I was eighteen. I had dropped out of high school. I wasn’t going to college. I was fresh off two sexual assaults and had retaliated with promiscuity, hoping that would claim my power back. My bipolar and PTSD diagnoses left with the label "mental illness" and felt like they were consuming my life.
I wasn’t doing well.
So, I decided to journal. In an 8x11 pink hardcover that read “LOVE,” I sat down everyday to write five positive things about the day. I wouldn't call this a gratitude journal; I was not ready to say thank you for the life I’d been living. Just a list of five positive things.
Some days, this could look like, “I got out of bed this morning,” or, “I brushed my teeth,” or, “I ate one packet of peanut butter cups instead of the party-size bag.” Some days, it was a big struggle to come up with anything at all.
Still, I committed to showing up, and every few months, I would add something new to the practice. "Okay," I said. "Now I’ll add a thank you." "Okay," I added. "Now I'll add 'You Are Enough' to end of each entry.
Fast forward: It's 2020, I'm 27 years old, I’m accomplishing my goals, I'm thriving, I'm living my dreams, and I love myself SO FUCKING MUCH!
Literally, guys, I struggled with mental health, trauma recovery, suicidal ideation, chronic pain, for over a decade. You can build a life of self-love and thriving, too. I know you love yourself so deeply - because that’s why you’re here.
Shall we dive in?
We have been ignorant AF when it’s come to racism in our culture. We’ve been privileged, we’ve been tactless, and for many of us, we did the best we knew how to do.
I’ve been reflecting on my upbringing, upon why I didn’t know I needed to do better until now. Before the recent rise of the Black Lives Matter movement (which has, by the way, existed a lot longer than this, and I did not get involved enough, at all), I would never have thought of myself as racist. I was taught to love everyone. I was taught racism is hate.
Here’s where the problem is: I was also taught not to acknowledge the differences of other colors and cultures. I was taught to act like everyone is the same, that that’s what equality means.
30 states, 11,180 miles and 65 days later, I find myself sitting at the table in my living room, a lit candle on the corner and a mug of tea right next to me, reminding me, “You Are Enough.” As light pours in through my east-facing windows (#manifested), I feel a sense of ease around the beautiful familiarity of home, and I begin to process and reflect on my takeaways from my first ever original music tour. Ready to dive in?
I walked up to the door to find the manager opening it for me, smiling and saying, “Happy birthday!”
“Oh, thank you!” I replied, surprised. She must have seen on Facebook, I thought. But then,
“There’s something waiting for you.”
My heart began pounding with nerves and excitement. I dropped my gear on the stage and looked around, searching for the source of the ‘something’ she mentioned. It took less than a second to find it: A bouquet of sunflowers, with a card that read, “You did it.”
I knew this tour was going to be the biggest journey of my life.
For years, I’ve come up with reasons not to be alone with myself. If I structured my time, I could be alone no problem; a 10-minute meditation written into my morning routine? Great! A two and a half hour drive home from a gig? No problem.
But anytime I ended up with space to rest, with time I hadn’t carefully manicured into my schedule - I panicked. I found anything and everything to fill my time, from eating a bowl of chips to going to see a show: It didn’t matter what it was, I just couldn’t be alone.
On tour, you can’t structure your time. You can’t plan. I’ve ended up staying in different houses than I’d planned on. I’ve meandered into cities I never knew existed and spent time with people who have changed my life. These aren’t things you can put on your agenda.
The lack of control, the new faces, the sporadic sleep and unpredictable food, the adrenaline of performance, and the hours alone I’ve experienced could easily have turned into an abrupt shattering of my stability. Instead, I chose to hold this experience as a platform to catapult me into the version of myself I’ve always dreamed of.
I didn’t realize National Eating Disorder Awareness week was coming up when I piled a mound of gluten, dairy, sugar, and booze onto a plate (or into a cup, depending) and spent two hours chewing non-stop. 2,000+ excess calories later, I waited for the, “What the hell have I done?” thought to present itself - and it never came.
I was a chronic binge-eater from ages 15 to about 24. When I first began my clean-eating and weight loss journey two years ago, I still binged; I just binged on chickpeas and carrots and paleo muffins and vegan pesto.
It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom last year and rebuilt my beliefs and self-care with a beautiful new foundation that I found myself able to stop the compulsion, and really get to the root of what I was experiencing and fearing underneath the addiction.
Let’s face it: When we started 2018, we set some resolutions, and now that we’ve launched into a new year (oh haiiii 2019!) and have been reflecting on our previous, we’re realizing we uh, didn’t really end up achieving those resolutions like we thought we would.
Here’s the thing about resolutions: They often come from a place of lack, guilt, and obligation. We feel there’s something we need to be doing better; that if we just engaged in X, Y, or Z, we’d be enough, we’d be happy, we’d feel whole; that there’s something we should be doing that we haven’t gotten ourselves to do yet.
It’s no wonder only 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions (Forbes)! When we set conditions for our self-love and happiness, i.e. “I’m going to lose 20 lbs this year - then I’ll feel better,” we affirm to ourselves that we aren’t enough just as we are - and that doesn’t feel good for anyone.
So how do we set ourselves up for success? Let me clue you in to a few secrets that will allow you to move toward your goals from a place of self-love, clarity, and beautiful inner worth:
**Trigger warning: Sexual trauma**
As I write this, I sit in the middle seat of Row 23, glancing out the window at the clouds below as Flight 807 leads me home.
I’d never been to Chicago before, and I wasn’t disappointed. I caught Lake Michigan on a windy day and felt waves bigger than the ocean. I found the biggest rubber duck I’ve ever seen (we named him Aqueductus, and yes, I brought him home with me). I had a pumpkin hazelnut sundae, the best gluten-free muffin I’ve ever eaten, and chocolate banana tea, and I sang karaoke for the first time in years (my Diva self had never been so elated).
But the most significant part of this trip wasn’t the waters, the nightlife, or even seeing my best friend (love you so much). The most significant part of this trip was that I made the journey alone.
***IMAGES CONTAIN NUDITY***
I’ve always done my best to shimmer, to softly impart my sparkle onto the lives of those around me.
Ultimately that’s what we all want to do, right? Live our best lives, connect with those around us, and leave our mark on the world.
A year ago, I discovered the secret to offering my full shine: I began to love myself first before pouring my pieces into those around me, and I felt, for the first time, like I was whole.
I’d already been an advocate around mental illness and trauma stigmatization, but with this new discovery, my message changed: Rather than coming from a space of depression, I came from a space of self-love. I yearned for the people around me to embrace their own self-love journey, so I shared mine, and began to follow my dreams and aspirations in new, uninhibited ways.
Six months ago, I hit a snag.
1. Say YES to Yourself!
Let’s be honest: How many times do we hold our true selves back when we're worried about others' opinions, reactions, or judgments? Hiiii this guy right here does this sometimes! And GIRL let me tell you, that ain't no best life!
All of my dreams and goals that have come to fruition have only done so when I've said YES to being my full self, no matter what other people think of that.
So, I want to challenge you: Give yourself permission to be fully you. Say YES to yourself and see where it takes you!
2. Say NO to opportunities that don't align with you!
When opportunities come along, we often have this fear that if we say no, we won't receive another opportunity. Babe, I'm here to tell ya - you gotta let this go!
Living your best life means saying no so much more than saying yes - life hands us more opportunities than we can take on! Don't you want to reserve your energy for the things that make you say HELL YES?