Overcome Your Fear of Lack in 4 Steps

“Where are you Christmas?”

Overcome your fear of lack in life in 4 steps.

Lately, each day I’ve found myself either waking up in an anxious rush, or huddled up in a small, sad cocoon. With all the knowledge I have learned in the high performance realm, I instantly try to put my tools to work: Just think of happiness. Generate happy moments. Believe in yourself. Just start moving…

But something stops me from doing so. And I know, from years of therapy, that that something is myself– and that that block is somewhere within me, halting my body, mind, and soul from doing what it really wants to do:

Connect.

I forget that I’m the boss, the captain of this ship.

Or, maybe I don’t forget.

Maybe I KNOW I am the boss, and that power scares me, because I WILL fail somehow, something WILL get in my way…

and so it’s easier to get in my own way, right?

Fail small so bigger fails won’t happen? Better to be broke and lose a bit of money than rich and lose all of your money.

My fiancé loves to sing Christmas songs. I don’t know how they pop into his head, (and we’re talking all year-round here). Sometimes, though it seems like divine intervention when it happens. I find that whenever I happen to be thinking to myself “I feel stuck…” “I feel trapped somehow”, Jake walk into the room, singing “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”, or God, help us, “Jingle bells”.

But it works! It helps distracts me from the sadness I’m feeling, because… wait, why is he singing that?

And secondly, it puts me into the space and time of Christmas; surrounded by family, gift giving and receiving. I feel warmed by the hologram of a fire-place and the sound of the crackling wood. It can’t help but settle my disheartened spirit, even by a minuscule. It makes me smile– and laugh– and I start singing with him. I feel connected again; to someone and to myself. I created a new feeling within myself.

Before he walked through the door, my pitiful soul had been singing the Grinch’s song “Where are you Christmas?”, (which is my usual woe-is-me default song stuck-in-my-head, indicating longing and sadness). And I easily beat myself up when I get into those funks, too. It does start with me, after all. It’s all mismanagement of my mind. And sure, external forces may be at work as well, but ultimately, I derive strength and perseverance from within, which overcomes these funks. Feeling “without” (or lack) does not create a strong connection with life.

So, what is the antidote to depression, loneliness, or feeling stuck in life?

Get connected. By doing something that creates a feeling of connection in life, huzzah! You’ll feel connected.

How? For starters…

  1. Lay off the phone, get off the TV, and be thankful for your life

Comparing my life to that of others consciously (and subconsciously) makes me feel like I’m lacking something in my life. “Look at that cute puppy! I don’t have a cute puppy… I can’t feel happy without one…”, “Look at that fat, ugly, crying, cute baby… I don’t have one…”

Getting sidetracked by what I don’t have (whether I saw it online, or on tv) makes me almost blind to the things I do have: An amazing fiancé? Check! 2 adorable, well-behaved cats? Check, check! An awesome job that feels like home? Check-ity-do-da

Why all the hate, man? Why not congratulate myself on what I DO have and how I was able to make that happen in my life.

Also, feeling unsatisfied in life is actually a good thing to feel for just a moment. It gives you some insight into what you truly admire in life, and hope to one day achieve. So, when I feel this overwhelming and draining sensation of lack- I can thank it. I’ve found that feeling abundant generates more abundance in my life. What better way to feel abundant than bask in all the awesome stuff I already have around me? I feel ready to take the next step and see how I can bring in more abundance!

  1. Get in your body

We’ve all heard the advice before: get moving! Stuck in your head? Worried about the future, or feeling embarrassed about the past? Stand up, and jump up and down! Do a few summersaults (if you’re able) and try busting a move to get all that energy (which is pent up in your head) out on the table- er, dance floor! Not only will your endorphins give you a boost in brain-power, it will also create a spacious bubble of understanding around you that helps you allow others to feel their own feels. In essence, it reduces your judgmental thoughts, widens your empathy bubble and paves the way for more connection among you and everyone else. So, pick a thang (yes, thang) that you enjoy doing. Running up and down steps? Yoga? Throwing a ball? Pick something and do that a few times each week, or once a day– But do it often, and try to make it a habit for your own sanity and well being. The more often you commit to moving, the more often you commit to yourself and your health.

  1. Say Hi to Strangers

I speak from experience that getting out there can be scary. At one point in my life, I was so afraid of making eye contact and saying hi (or any other words) to people, I literally didn’t leave my apartment for 6 months. I couldn’t even walk and get my mail because I was so scared of socializing (see: agoraphobia). I came across a self-help game online (they exist!) that gave me small social goals to achieve and rack up points as I did so which helped me build my confidence. One that was the most transformational to achieve was a challenge to walk down the street, smile and say hi to 6 strangers. Knowing I was doing this for the game, I was able to accomplish it with less fear! And any time someone refused to say hi back because they were mean or didn’t seem to hear me? Instead of thinking I sucked and beating myself up over it, I took it to mean that maybe they felt like me and were too scared to say hi as well. I felt less alone, and hey- look! A community! I understood the scared people in my life.

  1. Join a Community

Now, with all that experience you’ll get saying hi to strangers, you may now feel accomplished enough to seek out a community of people who are just like you.

Play an instrument? Find or start a band!

Like pottery? Take a class!

Is reading your thing? Join or make your own book club.

And I don’t want to hear any No’s from the crowd. If your intuition is pushing you to join a community- find a way to honor that drive. It will be one of the best things you can do for your self-esteem. Believe in yourself. You got this! And, if you’re still finding it difficult to say hi to strangers, don’t sweat it. Start by finding a tribe online, perhaps one that also has opportunities to meet in person, or via Skype, zoom, or any of those online communal spaces. Just join and give it a shot.

So if you find yourself longing for connection, or more abundance in your life, try a few of these little habits to help open the door of opportunity. What’s the worse that can happen… Happiness? Connection? Abundance? All you could ever want in life?

Let me know how it goes in the comments, and how you went about getting it in your life. I love celebrating your successes and happiness! It’s contagious!

Taking better care of yourself leads to better self-esteem!

Enjoy a blog post by Kimmy Casey, Her Art is Heart’s April guest blogger! I spent a lovely sunny day, photographing Kimmy, her daughter Riley and husband Jerry out at their house, with fancy rain-boots in toe! From witnessing stickers on the walls and furniture, and Riley’s 3 trips to the swing (because it’s just too much fun not to!!) it’s clear Kimmy lives a busy life of mommy-dom. And what’s also clear is the amount of love this family has, and the great memories that reside at their home. Kimmy and Riley gave me the full tour of what brings their family joy, and as you can see from the photos, there’s a lot of love going around 🙂

SELF-CARE = SELF-LOVE

by Kimmy Casey
When I was asked to be a guest blogger and the topic could be anything related to Susie’s passion of self-love, I instantly knew what I wanted to write about because…
the only way to show that you love yourself is to take care of yourself.
So let us dive down into the nitty gritty of what self-care truly is, how to choose activities that will bring you personal satisfaction, and how self-care has the power to drastically change your life.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of “self-care”, or doing something to take care of yourself?
For me, it’s a quiet hour of getting my nails done with the faint sound of Vietnamese in the background that I don’t have to pay attention to, because I don’t know what they are saying anyways. The ONLY thing I have to do is pick a color.
All day long I talk to people for a living, and then I go home to a two year old. And if you’ve ever had the pleasure of having a toddler, you know that you have to give them 100% attention, and if you don’t, they find ways to command it. So if I can get away for at least an hour, where I don’t have to talk to someone, where I don’t have to “watch this, mommy”, where I don’t have to yell “stop pulling the dog’s tail”, then I am doing some self-care… or so I thought.
 There are several ways to define what self-care truly is. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) “Self Care in health refers to the activities individuals, families and communities undertake with the intention of enhancing health, preventing disease, limiting illness, and restoring health.” In the mental health world, self-care is your ability to take care of your own activities of daily living, also known as ADL’s (hygiene, sleep, eating, etc.).
I want to offer my own spin on what I have learned about taking care of myself. So, according to Kimmy Casey: “Self-care is the activities we do to cultivate our dominant positive emotions as a reward for ourselves”. (sounds fancy!!)
Okay, okay, so let me break this down. It is our basic human need to seek desire and reward. If you want to get into the scientific nerdy side of things, our body craves the release of the neurotransmitter Dopamine in our brain, and our brain releases Dopamine when we do things that reward our body… for example when we eat, brain says “mmmm… dopamine”. And when we flirt, our brain goes “I like the attention… here’s some dopamine”. And when we feel joy… dopamine. When we feel satisfied… dopamine. You get the point.

 Instead of the scientific word dopamine… I would instead insert my favorite positive emotions here. For me, when I get the chance to feel connection and belonging, my brain produces this feel good chemical. Everybody’s primary emotions are different. To find yours, think about 3 of your most favorite memories that you have, put yourself in those moments, and create a list of all of the emotions you experience in each moment. Compare your lists from each memory, and you should be able to see the common emotions. Is it joy, happiness, peace, relaxation, love, connection, belonging, warmth, pride, excitement? You choose! Use your own words. For me, my body craves connection and belonging, and my brain releases dopamine when I achieve these things.
 Let’s come full circle with this. Self-care, at it’s basic, is taking care of yourself. To take care of yourself is to make yourself feel good. The best self-care activities for yourself are the activities that you do that make you feel your primary positive emotions, whatever they may be. For example, where I thought my “self-care” was getting my nails done, this was an activity where I am disconnected and out of place. It was truly doing nothing to give myself pleasure. Fast forward to a time where I visited out of town family… I felt that sense of belonging, and I felt that connection with other people I loved. Or when I took a vacation with my husband at an all-inclusive resort, of course I belonged there (haha) and grew my connection with my husband. Or on a smaller scale, when I network with other people (like Susie!!) to learn of their dreams and goals and how they can support mine… ding, ding, ding! These are the things that truly make me feel alive, and when I allow myself to feel alive, I am taking care of my whole self.
  To maximize your self-care, figure out your top emotions that you love to experience, and do things that promote yourself feeling those things. So if your primary favorite emotions are to feel relaxed and pampered, maybe getting a mani/pedi is your thing. If you don’t know what to do or need examples, go to Google and type in “self-care activities” and the first link that pops up will give you 134 ideas. You see, when you do things to promote positivity and reward in yourself, your brain will automatically want you to do them again. And of course, the more positive you feel, the more you feel good, the more you reward yourself, the better you feel all of the time. And we all know what happens in our worlds when we truly feel GOOD – Our fear decreases as our confidence takes it’s place. Our procrastination disappears as our motivation grows. Our sadness and worry diminishes as happiness replaces it. The best way to show that you love yourself is to take care of yourself, and the best way to take care of yourself is to make you feel exactly the way your body is desiring to feel!

Giggles for Gratitude- A Visualization Technique that Gets You Grounded

I have no clue how, when, or whereabouts this started.

Actually, it’s rude to begin a blog post with a lie. I’m pretty definitely, positively sure this started on my daily commute to a job I used to work… and HATED.

Oh, I tried to like it. I tried to sit myself behind that grungy cubicle every day, 9-5pm, and convince myself that a light shone from within me, shielding me from the negative comments, complaints, and bitterness around me. I tried to convince myself that this Eeyore-the-donkey-vibed environment was making me stronger, building my character.

But no, let’s be honest: it was sucking me dry. As much as I prayed, sang, and upped my frequency in the car- as soon as I sat in that cubicle, for even an hour, I would be back to my original sadness and desperation.

And so, I developed a morning “Tune-up” routine to prepare myself for war– er, I mean work.

Every morning, I envisioned those around me, family, and friends snorting and laughing. Seeing their joy in my mind gave me strength, at least for an hour- but it was enough. It was a start. It was also enough for me to realize that the environment I was in was toxic, destructive, and did not fit my goals in life. Daily, during this practice, I was able to get a gleam of happiness- and knew it existed. I also knew that gleam died quickly in the job I was working. So when I got laid off, I saw it as an opportunity… and I knew it was the universe KNOWING I hated it there, but also knowing that I would never give up. I’m a good little worker-bee, after all, and I don’t back down. (Thanks Universe, for having my back!)

imagining the joy my family has gives me strength.

 

So here! Have another tool for your happiness toolbelt! If it doesn’t work for you, but some other tool does- please share!! I’d love to hear more.

If It’s Not Broke (and it never is)- it’s Abundant!

Keep holding on! Life is full of many twists and turns

Recently, I’ve gotten away from diving in and writing a blog post. I got sucked into my old habits of overthinking and analyzing my choice of words, so much so that my initial, beautiful message came across inauthentic– at least to me. I’m breaking down that barrier, and here’s what inspired me!

There has been wonderful news on the job front. Last I spoke, I believe I had been laid off (boo- hiss!) and due to complications running my own business, I was not eligible for unemployment benefits. Depression annoyingly booped me on the head as I realized I was now unemployed and BROKE.

And see that’s the thing. I felt broke…broken.

It took some digging out of that hole over the next few months to reconnect with my spirit and realize, “Girlllll, you ain’t broke!”

I was actually pretty abundant. All that time I spent wallowing in my little hole of despair, I could have spent recognizing this free space as just that… free. I was in the land of the free! When the fear of losing everything and not being able to pay bills clouded my judgement, I became insufferable, especially to myself. The stress was so much that my boyfriend and I took a break to recalibrate.

Financially, it appeared I was in ruin. Spiritually I was drained. I lost sight of myself, what brought me joy, and my old peppy nature vanished into… well, I have no idea where it went…

But what once was lost, was soon found.

Having been through trials and tribulations before, I took this as a hint from the universe to figure out my shizz.

(Recalibrate!! Recalibrate!!)

What did I want in life? What did I actually, truly, reeeeeeally need?

Being “broke” taught me the lost art of simplification. I didn’t need to only eat organic food from the most expensive store. I didn’t need to stop for breakfast every morning before work.

What I needed was my family, friends and a reason to get up in the morning- and my reason was: I needed to serve others.

And so began the job hunt! Tirelessly, I sent endless cover-letters and resumes out to the internet. I reconnected with a past retail job I had loved, so I could be surrounded by beautiful friends and beautiful clothing/jewelry I actually enjoyed selling. It isn’t a ton of money- but it’s more than nothing, and working customer service keeps me sharp.

I also reconnected with my high performance coach, who always believed in my capabilities, and became her executive assistant as she helped me on my own path.

Along with the lost art of simplification, I remembered the lost art of appreciation. And with it came new opportunities.

“Them that’s got shall get…”

I was getting. And it wasn’t my overflowing bank account (hah.) that was proof, it was my new perspective, light and happy, that now allowed new opportunities for further abundance to pop up.

Once Upon a slip of paper…

While working my last job, stuck behind a sad cubicle, migraines on the daily, I decided to try the whole “manifestation” concept again. It had worked before. I set a goal, asked the universe, oh so politely for my desires, and diligently continued on with my life as if I hadn’t done so. Then POOF, it appeared. So I gave it another shot. I wrote on a piece of paper what my dream job would look like:

  • surrounded by supportive employees and bosses
  • trusted to go out and about to meet clients
  • not stuck behind a desk the whole day
  • better lighting- more light!
  • doing what I love to do and getting paid to do it
  • valued.

Hah.

So many hahs. Why? Because POOF it appeared.

Once upon a Gallery Night…

While walking from one gallery to another, in celebration of Erie’s community-wide Gallery Night, I happened across a local marketing business I had heard about before, but never looked into. As my gaze turned toward their front window, a little internal “Ding!” noise went off in my head, as if someone was letting me know “take note!”

The next day– and I do mean the very next day– a new job listing was posted for this same marketing company. (Ding, ding, ding!!) I applied immediately. And instead of spending hours overanalyzing my cover-letter and berating myself for it’s minuscule imperfections- I said SCREW IT and sent it as fast as I could; perfection had left the building.

And now I work there.

The job I got hired into surpasses my expectations every day. Initially hired to do graphic design, I am now also recognized as a valuable copy writer, photographer, and videographer. Hot damn- I seem to be doing everything I love? And getting paid for it? Um, whaaaatt? And the people I work for are encouraging, supportive, and trust me to get work done. And don’t get me started on the amount of natural light pouring into the office. It takes little to no effort to get out of bed and off to work, and so I am feel very grateful.

In the end, it took recognizing I was already abundant to allow abundance back into my life. Seems so simple, but it can be easy to forget. I created daily Tune-Up routine to help connect myself back with that “rich” mentality. Next week I share part of this tune-up routine in a video so you can learn to bring in more abundance yourself. Stay tuned for a new Sunday Session with Sooz on, you guessed it, Sunday!

Marvel the Unknown

When I was 15,

52I snuck out of the house with my older sister one night to enjoy a full moon.

I believe it was Summer, and I had never done that before.

We were both good girls, obeyed our parents, didn’t do drugs, drink, and other shenangins. I didn’t even swear! But one night, my older sister came up with a fun idea for us, and I couldn’t say no. It seemed like innocent fun. We lived in a good neighborhood, surrounded by farms. We often left the door unlocked. The skies there were amazing, though I didn’t know to appreciate the view as much as I do now.

Now, I live in a city where the night sky is polluted by street lights and commercial signs. You can squint to try and make out a dot or two, but you rarely see the cascading array of individual stars that make up the milkyway like you can in the country.

God, I miss the country.

I appreciate the manmade lights for what they are, for who created them, but it’s all known. I know a person made lightbulbs. I know a person designed the shape of the sign. I might even know the cousin of whoever put the darned thing up!

But as much as I try, as much as I assume, preach, I don’t KNOW how the stars, the sky, the balls of gas, the infitinte galaxies out there popped into existence.

Aliens? God? Yamaha – er wait, Yaweh? Allah? Gaia? The Force?

Call it many things, it is all the same thing: Unknown.

Usually I hate the unknown. HATE. IT.

HATE! UGH! It’s terrifying!

Usually…

But when I look at the night sky, I can’t hate it. I can only marvel.

This photo was taken with a sucky camera, on a night with very little light, but it doesn’t matter. It still captures that relationship, that moment of human marveling the unknown.

Releasing the Judgey McJudgerson Within

nonchalance

I’m a Virgo. No, seriously I am. If you’re creepy, you may know my birthdate and try to correct me

“Nah-uh Susie, you’re a Libra! ‘Says so in my Glamour/Marie Claire/Cosmo/Whatever I read!!”

And then I would counter and tell you the grand story of how my grandfather was an astrologer, and there are two systems of astrology, Sidereal (where I’m a Virgo) and Tropical (the hazy, non-specific version that is in magazines and newspapers because it’s easier to lump people all together). I could interest you (or bore you) explaining how there are “cusps” and I happen to be on one. I could tell you how there are ascendants and descendants, a moon and sun sign, a this and a that. But just take my word for it: I’m a Virgo.

Now, that being said, I’m incredibly judge-mental and critical. This can suck- as I tend to be harshest on myself. And this can uber-suck when I aim my powers on others. Catch me in a funk and I am sure to nit-pick! Thankfully, I am well aware of my detail-oriented state, and I have grown very accustomed to breathing instead of blurting out statements like:

“He’s doing it wrong”

“She sucks at kerning”

“Are they completely blind?!”

Instead, I’ve decided to become a master of manipulation. The good kind. The kind in which I manipulate myself! It’s called….

PATIENCE.

I’m currently reading a book called… wait for it…

the power of PATIENCE

and it’s about, you guessed it:

PATIENCE.

(written by M J Ryan)

It’s pretty darn good so far. I find when I pick it up and read a short chapter, it resonates with what I’m going through- or perhaps that just means I lack patience all the time!

I used to be a lot worse. I’m definitely improving. Gotta’ give myself some credit!

But as you may be able to tell, I’m interested in the New-Agey hullabaloo.

(As in, yeah, I have a Level 1 certificate for Reiki! And I keep crystals by my computer at work to suck the bad juju and negative complaints up around me)

I’m all for understanding the subconscious, releasing my motha-fuckin’-ego, and embracing the noooooowwww (Eckhart Tolle style). That nit-picking part of me does not go away when I’m meditating, forgiving past shiznit, or wondering what pretzel sandwich I want at the gas station. It’s all me. All the time, it’s all me. I can decide one moment “Hey! I’m being patient and listening and breathing and letting the other person talk without overreacting to their unbuttoned middle button! Go me!” or I could still be me and say

“UGHHH! What kind of slob are you?? Can you not feel that your button is undone?? UGHHH my life is so affected by your nonchalance!!!”

Either way I react, it’s all me. So what “me” do I want to be? The boastful (*coughTRUMP*) version of me? Who doesn’t stop to listen to herself before she nitpicks? Or the slow, patient, thought out (*coughOBAMA*) me who’s relaxed as fuq’.

 

I made this post because tonight I was in a funk, and feeling nit-picky. I was on facebook- which can be the worst place to be when you’re feeling this way, because you want to share your opinion (very strongly) on everybody’s lives! So, I thought I would vent, learn, grow, and write about my personality flaw? strength? feature? To better come to an understanding.

Judgey-McJudgerson- OUT.

Share Your Spark: Sarah Bennett, the Multi-Passionate Soul

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You could say Sarah Bennett, of Bennett Trails blog, is my tutee (hah! Funny word, right?) Months ago, she asked me to tutor her in graphic design and photography. She has big dreams to start her own Etsy shop and loves the process of learning as much as possible. Honestly though, Sarah has become one of my closest friends here in Erie and I learn so much from her. We’ve taken sewing classes together, gone on photo-adventures, and scoured Salvation Army’s and Goodwills for vintage finds. Meeting with her weekly has been a breath of fresh air. Not only do our mutual interests stop at artistic pursuits- but she’s my soul sister! We encourage each other to follow our hearts, have guts, and to NEVER forget to love! So, in this edition of Share Your Spark, I introduce:

Sarah Bennett, age 31: Multi-Passionate Soul currently living in Erie, PA.

Myself, left, with Sarah Bennett, on right

I was born in California,

grew up in Salem, Oregon

went to college in Spokane, Washington

moved back to Oregon for a few years

then moved out to Vermont for a few years

and have been living in Erie, PA for the past four years now.

I think living so many places has shaped me to be a more flexible/adaptable individual and stronger in knowing who I am and what I value in life. I feel fortunate to have lived (in my opinion) in the prettiest regions in our country. I love New England and I also love the Northwest; both areas feel like home to me. I am drawn to green, 4 seasons, and living an active, creative life. I believe the areas I have lived in made me realize these things mean a lot to me. 

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What activities do you enjoy doing in your free time?

 I enjoy going on hikes or runs with my husband and our dog Odin. I love going on country drives and exploring back roads with some good tunes playing. I really enjoy singing/playing music with my husband, taking it easy in the morning with a cup of coffee, snuggling, and practicing yoga. Above all, I mostly just love getting deep into my creative work with no restrictions or interruptions.

 In what ways are you involved in the community?                                                                            

My situation is a bit different. We are preparing for a big move back to Oregon in the beginning of June so quite honestly I haven’t felt completely invested in the community lately! I did get pretty involved with the Erie Art Museum last year; I took quite a few classes and volunteered to take photos for an event. It was nice getting involved there– I definitely felt like I was around my people, which is good to know for the next place we are moving to! I also feel like I have been involved at Asbury Woods during my time here, just by being such a frequent visitor there. That place is a gem in this community; it has been my go-to for recharging and reconnecting over the past four years. I’m extremely grateful for Asbury Woods!

 Where do you go to find peace in the world?

I go to nature to find peace. I always feel revived and renewed after taking time to get lost in the woods or even just taking a short walk to get fresh air, away from the rat race. Also, a hot bath with a candle lights is my other place to find peace.

sarah_dress_8web

 What inspires you the most?

That’s a hard question… so many things really inspire me, it’s hard to say what most inspires. Music, traveling, interactions, colors, seasons, experiences, reflection… I guess just life in general inspires me most. There is always something that pops up in one way or another that will spark an “Aha!” moment.

Creative women taking risks, following their heart, and doing things their own way are my role models; Women who are wildly successful in their specific path and living their truth, inspire me.

 What challenges have you faced in life?

I have struggled with self-confidence and pretty bad anxiety. I have also struggled with finding my place in this world. It can be hard being a multi-passionate soul because you can see yourself doing many different things and you have lots of ideas and passions. It has been hard to dig deep on that front and get clear. But also, coming to terms with being a multi-passionate and being okay with that has been a struggle. Honestly, when I heard the term “multi-passionate creative” it felt like a diagnosis! When I started hearing that other people like me were out there, I felt a little more at ease with who I am naturally. We all are here for a reason. I like the visual of seeing us all as individual puzzle pieces that are needed to complete the big puzzle-picture. It’s taken a long time for me to see what gifts I have to offer, where my place is, and where I feel most connected and understood­– But man I have come a loooong way.

sarah_dress_7web

 What advice would you give others who are going through similar experiences?

I would say dig deep and be kind to yourself in the process. Find yourself a counselor you connect with and do the work to ask yourself the important questions:

Who am I?

What lights me up?

What are the things that make me nervous?

What can I do to dampen my anxiousness?

Above all, I must stress just be kind to yourself, listen to what YOU need. We’re all uniquely different and we each have our own path. Take the time to get quiet, feel all your feelings and let the healing begin.

 What current obstacles would you like to overcome?

I still struggle with some fear and self-doubt. I think it’s important to have a healthy dose of fear but I’m working on making sure fear only comes up when extremely necessary. I’ve come a long way in overcoming self-doubt and I am still continuing to work on that in life! I’m proud of where I am today and see that all my struggles are actually my biggest successes.

 How do you think you can overcome them?

I think by just continuing to be present, practicing positive self-talk and staying committed to my meditation practice I can overcome future obstacles. My spiritual practice has gone through ups and downs but it is the one thing that keeps me grounded. I devoted a year to a yoga teacher training in Vermont in 2010 and that year was the beginning of my personal spiritual path. I’m so extremely grateful for that program and the time I gave myself to devote to a yoga practice; it was my gateway.

Also, I know this isn’t for everyone– but therapy has proven to be very helpful to me. It’s just nice to have someone who listens to you, who is neutral. Therapy is my time to talk fully about me without feeling like I’m over-stepping any boundaries in the relationship.

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What is the one thing you want people to know about you when they first meet you?

I may come off quiet and reserved at first, but really I’m just taking in my surroundings and listening. I take a while to get to know. My personality has always been: if I open up to you and let you in, you must be pretty special to me. I tend to be more private and more introverted than extroverted. I have always had a few close friends I know would always be there for me rather than a ton of friends that are at a surface level. I take my relationships to heart. I care a lot and put great energy into important connections.

 How do you wish people saw you?

I wish people saw me as a woman who is driven to live a life from her creative heart. I wish people saw me as loving, devoted, and a caring person who just wants to live a light-filled life and exudes light and love!

 What are you most proud of?

I’m proud of the life I have built with my husband. We started dating rather young, at age 21, but marrying him at age 26 was hands down the easiest decision for me. I love living our life together. He has been such a support in my journey; we both support each other’s dreams and are committed to living our dreams together. We truly enjoy each other and it’s been a joy to see us grow both individually and together.

I also am really proud of all my struggles I have gone through personally: The anxiety, the feeling lost, all the jobs I’ve held that left me feeling empty inside. These struggles have made me stronger and made me do the important work I am here to do: to ask myself the big questions and grow in my personhood. I am proud of these struggles because it’s brought me to the woman I am today. I know myself and love myself more and more because of these struggles.

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 Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

We’ll be living in Oregon, my husband will be finishing up residency. I see myself as a Mom to either one or two babies within the next five years. I see myself living my dream; getting paid to do creative work I love­– specifically running an online shop and doing freelance design and photography work– and growing in my creative profession. I see myself working from home in a light-filled office space and enjoying a flexible schedule, loving every moment of this precious life with the people I love.

 What is a quote you wish to live by that motivates you? Why does it impact you so much?

 Ohh geez this is hard! I am a quote fanatic. Quotes are the majority of my pins on Pinterest currently! Here are three of my current favorites that inspire and motivate me. All three motivate and speak to me in a different ways. Mostly, they each motivate me to just be ME, have faith and be grateful. A grateful heart brings abundance; I have experienced this time and time again.

 “The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.” –Fabienne Fredrickson

 

 “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”– John Lennon

 

 “No matter what the situation is…close your eyes and think of all the things you could be grateful for in your life right now.” -Deepak Chopra

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 How can people connect with you?

I am very active on Instagram, @sariehere. That platform is devoted to my passions for home décor and photography. I also run a blog at bennetttrails.com.!!!

Stay tuned to recent blog posts to come here on Her Art is HEART! Sarah and I took many photos at our last shoot have many exciting images to share!

Share Your Spark: Graffiti Portraits with Sarah of Bennett Trails

I had the great opportunity to photograph my crafty-pal, talented designer, photographer, and multi-passionate grllll: Sarah Bennett. She is the author over at Bennetttrails.com , and always a joy to hang with, taking sewing classes with, or just shootin’ the shit about vintage clothes. She is a sweetie but a BOSS– as I’m sure you’ll be able to see from these photos of her, owning the streets with one of her favorite creative tools!

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Don’t Make It a Thing

Photo taken by fellow photographer and graphic designer, Sarah Bennett. See her blog at www.bennetttrails.com !

Photo taken by fellow photographer and graphic designer, Sarah Bennett. See her blog at www.bennetttrails.com !

So I wasn’t always this way.

I wasn’t always easy to laugh, easy to forgive, nurturing and patient. I didn’t always have the ability to laugh at myself for the mistakes I make, or even to allow myself a Big Ole’ FAT ugly cry when I was upset. In essence, I used to be young. I used to be 21.

Maybe you’d assume I was a victim of the drink’, being the age at which I can consume alcohol. But no, actually everything got rough when I was 18. By age 21 though, I realized I needed to change something up: I realized I needed to start loving myself. That first step I took? I wrote myself a letter.

Dec 12, 2009. Not any kind of remarkable day with a remarkable story, just a day I chose to sit down and talk to myself. The catch was this letter I wrote? I couldn’t just look at it willy-nilly as I liked. I made myself wait until Dec 12th, 2015 to reveal it’s original contents. I guess even then I realized my overwhelming sense of urgency and noticed I lacked the patience I desired. So I made myself wait. I guess I was also trying to give myself something to look forward to, something personal: A secret- just for me, to myself. I guess that made it pretty special… I needed that.

Yeah… well… about that letter: I had forgotten about it! Dec 12th came and went, and I had the letter openly sitting out, ready for the BIG DAY. But it wasn’t until a good week and a half after the date when I happened to remember,

“That friggin’ letter!”

I wasn’t doing anything remarkable at the time.

You know how sometimes making a space, making something a “thing”, a ritual or tradition, giving it this air of significance makes a moment more momentous?

It wasn’t.

It was an off hand realization. I was running around my room, as usual, cleaning, hanging up clothes, and I remembered…

“The friggin’ letter!”

I believe my exercise playlist on iTunes was playing, bumping out some high-octane fuel. I didn’t switch it to low key, emotional music. I didn’t try to set the stage, center my emotions.

I didn’t make it a thing.

I opened the letter, and read it.

 

Self Portrait taken in 2009

Self Portrait taken during the dark years! 2009.

Now, back in 2009, my life was pretty damn different! I was a lonely, severely depressed, highly anxious college student with no free time because I overbooked myself with classes. I was stressed and decided I was to blame for that stress. I treated my body like it was public enemy #1 because I was the determined bounty hunter. Not an ideal person to be attached to! Every chance I got, I attacked myself, blamed myself, and tore myself apart with the guilt: Guilt on top of guilt, on top of guilt. I had so much anger but was so depressed and lost that I didn’t know where it was coming from. I blamed others and was a very, very difficult person to be around sometimes… especially if you were someone I loved and truly cared about. They took the hardest and most hits. Some stayed with me, some got the hell outta there. I never blamed them, although outwardly it would seem I did. Inwardly, I knew it was all me- but I was the queen of denial, queen of unhappiness, and queen of “I’m a freakin’ loser, woe is meeeEEEE!!!!”

But despite the terror that was I, I always had a spark. I knew what happiness had felt like. I knew I wanted to learn how to love myself better, and to treat everyone with love and respect.

Sadness? Dance it out!

So yeah, I knew vaguely what to expect from this letter. My past has been pretty well recorded. I’ve kept a personal blog since I was 14 and during 2009 in particular I wrote in it up to 9 times a day to relieve my mind of the destructive, obsessive thoughts that were morphing my mind into an all encompassing black hole of BLAH and AHH! And although throughout the blog I would curse myself, blame myself, tear myself apart- I knew it was because deep down, somewhere in the great abyss, I KNEW I had it within me to be better and find the light again. I just had no idea whether I was supposed to go right, left, – wait, did I pass go? I had never been lost before. And I had yet to find a working compass.

Alright, so I didn’t allow myself to think about all this the morning I remembered,

“That friggin’ letter!”

I just did it. I jumped in and didn’t have time to be a judgey-McJudgerson to my past and myself. “I’m sorry Mam’am, the baggage claim is on the wayyy other side of the building.” I was leaving my suitcase behind. All I needed was my ID and wallet: aka identity and abundance!

And so I read:

Dear Susie,

You know how you can be. You’re unbelievably talented and ambitious. I know you’re probably killing yourself right now to make things “perfect” or “just right” in your life. Just think like Eckhart Tolle- and think in the NOW- not the future.

You’re so smart and beautiful. You have so much going for you- so why create extra stress? I hope you’re still writing in your online journal- that’s good therapy. I hope you are where you didn’t expect to be in life- but in a good way. I’m only 21, young, naïve- you’re an uber adult now! What’s that about? Haha

I feel like I’m writing a letter to my older sister- because I just want things to work out for you/me. I hope you can make it happen- and you DID make it happen.

I think that’s all I’m going to say…

I’ll keep it short because I know it’s hard to read my own handwriting.

Toodles Susie!

I hope everything worked out

Love,

your younger self.

 

As soon as I read it, I wanted to write about my reaction, get my thoughts on it out. But life had other plans. Life reminded me that we’re constantly moving forward and not to focus on the past too much. As my mom always told me (especially back in 2009!) Rumination leads to Ruination.

Rumination Ruination

So, I moved on. I didn’t make it a thing.

This morning I wrote a new letter. I won’t say what’s in it- that would spoil the fun for Dec 2020! But I wanted to keep the tradition going: I wanted to have a reminder in the future of what it was like, and what I was thinking here in 2016.

It’s fun thinking how different I was in 2009, how much I’ve grown within that time: What I’ve learned, what I’ve experienced, who I cared for. And I no longer harbor resentment for the pain I caused. I have learned from my mistakes, forgiven myself and I believe that is why I went through this ordeal: to strengthen myself.

And yeah, everything did work out. It’s still working out. I have much to be grateful for. When I was 21, I didn’t know these words: Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Abundance… I didn’t even know

Love.

Now I’m pretty confident I know what love is. I see it all around me, am able to connect with it, I feel it within me. Before, I would feel “love” but couldn’t communicate it, wanted to understand it and analyze it, ultimately stripping it of it’s magic. Now I just let it happen, I go with it. I can cherish others and especially myself.

I no longer need a letter to give myself something to look forward to. I look forward to everyday- but there’s something powerful about getting a glimpse of the past and recognizing the growth you have undergone, subtle or bold. It’s pretty remarkable.

So I’m making it a thing.

 

Photos taken by the lovely Sarah Bennett of www.bennetttrails.com