Monday Musings: To Live Is The Rarest Thing

I love a good memoir. There’s something so reassuring about reading people’s personal stories of realizing their lives are not what they want, making a huge change, struggling and coming out on the other side. It’s almost therapeutic. If they can completely change the course of their life when things get bad, why couldn’t I?

Shortly after reading Eat Pray Love, I went to Naples and raced over to the pizzeria where Julia Roberts ate that whole pizza by herself. I figured it was part of the experience, part of the journey to the fulfilling life I so desperately wanted (plus, I rarely turn down an excuse to eat pizza).

These memoirs of self-awareness and living a fulfilling life reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

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I truly believe life is too short to just go through the motions but more often than not, change is terrifying and so reading about people who go through the difficult times and come out the other side with better, happier lives is inspiring.

You know what people never talk about though? The middle part. The hard part. The part that’s always whipped past in stories of change.

Few people discuss the fear, uncertainty, anxiety of putting yourself out there in the world, the self-doubt and the absolute terrifying feeling that maybe the path you’re on won’t lead you to a happier life.

It’s so easy to get caught up in people’s successes, we don’t realize that all that middle part that no one talks about is experienced by almost everyone. You make that leap to change your life but adrenaline only keeps you going for so long. We expect a 2 minute montage of the bad times and then we’re there, taking the first exciting steps towards the rest of our happy lives.

In reality, change takes time. It could take a few months,  a year or maybe even a few years. Some people claim the first step is the hardest, admitting that your life is not making you happy and taking that step towards change. I, however, think there are two equally hard times: the first step and the middle, the waiting, trying new things when it’s so easy to give up, get depressed, become overwhelmed and fight everyday for your inner resilience. As difficult as it is taking the plunge to aim for a better life, it can be even harder to remain positive during the hard times and keep yourself from accepting that as your fate.

So this is my rallying call for those of you brave enough to reinvent your lives in a way that makes you happy. Remove your mentality from what the media tells you great life adventures should be like and persevere. Yes, it may be hard. Yes, it may take a while. Yes, you may feel like you want to give up but I believe that if you’re strong enough to take that first step, you’ll be able to keep taking steps through the good and bad, only to come out stronger and with that life you want, full of Julia Roberts’Napoli pizza.

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First photo from here.

Meditation For Those Who Can’t Meditate

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I tend to read a lot of wellness articles. There are few things I think are as important as having a healthy body and mind. The trend right now that everyone in every healthy magazine, show, blog is saying the key to a healthy lifestyle is, is meditation.

I’ve done yoga for a few years now and meditation is a big part of it. The truth is, I couldn’t do it. I would lay on my mat trying so hard to clear my mind, searching for that inner peace everyone talks about and nothing. If anything, it just worked to make me incredibly frustrated.

I would go home, sit on my bed and try to meditate at night. Nothing.

The next time I’d be scrolling through Twitter and, inevitably, someone would talk about how they can’t start their morning without meditation or something generic like that and I would rush back to yoga in a fervor, try again and fail.

I’ve finally had enough and decided to try meditating differently because clearly everything I was reading just wasn’t working.

I found that the one thing that can clear my  mind is not just sitting on a mat, palms up, eyes closed. It’s the actual workout. Timing my breath to every move, pushing my body until it starts shaking, focusing on the words of whatever music is playing. Next thing I know, the hour is over and my mind has been cleared (then it’s time to ‘mediate’ and it promptly comes roaring back).

Now, there’s nothing more annoying than ending a practice with meditation if you can’t actually meditate. No matter how good your workout is, you leave feeling frustrated and with a racing mind. So, in a desperate attempt to finally ‘get it’, I decided I would stop trying to clear my mind. It obviously didn’t work. Instead, I would focus on one thing: a project at work, a book I’m reading, school, blogging, anything. Then, I would push everything out of my head and focus on that one subject. Anywhere my mind wandered to, I’d let it.

You know what I found, not only is it much more relaxing than trying to clear your mind, failing and then wanting to throw your mat across the room and stomp out in a rage (can you imagine a yoga class ending like that) but it’s also when I’m at my most creative. I’ve even started considering taking a notepad and pen to class with me. Some days are better than others but it’s much more productive and I think, no matter who you are or what you do, there should never be a shortage of creativity in a person’s life.

If you’re like me and just can’t meditate, give this a try! Slow your breath and practice focusing your mind and then let it wander.

If you can meditate, tell me your secret! I would love to know!