The Simplicity of It All

The twenties are such a fluid time, full of change and ups and downs. I am a bit of a nomad myself. Change, spontaneity and adventure seem to fit me pretty well, but I had an a really humbling epiphany recently. In the hustle and bustle of the twenties, the rat race of career, marriage and the climb to success, it is important not to forget what matters. It is important to value the little things.

So maybe you’re not catching my point yet. Am I saying that career, relationship and finding your place in the world shouldn’t be your focus in your twenties? By all means, no. What I am saying is that it should not be your only priority.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“In the hustle of life, don’t forget to stop, look around and say thank you.”

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to volunteer with a group of young adults at a senior citizen’s living facility. I met the sweetest lady named Jean. She was dressed in a red polka dotted blouse, red cardigan and navy pants, with a beautiful smile to top it off. Although Jean had a hard time with her short term memory and kept asking the same questions, she also couldn’t stop telling me how much she appreciated seeing our group’s smiling faces.

Jean explained that when you live in a senior’s living facility, you don’t get outside as much as you do when you’re young. You miss the sway of trees, the brilliance of the sun and the scent of flowers. She also told me she really appreciates interactions with people now more than ever. Her living facility has three meals per day: Breakfast at 7:00 a.m. Lunch at 11:30 a.m. and dinner at 4:00 p.m. She is promptly downstairs for every meal. I can only imagine in her best outfit and with her big smile.

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Jean, my best friend and I at lunch

Jean taught me an important lesson: to value the little things. In your twenties, it’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of the world around you and not stop to really appreciate all you have. So you may not have the perfect job you’d imagined back in college. Be thankful that you have a job. So you’re single yet again for another Valentine’s Day. I’m sure you have plenty of family and friends who love and appreciate you.

So what, you’re life isn’t perfect. Welcome to the club. You still have a lot more life to live. Jean reminded me the value of a grateful heart and the joy in appreciating the littlest things. I know everywhere you look, people are encouraging you to speed up and get ahead, but maybe just take a moment, stop, look around and breathe it all in and appreciate what this season of your life has to offer. You should literally take time out of your day to smell the roses around you and gaze at the stars. An appreciative heart is always a full heart.

– Stephkt

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Say Yes

say yes

My closest friend has on more than one occasion accused me of being a man hater. Her exact words….. “Stephanie is skeptical of men.” No matter how much I try to refute this, my friend is in fact right. When it comes to my friends and guys, I am the mother hen, waiting to swoop in and save the day from any man whore, liar, Mr. Here Today and Gone tomorrow. I stand ready and on guard to help my friends avoid having their hearts broken by guys who do not see their value and worth.

I can tell you for 100% fact (and yes, I may indeed be biased), but my friends (most of whom are single) are AWESOME! They are gorgeous, educated, independent, well-traveled, witty, adventurous and fun. What more can a guy ask for, right?!

Not only am I defensive when it comes to guys whom my friends show potential interest in, but I am also defensive regarding myself. What I realized as of late is that in all my strong, independent and vivacious nature, I have also been afraid. Afraid of what you may ask? Afraid of getting hurt. Afraid of going back to a place I have known all too well before: heartache. If you’ve never been there, trust me. It is not the most fun place to be.

My light bulb moment about my fear came recently when I was asked out on a date and gasp! I actually said yes. However, very quickly my fears manifested. I couldn’t allow myself to be open very long without the fear creeping up in the back of my mind. There were those nagging questions, “What if this guy hurts me? What if I start to fall for him and he leaves?”

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Say yes, more than you say no. Even if you turn out to be wrong. Because every mistake, every heartache and every blunder is just another step on the journey of where you are ultimately meant to be.”

What I realized is that by allowing my fears to dominate my thoughts, I’m doing myself a disservice. Often times, the thing we fear the most manifests in our lives. It’s almost as if we attract the very thing we fear. Yes, there’s a possibility that I and my friends may date Mr. Not So Rights, but there’s also a chance that we might each find really, great guys. Sometimes you have to stumble along the way in life and love until finally you get it right!

My recent dating situation did not turn out the way I had hoped it would. But you know what? I am proud of myself because I said yes. I said yes to a first date, and a second and a third. I took a risk. I took a chance. So what that it didn’t turn out to be happily ever after! In all honesty, it hurt. I got hurt, but I know I will be okay. Every mistake, every heartache and every blunder is just another step on my journey of where I am ultimately meant to be.

You know what I also learned from this situation: I can trust myself. There’s this still, small voice on the inside of me (some may call it a woman’s intuition, others’ a gut feeling, others’ the voice of God) that I can trust not to lead me astray. I can feel free to say yes to a date without fear. In this last dating situation, that still, small voice told me this guy wasn’t best for me and that is completely okay. Saying yes to a date is not the same as saying yes to an engagement proposal. It does not mean forever and always. It simply means: Yes, I will be brave enough to take a chance on something new.

So say yes. When a decent guy who you potentially could be interested in and are attracted to asks you out, say yes. Of course if you notice big red flags about the guy (like approaching you in a creepy or disrespectful way), feel free to say no. Just don’t be afraid to take chances. Yes, you may get hurt and you may mess up, but there’s grace for that. In this very moment, I am choosing to show myself some much needed grace. It’s not the end of the world. This guy just wasn’t best for me, but I won’t allow it to make me afraid. I’ll keep going and only be stronger because of it. There’s grace for you too. You will learn from it and only be stronger in the end.

-Stephkt

Playing Small is Easy, Standing Out Takes Guts

courageHave you ever played small for fear of standing out? Maybe you know the answer to something at work or you have a talent or skill that is needed for a project, but instead of owning it you shy away from being noticed? Well, if you answered yes, don’t feel bad because I am right there with you. A friend recently brought to my attention that I, too, play small. Instead of owning my gifts or my knowledge, I often times choose to keep quiet. I choose to play small and pretend that I do not have the skill, the know how, or talent because it keeps things simple. I don’t have to be noticed. I don’t have to be brave or confident. Playing small is easy. Standing out takes guts.

Why do we do this? As twenty somethings, we want nothing more to succeed, to excel, to win, whether it be on our career paths or in our personal lives. We want success, but then why, oftentimes do we stray away from it?

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

The answer to that nagging question of why do we sometimes play small is simple: fear. That ugly monster inside our heads that tell us if we try, then we might fail. That constant nagging voice that tells us not to speak up at work for fear that we may be wrong. That dreadful feeling in the pit of our stomachs called worry that is concerned with what people will say if we succeed or fail.

Well ladies and gents, I’m here to tell you that the fear might always be there, but the cool thing about fear is that it is just an opportunity to practice courage. The more you practice stepping up, the smaller that little nagging voice of fear will become. You have a dream, take it and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

You cannot let the fear of striking out prevent you from trying. Truthfully, that is what the twenties is all about: trial and error. Feel free to explore, to wander and to mess up at times but don’t play small for fear of failing. Who cares what people think? Take that job interview. Start that business. Try out those night classes. Raise your hand in the next office meeting. Share your ideas and your pitches with your boss. You never know? You being bold about your own talents and expertise might just encourage others to do the same. Your next success story could be right around the corner.

-Stephkt

 

2014: Leave it to the Breeze

hopefulI was sitting with a friend for coffee a few weeks ago (because, of course, that is what twenty something year olds do in their free time). Amidst all the holiday jitters of upcoming travel, seeing family and friends, gifts to be bought and things to get done, we started reflecting about this past year.

2014, oh what a year it has been! Full of adventures, new things, new people and many, many lessons learned. As my friend and I sat over our chai, taking in all of 2014 for what it’s been, we started talking about what we’ve learned.

The biggest lesson this year has taught me is to let things go. Whether it be friendships that just no longer fit anymore, past relationships, career struggles, mistakes made or even my pride, I have learned and am still learning the power of the statement, “Let it go!”

Feel free to bust into the Disney anthem at any point in time while reading this. Let it go. How poignantly simple those words are! Let it go. Yet and still, it is not always the easiest thing to do. Let it go. Something about the human brain (at least mine I know for sure), but it likes to hold onto things and people.Let it go. It is something this past year has taught me again and again. Let it go. I can look back on this last year with a smile, knowing that I have learned to let go.

Twenty Something (Advice for Anybody):

There is beauty in knowing when to hold on, just as there is freedom in knowing when to set something free and leave it to the breeze.

Looking over my resolutions from January, I can certainly say that 2014 did not go exactly as I planned. I’ve seen friendships come and go, my career plans get put on pause, and some unexpected surprises, like my brother moving in with me for six months. But that’s life folks! It doesn’t always go as planned. It rarely ever does.

In the midst of all the chaos and the ebbs and flows, there has been so much good. Let’s not forget the good. Here’s some of my 2014 highs: I got to travel to Europe for the first time and survived a 12 hour flight! I ziplined, sampled wines, and traveled to four new states. While I may have lost friendships and had to learn to let some people go, I also gained a close friendship with an old friend, who I am so grateful for! A true friend is worth their weight in gold! I’ve gotten to do more work in the magazine industry from freelancing, to helping out at photoshoots and writing/editing.

It’s been a good year. As we step into the new year, I hope you too can look back on all the good 2014 brought you. For the more painful parts of your 2014, I hope you can take lessons from mistakes made and learn to let go. Holding onto old things just weighs you down. Trust me, I know! Don’t carry that weight in to 2015. Learn to let things go. Show yourself some grace and leave it to the breeze. You’ll be glad you did!

P.S. If you are tired of hearing the overplayed version of Let it Go from Frozen, then try out James Bay’s Let It Go. You can thank me later!

Happy New Year!

-Stephkt