This past week I celebrated my golden birthday – 24 on October 24th.
It is not lost on me that I am incomparably blessed to have spent my birthday with loved ones and to have the physical and financial ability to do my favorite activities and eat carbs to my heart’s content.
But my birthday also came with its fair share of stressful moments. Stumbling out of the cycling studio with half-dried hair and nearly breaking down the parking garage gate in an attempt to shorten my commute to work along the pothole- and traffic-ridden main highway of Miami didn’t exactly scream relaxing, meditative birthday.
As I felt myself spiral into a tizzy of stress and frustration that my birthday wasn’t going EXACTLY as I thought a birthday SHOULD go, I got to realizing two things. For one, my mind was the cause of my own distress. I had created a mental expectation that wasn’t being met, so I chose frustration rather than acceptance. For two, I hadn’t felt this way in like… a while.
Whoa. Could it be that I’m really learning to apply the spiritual lessons I’ve been diligently studying over the course of the past year?
Those who have dabbled in spirituality know that theoretical understanding is one thing. Actually putting the lessons into practice is a whoooooole other deal.
I felt a wave of gratitude wash over me as I realized that this state of chaos and stress – which I spent most of my college years living in – is no longer my normal.
I recognized my agitation as a product of my internal state rather than my external circumstances, and gave myself the opportunity to reframe the situation. I came back into my body with a few calming breaths. I focused on the wind dancing through the palm trees up above my stop-and-go Prius.
When we decide to change our lives for the better, we don’t always see the fruits of our labor right away. The process can be messy and downright discouraging.
But when we zoom out to reflect on what we’ve learned and how far we’ve come, we often see that the progress was happening all along, even if the growth was imperceptible to the naked eye. The increments of change gradually add up to the new person, the new home, the new job, the new life that we take on. Slowly but surely, we rise.
In celebration of my 23rd year – which I am grateful to say was the most meditative, reflective, and aligned year of my life thus far – and the increments that have slowly added up to the still-definitely-sometimes-wildly-anxious but definitely-more-grounded-and-peaceful 24-year-old I have become, I am inspired to share with you 24 of the most important lessons I’ve learned to be true.
These wisdoms have brought my spiritual growth from theoretical to tangible, from page to practice, from mind intelligence to soul intelligence. My hope is that they may inspire you on your path to greater joy and alignment with your beautiful soul.
In the interest of keeping this short and sweet, I’ve divided the lessons into two parts. Here are the first 12…
1. Time is a gift, not a constraint. In today’s world, we tend to see time as a hindrance, holding us back from accomplishing everything we’re supposed to accomplish throughout the day. We feel constrained because there simply never seem to be enough hours in the day. But there’s another way to view time: As a precious gift. Each moment is a new opportunity to love more, to choose presence, to notice something beautiful around you. This perspective will get you off the hamster wheel and set you free.
2. Trying to be someone that other people will like is a waste of your precious energy. I have spent so many hours pouring over my interactions with people, wondering if I said or did the right things to make them like me. Did they think I was cool? Annoying? Nice enough? Do I belong? These hours were a waste of energy and time that I am so ready to make better use of. Whether or not others like us has absolutely nothing to do with us and everything to do with them. Which brings me to my next point…
3. We are all mirrors of one another. I learned from one of my spiritual teachers, Jordan Younger of The Balanced Blonde, that the things we don’t like or are frustrated by in others show us what is still unhealed within ourselves. Similarly, the things we love about others reflect back to us the love and beauty inside us. Instead of spending time focusing on what we don’t like about others, we can turn inward to heal from the very root of the problem. The more we learn to love ourselves, the better we can love others.
4. Diving into spiritual, self-reflective, and healing work is the least selfish thing you can do. I repeat, the more we learn to love ourselves, the better we can love others. The more we heal, the more capable we are of healing others. The more we nurture our unique gifts, the better equipped we are to share them with the world from a place of love rather than fear.
5. You are not responsible for correcting someone else’s dharma. In other words, the wounds that someone else came to this earth to heal are not yours to fix. The lessons they came here to learn are not yours to take on. I carried anger and resentment as a byproduct of my father’s unhealed wounds for many years. Now that I have forgiven him, I see clearly that his burden was never mine. We can love someone deeply without taking on the weight of the difficult lessons they are called to work through in this life.
6. In losing yourself, you find yourself. I’ve been a singer since I could talk. I spent 6 years studying singing at the collegiate and post-collegiate levels. Over the past two years I’ve developed tension in my voice that has rendered me almost unable to produce sound comfortably and shattered my once healthy confidence in my singing. I know in my bones that whatever emotional trauma is wrapped up in my singing will heal in its perfect time. But over the past few months since my graduation, I have stepped away from singing almost entirely. Losing that part of my identity paved way for other passions to flourish. Spirituality, writing, and movement have come to the forefront of my life in beautifully rewarding ways. One of those is my blog finally coming to life after years of dreaming about it.
7. Experiencing darkness doesn’t negate the light that exists within us. The darkness will always pass. The more we lean into it, invite it to tea, and open ourselves to what it is trying to teach and heal in us, the further we can then elevate into the light.
8. Play your hand AND surrender. Surrendering to the Universe is vitally important. As humans, we have the ingrained tendency to think we can solve everything with our monkey minds. It’s only when we get out of our own way and surrender to an energy far bigger than ourselves that magic can really come through in our lives. HOWEVER, this is not a permission slip to sit back and wait for life to happen. We have to play our hand. I had to commit to the meticulous and sometimes infuriating work of website creation in order for this blog to come to fruition. Commit to your intention, then take the necessary action WHILE calling the Universe in to help you, guide you, and confirm that you are on the right path.
9. The Universe doesn’t worry about the details. Neither should you. My anxiety-prone mind can get so stuck in the loop of going over the day’s schedule or thinking through the logistics of a choir rehearsal I’m about to lead. But when we invite Divine consciousness in to guide us, the details somehow become simple. Spirit isn’t so concerned with whether we can get our commute down to 14 minutes and 45 seconds on the dot. Spirit is concerned with one simple question: Is there a loving intention behind my actions? If the answer is yes, everything else fades into the background.
10. When you feel yourself slipping in a low vibration, look at the trees. I also owe this one to Jordan. She taught me that nature has messages for us if we take the time to notice and listen. It’s a miracle that flowers bloom on the side of busy, hot, angry US Highway 1. It’s a miracle that the wind dances so easily through the trees above our frenzied, chaotic lives. Watch and listen. Mother nature is always laughing, dancing, playing. She reminds us to do the same. When you feel yourself start to spiral downward, look up.
11. Diet has a greater influence on your skin than the products you use. I’m going to get pragmatic on you for just a sec. The month that I committed to vegetarianism, the cystic acne that I spent almost half of my life battling with harsh products and a whole lot of negative thoughts cleared up. I’m not saying you have to become a vegetarian to heal your acne. I’m saying that beauty starts from the inside. The things you put in your body reflect on the outside. My system clearly wasn’t happy with the many processed meats I had been consuming, and it was communicating that to me through acne. If you’re struggling with something on the outside, take a look inward. What could you try eliminating that may make your body happier from the inside out?
12. Nobody can make you whole. You already are. Last summer, I FINALLY (and I mean after like, 12+ years of doing this) decided to stop looking for validation of my worth from men. I was in New York City studying opera and feeling like an independent girl-boss when I finally said enough is enough. In the words of my grandmother, I took my power back. I decided that my worth was no longer contingent on ANY factor outside of my own damn self. Stop looking for your worth externally. IT ISN’T THERE. It’s within, waiting for you to come home. It’s ALWAYS been there, and it can never be taken away. Don’t waste another day seeking what you already have. Decide to be whole. Because you always have been and always will be.
To be continued…