It's been so long! How are you? I hope you are still singing up a storm. (Are you?? Huh??? Don't make me come over there!!!)
Me? I've been........chugging along. :) With my 32nd birthday coming up next month, I can now say, confidently:
Future Felicia will one day look back on this past year, cackle, slap me on the butt, and say: "Oh, honey, that was rough, wasn't it?"
And I'll be like, yes, Future Felicia, but please don't slap my butt that hard.
(Although I guess given the time-space reality I won't actually be there to respond?) (Whatever, you get the idea.)
The thing is, the last time I changed this much in a year was....I don't know! Puberty? And while change is often marketed as purely awesome, it is actually so, so, so disorienting and wack.
In case you hadn't heard, the human brain HATES change. In the right filtered light, change seems fun! Exciting! Wow! Let me Instagram my new haircut, etc!
In a more direct, honest light, change feels like churning swamps in your stomach, heart and throat. Change feels like fog with no weather forecast to tell you when it will lift. Change feels like you are a stranger wearing your own skin.
Change tests your patience like whoa: it's an hour hand on the clock that you never see moving.
Luckily, I've been keeping the faith. I've been taking it one step at a time. So consider this post my latest step toward a brighter future. Another stab at saying HELLO and letting you know that I'm thinking about you, even while I'm tramping through the metaphorical woods.
As many of you told me during our Facebook Live Chat last month, you are also on creative and personal journeys of your own. And that can be freaking HARD.
In the spirit of camaraderie, and because I believe we can learn a lot from each other, I wanted you to know: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
In this vein, I'd like to share some of my best practices that are helping me progress (however slowly) toward my highest intentions: to love myself enough to express myself truthfully, to share my insights, experiences, and knowledge with you all through writing, music, and art.
Presenting: 5 Tips for Going Through Long, Messy Journeys
1. Hold Your Intention Clear In Your Mind
An intention is different than a goal. A goal can sometimes feel...suffocating. "Have I *achieved* my goal yet?" is the inevitable, nagging worry.
An intention is much gentler, much more encouraging, and has nothing to do with achievement. It gets you excited. It gets you tingly with warm fuzzies.
An intention shows you True North. As I mentioned above, my highest intention is loving myself so that I can share my creations with others.
I want to share with you -- NOT to achieve and succeed (been there, done that), but so that I can further relate to you, be real, and hopefully inspire some people to do the same.
In contrast: one of my many goals is to become skilled in music production. See the difference? The latter is more clinical, and comes with a checklist. The former is emotional, and warms my heart. It keeps me going.
Maybe knowing this distinction (and reminding yourself often) will help you on your path.
2. Post-It Note the Crap Out of Your House
Leave self-love notes and reminders for yourself everywhere. (Think: on mirrors, refrigerators, even the microwave.)
Does this really help? I always used to wonder. I can now confidently say: hell to the yes!
And here's the key: make sure it rings true, and keep it creative and weird. Think: inside jokes (with yourself).
I can't tell you how fun and therapeutic it is to develop a shorthand vocabulary with myself and see those little reminders every day when I walk around my house.
3. Remind Yourself You Have Support, and If You Don't, Find a Support Group
I have dear friends who are there for me when the going gets tough. Not everyone has a large and loving tribe, but there are always people in the world willing to help. There's nothing better than knowing you have an A-Team who has your back.
I find my support in close family and friends, as well as a few Facebook groups for folks dealing with similar struggles as me. Seek and ye shall find. Don't go it alone.
4. Epsom Salt Baths. Epsom Salt Baths. Epsom Salt Baths!!!
Okay, it sounds annoyingly simple. In fact, a former mentor once suggested I take baths and I remember scoffing at her like she had three heads: "BATHS????!!! How dare she suggest something so banal!"
But boy have I changed my tune. TAKE. BATHS. As often as possible! BATHS. ARE. AMAZING.
Epsom salt baths, in particular, make you feel so fresh 'n' clean 'n' fierce.
Epsom salt (available for cheap at your local drugstore):
But equally importantly: the act of soaking in water isn't just cleansing from a wipe-away-dirt perspective.
Taking a bath can be deeply emotionally cleansing. A bath shows your body that you care.
I know that's a weird thing to say, but it's been essential for me to reconnect to my body after neglecting it for so long. (I used to think change purely happened in the mind, but your body has to be game for it, too!)
Through Epsom salt baths, I've been able to win my body back. Sort of like wooing a new love. Whenever I take time to show my body I care, it responds by releasing a little more stress, by feeling a little more nourished and nurtured, and by feeling a little more game to face each day.
And OBVIOUSLY add bubbles. Because bubbles are just FUN.
5. Sometimes You Just Need to Stop and Watch Jersey Shore
This is maybe my most inspired revelation. A lifelong achiever and self-proclaimed nerd-to-the-max, I have really high expectations for what my brain can do. I basically used to try to be productive almost every day.
Always reading, or writing, or watching music tutorials, or working on songs, or pondering the meaning of life, yada yada yada! You get the idea!
And while I've pretty much been a monomaniacal student-of-life-and-other-things my whole life, for the past five years or so my brain has been feeling the burnout.
And lately it has reached "max capacity." What this means is that on certain days, my brain is just like "Nope. We're good. Stoppit."
Max capacity feels like fogginess, or just pure exhaustion. FORMER FEL would have not been in touch with herself enough to know to take a rest. She would just get mad at herself, shake her fist, and beat herself up for not being productive.
But current Fel? The Fel that's writing this?
Well, first off
(1) I meditate twice daily to give my brain a consistent rest and release, and,
(2) I know when to call it a "Write-Off Day."
A "Write-Off Day" is a day where I can just tell that my brain is processing information and can't learn anything new. It's like I can see one of those spinning wheels on my computer with text that reads "LOADING...."
On these days, my brain literally can't handle any new stuff. The end! I can't *will* myself to be any more focused! I've given it the ol' college try and, frankly, I got nothing.
On those days, I get very zen about it: I sit on my couch, pour a bowl of cheese puffs, and watch Jersey Shore. (I never saw an episode when it aired originally, so I'm starting from the beginning on Hulu, and frankly, it's a masterpiece.)
"But Jersey Shore, Fel? Seriously??" YUP.
The key, of course, is BALANCE. I can't watch Jersey Shore every day. But now that I have self-trust and know my own limits, I can confidently identify a true "Write-Off Day" when it arises.
And, mamma mia, is it nice to take a break!
Thanks for reading this epic post. Let me conclude on fun news!
I'll be performing some original music in Philadelphia, PA on Friday, May 4 @ 10PM at the Adrienne Theater. Ticket link isn't up yet, but I'll post it on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) as soon as it becomes available.
One more thing: if you feel worried about me, please don't! I'm more than okay and I'm feeling quite inspired by life and its many possibilities.
The proportion of challenges vs. triumphs is slowly swinging toward the latter. Lots more great stuff is coming, if you can be patient. I do appreciate your good thoughts and support, however, and I look forward to staying in touch as the journey continues.
The best is yet to come......