Last week, I left off feeling blissfully exhausted from celebrating my birthday. I was riding the high of self-reflection that the end of a season of life always brings, feeling inspired to share and create.
Then, I crashed. Feeling weighed down by the thought of having to go pretty much pedal-to-the-metal until Thanksgiving and coming back to the musicians’ reality that piles of holiday concerts and gigs are just around the corner, I spiraled into self-doubt.
How am I going to get all this done? Do I have enough time to practice piano? Conducting? To plan rehearsals? To continue my spiritual practice during all this?
My spiral turned into feelings of depression, and slowly but surely, I concluded that I needed to take a day off from teaching in order to reset and get back on track.
My fellow recovering people-pleasers out there will know how scary this is. I felt like I was inconveniencing people. I felt lazy for choosing not to do my job when I was physically fine. My mind went straight to negative self-talk. But naturally, the Universe set me straight pretty quick.
A FLOOD of confirmation that I had made the right decision suddenly came to me. Since that day, I’ve been to THREE exercise classes in which the instructor has talked about taking time for ourselves so that we can better serve others. Countless posts I’ve scrolled by on social media have echoed the same message: Fill your cup. It’s the only way you can give of your best self.
Aaahhhhh. I don’t know about you, but that message feels like SUCH relief to me. To enjoy guilt-free unscheduled time, nature, Netflix, meals with loved ones, or whatever else lights you up is one of the greatest pleasures this world has to offer.
This quiet, meditative weekend has opened up the floodgates for the second installment of 24 Life Lessons to pour through me. I did not intend for this post to be as long as it is, but I got out of my own way and allowed the words to pour through, and this is the result. I choose to trust that it’s exactly as it’s meant to be, and that these words will resonate with the right souls at the right time. From my heart to yours, sweet ones…
13. When you make decisions rooted in love, you cannot fail. Our actions can only ever come from two places: love or fear. We act from fear when we are afraid of failure, shame, and embarrassment. We act from love when we are aligned with our Highest Selves, which know inherently that love is the most powerful force in the world, and from it can only bloom outcomes that work for the highest good of all. Hold this truth in your heart the next time you are starting a project or facing a difficult decision. Act from the throne of your eternally loving soul, and every atom in the cosmos will conspire to assist and support you.
14. Getting quiet is the best way to make a decision. As we know, we have the choice to act from a place of love rather than fear. But how do we access that loving inner voice that often gets covered up by the intrusive ego? Get quiet. The place of pure love inside you is VERY subtle. She is of few words. To sense her magic and to hear her wisdom, become still. Listen to the breath to quiet the mind. Imagine the soft glow of her light within you. When thoughts start to intrude (and they will), gently bring your focus back to the breath. Stay in quiet and stillness for several moments. What wisdom can you tune into?
15. Soul health and physical health go hand-in-hand. Throughout my college years, I thought that if I ran a certain amount on the treadmill (which I hated) and maintained a weight below a certain threshold, I would be healthy. Only in the past year or two have I found workouts that make me so damn happy, I’m just excited to get in the room and move my body. My heart is so filled with joy in SoulCycle and in the yoga studio that the urge check in with my weight when I get home has almost completely dissipated. This new, joy-based exercise mindset has made me healthy from the inside out. Once I prioritized what felt good rather than what made me look good, I was free to enjoy. As a byproduct, I am the strongest and fittest I’ve ever been. Your body notices and responds to gratitude and joy. Find a workout that makes you feel grateful and glowy and EXCITED to be there, and your body will rejoice from the inside out.
16. Dance is medicine. If you find yourself stuck writing a paper, drafting an email, or editing a photo this week, give yourself the gift of a two-minute dance break. It’s amazing how much perspective can shift when we take ourselves out of our working minds and into our bodies. Put on your favorite music (I’ve linked my Joy Jams playlist here) and move intuitively. I guarantee that if you commit to two minutes of joyful movement, your mind will clear, your vibration will raise, and new inspirations will have room to come through.
17. Doing things just for fun isn’t a privilege – it’s a necessity. The concept of only doing fun things when we have time for them is a dangerous one. When we place ourselves in situations where we experience joy, we get to feel what it’s like to live from the level of the Highest Self. Think of the way you feel when you are doing your favorite activity or are surrounded by those you love most. You feel like yourself! When the soul is nurtured through fun, play, and joy, we practice living in a heightened state. The more time you devote to this state, the more likely it is to come forth in other areas of your life.
18. Miracles don’t have to be earth-shattering life changes. When we hear the word “miracle,” we often think of something mind-blowing that science can’t explain. What if we shifted our mindset to see miracles as anything and everything in our life that we can be grateful for? This way, everything becomes a miracle, and your daily life becomes a continuous chorus of “thank you.” Did you open your eyes and breathe in fresh oxygen this morning? It’s a miracle. Did you stand on two legs this morning? It’s a miracle. Did you smile at someone today? It’s a miracle. This life is teeming with miracles all around us in every moment. Choose to notice and give thanks.
19. The more you accept the life you have now, the more you draw your new life to you. Sometimes I think I’m manifesting the life of my dreams by dwelling on the things I wish I had, when really I’m subconsciously sending out the message that I’m not grateful for what I’ve already been blessed with. I’m telling the Universe that I don’t trust it to co-create with me. My attachment to my desires becomes tight and anxious. Living in resistance to our current state will not draw our dream life to us. Rather, acceptance of and gratitude for our current state is the road to attracting what we desire. Living in gratitude makes us magnets for the things, people, and situations we want. Imagining our wishes coming true from this grateful state signals the Universe to conspire to make those wishes come true.
20. Stepping into your power is not an inconvenience to others. Spiritual author Marianne Williamson suggests that failure isn’t really what we’re afraid of. Quite the opposite, actually. She suggests we’re afraid of our light. We are afraid of what might happen if we allow our fullest creative, expressive, emotional, and powerful form to be seen. Who might we inconvenience? Who might we make feel insecure? Who might be scared off? It’s true – the magnitude of the Divine consciousness inside of each of us is immense. When we are aligned, tapped in, communicating with that quiet place inside of us, and nurturing our passions, we harness the power to create, shine, and inspire in a way that this world may or may not be quite ready for. But here’s the thing: you’re not taking away from anyone else’s ability to shine by lighting your inner fire. In fact, you’re giving those around you the chance to light their own fires by proximity to yours.
21. Saying no is a really, really important skill. I practiced it this week, and it scared the shit out of me. Making the decision to take a day off from work initially brought me guilt and shame. I questioned myself and my dedication as a teacher. But after replenishing my energy with rest, time with my love, and time in nature, I understand how important that terrifying “no” was. Because I filled my cup, I am ready to return to my work with greater inspiration and excitement. Because I said no to one day, I can now say a resounding YES to the weeks of work leading up to Thanksgiving. Because I have reconnected with myself, I can bring that feeling of connection back into the world.
22. If it’s comfortable, it’s probably not changing you. Are you craving change in your life that just isn’t happening? It’s possible that you have settled deep into a routine that is no longer challenging you. We can’t expect to change our lives by repeating the same thoughts and actions over and over. Is there an area of your life that you could shake up? Maybe you have a free hour each week that you could use to dive into a new hobby. Maybe you could wake up thirty minutes earlier to meditate and journal. Change is uncomfortable and, sometimes, plain annoying. But our lives don’t change in comfort. Our lives change in the awkward, the messy, the in-between. Live there for a minute. Kind of exciting, isn’t it?
23. The joy of this life is being yourself. If you are constantly striving to measure up to others, you are missing out on the beauty of your own vision and your own path. All joy is lost in the meticulous work of comparison. All joy is found again in the knowledge that our souls are perfect and unchangeable. When we accept this as true, we can relax into being exactly who we are and enjoy life unlimited by the opinions or judgments of others.
24. Your soul feels nothing but love. You are your soul in human form. Underneath all the imperfection, the brokenness, and the chatter of the mind is an ocean of love that literally cannot ever leave you. The next time you start to experience anxiety, anger, or fear, remind yourself that those emotions are not you. The only thing you are and can ever be is love. The rest is fleeting. Find peace in knowing that while the negative emotions ebb and flow, the love remains always, always present. Peaceful. Patient. Kind. Eternally yours.