i’ve come so far on this journey.

i am grateful to every person who’s helped me get here, which are too many to name. adrienne maree brown being the most recent and potent example of someone who has modeled for me different ways to be that are nurturing, kind, engaged, compassionate.

i continue to learn the many forms Love can take, such as a daily routine that nourishes me. writing everyday is the most loving thing i’ve done for myself in a good while. it’s such a kind practice (when i let it be).

i’ve come to the conclusion, yet again, that i can’t focus on making money off of writing, at least not at this point in my life. that that would feel like jeopardizing this sweet, sacred practice.

i am growing in awareness on how to better tend to my body, trying to make shifts that are sustainable (versus extreme ones that last about a week).

i am learning how to share with others the person i am growing into, to trust their ability to receive me. and for this, i feel proud and grateful.

well, loves, i could go on, but i have an appointment to get ready for.

i realized that i have a practice of offering a prayer at the end of these posts. i hope you understand its intention is one of Love, and if it does not apply to you, to let it go quickly and with ease.

may we all remember our truest natures, as beings of Love and the Divine. may we allow the essence of life to be expressed through us, to become a channel for the changes we’d like to see in the world. may we remember kindness, first to ourselves, that then extends outwards. may we remember to dream, even if none of it comes to fruition. may you remember my Love, if you ever doubt that someone out here care about you.

much love.

❤ ❤ ❤

how do we practice change in a sustainable way?

(note: some of the quotes have been italicized/bolded by me, to emphasize the point i’m trying to make)

i’ve been trying to work out what i’m going to write about today. considering i’m working on a piece about routine and habit change, i figure that would make the most sense (you know, to make life a bit easier for myself).

i started reading Atomic Habits yesterday, a book by James Clear. it’s a book i’ve been familiar with for years, but for whatever reason, up until now, i wasn’t ready to receive its lessons.

i want to begin with the beginning part of the book, which makes the point, “True behavior change is identity change.”

this reminded me of a friend who’s been trying to get a hang on her drinking, and a comment she made to me about what’s been helping her — she mentioned working with her therapist to get to a place of no longer thinking of herself as a “drinker.”

Clear uses a similar example with smoking — the difference between being offered a cigarette and saying, “i’m trying to quit.” vs “i don’t smoke.” in the first response, you’re still a smoker; in the second one, you’re not.

which brings us to another point he makes: “Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your identity.”

any of us engaging with self-improvement is aware of the power of self-talk. the way that we talk to ourselves, the way that we think about ourselves, in so many ways shapes the way we interact with the world around us. when we decide we’re “bad” at something, we often stop trying to improve at it. (on a grand scale, this could be applied to how girls relate to math)

i was having a conversation with an ex yesterday and caught myself saying things i no longer feel comfortable co-signing like, “i’m super insecure, i’m super petty,” etc. learning how to reframe these is a continuous practice — being able to honor what has felt true in the past without making it definitive of my present/future self.

in this early section of the book, Clear emphasizes, “it’s important to let your values, principles, and identity drive the loop rather than your results. The focus should always be on becoming that type of person, not getting a particular outcome.”

he makes the point that most of us have been trained to approach habit change with an emphasis on outcome, such as i want to run the marathon, i want to lose 10 pounds, i want to become a morning person, i want to stop smoking, i want to eat less sugar, etc.

one of his examples is having the goal/desire to write a book:
“‘Who is the type of person who could write a book?’ It’s probably someone who is consistent and reliable. Now your focus shifts from writing a book (outcome-based) to being the type of person who is consistent and reliable (identity-based).”

here, James provides a clear differentiation between an identity-based versus an outcome-based approach to change — it becomes about the qualities of the type of person you want to become.

this has honestly been revelatory to me (specifically as someone who wants to write a book). it also makes total sense for long-term change, right?

it reminds me of my own life and eating habits. as a kid, i grew up eating TV dinners, lunchables, and drinking Dr. Pepper as though it was water (i honestly have very few memories drinking water as a kid).

as i got older and realized that was not the ideal eating structure, i started relating to food differently. i shifted to being someone who wanted to eat foods that made me feel good, who cooked for myself, who ate vegetables and fresh foods.

so despite spending so many years in the routine/habit of eating crappy foods, nowadays, i’m not even tempted by them — they simply don’t seem relevant to the person i am today.

(also, zero shade to anyone’s eating habits — i’m not here to be self-righteous about how i live my life.)

so James makes the point that before we dive into the habits we want to change, we need to first decide who we want to be, which means asking ourselves questions along the lines of:
* What do I want to stand for?
* What are my principles and values?
* Who do I wish to become?

it’s strange how hard it can be to answer questions that appear so simple.

here are my own attempts at answering these questions:
* What do I want to stand for? love, service, care, justice, equity
* What are my principles and values? care for the Earth, care for each other, interconnectedness and interdependence, presence, rigorous honesty
* Who do I wish to become? a writer, good to my body, a better friend/lover/daughter/sister, a healer, steward of the earth, activist, changemaker, nomad

which brings us to the final quote from James (for now): “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”

i have a morning writing practice because i wish to embody being a writer. i do my best to eat vegetables every day and move my body so i can practice being someone who tends to my body.

i’m reminded time and again of the difference between holding knowledge in my head and practicing embodying it. the difference between liking the idea of self-love and the practice of looking myself in the mirror and saying, “i love you.”

i mean, if knowledge was enough, those of us into self-improvement would be perfect by now.

it’s putting the knowledge into practice that makes it real, tangible.

anyway, i’m sure i’ll get into the actual minutiae of habit change as i continue to read the book. in the meantime, let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

also, as someone who has tried to practice perfectionism for most of my life, please don’t internalize any of this as me telling you you need to “work harder” to become the person you want to be.

if i can offer any sort of insight into my own experience with change, it’s that moving from love and care for self is the most sustainable way to do it.

and sometimes we’re simply in survival mode, sometimes that is more than enough. i mean, from november to january, that was me. fuck change, i could barely get by. i was trying to keep my head above water, to make it from day to day. so ya know, let’s keep perspective on the ebb and flow of life.

anyway, i love y’all, and i’m grateful to be on this journey together. ❤ ❤ ❤