As I sit down to write this reflection there is a lot on my mind. Throughout February I experienced a whole spectrum of emotions and states of being. I began the month full of inspiration; I was excited to get back into my school routine and excited to be back in New York after spending most of January at home in Atlanta. I visited my sister in Boston (which was wonderful), I got to catch up with old friends, and I had a lot of realizations about relationships and the people I surround myself with.
I was listening to Jess Lively’s podcast this afternoon (which I’ll talk more about in the list to come), and one thing really stuck out to me about the episode I heard today. She said:
“procrastination is a sign that we’re not in alignment about what we have to do.”
I spent a lot of time last month procrastinating. Starting and stopping projects. Coming up with ideas and then scratching them entirely. I was feeling incredibly frustrated not only about work and school, but about my personal relationships. I’ve been putting off conversations I’ve wanted to have and decisions I’ve needed to make. Jess explains that alignment is everything. It is our attitude, our mental location, the place we’re at when we approach things. If we are out of alignment, it can be very difficult to get things done. It’s like baking a cake with all of the ingredients but no tools. You know what you want the end result to be, but you don’t have the means to get there.
Recently, I’ve been remembering the mantra that my best friend Gaby always repeats: “if it doesn’t serve you let it go.” I used to see letting things go as a weakness, as giving up. Part of this I attribute to my extensively empathetic nature – letting people go makes me feel bad because I imagine that I am hurting them by doing so. However, I think as we get older, the things that are truly important and good for us come into focus. I’ve been spending my energy nurturing relationships that are going nowhere – that drain me more than they fill me up. Friendships should be fulfilling. They should mutually serve each individual. I realized that some of the friendships I’ve been nurturing are not serving me at all. They have a negative effect on my energy and my outlook on life.
My friend Dylan Owen, an artist who I admire greatly, recently tweeted:
it takes a lifetime to master the art of moving on
— Dylan Owen (@DylanOwenmusic) February 28, 2017
He’s right. Moving on is difficult, even impossible. It is a skill which cannot be mastered or perfected. It isn’t easy to forget the past, to forget when a relationship or a project was at its best. You don’t always have to forget to move on. Sometimes you do.
This past weekend was the new moon eclipse. I think I’ve written before about the effect that the moon cycles have on me – but whether you believe in the “woo-woo” or not, I think it’s safe to say that we all experience cycles of emotion that correlate with certain time periods or seasons. I had a few creative breakthroughs during the new moon, as well as a few emotional ones. On the first day of March, out of the blue, I asked myself “why do I care about this thing that only drags me down?” That was a breakthrough for me. I have been carrying the emotional burdens of people and relationships that do not lift me up. I have been worrying about the things that drag me down.
Friendships are one of the few sacred things we have. Friends are there to help take the weight off when life is too heavy for one person. Friends are there to give each other the gifts we cannot give ourselves. Friendship is about working together, growing together, supplementing. Sometimes we go through things that cause us to take more than we can give. Friends are there to help when those things happen. I value trust and loyalty more than anything. I would die for my friends. I place extreme value in friendship and I do not take it for granted.
Because of this, it’s incredibly difficult for me to let go of friendships. The give and take becomes one sided. I blind myself to the constant taking because I am so used to giving. I drain my own creativity- my own happiness- to help my friends. That isn’t friendship. Friendship shouldn’t make you feel emptier. It shouldn’t drag you down. It should lift you up.
I have decided that want to dedicate my energy to the people that take me higher and the things that allow me to bring my positive energy into the world. Rather than focusing on people who drag me down into places where I feel trapped, I want to focus on the people who give me room to be my best self. I want to have the energy to help the people I love when they ask for it. Allowing myself to leave the situations that do not serve me, that do not make me better, is the best gift I can give myself as I move into spring, and out of winter. Not to throw in a floral metaphor, but spring is the season of growth, blossoming, and transformation. I want to be charged enough to do all three.
I want to end this by saying that it’s hard. It’s hard to let go of things that don’t make you feel good when you’re used to them. Change is always difficult. It’s one of the hardest, but most fulfilling experiences we can have as humans. I’m going to embrace it, and I hope you do as well. As I embark on this experience of surrounding myself with the things and people who allow me to be myself, here are some of the things I’m taking with me. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.
As I mentioned, recently I’ve been listening endlessly to Jess Lively’s podcast, The Lively Show. She has an absolutely beautiful, practical, and game-changing outlook on the world, and on the way we can either choose to shape our reality or not. Her podcast discusses a wide variety of topics, from love and relationships to careers to spirituality and the varying frameworks we can apply to our understanding of the world around us. The episode I referenced above was her February Q&A and you can listen to all of the episodes on iTunes as well as on her website.
Dear Evan Hansen is my second listening recommendation for you. The music and lyrics are by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, whose names you might recognize from their recent Oscar win for La La Land. The show centers around Evan Hansen (played by Ben Platt of Pitch Perfect), an awkward kid who gets himself into an interesting situation after lying about his friendship with a student who has recently committed suicide. The musical is about love, friendship, and the power of knowing you aren’t alone. It’s a good-un.
My March Playlist
Lorde – “Green Light”
Little Dragon – “Twice”
The 1975 – “UGH!”
Calvin Harris – “Slide (feat. Frank Ocean & Migos)“
Future – “Selfish (feat. Rihanna)”
Barcelona – “Come Back When You Can”
The 1975 – “By Your Side”
Man Overboard – “Love Your Friends, Die Laughing”
As you guys may or may not know, I keep a playlist of all of my songs currently in rotation updated on Spotify.
I’m only including one online reading this month, because this one was so powerful it needs to stand alone.
“You May Want To Marry My Husband” for The New York Times by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. This is a heartbreaking letter from a dying woman to the woman she hopes be with her husband when she’s gone. “He is an easy man to fall in love with. I did it in one day.”
Books I Read Last Month
Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan. This is a monthly comic series (bound up into two graphic novels) about four paper delivery girls in suburban America. They encounter a monstrous mystery, Stranger Things style, and hilarity ensues. The art style is gorgeous, and done by Cliff Chiang (of the Wonder Woman series), and words are by Brian K. Vaughan (of the Saga series).
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. This was the first book i read in February – and it was AMAZING. This is such a fast-paced, intricate crime thriller, and I completely loved reading it. I also re-watched the film after I finished reading, and it’s such a well-done adaptation. If you like mysteries, and aren’t afraid of a little darkness, you’ll love this. It really paired well with my gloomy mood.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I read this book with my lovely friend, Catherine, who I met through the Bookstagram community! I thought this was a beautiful book, though it was a very simply written story. It centers around a young boy experiencing a hard time at home, who is visited by a magical and magnificent monster. The book is heart-wrenching, and a quick read.
The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon. I did a full review of that here, and it was wonderful. It’s a love story and an immigrant story that reminds us about fate and the way in which good things can blossom under unlikely circumstances.
Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s a New York Times best-selling book on the craft of writing, and the book that sparked my most recent top-secret writing project. A must-read for anyone who likes to write.
In terms of traditional things, I’ve recently started watching The Vampire Diaries on Netflix. It’s definitely a cheesy teen drama, but it’s actually so good. It’s exactly the kind of show I need to unwind at the end of a long day (plus, Paul Wesley is so cute). I’ve also been watching the new episodes of Bates Motel, one of my favorite shows on TV right now.
Grace Bonney is the founder of the online lifestyle blog Design*Sponge and author of the NYT-bestselling book, In The Company Of Women, about badass women doing badass things. I recently rediscovered Design*Sponge (I used to read it ALL the time) and it has been a great place to go when I need a little visual refresh. I am a highly visual thinker and I thrive in beautiful environments, so I love to look at this site when I need a little aesthetic recharge. Seeing someone’s DIY before and after, or a list of twelve beautiful handmade rugs can totally redirect my creative process.
Jess Lively is the creator of The Lively Show, which I mentioned above. Jess is someone who I can always count on when I need to approach something with a new perspective. I find her podcast to be insanely useful when it comes to tackling creativity blocks or issues that arise in my day to day life. Her ideas always come to me at exactly the right moment, and her podcast is wonderful if you’re in need of a little bit of grounding. She also brings on interesting guests occasionally, if you like to nose around in other people’s routines (I do).
TREATS FOR YOU
This is a beautiful desktop wallpaper by Barbara Ignatiev, via Design*Sponge. I really love to change my desktop wallpaper and phone backgrounds at the beginning of each month. It sounds silly, but it really helps to redirect my mind and start fresh. It’s kind of the same feeling you get when you start a new month in your calendar or planner – just that clean fresh feeling. Like clean sheets.
I’m constantly updating this on Pinterest, but here are some of the images that have been inspiring me this month. Click to enlarge & for sources. I’m feeling the colors blue and green – not sure why. They’re calling me this month.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. I’ve been toying with the idea of turning this series into a monthly newsletter. Would that be of interest to anyone?
featured image art by Yelena Bryksenkova