Call for Submissions: June Blog Series

I’m currently accepting submissions for my June 2018 blog series:  “And Yet, We Belong”.

If you’d like to be a part of it, send 500-700 words to me at hello@thesapronextdoor.com about:

  • A time you felt you didn’t belong
  • How you navigated it
  • Lessons learned

The deadline is Thursday, May 31, 2018.

Not all submissions will be published, but you should totally send in something if you feel called to.

This can be about work, school, relationships, family, race, gender, sexuality, ability, socioeconomic status, nationality, etc.

I’m looking for honest and descriptive stories from the heart to impact others.

Can’t wait to see what you send in!

Questions? Email me at hello@thesapronextdoor.com

 

If the idea of pressing send is scaring the crap out of you.

Step 1: Start with where you want to be at the end of this decision.

Will this make you healthier? Smarter?

Will you end up in the relationship you’ve been wanting for so long?

Will it bring you closer to God?

Will this help you set a boundary you’ve been needing ever since your best friend told you, “You really seem down every time you get off the phone with them.”

Will this make your heart sing? Will it help you to confront those bones in your closet?

Imagine what the end could look like. Sink into it. Write about it. Put yourself there.

Do you like what you see? Is it worth moving towards? Is it worth suffering for – long nights, sacrifice, awkwardness, loss?

If it’s worth it, move to the next step.

Step 2: Consider the terrible things. All of them.

What if this decision leads to a complete flop? What if you receive negative feedback – like, the darkest parts of Yelp bad?

What if they say no? What if there’s no response?

What if you gain the weight back two weeks later?

What if you lose all your funding? Friends? Comfort?

Again, imagine what this could look like. Failure is a real possibility. So is heartache. So is pain. So is looking like a complete fool.

What do you see? Are you able to bounce back from it?

Do you need help healing from how it all turned out? Maybe it’s not that bad? Maybe it is.

If it’s too dangerous or risky or damaging, re-consider. Phone a friend. Scale back.

If it’s something you can handle, move to the next step.

My own thoughts can often be catastrophic and pessimistic. Sometimes, they come so fast, I don’t even notice they’re just thoughts. They appear to be truths. I find myself stuck and believing that nothing will work out and that everything will be overwhelming and ugly and terrible. In my best moments, I’m able to pull back and look at the facts.

Oh, and that’s the next step.

Step 3: Check the facts.

How much more do you actually need in order to make this thing happen?

How much do they really matter (the ones you might lose)?

What are the benefits of this?

Are you the first person ever to attempt to do this?

You’re probably not. And you’re definitely not the first person to be afraid of doing a thing. Doesn’t make it any less scary, does it?

Maybe it does.

I hope you can find some reassurance in knowing that it’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay for your hands to shake, your voice to crack, your eyes to water.

Final Step: Press send.

Do the thing. Take the first step. Make the move. Risk appearing to be bold, out of your league, bigger than you really are, braver than all who came before you.

Dare to do something for yourself. Dare to do something for someone else.

Dare to start before you’re ready.

Some folks never really are. Even the person you’ve been comparing yourself to this entire time.

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To The Person Who Wants to Give Up Because Their Work Is Undervalued

So, no one is showing up. The retweets aren’t coming. Your inbox is empty. The callback never came. No one seems to notice what you’re sharing with the world. You feel like you’re wasting your time.

Only a few people have seen your work and said: “Well done.”  Others were confused or uninterested.

You seek more validation, but you’re seemingly insatiable. You await the moment when all that you do is considered credible.

What do your friends say? What do your co-workers say? What do your toughest critics say?

Somehow, what you believe about yourself doesn’t matter as much. It doesn’t hold much weight.

This process leaves you feeling isolated. Some of this is a result of you pushing away those who actually matter. Some of this is the sadness that comes with you concluding that you don’t measure up.

Let’s be clear about this. You’ve been working your absolute hardest for a long time. You’ve cried from the exhaustion.

There are stacks of dusty rough drafts no one is allowed to see. Some ideas are tucked away because they’re too outrageous, outlandish, impractical.

“This won’t work. And it if does, no one will like it.” Bitterness and hopelessness taken up residence. They appear to be permanent tenants.

You’re giving up.

You think back to that time someone told you that your work sucked. Maybe they laughed at you. Maybe they minimized everything you brought forth. Maybe they promised they’d show up, but they didn’t. It was just an audience of one: Disappointment.

Disappointment has been hovering over every single one of your creations. It muddies things. It renders you incapable of seeing all those other good and needed parts of you.

Because you are needed. Your work is needed. What you have to give is what you have to give. No one can take that away from you.

Alas, the most formidable threat to your work, the most challenging adversary to all that you will ever do or create, is you. Every time you pull back and keep your gifts, skills, talents, products, projects, music, cuisine, teaching, love, dancing, writing, anything from the the world, someone loses.

This is not to say that everything you do is ground-breaking or awe-inspiring. It is to say that the thing which you’ve put a lot into matters.

You have no idea of who is better off because you’re here. And, you don’t get to say all of what your positive impact has been on others.

You’d surely miss something.

You don’t truly get to say what your work can and can’t do, because you will never be able to read the heart and mind of everyone whose path you’ve crossed.

While you’re permitted to give up, quit, run away, hide, or shrink someone misses out on their blessing.

Every time you hide your light, someone loses. 

All of your fears, feelings, and reluctance is valid because hurt is real and harm is sometimes everlasting. Guilt nor shame have any place here.

This is simply a reminder: what you have to give matters so much.

I say all this with grace and love and openness, knowing that everyone doesn’t have the access and privilege and space to do all they wish to do. This is about all that you can give right where you are right now. Whether it be glamorous, or unassuming. Require funding or none at all.

I say this from the deepest parts of me because I too have wanted to give up so many times (and have) because I didn’t get the feedback I wanted. I didn’t get the response I thought I needed. I created and created and no one came. There have been times when I’ve set things up and no one showed up.

I can easily call back those feelings. At times, I still feel afraid of launching something new, sharing something I care about, or showing others my work. I’ve faced rejection countless times.

What’s often hurt most is feeling misunderstood and convincing myself that what I do isn’t actually useful to anyone. But, today, I’m sure that my values have been misplaced when it comes to this. My assumptions have been inaccurate.

I’m not here to share my light in order to receive validation. I’m not here to be the biggest change this world has ever seen. I wasn’t purposed to create just so others can show up and say: “Wow, that was just what I needed.”

To be honest, I don’t fully know why I’m here. But, what I do know is that there’s power in continuing to create, show up, and put out the best work that I can. Consistency got me to today. Consistency had me up at night writing this message to you. Consistency is what has made me a better husband, friend, writer, performer, supervisor, colleague, practitioner, speaker, Christian, human.

Not perfection. I’m wholly imperfect. Not fame. It’s fleeting.

Consistency: showing up again and again because all of this means something to someone, and it’s all so much bigger than me, and so much bigger than you. 

It’s worth it because at least one person will come across what I’ve made, what I’ve let flow through me, and will benefit from it. All that you’ve been given, all that you’ve worked for, and all that you have, isn’t just for you.

If you’ve been hiding the parts of you that could potentially be a gift to someone else, I encourage to set aside a few minutes and consider the following prompts:

 

  • What if my work – though rough, unfinished, incomplete – could help someone else?
  • What if all the bad that was said about what I create was only part of the story? What if there’s some good they missed?
  • What if I’m keeping a blessing/gift/invitation from someone else who needs it by holding back what I have to give?
  • Am I waiting too long for this thing to be perfect? 
  • What permission do I need to just push this out and see where it lands, fail, and try again? 

If you want to process this with someone, you know I’m here. You can reach out to me anytime.

I also encourage you to reach out to someone who does the work you do or makes the thing you make or is on the path you’re on. See what they have to say. Challenge yourself to open your heart a little and share something real. Then, actually listen.

This is what was on my heart today. I’m glad I didn’t hide it.

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Day 3

Words by Anonmyous  | Age 48

 

What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?

Depression and anxiety.

What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?

That it can be a daily or moment by moment struggle. But, there is much to be learned from that struggle, because there is progress. You are learning something about yourself and how you respond to events. I am slowly learning that feelings are just that: feelings.

They are temporary.

I struggle with negative thoughts a lot. Sometimes I have to hit the bottom before I can rise again. I take each day as it comes.

What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with?

I’d like to unlearn the idea that your illness is you. I have identified for years with my depression, and I’ve consequently described myself as a depressed person. So when I felt happy I would have a go at myself, telling myself I had no right to be happy because I was a depressed person.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?
Not to run away from it, but to run to it, to question it, and understand it. I spent years running away from my pain through drugs, and isolation. I still do sometimes. But I found when you understand something a little better, it doesn’t feel so overwhelming.

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Looking to write your own truth? Have some kind words for the writer of these words? Feel free to share in the comment section below. 


ABOUT THE SERIES

There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness MonthStorytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.

To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage. 

 

Why It’s Okay If You Didn’t Crush It Today

Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba

I’m a busy-body and a worrier.

I make to-do list and itineraries when I’m on vacation. I have the magical ability to turn something fun into a character building activity. I ask for more responsibility even when my plate is full.

Yes, it’s as frustrating as it sounds – for anyone involved.

Here are some potential reasons I’m like this:

  • I don’t want to miss out on anything.
  • I don’t want to waste this energy I have.
  • The story I often tell myself is that my day doesn’t count unless I get a lot done.

But, if I’m being real about it, the deeper story I tell myself is that my life only counts if I get a lot done. Somewhere along the way, I internalized this idea that my output is directly tied to my worth. I’m only deserving of love and appreciation if I’ve earned it. It’s not enough for me to just be.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who thinks like this.

Still, it’s so much pressure and it’s not at all realistic. We don’t have unlimited energy. Our bodies need rest.

We live in a time where we have the resources to do more with less. We see others accomplishing great things and and we tell ourselves:“You and (insert name of anyone you compare yourself to) have the same 24 hours in a day. Why aren’t you doing more with your life!?!”

Um. Rude!

What if I just want to be me today? What if I’m tired and exhausted from being in this body that carries hurt, joy, excitement, secrets, fears, trauma, history?

We don’t give ourselves enough credit for enduring all that living requires. It takes so much to simply exist. If we accounted for all the times in a day where we had to ignore something, let go of something, forgive something, tolerate something, we’d have a more accurate picture of what life really is at times: really freaking difficult.

So, I’m thinking that it’s okay if you and I don’t crush it today. It’s okay if we just arrive to where we’re headed.

I’m not going to lie, the achiever in me is like: “Dude, you’re setting the bar low.”

But, if the bar is always high, we won’t have the energy when we’re called to be 100% for the opportunities that truly matter to us.

Everything can’t be important. Some things need to wait.

Taking care of yourself can’t wait.


Share Your Truth + Comment Below

 What’s something that came up for you while reading today’s message?

 

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Dear People Pleaser: In Case You Forgot What You’re Worth

When I was younger, I had these friends who had a proclivity for making me the center of their harsh jokes.

The teasing was light at first, but one day it escalated. It was bad – like real bad. They did things that humiliated me, embarrassed me, made me feel small, and scarred me for a long time. 

I wish I could say I stopped hanging out with them. But, I kept attending sleep overs, trusting them with private information, and letting them into my heart. They kept breaking it.

It was confusing.

Sometimes things would be great. We’d have fun, talk about dating, listen to music, play basketball, and enjoy our youth.

But, there were times that were just…heavy. Times where I should have walked away.

I didn’t have a lot of friends during those years. I was called a loser. I was the annoying kid. The teacher’s pet. The fat kid. The one of three Black kids in my grade at any given time. I was an outsider. It felt like a privilege to be part of something, even at the expense of my self-worth and dignity.

I think I held onto toxic relationships because I felt like I didn’t deserve better. I felt like better wasn’t coming. I took what I could get.

So many of us settle, compromise our values, and struggle to set healthy boundaries.

When was the last time you took on extra work just avoid confrontation?

When was the last time you agreed to meet up with someone, even though you knew you wanted to stay in bed and rest?

When was the last time you suppressed your beliefs and values, because you didn’t want to upset anyone?

Lock that moment in for a sec.

Did you like who you were in those moments? What were you protecting? What did it feel like afterwards?

It makes sense that we let somethings go. We learn to pick our battles. But, that’s not what I’m saying to you today. Today is about the danger letting things slide a little too much. The danger is us losing ourselves in someone else’s insecurity, myopia, or indifference.

It’s about our propensity to put ourselves last. It’s about looking at the mirror, and telling the person we see: “You don’t matter enough. You don’t deserve more.” OR “Give them whatever they want. Stay safe.” 

My friend, you do matter. You deserve more. You get to take breaks, say NO to things, turn down invitations, speak up for yourself, break up, move away, move on. 

But, it’s not always easy. Sometimes we’re in complicated situations.

Sometimes we feel like our jobs are on the line. Sometimes we’re worried we’ll lose friends, family members, and significant others if we choose ourselves. Sometimes it’s much worse and layered than that.

Your fears are valid. No one can judge your circumstances.

We have to do what makes sense for us. My hope is that we can move through our lives with the understanding that we have worth and we have value.

I’ll say that again.

You have worth and you have value.

This means:

  • No one gets to walk all over you.
  • No one gets to use you.
  • No one gets to pile all their responsibilities onto you.

But, sometimes, it really feels like others get a free pass to do all these things.

A lot of us are out here struggling.

..

I reached out on Twitter and asked folks to share personal stories of people-pleasing. As you’ll see, our experiences are varied, but still connected. I wanted to show you that you’re not alone in this battle, by highlighting others who are figuring their way through life as well.

Here’s what was shared.

“[For me it’s] saying sorry to everything for absolutely no reason. It’s predominantly workplace related for me…because of my role as an Executive Assistant. Being the lowest man on the totem pole means you take a lot of the blame, so it’s almost become second nature to just apologize for things even though it may have nothing to do with me. Also, deep down, my teenage self wants to come out and cuss everyone out, but that will obviously not fly in a work environment, so I go in the complete opposite direction to ensure I stay in everyone’s good graces, which equates to job security.
– Anonymous 

 

“One of the hardest things for me when it comes to my need to please people/have people like me is getting over the fear of disappointment if I don’t live up to their expectations. I find myself saying “yes” to everything and putting others’ needs before my own until I’m worn thin and reach a breaking point. It’s an issue I’m aware of, but definitely struggling to work through.”
– Liz K. from St. Louis

“I struggle daily to find my voice because I don’t like confrontation.  I’m not good at standing up for myself or making a good argument for what I believe in.  I feel like everyone is smarter than me and I can’t find my words. I have BA and Master’s degrees.  I’m just not equipped in being self advocating. Fear of looking foolish cripples me.”
– Anonymous 

“When I think of any form of people pleasing I can trace back the behavior, thinking pattern or emotions down to this core issues of mine. The first being abandonment which most often presents its self in a form of worry or fear for me. For others I’m sure its very individual and personal to them just as it is to me but it is “NOT” unique. Countless people before us and countless after us will experience many if not most of the things that come from our decisions to ‘people please’.”
– Anonymous 

“Saying no.” 
– Kim D

“Twenty-nine years ago I joined 12-step recovery for a drug and alcohol problem. At the same time I attended meetings of CODA (Codependents Anonymous) because it was so clear that relationships were the heart of my issue. I know a lot of people call it “people pleasing,” but I don’t, because my biggest and most life-changing observation is that no one ever seems to end up genuinely pleased. The other thing I learned is that I really wanted to love and care for myself. But, somehow blocked inside from doing that, I loved and cared for others to an extreme degree, hoping they would return the same. But it was not unconditional love, and I think that shone through. I’m not for a moment suggesting I have completely conquered the issue, but I do care for myself directly, which means I can usually be giving to others without any strings or expectations. And that’s a great start.”
– Catherine Ryan Hyde

“People pleasing always comes back to self seeking behavior. If I’m always saying yes, it’s not just about me having the inability to say how I really feel. But, it comes down to me wanting this person to think I’m a ‘good guy’ or at my job they’ll think i’m the best employee. Like, it’s self centered because if I can’t say no I’m saying yes In hopes of people putting me on a pedestal. Most of the time it’s subconsciously too. It’s taken real dissecting of thoughts and behavior to see that the majority of the time. Deep down I don’t want to do what I’m saying yes to- when I’m people pleasing.”
– Taylor G.

We can find ourselves saying yes to everything, because we fear the consequences of saying no. Let’s not forget that we get to set boundaries, and if someone doesn’t respect that, they’re not healthy for us.

We can really spend our entire lives waiting for the approval of people who might never give us the “Good job!” or the “Well done!” we want from them. Let’s not forget the people who already love and accept us without having to do anything spectacular.

We can spend our time giving all of ourselves to people who don’t deserve us. Let’s not forget that we get to enjoy life too, and it’s okay to be selfish and practice self-care.

I want you to know that this is a journey. I still struggle to speak up at times, distance myself from toxic relationships, and turn down things I know I don’t want to do. But, I’m learning and growing. So are you.

If you identify with anything in today’s message, there’s no shame in that. You know your story. You know what you have to deal with everyday.

I hope you get to reclaim some of your time, peace, and life.

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For Anyone Else Desperately Trying to Figure Out Their Purpose in Life

According to Google, the definition of purpose is: “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.”

So, when someone asks us: “Hey, uhhh, what’s your purpose in life?” They’re asking us why we exist?

Whew.

When I was a child, I had a close family member who’d repeatedly confront me with similar questions but from a place of anger and intimidation. They’d ask 9-year-old me: “Why are you even here? What do you do around here? Nothing. You do nothing!” They knew how to break me down. I felt like I was always making mistakes and feeling I wasn’t good enough. I internalized those thoughts, and part of me is still struggling to come up with a good response.

But I’m healing.

And, I’ve come a long long way. I bet you have too.

Maybe you’ve had some bullies in your life. Maybe someone has made you feel like less without even meaning to, but you still question your impact, your meaning, your reason for being. Am I doing enough?

Maybe you saw a groundbreaking TED talk, or you heard the news about an amazing child prodigy, or your friend told you about someone who has this really cool start-up. What am I even doing with my life?

Perhaps, you’ve found yourself scrolling on social media late at a night and feeling like everyone but you is living their best lives.

Or maybe you go deeper with it and ask yourself: “Is there even a reason for me to be here? Do I even have a purpose? And if I don’t, what’s that mean about my existence.”

A lot of us end up here. You’re not alone. 

We spiral and find ourselves viewing our lives as meaningless and worthless because we aren’t doing what others are doing. We internally berate ourselves for not accomplishing what we could be accomplishing based on our qualifications, ability, privilege, network, or training.

We convince ourselves that we don’t measure up.

We tell ourselves that we’ll matter more when we get the job, the spouse, the money, the degree, the _____.

Sadly, our self-worth can often be completely tied up in everything we don’t have and everything we feel like we’re not.

We can find ourselves in the happiest experiences of our lives (like truly thriving), only to be swept under the waves of self-doubt and misery moments later, when we realize we don’t have ourselves all figured out yet. Or when we hastily push ahead and set another goal to accomplish. Or when we realize that some parts of us are still broken.

But, here’s the truth of it: all of us have brokenness. All of us have doubt. All of us have shame. And still, our lives have meaning.

Each of us has the capacity to add something to the communities we live in, the churches we’re a part of, the families we care for, the schools we attend, and the strangers we meet. We can make all those places a little better. Often we’re doing this by simply showing up and being ourselves – our clumsy, unsure, brilliant, zestful, intelligent selves.

Yes, I’m still talking about you and me.

Photo of person of color standing near wall. Grafiti is on wall. Person of color is wearing a blue jacket.
Photo by Michael Afonso on Unsplash

I think we get to break up the concept of purpose into smaller and more realistic pieces. Instead of asking: “Why am I here?” ask yourself about what you enjoy, what breaks your heart, who has thanked you recently about something you did for them, what you’re good at – like naturally good at, or what you work hard at even though you don’t get paid for it.

Ask yourself about what you’ve made it through. Ask yourself about how resilient you’ve been. Ask yourself about the things no one can ever take from you.

What excites you – or what used to? What do you care about – even if others don’t find it the least bit interesting.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about these questions, and here’s what I came up with.

Pieces of my purpose: To be a kind, good, and caring husband. To be a supportive older brother and supportive to others in my family. To be a solid and dependable friend. It breaks my heart to know that others are struggling in silence with mental illness. I find myself thinking of ways to help others take better care of themselves – this keeps me up at night.  I also find myself thinking of ways to create community with other black men around issues of health and wellness, because so many of us are dying and suffering from preventable issues. I enjoy doing improv, writing, connecting with people, dancing, and bringing people together. If I wasn’t afraid, I would go all in on my dreams – I’m getting closer. Even at my lowest points, my worst moments, my biggest failures, I am still loved. I wholeheartedly believe part of my reason for being on this earth is to share God’s light with others through my work. I’ve often struggled to communicate this, because I feel like saying I’m a Christian and I love doing the work of the Lord turns others off, but it’s who I am. So here it is: I love Jesus. And if you don’t, I’m cool with that, and I still love you and celebrate you and think you get to have the big wondrous life you want to live. I find that leading and living from my heart makes all the different. It’s about love for me. That’s the big picture. Lastly, I believe I’ve had a positive impact on the lives of many just by showing up and being kind.

And, there’s so much more to me.

There’s so much more to you.

If you’re struggling to get unstuck from feeling like you have to have your entire life figured out today, I encourage you to pause, take a deep breath, and find some time to reflect on the topic of purpose in a different way. Remember to break it up.

 

Here are some questions to ask yourself this week, as you dig into this topic a little more. 
I don’t suggest trying to respond to every one, it’s not a test. See which question tugs at you the most, kicks up stuff for you the most, or just feels most salient for you right now.

  • What issue or idea has been keeping me up at night?
  • What’s been breaking my heart?
  • What am I already doing that has a positive impact on the lives of others – if only a little?
  • What have my friends, family, or strangers thanked me for lately? 
  • What would I create, add to, join, or show up for if I had the resources and wasn’t afraid?
  • What have I been hesitant to tell others about who I am and what I believe? 

Oh, and I just gotta say this. Sometimes, we need to put down the journal, and get out, do something, and shake things up. I’ve personally found that taking action is a healthy way to move through the anxiety of trying to figure out ALL THE THINGS. This means signing up to volunteer service, joining a book club, attending a free lecture at a nearby college campus, or signing up for a workshop gets you out of your comfort zone. Thinking and reflection are necessary, and so is getting lost in experiences, meeting people you’ve never met, and doing things you never thought you could do.

Perhaps you won’t find the entire meaning for your life by doing this (you don’t need to), but you will learn something about yourself. You will take memories with you, and you will hopefully feel a little more alive.

You do not have to know your purpose in life to have meaning on this earth.

You don’t even have to be living on purpose to be belong here.

You already belong, and you’re already enough just because of the fact that you’re living and breathing. Those are the prerequisites. Live. Breathe.

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Get posts like this in your inbox each week!

Have you heard of Sinclair.ity? I send emails to wonderful and amazing people every single week. I do this because I appreciate it when someone speaks their truth. If you can use some real talk in your life each Monday, visit the sign up pageThank you for being you.

Why Transitions are the Worst and What to Do About It

Goodbyes suck.

I hate the feeling of leaving someone, something behind. I’m not a fan of leaving my bed in the morning. And don’t get me started on season finales – I’m a mess.

The space between the familiar and the unknown feels unnerving. You know?

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I’ve moved a ton of times in my life, and often, the most challenging part is not knowing what my new home will be like. Who will I befriend? How will I deal with the inevitable loneliness?  Will I find a favorite spot to eat again? 

As we prepare to enter another graduation season, crawl through the not-so-evident shift from winter to spring, and struggle with embracing the flux of life, I cannot help but think of transition today.

Transitions bring about a certain flavor of uncertainty. It can feel like there’s this invisible force pushing us toward something uncomfortable. At times, we get fixated on the worst possible outcome.

My therapist taught me to interrupt my anxious thinking with thoughts like: “What if things work out” and “What if all my hard work pays off?” 

So, I’m passing that onto you wherever you are, whatever you’re leaving, or whomever you’re becoming.

Consider the notion that things might actually work out. This isn’t an exercise in empty optimism. Bring your full self to the most hopeful space you can. Imagine that this pending change might bring good with it.

The other side of this upcoming transition could be exactly what you’ve been needing.

It’s scary. But, there’s a lesson waiting for you when you arrive.

Take hope with you. Always.

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One Way to Add Love to Our World

A very close friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. It was heartbreaking. I searched for ways I could help, but none seemed sufficient because my friend was 3,000 miles away. A few days passed, and a thought hit me: What if this isn’t about how I can help? What if it’s more about how I can add love? 

I knew exactly what to do, but didn’t know if it would work.

I’d heard about an amazing person named Hannah Brencher, who started a global organization called The World Needs More Love Letters. Anyone could share a loved one’s story with Hannah’s team, and said love one would receive love letters, notes, and inspirational snail mail from around the world.

I submitted my request, prayed, and hoped for the best. It worked. Everything happened so fast.

My friend’s story was posted to Hannah’s website (which I bet gets like a gazillion hits a year). Over the course of several weeks, I received over 500 letters. Some letters were simple, some spoke about other individuals struggles with cancer, but each letter was genuine. I got down to business. I read every single letter, and created a massive bundle for my friend. Some moments were filled with me thinking: Wow, a lot of people out here are hurting. Other moments were filled me feeling thankful for kind strangers. I’d cry. I’d laugh. And, I grew to feel even more empathetic for my loving friend who was – and still is – one of the most caring people in the world.

I found a way to add love.

Sometimes, we get so overwhelmed with all the sickness, hurt, meanness, and unfairness in our world. We might think: I don’t even know where I can begin to help. That’s real. There are no easy answers. I think what maters is that we take some type of action. It could be helping someone with their college application, or shoveling your neighbor’s car out of the snow. It could be organizing a fundraiser, or being more intentional about checking your own problematic ways of speaking.

A lack of options is not the issue. It’s often more challenging to have too many options. So, let me help you out by presenting you with one simple, yet meaningful way to inspire someone you’ve never even met,.

Hannah and her team are currently in the midst of a campaign called The 12 Days of Love Letter Writing. Each day, a new story is posted, and folks have the opportunity to rally their friends, peers, family, and loved ones, to send letters to the designated recipient.  Today marks day 8, and I’m happy to be promoting this particular story. My challenge to you is to not only write a letter to this person, but to get one or two friends to as well. You can share this email with them, tweet the campaign’s website, or just call them up and write your letters over a cup of hot chocolate.

Here’s the story:

Many individuals face tragic + difficult circumstances in life, and Lacey is no stranger to those types of circumstances. Her friend shared with us:

“Lacey is an incredible individual; she’s like a lightning bolt of energy, love, and encouragement. I met Lacey a few years ago and learned that she had been diagnosed with not just one, but four incurable brain, neurological, and spinal conditions. It’s been a long road for Lacey and her husband, as they’ve journeyed together through her three brain surgeries, consecutive recoveries, and day to day life.

Lacey has been a force to be reckoned with and continues to be a source of positivity and joy to those around her. This fall she began school again, to earn her doctorate in medical anthropology in hopes of helping others who have experienced similar life-changing diagnoses. There are still rough days for Lacey, both physically and emotionally, and I want to show her that she won’t be defined by her medical history, but the future she chooses for herself.”

Please join us as we send that same encouragement + love to Lacey that she so readily spreads!

PLEASE MAIL ALL LOVE LETTERS BY DECEMBER 20 TO:

Lacey’s bundle

℅ Beeta L.

519 S. Anaheim Blvd

Anaheim, CA 92805

USA

There it is. It’s an opportunity for you to add love and inspire hope for Lacey. Will you join me in sending her some uplifting snail mail?

 

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It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

We can have everything we need in life, and still feel like crap. Our bills can be paid. Our jobs can be awesome. Our friends can be the most amazing people in the universe. But, we can still find ourselves feeling unsettled, upset, or depressed.

This isn’t about being ungrateful.

It’s about watching everything in your life fall into place while negative messages float through your brain…

“This is great, but I want more.”

“I feel like I’m not doing enough.”

“I don’t deserve any of this.” 

“People will think I’m weak if I step away from all this. But, I really need a break. I can’t keep this up.”

“I have so much now, but if I make one mistake, this will all go away. I can’t mess this up. I can’t.” 

So many of us are silently suffering. Some of us our grieving. Some of us are working to heal our wounds. Some of us are just trying to get out of bed every day and be a person. But, people don’t always get this or take the time to understand. They’re confused when we’re not feeling okay, especially when our lives appear to be in good shape.

The reality is that our insides don’t always match our circumstances. They don’t have to. Mine haven’t.

Things have been going really well for me lately. Improv is awesome. Family life is great. My health is on the up and up. At the same time, I’ve had some intense moments with my anxiety. Between the shortness of breath, and racing thoughts, I have no idea of how I’ve been able to show up to life. Prayer has helped. Rest has helped. But, it’s been rough. At some point, I realized that it’s okay for me to feel successful and a little terrible at the same time. It’s okay for me to have bad days and bad weeks.

It’s okay to not feel okay.

It’s okay to be afraid of losing that new person you’re with, or gaining back all that weight you just lost. It’s okay to be doing well in school, and at the same time be experiencing family issues that have your mind in two places. There’s no such thing as perfection.

There is a such thing as beating yourself up for not being perfect.

You’re never going to be perfect. None of us are. Even on the best day of your life, things will still get messy and go wrong.

I’m the kind of person who overthinks so much that it’s difficult for me to even leave the house in the morning. I don’t want things to go wrong. I’m not comfortable with the fact that life is in constant flux

Part of me realizes that we get to show up to this messy world with frowns on our faces, tears in our eyes, and pain in our hearts. We get to come as we are, even on days when we’re called to smile and be positive, because no one should be expected to be happy all the time. No one should be expected to have it all together.

You don’t have to have it all together, despite what others say.

You don’t have to keep smiling and responding with: “I can’t complain” when someone asks you how you’re doing.

Be honest the next time someone asks you about your day. Don’t be afraid to bring the mood down. Allow the other person to make room for your energy, and be open enough to make room for theirs.

Part of what fuels the stigma around mental illness, is a culture that views anyone having a bad day as weak, abnormal, or in need of a stiff drink. We need to spend more time with our emotions, and with the emotions of others. We need to share more. We need to empathize with others more. We need to hear the stories of those who are hurting (which is most people you interact with on a daily basis).

We get to be real with each other, because real is what a lot of us need and want.

Your feelings are valid. Your hurt is valid. Your hope is valid. And you, all of you, is who we need to survive.

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