Stayin’ Alive.

I’m running out of witty titles for this series, can you tell?

As the year is winding down (good golly, can you believe that?) I thought I should do another check-in on my One Word 365 challenge. It’s been awhile, right?

This year has certainly been Alive (my word) though at times I’ve felt like I might be on life support. A few highlights of my journey…

– In March I took a new job for the first time in almost 5 years. It was hard. I cried for days. Sometimes I still cry about it.

– And then 6 months later…I took a different new job. (Good things always happen when you’re not looking, right?) Entirely new field. Entirely new responsibilities. But, oh so much fun to learn.

– I got involved with the Komen Young Professionals Board and Dress for Success Columbus. One of my goals this year was to get involved with a nonprofit where I could not only give to a local cause I care about, but also use some of my professional skills and event planning interests. Bingo!

– Not only did we start dancing again and The Movement Mission was formed, but I’m choreographing a piece for our show in February. This dance has been in my heart for nearly 5 years and it’s slowing figuring itself out. It’s nerve-racking but also so satisfying to put yourself out there.

– I started making intentional “me” time…simple things like quiet times in the morning, actually taking a lunch hour, going to yoga, early Saturday morning walks. Things that refresh my heart.

– I’m going to NYC for Thanksgiving with my momma and I CANNOT WAIT! Macy’s parade, Broadway, the Rockettes and so much holiday fun. If you have suggestions on places to visit or eat, please leave a comment!

– I really started to look my relationship with God in the face. I stared down some bad choices I had been making the past few years and made some hard decisions. I decided to stop throwing a temper tantrum with Him and pursued Him instead. And though I don’t completely feel fixed, it does feel incredible not to feel like I’m constantly swimming against the current. It feels good to see beauty in the world again.

And now we’re almost to my favorite time of year…Peppermint Mocha Season! I’ve been pretty selfish this year (which I don’t always think is a bad thing. You have to take care of yourself so you can take care of others) but these last months of the year are my favorite to look outward and focus on relationships and others. Are you ready, people? November is coming! Let’s do it big this year.

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The Girl in the Mirror.

Hello, sweet friends.

I was feeling kind of introspective this weekend. Do you ever have those moods (No? Just me? Thought so.)

A couple of weekends ago I volunteered to model in a photo shoot for a local Columbus designer and blogger, the lovely and talented Allie Lehman.

When she sent me the shots, I was pretty impressed with myself. (Ok, I’m not going to lie. I couldn’t stop looking at myself.)

Hello (2)Damn, girl. You’re kinda hot. 

It’s not every day you get the chance to have professional photos taken. It’s fun!  Feeling pretty is fun. Getting “likes” on your new profile picture is fun. Looking like I just showed up in a park, with perfectly curled hair under the perfect beam of sunlight is fun.

But totally unrealistic.

Then I started to feel a little bit of guilt sink in. We all know this is how life in the year 2013 works; we post the best and the brightest moments of our lives online. We filter everything. We get jealous of the lives we see people live, even though we probably haven’t actually lived real life with them for years (or maybe ever.) There are studies which show we’re actually more alone and miserable even though we’re more connected than ever.

So I wanted to make sure I was real with you. I love that girl up in those photos. But I’m also totally crazy in love with this little lady…

In case you’re wondering, my shirt says “Jump on Board the D-Ship”…we made them for our Discipleship Team in college…we thought we were REALLY witty…

It’s really important to me that you know that. And not so you’ll think that I’m some self-righteous, got-it-all-together, saint of a human.

But because I want to make sure you know that life’s not about the wrapping. I love to talk about clothes and hair and makeup, style, shoes, you name it. It’s fun to me. It’s a way to express yourself – kind of like art. But I don’t go to those things to feel complete. I think it’s necessary that you love yourself without all of that.

And I would be doing a disservice to you, and myself, if I just hid behind a computer and pretended to be that first girl all the time. If I just sat here and only shared my filtered, edited, cream of the crop parts. Trust me, I have a lot more mediocre moments than I do picture-perfect ones.

Let’s be real, people! This is life; good, bad and fresh-out-of-the-shower-with-wet-hair. Life’s too short to hide your true self and try to be someone else. Go take a good long look in the mirror and repeat after me. Damn. You’re kinda hot. 

We Have Come to be Danced.

As a follow-up to Tuesday’s post, I thought I’d share a poem that we’re currently working on a dance for. It’s a beautiful piece and the text summarizes The Movement Mission almost to a tee. When you find your thing, it goes all the way to the core of who you are. And that’s what this is about.

Have you found your thing yet? I want to hear about it! Happy Thursday, loves.

We Have Come to be Danced
by Jewel Mathieson

We have come to be danced
not the pretty dance
not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance
but the claw our way back into the belly of the sacred, sensual animal dance
the unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance
the holding the precious moment in the palms of our hands and feet dance

We have come to be danced
not the jiffy booby, shake your booty for him dance
but the wring the sadness from our skin dance
the blow the chip off our shoulder dance
the slap the apology from our posture dance

We have come to be danced
not the monkey see, monkey do dance
one, two dance like you one two three, dance like me dance
but the grave robber, tomb stalker tearing scabs & scars open dance
the rub the rhythm raw against our souls dance

WE have come to be danced
not the nice invisible, self conscious shuffle
but the matted hair flying, voodoo mama shaman shakin’ ancient bones dance
the strip us from our casings, return our wings sharpen our claws & tongues dance
the shed dead cells and slip into the luminous skin of love dance

We have come to be danced
not the hold our breath and wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance
but the meeting of the trinity: the body, breath & beat dance
the shout hallelujah from the top of our thighs dance
the mother may I? yes you may take 10 giant leaps dance
the Olly Olly Oxen Free Free Free dance
the everyone can come to our heaven dance

We have come to be danced
where the kingdom’s collide in the cathedral of flesh
to burn back into the light
to unravel, to play, to fly, to pray
to root in skin sanctuary
We have come to be danced
WE HAVE COME

Photo by B.Hockensmith Photography, www.bhockensmith.com

The Movement Mission

Have you ever had something that makes you feel completely alive? Something that is a safe space you can retreat to?  That challenges you but you look forward to that? Where you feel completely like yourself but yet sometimes you can’t believe it’s even real?

The Movement Mission.

The Movement Mission came from my good friend Christina and her niece Michela. It grew out of a desire that they, and many of us, have had for years; to dance for ourselves and for a purpose. It’s a group of 30 or so women (we’re looking for some men to join us!) of various ages, backgrounds and technique levels. It’s a place where we come to move  and support each other. A place where we dance for ourselves, not necessarily for an audience or a class of students (many of the women are dance teachers.) It’s a place where we dance for a bigger purpose…more on that in a bit.

Photo by Klatte Photography, http://www.klattephotography.com

About half of us came to be part of TMM because of a previous group, a dance ministry Christina started with our church about six years ago (yowza the years have flown!) Joining this group of women was where I rediscovered my love of dancing, which I had hidden down inside since I was in elementary school, thinking that I wasn’t “really” a dancer. It unlocked a passion inside of me that I had been stifling for years. It showed me that dancing is often my therapy. My way to connect with the Lord and worship. My “me time” in a world where I usually spend my days giving to everyone else around me.

And now we have come together as a group to share our love and dance for a cause. Currently, that cause is the Bonnie Lavric Scholarship at Dublin Dance Center. Christina, Michela and many of the women involved with the group are teachers or students at Dublin Dance Center, and that is where our ministry group has danced since we started. Bonnie is an amazing woman whom I only had the pleasure of meeting a few times, but who lives on through stories of those who love her very much. Bonnie lost her fight with cancer several years ago and the studio supports a scholarship in her honor which is awarded annually to some of its dancers.

The inaugural Bonnie Lavric Cancer Benefit Concert will be held on February 8, 2014. We dance not only in Bonnie’s honor, but also in celebration of so many we all know have fought cancer. We dance to raise funds but also to inspire. It will be a great night of heart, dance, music and a variety of performances.

More details on tickets and times to come. We’re also looking for more musicians/dancers/performers who want to participate…so if that’s you, please get in touch! We’d love to have you as part of this story.

What’s your thing? Your place that makes you come alive. Your Movement Mission. If you don’t have that thing yet, I challenge you to start seeking it out. You’d be amazed how it can change your life!

My Kind of Truck.

This weekend was the third annual Columbus Food Truck Fest held at the Columbus Commons (one of my FAVE summer spots in cbus.) I couldn’t imagine a better end-of-summer weekend. The temperature was perfect, I started the morning with outdoor yoga, took a walk along the river and had this for lunch.

Only one of the greatest festival foods I could imagine, as confirmed by the mile-long line I stood in (but totally worth it and actually incredibly fast-moving.)

But then we walked past it. Perhaps one of the most ingenious ideas I’ve seen in a while. The Boutique Truck.

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LADIES. This is a STORE ON WHEELS. Can I get an amen?!

Kimmy and I walked right in (because it said to come in!) and were in immediate heaven. We talked with Catherine, the truck’s owner, and I assured her that she is definitely onto something. Inside you can shop for everything from maxi dresses (hello, my favorite!) to leggings and accessories. She even has a fitting room. It truly felt like walking into a personal closet. Aside from just festivals, The Boutique Truck can be reserved for at-home parties, bachelorette parties, etc. A store that will come to my house so my friends and I can shop in our own driveway while drinking wine and hanging out? Sign me up!

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My lovely friend, yoga partner, city gallivant-er and model, Kimmy!

Catherine said she just started the truck this summer and hopes to continue even into the winter. Y’all, you need to check this out next time you see it on the street. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love me some food trucks. But, what a fun idea! Kimmy and I walked out saying, “What else can we put in a truck?!” We’re still working on the next big thing.

Congrats to Catherine and The Boutique Truck on such a great idea! I’m so glad you’ve brought this to Columbus and I look forward to visiting again soon (hopefully when I’m less sweaty and can actually try some things on!)

How was your weekend? How are you spending these last weeks of summer before we enter the most wonderful time of the year? (FALL.)

A Time to Write.

Hello there, friends. Been awhile, eh? I’d like to claim that I’ve been away for the summer touring the world “Eat, Pray, Love” style or saving starving children in a third world country. But alas, I’ve been right here in good ol’ Cbus, Ohio. Trying to enjoy everything this time of year has to offer, from festivals to patios and everything in between.

And as summer starts to wind down (omg, really?) I thought it’s about time to check in on my little quest to be Alive this year. I was recently reminded of how one of my favorite writers, Donald Miller, used to post his blogs…with photos of his actual writings. And I’ve had this notebook which I stuck in my purse a few weeks ago, intending to write more in the moment. And until about two days ago, it’s remained blank. So I thought I’d give it a try. In an effort to be more present and write more often, here we go!

Hello, Bloglovin.

A few months ago I got this uber-sad news…

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WHAT.

Say it isn’t so.

My mecca of blog-reading organization is now gone.

But after I cried my tears and wiped my eyes, I came across a new solution.

Bloglovin!

They even let you import your Google Reader list (PRAISE THE LORD.)

Sanity saved.

You should really click that link up there and follow A Myriad Life. You don’t want to miss out on the fun!

A Really Long Post in Which I Give My Opinion on Life and Hope You Don’t Hate it.

A couple of months ago someone very dear to me, a student/friend/fellow young woman said to me, “Teach me how to be like you. Independent and confident.”

My gut instinct was a very short, abrupt response.

Ha.

If only, sweet friend. If only you knew the girl who crawled her way to today. If only you saw the behind-the-scenes version of me that sometimes can’t muster the courage to climb out of bed. If only.

But…then I decided to accept the compliment and produce an answer. Because if I do say so myself, I have managed both of those things. Not always with class and grace, but they have their moments. And when you realize you’re a role model, it makes you stop and think about why you do the things you do.

I didn’t give her a complete answer at the time, I had to put some more thought into it. Independent and confident…also quite often perceived as stubborn and intimidating (even by those who intimidate me.) There is a fine line to walk between being strong and being a *jerk (*fill in your expletive of choice.)

So in no specific order, here are my thoughts…

1. Know who you don’t want to be. I’ve been {fortunate?} enough to grow up around some situations that have shown me exactly who I don’t want to be in life. Habits I don’t want to have. Choices I don’t want to make. People I don’t want to settle for. For some, this could be a poor influence; I have been able to say, “I know there is better” and pursue it. Strong examples come in all forms.

2. Put on your big girl panties and deal with it. Yes, I cringe at that word but I push on! My mom and I adopted that phrase a few years ago. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. Suck it up. Get your hands dirty. Don’t sit around and wait for someone else to do it for you. And trust me, the satisfaction you’ll have after succeeding is well worth it.

3. Accept what makes you unique and embrace it. Because everybody has some weird in them. And it’s awesome. I’m an only child, I secretly want to be a broadway star, a mom and a pastry chef all at the same time,  I care about people too much, I have a short leg, I’m obsessed with my cats and I dance awkwardly all the time. You’re turn, go!

4. Trust your own decisions. Last year I bought a house on the spot. ON THE SPOT after looking at it for 10 minutes. Was that crazy? Perhaps. But was it my decision? Sure was. Trust yourself. You know what’s best for you.

5. Love yourself enough to be ok with you. This goes along with #3. Nothing gets under my skin more than a person who can’t recognize how amazing they are. We have been programmed in our culture to be self-critical. We get put up against impossible expectations. Are you great at everything? NO! But are you good at something? YES. Build on your strengths. Be competent in your weaknesses, but don’t count yourself out because of them. One of my favorite quotes…

6. Be confident enough to show your flaws. You know what? People will love you more because of them. Take that mask off right now and be real and vulnerable. (I know it’s hard.)

7. Allow yourself to fail. And after that, allow yourself a night of bawling into your pillow and eating a lot of chocolate in between sobs and thinking life is never going to be more than it is in this exact moment. Then, pull it together, put on some mascara , lipstick and some kick-ass heels and start a plan to fix it. Trust me, you’ll always come up with a better plan in heels.

8. Decide whose opinions matter. This is an important filter to discover. Everyone is going to have an opinion for you. And you’ll drive yourself absolutely insane if you try to appease all of them. Create an inner-circle; those people who you trust and know you can rely on. Listen to their voices. Use them as a compass. Identify those people who just like to give their two cents and those who actually have your best interest at heart when they speak. Listen to the latter.

9. Identify a difference between need and want. Be the girl who can be confident in herself on her own. Sit in a quiet room and learn to be content with your own silence and your own thoughts (it’s not easy!) Be the girl who wants a great guy to take her out to dinner but is perfectly ok taking herself out if he can’t be found. Be strong enough to want people in your life but not need them in order to find self-worth. Other people should enhance you, not complete you. It is an extremely powerful thing to be comfortable relying on yourself.

10. Don’t be afraid to love. It’s a fact of life, people will disappoint you. We’re human. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t love them with everything you have inside you. You’re never going to find anything more fulfilling than caring about those around you. Take a chance. People are so fascinating. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience that.

11. Smile because you’re worth it. Taking a note from L’Oreal Paris. Smile. Right now. Go take a good, long look in the mirror and be happy with the person staring back at you. You’re not perfect (guess what, ME EITHER!) You make mistakes. You fail. You hurt feelings. You get your feelings hurt. Give yourself some grace. Give other people some grace. Recognize that you are a human and that everyday is going to be an education in life. Don’t take it too seriously. Something is always going to go wrong and that’s ok. As long as you are willing to get back up and keep moving forward, you’ve succeeded.

Now, do I really think I have this all figured out? Nah. Do I think I ever will? Nope. But I am happy to share what I’ve learned in my few, short years. After all, I had people do the same for me. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it this far.

Happy day, lovelies. Go out and be strong today. I love you.

Think Pink.

This past weekend I participated in one of Columbus’ largest annual events…The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. I walked…I just like to make sure everyone knows that I don’t run…

One of my goals for “The Year of Being Alive” was to get involved with an organization where I could do event planning and fundraising for a cause I care about. So, I recently joined the Komen Young Professionals and so far it’s been great!

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Team KYP 2013

During the race I had a moment…you know one of those spontaneous tears moments? (Am I the only one who gets these??) There is a point on the route where hundreds of motorcyclists line up and cheer on the racers, revving their engines and beeping their horns. (Yes, I recognize this is a strange place to get emotional.) But there was this moment of pure, human interaction. People giving up their own time to cheer on others who were giving up their own time to celebrate victims and survivors . A community coming together to not only raise awareness and money, but to encourage each other to keep fighting. And in that moment, I wasn’t thinking about the 5K I was walking, or that it was about to thunderstorm or the myriad of scary possibilities our society has recently encountered when large, public groups gather. I was just happy to be there seeing the smiles on faces. 

I think the tears came from a place that is still taken by surprise by humanity. In a world full of so much selfishness, negativity and uncertainty, it’s a joy to catch those glimpses of celebration.

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And the celebration continues! Join KYP for Style for the Cure in June! Put on your little black dress and come out for a fashion show, cocktails and celebrating some strong ladies!