Hold On

If you feel broken

Like things won’t get better

Like the ground is caving in

Hold on

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If nothing feels right

If you’ve lost your spark

If nothing feels interesting anymore

Hold on

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If your purpose feels empty

If you feel lonely

If your dreams fell apart

Hold on

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If you need a friend

If the future seems hopeless

If you can’t get out of bed

Hold on.

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You Deserve

You deserve to pause and feel the rain. You deserve guilt-free cupcakes and moments of laughter. You deserve friends who love you and people who respect you. You deserve peaceful nights and rested mornings. You deserve walks in the park and time to gaze at the stars. You deserve to hear your favorite music and to dance around your room. You deserve to smile. You deserve hugs and hot tea and warm blankets. You deserve kisses. You deserve adventures and new beginnings. You deserve to be happy where you are. You deserve to have your dreams come true.

Dreams

Dreams aren’t always about winning the lottery, getting the promotion, or wearing a ring. Sometimes they’re about moments. Some they’re about seeing the ocean, going rock climbing, or trying a famous ice-cream shop. Sometimes they’re about watching old movies with a friend or dancing the night away. Sometimes they’re about playing with puppies or eating three different flavors of cake. Dreams can simple. Dreams can be fun. Dreams can be giving yourself a reason to smile.

Attachments

I’d grow attached to friends

Like a vine wrapped around a tree branch

 

When I found a heart beating in sync with mine

A mind racing at the same speed as mine

 

I didn’t let it go

I gave it water and sunlight and time

 

Like anything in nature

Even good things fell apart or returned to the earth

 

But that doesn’t mean they didn’t matter

Some are still standing tall

 

They say you are the sum

Of the few people you spend the most time with

 

Investments in other people

Are investments in the self

 

I surround myself with kindness, cleverness, and humor

Ardor, empathy, ingenuity, and drive

 

But mostly truth

There are monks and gurus

 

Who say that we should seek enlightenment

By letting go of attachments

 

Maybe this is true

Maybe sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference

 

Between tattoos and scars

I nurture the good connections

 

And stand before the Sunrise, saying,

“This is who I am. I hope I’ve chosen wisely.”

 

The Forest Fairy and the Willow Tree

Mae was a forest fairy

Who had glittery wings

And wore a green gown

And was a friend to all the animals

 

She always had lots of work to do

From helping the flowers to bloom

To helping birds build their nests

To making sure the grass got morning dew

 

After a long day’s work

She liked to visit her friend

Hector, the wise old Willow Tree

He always told her stories

 

About kids swimming in the lake

About beavers that would play

And kittens that would fall asleep

Beside him in the grass

 

They were best friends

And no matter how much time passed

Each day brought more laughter

And more stories to tell.

An Invitation

Jill sat alone in the university library. This was her usual seat, at her usual table, tucked away by a small window where she could focus on her studies. She leafed through her anthropology textbook, taking notes so she could work on her essay about traditional medicine in Eastern cultures. Scribbling in her notebook, she was jotting down some information about the use of moxibustion in South Korea, when a shadow appeared over her on the wooden table.

“Sorry to interrupt, mind if I join you?” a guy asked. He was tall, wore a blue polo shirt with black jeans, and he had a shy smile. She didn’t recognize him at all, but she did recognize his voice. It was hard to know for sure, but she thought she had a class with him. Poly Sci? Biochem? One of those. Not wanting to lose her train of thought with her notes, she nodded, gesturing for him to sit so she could go on reading.

He sat across from her, diagonally. Placing his small backpack on the table, he started rummaging through it. She thought he was going to study, too, but instead he pulled out a sandwich resting in small plastic bag. Were people even allowed to eat in this room? Whatever. She didn’t really care.

He held out an open bag of chips, offering her one, but she declined. After stuffing some chips in his sandwich, he ate with a loud crunch and sipped from an apple juice box. For whatever reason, things started to feel awkward, like there was something he wanted to say, but wasn’t saying it. He put his sandwich down and cleared his throat.

“So, I wanted to ask you a question. But I don’t want it to come off as an insult. It’s not an insult,” he said.

Jill looked at him, but he was staring at the table, toying with a loose thread on his backpack.

“Um, okay. What is it?” she asked. He ran his fingers through his short, dark hair and took another sip of juice before he answered.

“The thing is, I kind of need someone to pretend to be my date. I have to go to this family friend’s dinner party. Friday night, at an event hall about twenty minutes from here. It’s semi-formal, but I’m not gonna know a lot of people there. I was gonna bring my girlfriend, Sasha, but she dumped me two days ago. I can’t cancel, and it would just be really awkward if I had to go alone. And I’d ask a friend, but I don’t really have a lot of friends here. I spent all my time with my, well, my ex.” He paused, pinching the bridge of his nose and shaking his head. “You know what, this is stupid. I shouldn’t have bothered you with this.”

Tears seemed to well up in his eyes a bit, but he blinked them away. He wanted her to be his fake date? To a dinner party?

“Um, I mean, maybe I could. But why are you asking me?” she asked.

He smiled then, going from heartbroken to carefree in a matter of seconds. “Oh, I need someone who’s good in French. Not all the guests speak English. As far as I can tell, you’re the best in our class.”

French class. That’s where she knew him from. She tapped her pen against her notebook, thinking.

“I don’t have any plans on Friday, so I guess I could help. Why did you think I’d be insulted?”

He shrugged. “Because it’s, ya know, not a real date.”

She laughed and this time his warm, brown eyes met hers. “Trust me, I can live with that.”

On Happiness

I’m curious about happiness. About joy, inner peace, and how it works. What does it really mean to live a happy life? Society tells us about all the things we should want to have. A job, a spouse, a family, a house, a car. Most of us aspire to have those things in some shape or form, and many of us feel depressed or inadequate if we have none or only a few of those things. Maybe we have a good job, but feel incomplete if we are single. Or maybe we have a good relationship, but feel like failures because we don’t have our careers figured out.

Some people have all of these things, and they are still not happy. They achieve all the things that society approves of, but they still find they are not satisfied. Why is that? And what does that mean for those of us who are still working toward being “successful” adults? I know that you can have everything and still not be happy, but I still feel miserable over all the things I don’t have yet.

This kind of unhappiness stems from constantly being in a state of pursuing something, and feeling unsatisfied because it feels so out of reach. But how can you pursue goals, especially those you need to achieve (like getting a job) without feeling depressed about not having one? I guess the answer is to focus on the process and not the outcome, and to appreciate the things you have that are within your control. I think most spiritual ideas are also verbs. Love is a verb. It requires action. Happiness does, too.

If I think of people who I look up to who seem to live joyous lives, not many people genuinely come to mind. I think of people like Ellen DeGeneres, who dedicates her life to inspiring others. She eats healthy, exercises, meditates, and practices kindness. I think of Oprah, who continues to give back and inspire people through her many platforms. In many ways I think of Miley Cyrus, who also devotes much of her time to helping others, and loving animals, eats healthy, and practices yoga. Marie Forleo, who inspires others through her TV show. Evanna Lynch who inspires others, eats healthy, and loves animals.

Rachel Platten who inspires others through her music. The common theme here seems to be people who spend their time being kind to others, and also being kind to themselves. And those who are able to incorporate that into their life’s work. I think these are also people who don’t worry about the status quo. They don’t care what others think of them, but they do care about where they are on a spiritual level.

So maybe it’s not my purpose to get a job, get married, get a house, and have a car, even if those are things I try to pursue. But maybe it’s my purpose to be kind to others, and to myself. I also think you can’t help others unless you are connecting to your own source of light and inspiration, and I think for many people that comes from connecting to God, a higher power, nature, or the universe. And there are many things, many windows and doors through which we can connect with that.

Whether it’s through music, books, film, conversations, prayer, nature, or stillness. Like Audrey Hepburn says, “we have one hand for helping others and another hand for helping ourselves.” I do think it has to start with us though. I think the idea is that if you get inspired and find your source of light, peace, and joy, you’ll be able to share that with others. Because you’ll shine.

So maybe life is really about pursuing not things, but moments. Moments where we pause and enjoy nature, or just take the time to smile or drink tea. Moments of peace.

While I do think that people who help others is a common theme for a joyous life, it is also possible to do this only to be burnt out. Sometimes people forget to be kind to themselves. I think one reason children tend to be so happy is because they are given so much joy by the caring people around them. We make sure the messages they receive are positive and affirming.

The world is not always so kind, the older you get. You have to find that support for yourself. And I think we need to support each other.

I certainly don’t have the secrets to a joyous or peaceful life. They say you should spend your money or experiences, not things. Maybe life is like that, too. We should be pursuing experiences, not things.

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#MyThoughts