I admit, I have a hard time being present in the present – I’m constantly thinking ten steps ahead, and I’m often reflecting on the past. This quality can be a blessing and a curse, but I used to believe it was only the latter. It’s not particularly healthy or practical to go through life always thinking about the future or living in the past. For a long time, I fought against my impulse to plan ahead and my tendency to reminisce.
Recently, I started to explore the benefits of looking forward to the future and back to the past. It’s easier to see the potential payoff of the former. Most things in life can benefit from some sort of “future planning,” from making dinner to building a business. On the other hand, seeing the advantages of reflecting on the past is a little more challenging. Sure, we don’t want history to repeat itself, and we could all do to learn from our past mistakes. However, constantly thinking about the past can spark regret, remorse, or a longing for a life that no longer exists.
In all my days spent reminiscing, I’ve been guilty of pining for the “good old days” of my youth. The last time I started to spiral down the road of yesteryear, I didn’t stop myself or beat myself up for getting nostalgic. Instead, I decided to dig deeper. I stopped focusing previous cities, past friends, and old haunts and started focusing on who I was during that time. I began tapping into my former self – looking through old photos, reading entries in old notebooks, and listening to old music. After about a week of devoting some time each day to this internal exploration, I found myself reconnecting with my former self and bringing her into the present.
As I’ve continued to approach the practice of reminiscing differently, I’ve noticed the presence of several selves living within me simultaneously, reuniting like old friends who had dearly missed each other after being apart for years. I’ve felt more energized, full, and content. I feel like I’ve found parts of myself that were lost.
My experience aside, here’s why I believe you can benefit from reflecting on your former self: when we’re in our youth, we’re typically more creative, imaginative, adventurous, spontaneous, and open-minded. The moment we’re thrust into adulthood, those youthful qualities tend to dissipate, and we become more practical, logical, and judgmental. Taking time to reflect on, tap into, and reconnect with my former self has helped to reignite some of those wild, hopeful, and youthful ideals within me. So, next time you find your mind wandering to the past, don’t shy away – dig deeper.
After writing this post, I discovered this interesting article on a similar subject that was published on the Freelancers Union blog back in 2015. Take a look if you’d like some additional reading on the topic of nostalgia and creativity from a more scientific perspective!
I started following Jennifer Sterling on social media after discovering her profile through a mutual friend. After a few exchanges on Periscope, we began to form a virtual friendship. It was clear that Jennifer and I had an instant connection. We finally met in person at her intimate event, Nourish & Nosh.
Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, what am I really hungry for? In the kitchen? In the bedroom? In life? Jennifer’s approach to holistic health shows you how to nourish your body at the table and away from it.
The Nourish & Nosh event consisted of three primary components, each of which are integral to Jennifer’s signature system: feeding your body through movement, food, and sexuality.
The evening kicked off with a Nourish Movement Class, a sensual, restorative, and mindful mix of guided choreography and improvisation to an amazing playlist composed by Jennifer. I left the class feeling both energized and rejuvenated in my body.
After working up an appetite, we came together to enjoy a carefully curated plant-based meal, free of eight of the more common allergens (wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish). I’m not personally affected by any food allergies, but I was blown away by how delicious an entire three-course meal could be without these ingredients, particularly this Moroccan Spiced Delicata Squash Stoup (yes, stoup! soup + stew = stoup!).
For the final component of the evening, we circled up for a discussion about understanding our authentic sexual tastes with holistic sex and relationship coach, Anain Bjorkquist. The biggest takeaway was the one thing we can learn from the kink community: to explicitly communicate what we want from our partner. Ultimately, this candid conversation allowed us to tie together all aspects of the evening and explore the idea of nourishing our bodies by finding pleasure in all that we do: in movement or exercise, in food, and in our sex lives.
To learn more about Jennifer and her approach to health and movement, visit her site, connect with her on Facebook and all other social media @JennMSterling, and join live her on Periscope. If you’re in the NYC area, attend the next Nourish & Nosh in November – you don’t want to miss this amazing event, available at the early-bird rate until October 25th! Not in NYC? Check out Jennifer’s brand new e- course, BodyLove, a 30-Day program that will leave you feeling confident and irresistible from the inside out.
“Goals take commitment but are much more achievable when handled realistically and from a place of possibility.” – Cyndie Spiegel
Cyndie Spiegel is a business strategy coach for creative entrepreneurs who believes in the profound effects available through integrating meditation into your career. I first discovered her on Periscope and instantly connected with her upbeat personality and creative spirit as well as her background in fashion. I also find Cyndie particularly relatable because she never fails to lighten the mood or emphasize a point with a swear word (or two). I finally had the chance to meet her in person at the Freelancer’s Union popup event, Meditate, Create, and Cultivate.
Over the past few years I’ve become increasingly curious about meditation. I read a couple books (both of which I would highly recommend – a personal narrative by Dan Harris called 10% Happier and a beginner’s guide called 8 Minute Meditation). I started practicing but never consistently. Then, within the past couple weeks, meditation started popping up in various facets of my life – in a yoga class, on Periscope, and in my horoscope. When I saw Cyndie’s workshop, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to delve deeper.
Meditation is often thought of as a spiritual practice. However, Cyndie believes in approaching it in a more practical way. She guided us through a basic ten minute meditation followed by a series of activities focused on letting go of limiting beliefs and gaining clarity in goalsetting. First, Cyndie directed us to sit comfortably, close our eyes, and root ourselves in the present moment. Next, she encouraged us to honor the time to connect with ourselves and our inner wisdom. As the minutes went on, Cyndie reminded us to be patient, keep sitting, and focus on our breath. The activities that followed aimed to harness the clarity and openness gained through meditation and apply it to a goal we intend to accomplish in the next three months.
To me, goalsetting can be intimidating and overwhelming. The simple act of stating a goal can make you feel vulnerable or anxious as the pressure to achieve it amounts. Detailing the steps, checkpoints, and barriers to accomplishing a goal can be equally staggering. You may begin to realize that the path to your goal is long or that there may be a number of roadblocks along the way. These feelings and beliefs are the exact limitations that can prevent you from realizing your goal. After using Cyndie’s meditation method, I felt the negativity dissipate, and I was able to approach the goalsetting process with more confidence. I left the event feeling incredibly energized and excited to expand my meditation practice into my career and my current and future goals.
More and more I’ve found myself deeply valuing my time spent exploring and gaining inspiration outside the Internet. This is not what a blogger, social media manager, web writer should say. Call me an old soul, but I remember the not-so-distant past when my creativity was constantly fueled by the world around me, not images on Instagram or quotes on Pinterest. I think I’m part of a confusing (or rather confused) generation who is both excited to be on the cutting edge of a grand new era of technology and who has a fond memory of a youth without said technology – a generation that continually grapples with their physical persona (outside the Internet) and their digital persona (on the Internet). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I feel both blessed and cursed to know both sides.
Some people manage to be, say, 80% detached from the digital world. Sure these people probably have an email address and a cell phone, maybe a Facebook or LinkedIn account, but not much more. The rest of us call these people “disconnected.” I’ve made the accusation myself, namely because my boyfriend (oddly enough a web developer) is one of these people. And to him (and others with raw digital personas) I’ve defended blogs and social media hundreds of times, touting their widespread popularity (audience) and overall value (free to those who participate, lucrative to those who create) – they’re an integral part of our society, numerous industries, my life! I can confidently say I’m thankful for my experience in the blogosphere and on social media, but what happened to the experiences outside the Internet? The Instagram-able, Pin-able, hashtag-able experiences that supposedly make up this media? I can’t escape the technology completely – in fact it has quickly evolved into a very inescapable part of most of our lives – but I can slow down, take a step back, and remember there is still a beautiful world out there – it doesn’t just exist in images on the Internet.
Regardless of your level of engagement in the digital world, the Internet has a powerful influence on our lives. Time and time again, I’ve been influenced by other bloggers, digital media, friends and followers on social networks – so much so that every now and then, I lose track of where my digital persona ends and others’ begin. Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to move forward. So this February, instead of the digital world telling me “blog me,” “Instagram me,” “share me,” I’m calling the shots. I’m reconnecting with my unique digital persona. My blog and social media have been quiet for the past few weeks and will continue to be in the month of February as I pursue this introspective exploration of my digital self. Stay tuned, readers… MORE SOON.
Photography by Angie Webb Creative
New Year’s resolutions come with such a lofty weight. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about dreaming big and setting high expectations for yourself whether it be in your personal or professional life. However, starting the New Year with resolutions that are not attainable will only set you up for frustration and disappointment. Even worse, the wrong approach to resolutions may actually hinder you from accomplishing the real objectives you have for yourself and the next year of your life.
We’re now about halfway through January (wow!), how are your 2015 resolutions going so far?
Have you already strayed from the resolutions you set for yourself at the beginning of the year?
It’s not too late to accomplish your ambitions! While a new year is a benchmark time to set new goals for yourself and your life, you can do this anytime. Each day is an opportunity to start fresh and new.
My 3 tips to attainable New Year’s resolutions are not rocket science or some be-all-end-all solution. In fact, they’re fairly simple. Perhaps they will make you think about your aspirations for 2015 a little differently, and maybe 2015 will be the year you re-think your resolutions and actually achieve them!
1. START WITH SMALL STRIDES
You’re not going to attain your resolutions immediately, all at once, or even with one attempt. Actually accomplishing your aspirations takes time, planning, and starting with small strides. State your goals – bring them out of your mind and into existence. Sometimes simply declaring or asking for what we want for ourselves or our lives can be the hardest step. If you’re a list-maker like me, write them down, or just say them out loud and discuss them with a friend, family member, or partner. Once you’ve established what you aim to achieve in 2015, identify the first step to attaining each resolution. Not all five, ten, twenty steps it may or may not take. Begin with just the first step. When you start with small strides, it makes your resolutions manageable and more realistic to attain. After you’ve completed that initial step, repeat this process for step two and three and so on.
2. DO EVERYTHING IN MODERATION
“Do everything in moderation” is a method my mom aims to employ in every facet of her life. It’s a method she has instilled in me. When you actually approach all aspects of your life with this motto, it can truly make you a more well-rounded, fulfilled, and healthy person. There is too much of a good thing (and a bad thing at that). This year, instead of attempting to make drastic or extreme modifications to your life, try to do everything in moderation. Instead of proclaiming you’re going to – go to the gym seven days a week… cut all carbs from your diet… write a blog post every day… stop watching TV – make your resolutions more attainable with moderation: I’m going to go to the gym one more day each week… cut carbs from my diet on Wednesdays… write a blog post every other day… stop watching TV on Sundays. Yes, this may require you to reassess the goals you established in step one. Who said you couldn’t modify your resolutions? They’re not set in stone and can evolve as you do. The idea of doing everything in moderation really goes hand in hand with taking small strides. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re the tortoise not the hare. You have 365 days to slowly, steadily, methodically attain your resolutions.
3. REFLECT ON YOUR PROGRESS
I already talked a bit about reflection in my last post of 2014. I believe when used in a positive and productive manner, reflection is a key part of success. As we move forward and as we begin to attain our resolutions, we often lose sight of where we started and how far we’ve really come. We start focusing on what’s next and wanting more. This is why it’s important to stop and acknowledge the small successes, the steps that got you there, the progress made before the ultimate goal is achieved. It goes back to step one – small strides. While it would be ideal to accomplish every resolution you set forth for 2015, you might not. Even if you don’t attain a resolution in its entirety, it’s worth celebrating the progress you made toward that goal.
MY 2015 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
I wanted to share a few of my aspirations for 2015 and how I aim to apply these 3 tips to make attainable resolutions to my own goals for the New Year.
1. Write at least one poem each month.
Most of you know me as a writer and blogger, but I’m also a poet. Poetry has been a more abstract way for me to express myself since my teens. Up until 2014, I used to write roughly 20-40 poems each year. When I began my career as a freelance writer and blogger, my poetry fell further and further behind my other writing obligations. In September, I completely lost this integral part of my life. So, in 2015 I want to return to my poetry by starting with one poem this month and each month after.
UPDATE: I’ve got the bare bones of two poems with the working title “The Girl With No Face” inspired by two girls who sat next to me on the subway.
2. Spend time with a girlfriend at least once each month.
Graduating college was a huge turning point for me and my girlfriends. I moved to Wisconsin and my best girls moved to Texas, Louisiana, Florida, New York, and Georgia. While I connected with some amazing fellow bloggers in Wisconsin, I can honestly say I did not make a close girlfriend in the three years I lived there. Most of the time this didn’t bother me. I never really considered myself a girl’s girl. I’ve always had a very small circle of girlfriends and a great number of guy friends. However, three years without girl’s nights, friendly closet raids, and good old fashion chats over coffee gave me an amazing appreciation for my girlfriends. In the New Year, I not only hope to make a new girlfriend in my new city, New York, but also enhance the time I spend with my girlfriends around the country.
UPDATE: I’ve got plans with not one, not two, but FIVE girlfriends in the next couple weeks! Maybe I need to reassess this goal and up the ante!
3. Read at least four books in their entirety.
It’s sad to say that I maybe read two books cover to cover in 2014. I’m also ashamed to admit I’m one of those who has a bad habit of starting a book and not finishing it. Reading is an integral part of being a writer, and if I’m being completely honest with myself (and you), I don’t read nearly enough. This month I’ll be picking up my first book of 2015 and aim to be finishing it and starting my second by March.
UPDATE: I’m two-thirds of the way through an amazing book that has been on my shelf for years – The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. I intend to write reviews for the books I read in 2015, but for this particular publication I’m developing a series for the blog!
4. Take at least one dance class each month.
Dance was a major part of my life and identity from age three to twenty-three. When I graduated from college, I replaced dance with Pilates and yoga. While I love these practices, they are not and will never be dance. Yes, it is difficult to find adult dance classes, but now that I live in New York City, I no longer have an excuse. Booking a class in January will be step one!
UPDATE: I’m fortunate to have received a gift certificate to a local dance studio from two of my friends as a birthday present – step one is done!
5. Buy and learn to operate a serious camera.
Photography – both photographing and being photographed – are two of my biggest struggles as a blogger. I’ve avoided photography whenever possible in my first year of blogging and relied on my talented photographer friends when photography was unavoidable. In 2015 I want to face my fear of photography head-on by vowing to purchase my first camera and learn how to use it. Buying a camera is a big investment in time and money, so I know that attaining this resolution will require some discipline on my part (namely curbing my shopping habit). However, I know the long term benefits it will have for me and my blog and believe I’m up for this challenge in the New Year!
UPDATE: So far, January has been a very successful month for my freelance writing and styling business. After spending a lot on the move to NYC and the holidays, it feels amazing to be back in a place of prosperity! I’m developing an attainable system to set aside a certain percentage of my income to put toward a camera.