How to Live More Intentionally

How to Live More Intentionally >> Life In Limbo

The theme of storytelling has been on my mind a lot lately. I’m finding it an especially interesting idea as I start to plan the next chapter in my life’s adventure. The phrase that keeps appearing in my mind, over and over as I think about the future, is:

Your life is a book. What do you want it to say? What do you want your story to be?

Since moving abroad, it’s become clear to me that it’s important to be intentional with my one wild and precious life. I’ve met people here from all over the world and their stories have inspired me to think differently. When I left Canada, I only intended to be away for one year: Korea was meant to be my one crazy adventure before settling down and starting my “real life”. But the longer I’m away, and the more people I talk to, I have realized that this is my real life, I am lucky to be living it this way, and I can do whatever I want with it in the future.

How to Live More Intentionally >> Life In Limbo

My word for the year was abundance, and one of the many important things it has taught me this year is that we have so many options. We all have more time and possibilities available to us than we’re led to believe when we graduate from university.

Contrary to what I thought before I left, since being here I’ve actually encountered more opportunities to grow my career, build my skills and make plans for the future. I’ve transitioned from an unpaid internship to a paid position, I’ve had time to work on my freelance writing, I’ve improved my photography, and I’ve begun to shift my blog in a direction I’m proud of. Through listening to my intuition and believing in abundance, I’ve encountered far more opportunity than I believe I would have, had I stayed at home.

How to Live More Intentionally >> Life In Limbo

Maybe your intuition isn’t telling you to leave your job and move to a foreign country: I don’t think that is the answer for everyone. What I do believe is that there’s always a third alternative. Life is not black-and-white. If you’re willing to explore new opportunities and possibilities, even those that don’t seem quite right at first, you may be led to things you never could have imagined. I truly believe if you do, you will encounter things you never expected to, better things than you ever could have predicted.

Life should be led with intention. If there’s one thing these nine months away have taught me so far, it’s that I’m going to need to choose. If I want to go on adventures, it’s up to me to make them happen. I recognize now that I am the writer, my life is my story and I get to decide what ends up in the book. At the end of my life, all I’ll have is whatever I chose to write on the pages. To me this means I can’t coast. I can’t expect anything to happen for me, an idea which is at once terrifying and empowering.

Perhaps that’s part of why I’m so excited to have my mom visit me here: I realize that Korea is a short but meaningful chapter in my hopefully long life. I’m so grateful that she will get to see what this part of my story was like.

So, as 2014 winds down, and you start to make plans for the new year, ask yourself:

What do you want your story to say? 

The Everyday

I love Instagram. Even though I haven’t been counting iPhone photos towards Project 365, I’ve still been trying to take pictures when I’m out and about, and little things in my daily life. This poster represents 2012 so far, and it makes me crazy happy everytime I look at it. I need to keep reminding myself to document the small details, the everyday – because I absolutely adore having those small memories to look back on. I should also probably start using the same filter every time I share a photo on Instagram, but I can’t help switching it up.. there’s just so much variety! And I love how they all look!

Here’s to the little things. Here’s to technology. Here’s to remembering the moments that make us happy. Here’s to a great weekend! Hope it’s not raining where you are. Happy Friday.

The “poster” is thanks to Printsgram, a great service that lets you organize your photos and save PDFs – for free!

Advice to Myself, Circa 2006

I’ve been sorting through old papers, letters, journal entries and photos. It’s all in an attempt to streamline my memories so my mom can start getting rid of things in my room, since I don’t live here anymore. Mostly, it’s been spurring a lot of nostalgia, along with a great big helping of laughter. We were so funny back then. We probably still are, but we don’t write the letters to commemorate it.

I was going through one of my old camp binders, and came across a strangely poignant list I’d written down on a random piece of paper. No date, no context. But it’s lovely. I thought maybe you’d appreciate it too. Warning: it’s equal parts useful and fluffy.

Get more hobbies. Do what you WANT. Be nice. Be enthusiastic. Be yourself. Be insane. Think before you speak. Try rock climbing. Get Bronze cross. Learn guitar much better. Rethink iPod music. Don’t care about boys. Love yourself. Write all the time. Run. Get buff! Hang out with your family. Always learn new things.

Care. Try. Sing. Improve personal style. Buy tons of shoes. Be less obsessive. Don’t care so much about the little stuff. Be interesting. Eat more of what you want. Be close with who you love. Improve personal hygiene. Keep promises. Keep secrets. Keep friends. Always smile. Feel beautiful. Learn more piano.

Work hard. Play harder. Kiss for fun. Be the person you want. Practice your music. Take care of yourself. LAUGH. Love music. Don’t be high maintenance. Try out for cheerleading. Be cute. Be hot. Be friends with boys. Don’t be selfish. Never give up. Grow. Do things you’re scared of, always. Always have fun. Meet new people. Find things that make you happy.

Love your body. Use your body. Carpe Diem. Take pictures. Be inspired. Follow through. Be creative. Remember. Take camping trips. Learn to sail and canoe. Love life. Don’t be so bitchy.

Break The Rules

Photo thanks to fulbert05

..Banish the guilt. Boot the hesitations out the window. Crack open the windows of your soul and let in the fresh air. Don’t doubt.

If you’re my age, you’re handling a tricky time. Famous psycholgist Erik Erikson (great name, huh?) proposed that humans of ages 12-18 are struggling with their identity versus role confusion. During this stage, we try to determine who we are apart from our families and what we want in our lives. If we’re unsuccessful, we experience confusion and conflict. Sounds like heavy stuff, but I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about.

Everyone experiences the same struggle to figure out “who they are”: ie. their values, opinions, likes & dislikes, preferences, attitudes, standards. Along the way, as we try to find strength in our newly shapen identity, we stick (stubbornly) to our guns about our self-imposed opinions & tastes. At times, I’ve been known to insist I hate something that I haven’t tried, since I’ve already decided it doesn’t jibe with who I’ve decided to be. I’m sure you’ve all experienced that as well, either with yourself, or with friends and family.

The point is: it’s understandable, this stubbornness. No one can fault you for trying, in this crazy world, to figure out who you are and, once you’ve got it, stick to it with every ounce of your being. It makes sense!

But never be afraid to break the rules.

Never be afraid to smash down the restrictions you’ve set for yourself, when you said “oh, no, I’m not that kind of person” or “I can’t stand zucchini” or “I never stay up past midnight” or “I only like clothes in shades of black, white or grey”. Challenge yourself. Step up to the plate and break all your own rules. Your identity is important, but nobody else cares too much about whether or not it’s consistent. Try on different hats! Experience new things! See for yourself. Never get so boxed into your identity that you don’t try things you think seem fun or interesting.

If you want to, then..

…try the wackiest fruit in the grocery store, even though it’s “too exotic for you”

…start a blog, even though you have “nothing important to say”

…read the news, even though you “don’t really care about politics”

…read the tabloids, even though “they’re much too fluffy for your taste”

…take a nap mid-day, even though that’s “highly unproductive”

…try a recipe you think looks delicious, even though “it’s much too complicated for you”

…buy a vibrator, even though “you’re not that kind of girl”

…go out to a speech instead of a club, even though “that’s totally lame & nerdy”

…cry, even though “real men don’t do that”

…sleep around (safely, of course), even though “real ladies would never”

…use the five-second rule, even though “that’s disgusting!”

…eat nothing but junk food all day, even though “you don’t even like food like that”

…go figure skating, skiing, dancing, karaokeing, surfing, biking, running, even if “you’re not very good”

do whatever you want.*

.

To a lot of you, this advice may seem totally intuitive. If it does, I applaud you. You’ve managed to keep yourself from being tied to a rigid identity. But I suspect that many of us are guilty of falling victim to this technique of saying: “that’s just not me”, and limiting ourselves from new experiences. Or, if we free ourselves from our restrictions, we feel an automatic sense of guilt about doing something outside the norm. We feel we’ve failed, somehow. I urge you (and myself) to escape this guilt. Say bye-bye!

If you feel like doing something, do it. Don’t question whether or not it’s right for you (it is, by the very nature of you wanting to do it), don’t worry that it contradicts “who you are”, don’t feel guilty about having done something you’ve previously deemed “uncool”, “unproductive” or “not like you”. Live your life first, and your identity will come later.

Happy adventuring, loves!

xoxo,

*Edit: It’s been pointed out to me that maybe some of these statements would imply going against your personal values/morals. That was not my intention! I’m not implying that you should push yourself to do anything that doesn’t jibe with your core standards. My only goal with this article was to serve as a reminder that our self-imposed ‘rules’ do not need to be so rigid. By all means, if something really isn’t you, at your very core, then don’t do it! Sorry for any misunderstanding. :) xo