Recalibrating My Days

A couple weeks back, I wrote an Instagram post about remembering to go outside for a walk in the early evening, before the sun went down:

“Today I was working at my desk trying to rush and get stuff done before the weekend, but luckily took a pause and said to myself, if you don’t go outside now, it’ll be dark out and too late to go for a walk. So I went. And it was beautiful, and quiet, and there weren’t many people around, and the sky was gorgeous. And suddenly what I had been rushing to do didn’t seem so urgent.

Recalibrating My Days >> Life In Limbo

This idea has been with me for a long time – all the way back to when I had a “Don’t miss the moment” poster taped to my wall, and probably before that. I never want to look up and realize that I’ve missed all the sunshine, or get home from a party and have the yucky feeling like I wasn’t truly present for any of it, or that it’s only fun now that I’m reflecting on it after the fact.

This philosophy requires a lot of flexibility, creativity, and mindfulness, things that I am constantly working on developing for myself. I’m a person who likes routines, and can easily start to measure myself on how well I’m sticking to my (arbitrarily-established) routine on a daily basis. That night, rushing to get stuff done felt like the price I had to pay in order to enjoy my evening and relax, until I remembered that I am self-employed, I set my own schedule, and I can relax right now.

With this in mind, I’m making an effort to recalibrate my days to celebrate the change in seasons. Instead of getting all my work done before I go for my daily walk, I’m sticking my nature time right into the middle of my work day. This week, I’ve been going for a long leisurely walk right smack dab after lunch, soaking up the midday sunshine when it’s at its peak, instead of hoping to catch a few weak rays of it in the late afternoon.

Yesterday I went to the park near my house and laid down on a picnic table in the sun, cloud-watching and appreciating the light through the leaves on the giant trees. It felt “wrong” somehow to be doing this before I’d “earned it” (ugh @ myself sometimes, you know!?!), but it also felt so good. When I got back to my desk, I was able to be way more productive because I didn’t feel rushed, and I didn’t have to mourn the sun setting at 5:30PM before I’d had a chance to enjoy it properly. I’d enjoyed it already.

I know not everyone has the freedom to recalibrate their days to the extent that I do, but maybe you can walk on your lunch break. Maybe you can wake up earlier and sit quietly beside the window in the morning light. Maybe you can go outside for a five minute Vitamin D break.

As I try to embrace the change in seasons (so far, so good!), this tiny recalibration is making a big difference for me. How do you restructure your life as seasons change?

Thoughts for Winter

“November silently sneaks up on us, catching our senses by surprise. Outside, silvery grey shafts reveal a familiar landscape stripped of pretence. Behind closed doors, glowing amber fires shed light upon the real. Like a woman who has found her authenticity, November’s beauty radiates from within.” 

-Sarah Ban Breathnach

Thoughts for Winter >> Life In Limbo

November did sneak up on me, especially this year. It was a tremendous summer, one of my best yet, and the warm weather lingered well into Fall. It was only when I was on my daily walk on Saturday trying to catch a ray or two of sunshine when I realized that it was so cold my fingers were too stiff to type and my ears were numb. It seems like only yesterday that I was on a patio somewhere with my friends!

I am a person who really struggles with winter. I dislike the cold, play no winter sports, and hate how it gets dark outside so early. Reading the passage above, from the book Simple Abundance, was comforting in that it reminded me of the flip side of these dark months: we can use them to work on cultivating our inner, private lives. We can relish the warm light of our homes behind closed doors. We can respect the energy shift of this new season instead of fighting it.

This year, although apparently I have some kind of identity attachment to hating winter that I feel like clinging to, I am choosing differently. I choose to embrace these winter months.

Some practical resolutions for myself this season:

I will not complain about the cold. I will not complain about the darkness. I will not complain about the cold!

I will keep my lighter handy and try to light candles every day.

I will dress more warmly. I will invest in winter layers in order to dress more warmly.

I will go outside for a walk every day.

I will take lots of hot bubble baths.

I will take my daily vitamin D!

I will read books about loving winter.

I will up my hygge game at home as much as possible. I even started a Pinterest board to inspire me.

I will cuddle with my cat more often.

I will let myself take naps.

I will make cozy winter recipes and cozy winter drinks.

I will plan winter adventures despite the cold. I will not complain about the cold!

Do you have tips for embracing winter? Teach me your ways!! If you need me I’ll be over here reading this post and trying to become a Winter Person. And this post. And this one.

 

2017: Embrace

One Little Word 2017: Embrace >> Life In LimboOne of the ways that I try to bring more magic into my life is to choose a word or theme for each new year. It’s an idea I picked up from Elise Cripe via Ali Edwards, and 2017 will be my fifth time choosing a word. So far I’ve had reach in 2013, abundance in 2014, grace in 2015, and light in 2016. It makes me so happy to look back on each of them and think about the ways they did (or didn’t) come up for me throughout each of their respective years. I find this exercise so fun and interesting because there’s really no downside. Worst case: you forget you have a word (cough, 2015), and best case: you get a kick out of noticing your word everywhere you look and potentially have a new lens through which to see the world or help you to make decisions.

Like I said in my year in review post, light was my favourite word so far, right up there with abundance for me. It was fun that light is an actual physical phenomenon, so I could literally look for it out in the world, but I also noticed it in quotes, songs, and situations.

One Little Word 2017: Embrace >> Life In Limbo

This year, my word is embrace. Let me tell you what it means to me, and what I hope I’ll do more of this year:

  • Embrace others: As in, hug. As in, spend lots of time with the people that I love and cherish so much. Prioritize people! Say yes to quality time, and any chance to see my people. Hug them when I see them! Love them. I want to cultivate a sense of community this year in ways big and small, and spend my time and energy deepening my dearest connections.
  • Embrace the situation: Even in the few short weeks since choosing this word, I’ve been shocked at how many of my thoughts in any given situation are some iteration of “things would be better right now if they were like this…” or “I wish that person would be a little more like this…” or “maybe we should do this thing right now”. Basically, wishing things were different from how they actually are. I don’t think that striving to accept people or situations means becoming complacent, I think it means valuing acceptance over criticism; honouring people as they are over how I wish they might be acting; and sitting with it instead of forcing things to look, be, or play out a certain way. Just let it be the way it’s meant to be.
  • Embrace my everyday: Ooh this one makes me feel calmer and happier just saying it out loud. Because to embrace my everyday means I want to celebrate it, document it, love it exactly as it is. It means not devaluing my everyday just because it looks less pretty than someone’s Instagram account. It probably means checking other people’s Instagram accounts way less often. It means taking more photos and practicing gratitude for what I have. And most of all it means working to make my everyday as lovely, happy, cozy and special as I possibly can.
  • Embrace the season: I mean this one both literally and figuratively, as I am not much for winter. But I’m also talking about the season of life that I’m in: I’m single, in a new city, trying to make friends and make a life and make a career all at the same time. It’s a lot! It’s easy to want to skip ahead to some mythical time when “things will be more settled” and “things are more figured out” (spoiler alert: that time is never), so for me, embracing the season means being okay with the weird, awkward parts and the incredibly awesome parts all at the same time. I want to remember to get out there and find my tribe, settle into my community, and make the most out of this season because before I know it, it will be over. I mean this literally: when I lived in Korea and then Ecuador, I always felt like that season would last forever, but of course it didn’t, and now those times are behind me. You only get one shot to make it amazing! I want to make it amazing.
  • Embrace myself: I want to do the things that I really love and that make me happiest. I want to stop trying to be different or “better” than I am. Acceptance. I want to trust my gut (I’m sorry for all the times I haven’t listened to you, gut!) and let awesome things flow to me.

 

I think it’s going to be a pretty amazing year. My new hashtag, if you want to follow along, is going to be #embracethedayproject.

Happy 2017, everyone!

 

Looking for the Light Today

Looking for the Light Today >> Life In Limbo

Today I walked down to the lake near my house and sat on a rock by the water. I needed to get away from my computer, from the endless articles I was reading, from Facebook, from the noise. There were hardly any people around and the lake was more still than I’ve seen it be since I moved in a month ago. It’s really cold today, and I wasn’t dressed for it, so sitting wasn’t a very attractive option. But I knew my soul needed to listen to the water, so I sat.

Like many of my incredible friends in the States and around the world, I am shaken by the results of the election. I keep reaching out to my friends, sending love, not knowing what to say.

It’s so stressful and startling to hear the things that we’ve been hearing. That the markets at one point last night dropped to lower than they were after 9/11. That my friends who are teachers are posting that their students are crying and afraid, worried for the safety of their family. That there was so much voter suppression during this election, and who knows how much that affected the results. That a Trump presidency may have horrific outcomes for civil rights. That people are joking about the fact that the Canadian immigration website crashed last night, which of course is not a joke at all for the thousands of rightly terrified people whom Trump threatened countless times during his campaign: immigrants, people of colour, women, trans people, people with disabilities, the list goes on.

As I sat by the water, I noticed that my hands were warm. My face was warm. The sun was so strong that the entire front side of me was completely cozy and warm, even as I still had – literally – shivers down my spine. A little ways behind me rushed the sound of cars speeding across (count em’!) more than 10 lanes of traffic. In front of me, quiet water with barely any ripples and endless blue sky without many clouds. Behind me noise, in front of me, peace. In front of me, light and warmth, behind me shadows and cold.

That kind of sums up how I have felt today as the day has carried on. I am turning my face towards the light, even as I feel chilled to the bone.

And there is light here. If you need some, let me share what I have with you.

Most importantly, there is this: Hillary won the popular vote. Not by the landslide we were hoping or even by a very large margin, but in this one small way, I feel calmer.

There is this map, that shows what the election results were for voters under 25. It gives me hope that slowly, surely, as a whole, we are moving towards the light.

I am heartened by my teacher friends like Katie and Nancy Sue, who are telling their students, in the wake of the fear and chaos, that they are safe and loved.

I am heartened by people like my friend Parker, who is using his (white, male) voice and platform to specifically share strong, true, unapologetic perspectives about what this result will mean for the huge groups of people who are oppressed in countless ways in modern-day America.

I am heartened by my bosses and dear friends the Red Tent Sisters who cried this morning over the results but were so galvanized and committed in knowing that their work for women’s health and empowerment is more essential than ever.

I am heartened by these words from Elizabeth Gilbert, offering us an invitation to step away from all the noise and ask ourselves “who do I want to be in this moment?”

I am heartened by this post from the MEHRIT Centre re-framing the stress, pain, and fear from a scientific perspective, and trying to use soft eyes of compassion and understanding when things feel confusing and upsetting.

I am heartened by the words of my acquaintance and State Senator of Nebraska Adam Morfeld, and to know that he, like undoubtedly countless other politicians in America are deciding to use this result as fuel and motivation to create the change they want to see in the world.

I am heartened that amidst the madness, beautiful things occurred, like that Nevada elected Catherine Cortez, the first Latina Senator in U.S. history, and that in Portland, Maine, Pious Ali was the first African-born Muslim ever elected to city council.

I am heartened that as the day wears on, I am seeing more of my friends sharing messages of compassion, love, understanding, and the strong conviction that most Americans are inherently good people, no matter how they voted. To repeat: people are emphasizing, again and again, that feeling hateful towards entire demographics is (while easy, automatic and may feel natural) ultimately unhelpful and inaccurate. People are almost always doing the best that they can in their given circumstances.

I am heartened by all of these things even as I am nervous about what the future holds for us. I am heartened even as I know there are millions of Americans who are not. I know I am so privileged because of my race, and the country I was born in, to feel heartened in any way. I know it is so much harder, if not impossible, for oppressed groups that feel afraid and targeted and are facing the kind of injustice that I have never experienced to be hopeful at all.

Today, I hope that you are taking care of yourself and your loved ones as best as you possibly can. I hope you try to turn your faces towards the light and let it carry you forward, because we have such a long road ahead.

Lots of light & love,

Steph

PS. PLEASE – if you have light of your own to share, write to me and send it my way. All shreds of hope, love and joy are welcome here. I’ll keep updating this post as I find more.

More Light