Beauty = Happiness = Mindfulness

I'm sharing this post on the five year anniversary of my move to Colorado. That year was a tough one, in the “Wake up, Lil, this is Real Life,” kind of way. My job was getting real, as was my financial situation. Several close friends had had near-lethal bike accidents and I was struck for the first time by the fragility of being alive. These things, along with all the usually moving-across-the-country blues left me sobbing on my living room floor. Multiple living room sobbing sessions, actually. That just seems to be the place that I end up when the going gets tough.

Despite that, I was asked out and hit on more in that year than ever before!  I hadn’t lost weight, gotten a great new haircut, or started wearing short skirts and high heels.)

Besides in the usual cafe/bar scene, I was asked out in the grocery store, the shoe store, the library, the farmers’ market, and the map store. (The map store, really?) I had people call out to me, and then run to catch up to me and ask me my name. A handsome man, who was singing on the street for spare change, stopped singing to talk to me. The charming but married-with-kids millionaire who owns the ad firm next door was constantly smiling at me and checking out my legs. I couldn't believe it! I’d never attracted this kind of attention before.

What changed?

I couldn’t put my finger on it for a while but thanks to my morning writing practice, things clicked; happiness has made me beautiful. And happiness does not mean being in the perfect relationship, having the perfect job, the perfect body, or being completely enlightened. 

For me, Happiness Comes from acknowledging and appreciating the parts of my life that I am grateful for, and breathing into those parts. 

When I wake up in the morning, I open the curtains and say “Damn, mountains, you guys are killin’ it today.” I ride my bike and whisper up to the blue sky, “Thank you for the sunshine! This day is amazing!” I stare into my bowl of homemade soup and say “This is healing soup. This soup can heal anything.”

We talk about “mindfulness” a lot, but this is the ultimate test. Can you pick your life apart into moments, strung together like pearls, and acknowledge and appreciate the beautiful ones, even when life is tough? 

Extra Credit: Next time you are sobbing on your living room floor, try taking a breath and appreciating this hard moment, as much as you appreciate the moments of sunshine and bowls of warm soup. Those deepest blue moments give contrast and clarity to the shiny moments. 

So, what makes you glow?

Let me know in the comments below! Or, if you're struggling to find the sparkle within each water droplet as you stand in the rain waiting for the bus, hit me up. I love brainstorming strategies for a well-loved life. 

What Are You Hungry For?

I'm reposting this blog from a few years ago because it so accurately captures what many of deal with every day: cravings.

I’m ravenous, and craving strange things, specifically peanut M&Ms. I don’t think I’ve eaten an M&M since I was 16, but I can’t stop thinking about them. I want salty AND sweet AND crunchy, all at the same time, and my usual wellness-counselor-approved fix of dried apricots and almonds isn’t cutting it.

Today I ate early breakfast, late breakfast, a huge lunch, a snack, a yummy dinner, and a cup of tea, and now it’s 10:00 pm and I want peanut M&Ms. I consider walking to the 24-hour grocery store, but thankfully, it starts raining, and I’m forced to sit down and THINK about this instead of eating myself into a stupor.

You have to imagine me sitting on the floor, facing myself. Less-Conscious Me has her arms crossed and is sulking.

This is what the conversation sounds like:

Conscious Me: So, Lil. Why are you so hungry? Where do these cravings come from?

Less-Conscious Me: I’M STARVING.

C: You’ve had so much food today, though. What are you hungry for?

L: I want something delicious. I want to be blown away by how delicious my life is.

C: Everything you’ve eaten today was so delicious! What more can you want?

L: It’s more than eating! I want my whole life to be delicious.

C: So the cravings for sweet, crunchy, spicy, salty….they aren’t for food.

L: Right! I want my life to be sweet! And crunchy! And spicy! And salty!

C: Okay…okay. So what does that look like? How can you make your life more sweet and crunchy?

L: I WANT NOAH TO COME HOME NOW!!!

C: Aha!! So that’s it. You are hungry for Noah.

L: Yeah! I want to have kisses and hand-holding, I want to have adventures, I want someone to cook for, to ask me the hard questions, and listen to my wild dreams!!!

C: So these cravings aren’t for food, they are for qualities of life?

L: Sigh…yes.

Imagine sitting with yourself and talking it through.

A little context: Noah is my traveling musician law-student (now lawyer) boyfriend. His band was on tour for two weeks, and then law school started up again, and I had an ugly feeling that our summer full of bike rides and picnic lunches might be over. This insatiable hunger isn’t for food, and I don’t have a nutrient deficiency, I just need a hug. Several hugs, actually, about about two weeks worth of hugs condensed into forty five minutes would be good.

This is great news! I’ve figured out the root cause of my cravings. Except, Noah is still out of town for another week.

How do I deal with theses cravings in the meantime?

Call your brother and ask if you can make him dinner tomorrow night. He will say yes!

Call your yoga partner, make plans to go to class tomorrow morning. Hug her when you see her!

Call your neighbor with three kids under 8, and ask if she needs a babysitter. Wrestle with the six year-old, let the baby fall asleep in your arms, and sit with the oldest while he reads. Hold their hands. Make them yummy healthy snacks. Plan bike rides and picnics with your friends, watch old western movies, work in your garden, get up early and go running up the canyon, see a baby deer and get stung by a bee. That’s a crunchy, spicy, sweet life!

The night Noah is coming home, notice how many things you didn’t get a chance to do while he was gone. Notice that law school is not the end of the world, it’s just a change in lifestyle. Be willing to continue the conversation with yourself, and listen to your own needs. Even when your life is full of love, there will still be cravings that confuse you.

Be courageous, dig into your cravings, and discover what you are really hungry for.