To dust you will return

I haven’t observed Lent in several years but this year felt different. I feel called to make some lifestyle changes for the better. and it’s nothing really new - I’ve been contemplating these changes for months now - years even - but never fully pushed myself to do it. So here it is:

sunrise pelican.jpg

I came across a blogger who implemented a shopping ban in an effort to live a minimal lifestyle and make do with what she already owned. This resonated with me, for multiple reasons. But mostly, it not-so-subtly reminded me that I have a shopping habit. The age of internet shopping, Prime shipping, and enticing sales sent straight to inbox has made it extremely easy to become a mindless shopper. A lot of us, myself included, shop for that instant feel-good high that comes with getting something new or fresh. When I’m unhappy, I shop online. When I’m bored, I shop online. When I’ve had one too many glasses of wine, I shop online… a lot….. (The husband of a friend of mine once bought dog boots and an ATV online after having too much to drink one night - who knew you could buy an ATV online? Luckily there was a three-day grace period in which they could cancel the order LOL).

Point is, I shop to feel “better.” But it doesn’t really make me feel any better than I did an hour before I hit that “submit purchase” button. In fact, it makes my life more complicated: I accumulate a lot of stuff and spend money that could be going towards paying off debt or saved towards our future house. Sure, the $30 spend on a dress online last night doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the other seven $30-purchases made over the last month become a substantial chunk of change. So in an effort to curb my shopping habit and save money, I am implementing a shopping ban for the next 40 days. No clothes, no plants, no just-because purchases. The only exceptions are the necessary items like toiletries, groceries, etc.

sunrise wave 2.jpg

People say that you shouldn’t take something away without having something to take it’s place. So when I feel that urge to scroll through that online sale promotion, or try that supplement that someone on Instagram is raving about, I am going to put away my phone and MOVE: The second part to my 40-day fast is to replace shopping with movement and reflection. This is where yoga comes in. I find myself appreciating life and praising God the most when I am either outside experiencing nature, or when I am on my yoga mat. So if Lent is about relinquishing material desires and finding deeper ways of connecting with Jesus, turning to him instead of turning to shopping seems like the best thing to do.

I have to admit, this idea wasn’t originally mine. Caroline Williams from the Yoga Abbey is hosting a 40-day challenge to spend 10 minutes in quiet and meditation. An excerpt from her weekly email says this:

“For dust you are and to dust you will return.” - Genesis 3:19

Rather than clinging to these words as a curse or pronouncement of punishment, we lean into these words as a reminder of our place in God’s universe – God is God and we are not. As we enter into this season of Lent, a time of repentance, sacrifice, and self-denial, we make space to remember that the timing, outcome, and our hope rests in God. - Caroline Williams

Reflecting on that truth - to dust we will return - will be on my heart this week and I move forward with my own Lent fast. I will keep everyone posted on my shopping band and, who knows, maybe it can become a long-lasting habit!

xx

A hundred different lives

The following post is more of a word vomit than anything else... though I did make a promise to myself to be more transparent and open on this blog. So here goes nothing :)

....

I feel like I've lived a hundred different lives in the last two months. Some are only slightly removed from the other, while others are in different cities - time-zones, even. Each life comes with its own unknowns, joys, expectations and countless other emotions that seem to mess with my head no matter where I am in that life.

julia eye (1 of 1).jpg

This is what JOB SEARCHING is like, for me. 

Each job I apply for, I envision myself in that role, in that town, with those colleagues you read about online; what goals I can accomplish in that position, what house or car I can buy with that salary, how much more I could do because of this or that. I also envision all the office drama, the commute time, the stress and long work hours that usually comes with managerial work. Those moments help me decide if I really want the job or not. 

Imagining what life might be like if I had **insert job here** can be exciting, but its also so exhausting... And unrealistic! No one knows what a job role will really be like until they are in it. I'm so guilty of putting emotional and mental energy into "living" through the interview, offer, contract sign, and first few months of a potential job. Yet I'm only sitting at my computer filling out application after application.

I think its fairly normal to do this, but it definitely doesn't help. Lately, I've tried to imagine myself in a certain field, doing a short variety of jobs and roles in a certain city. It helps to narrow down the potential options, which can be good and bad. For example, while in the middle of this black and white mindset, I had the opportunity to interview for a job that was totally left-field. Not in the same city, not in the same field, not anything I was currently pursuing, but something I was still qualified for. 

So imagine my brain trying to scramble for a new mindset after all its hard work narrowing down my future life 20 years from now. NOPE. Despite this, the really really good thing that happens, thanks to these moments, is the clarity it provides in the midst of chaos. While my brain is trying to comprehend pursuing different job fields in different locations while trying to finish a degree in another field, its a reminder that nothing is permanent. 

And, even better, I can do all the things I want to do. I can pursue yoga teaching, and economic development work in my community, and writing, and painting, and all the things. Because it is my life and its up to me to truly live it. 

Are we, as a generation, more depressed?

I read a blog post on theeverygirl.com and felt like I needed to share it here. Depression is real and it truly does seem to be spreading. Between the issues we have going on in our household and the conversations I have with friends and family around the country, depression is not limited to a certain gender or season of life. But I do find that our generation suffers extraordinarily.

There is a certain amount of solace in knowing you're not the only one who feels this way - sad, tired, irritated, angry, apathetic - but its definitely not ok to continue feeling this way. So below are some examples that I found to be extremely relevant to my life, along with tips that are actionable. I hope you find it useful! All words below are straight from the post, but the photo is mine :)

florida june-3.jpg

Why Aren’t Millennials Talking About Depression in Relationships?

"  I recently caught up with a friend who, over wine and with the TV rolling in the background, divulged to me some of her recent troubles in her romantic relationship. She and her boyfriend had recently moved in together, and their dating bliss was cut short by a cruel winter and a sudden shift in attitude around the house. With winter came a cold shoulder, early bedtimes, and an ever-present silence in their home. This shift scared her and tested their relationship tremendously, and it wasn’t until she came upon the name “seasonal depressive disorder” did she have some identifier as to what had been plaguing her relationship.

After some brief conversations on this subject with her introverted, manly-man boyfriend, he, too, agreed that the cold had bothered him so much so that his general mood and attitude had been shifted. The rift had driven them further apart and space needed to be created in order for moods and behavior to start fresh. With warm weather came a semi-return of their usual selves, but the relationship was not as hunky-dory as it had been before.

As she discussed this with me, I wondered why it had been difficult to find material online, or people she knew around her, that had gone through similar things in their significant relationships. Though lots of diagnostic information and general advice can be found on this subject, none of it spoke to her and her generation — millennials that would ideally be enjoying some of the best years of their lives.

I did research on my own to see what I could find on the subject, and though I read pages and pages of articles I found more solace tucked away in the comments on forums on online articles that graced the topic. However, three large themes emerged in the realm of why depression impacts millennials and their significant relationships. In these cases, there are straightforward answers and suggestions provided to help solve them, but nothing worth change comes easily.

Because they are lonely.

Loneliness (which can be experienced even in relationships) is a driving factor in millennial depression. Loneliness can often feel debilitating and fruitless, but seeking other solutions outside of “going out to meet people” can help in these cases. Loneliness can often lead to negative physical behaviors, such as over-drinking and smoking. Even though being in a relationship can seem as though you’re taking “being alone” out of the equation, sometimes it can be the opposite. Because relationships take daily commitment and hard work, if one person decides to check out, it can leave the other person in despair.

Exercise can boost spirits and release endorphins, even if only a couple times per week. From personal experience, listening to a book on tape, podcast, or music out loud in your home, at your desk, or while commuting can help stave off the lonely blues. You can also journal, try something new (classes, restaurants, etc.) and give yourself some breathing room to adjust.

New female roles make bridging the gap difficult.

New advances for women in their professional and personal lives often challenge traditional female roles in relationships. In the past, the clear gender roles left women by the sidelines, professionally, which is — finally — starting to change. But that sentiment can be hard to break, and both you and your partner might have preconceived notions about who does what in the relationship. Everyone brings home their own work stresses, but if you and your partner are on different pages about what “should” be difficult for the other, contempt and miscommunication can definitely creep in.

Open communication is always your best bet. Take a long look at your expectations for yourself and your partner, and then have a conversation about it so you can both be on the same page and support each other better.

Heavy comparisons thanks to social media.

Social media can be one of the largest triggers of depression. Dependency on Instagram to pass time or entertain us only shifts our frame of mind to pure comparison. The quote “comparison is the thief of joy” rings true here. Social media can not only be draining but also cause you to over-compare yourself to others’ “highlight reels” of their life with their partners.

A few things you can do…

  • Set a timer and limit yourself to scrolling
  • Hide your apps in a folder so you’re less likely to get to them
  • Download a time-tracker app like Moment to really time how long you spend scrolling through the ‘gram

I hope, on behalf of all millennial women and men, that more avenues of communication and connection can open up in this space, and that whatever stigmas exist surrounding this issue dissipate with time. Millions of young people suffer from depression and similar illnesses — and this doesn’t stop when love enters the picture.

 

It is important to know when to seek assistance outside of what you can give. If you’re feeling depressed, know that you’re not alone and you will not feel like this forever. We recommend reaching out to your doctor or setting up an appointment with a licensed therapist or counselor. Getting help is a sign of strength, and you deserve to feel well. "

 

Thank you theeverygirl.com for posting such a timely, relevant topic and getting it right!

*visit the original post to see in-text links!*

Undercuts and other changes

Last week's post was sort of a downer, so I want to counter it with this happy one :D This particular life season has allowed me to try so many new things and in turn, find some new passions. So for all the tough stuff, there has also been a lot of good too.

boom14 (1 of 1).jpg

Remember when I became a full-time student and sort-of freelancer back in February? Well It's funny what being unemployed can do for you creativity. It's like mine has been hiding all this time and only came out to play when I was forced to just DO SOMETHING with all the free time I had (because apparently grad school full-time isn't enough HA). Two things in particular stand out:

Painting

I pulled out my acrylics and old canvases from college and began painting again. AND I LOVE IT. I love it so much I actually dream about painting. That's only slightly weird. But I'm happy to have found this creative, artsy side of me. There are no boundaries, no rules, everything is fair game and everything is what I make it. It's fantastic. Right now I'm a huge fan of gouche paints, because they feel like acrylics but behave like watercolors. I'm working on a series of monotone abstract horses and it's so fun to see ink come to life.

I'm also getting into acrylic pouring - there are so many techniques to getting certain types of pours and I can't wait to try them all! Acrylic pouring is definitely a fun entry into art, especially because its supposed to be messy! Pinterest is my go-to source for inspiration, but I also follow some pretty amazing artists on Instagram. I hope to one day create art on their level and maybe even make it a side business of some sort. But for now, #someonefundmyhobbies

@badwaycreative @inventiveroots @poli.bright.art @art_by_mariadruggenilsson @mossandblue @emilyquandahlart @heatherday @martinalenhardt @sarahcaudleart @irinacumberland @racheljennieart

... and sooo many moreeee

Photography

Ben is the master photographer, but since he got a camera upgrade, I've played with his old DSLR and had more fun than I thought I would. I really dislike cellphone cameras, mostly because I've never had a good one, so I never thought I would enjoy taking photos as much as I do now. I recently had the pleasure of working a couple of events, taking photos and documenting on social media for BOOM Charlotte's fringe arts festival. 

It's also funny what happens to people when  you say you want to take their picture. They either get shy or really, really excited. On my end, its funny to see how people react to me when I'm holding a DSLR with a big lens. Suddenly I'm the most interesting person in the room. It's strange.

On a more abstract note,

I've felt more free to try new things - new to me, at least. For example, I'm skateboarding now? LOL. I will sometimes wear hot pink lipstick (that is a whoa factor for anyone who really knows me). I also got an undercut. Turns out that was a great decision. I no longer have a sweaty neck or those little dreadlocks underneath after a hot day.  I was at first concerned about having less hair in general, but my hair is noticeably easier to manage now. Less shampoo and less time to dry and style is always a plus. But honestly, you can't tell I have less hair when its down. In fact, you would have no clue its shaved unless my hair is up. It's a win-win.