The good inside

Most of us have a false sense of identity. We are so much more than we believe ourselves to be. Our limited belief in who we really are is rooted deeply in such a strong habit that we aren't even aware that we've been living with an impoverished identity most of our lives. 

We've let the world shape us. We've allowed what happened to us in our childhood form our story. Society has influenced how we define who we are. But we can change that. We don't have to live from a place of fear, uncertainty, hate or shame. We don't have to act from our damaged sense of self. We can let go of labels, of who people in our lives said we are. We can be free of our own beliefs about ourselves. We can shed it all like old skin and step into our glowing identity, whole and free.

We have the ability to change our story at any time. We don't have to do something just because that's what we've always done, because that's what it expected of us. We don't have to believe something about ourselves just because it's all we've ever been told. 

Think about all the things you believe about yourself. Are they serving your life? Why do you think those things? Where did they come from? Think about who, what or where your greatest influence comes from. Is it adding to your life in a way that fulfills and propels you? Think about the things you want to believe about yourself. It's time to start believing those very things.

We can change our thought patterns. Don't let the world, your circumstances or even the people you love tell you who you are. Acknowledge your grace, your virtue. Honor your nobility, your worthiness and your dignity. A profound and radical change will happen in your life. Let it.

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I am striving every day to live from my highest sense of identity, my full character. It's tough to form new habits, to redirect my thoughts, but I'm always moving forward. What you practice grows stronger. Even if it feels overwhelming or like you're just standing still, don't give up. It will get easier.

I'm always here if you need to talk. We need to stay connected and bring out the best in one another. Each time we honor the good in someone and show them that they're respected and valued it opens up an avenue to their own goodness. It gives them the chance to accept and admire the good inside and work from that place of kindness, that place of goodness. Everyone deserves that chance. We all deserve to be valued.

Genoa, Italy

After living out of our backpacks for a month in France we took the train from Nice to Genoa. It was a busy, beautiful port city in Italy's Liguria region. With the streets narrow and the cathedral's grand, Genoa was like being in an old Italian film. I loved the lines and structure of the Romanesque Cathedral of San Lorenzo with its striped walls, but most of all I couldn't get enough of the fountains. They were almost more grand than the architecture. I wish I could live the whole trip again in slow motion. 

Stop robbing yourself of living

The present moment is blooming before you. 

Are you there?

Is your mind occupied with yesterday’s worries? Are you planning every detail of your next hour, your next day, month or even year?

Stop.

Fleeing. Rushing. Planning. 

Just stop.

You’re stealing the joy right out from under your existence. 

Yes, you exist. Right now. Can you feel it?

You’re alive. And you’re missing it.

Breathe. 

Are you aware?

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Be present in your senses. 

What do you see? Look. What’s around you? Things you’ve collected. The desk you picked out. Your stack of books by the bed. The road that leads to your favorite cafe. Someone you love. Look up. What’s above you? Blue sky. Storm clouds. Canopy of trees. A white ceiling. A warm glow from your reading light. Look. What color(s) do you see? Soak them in. Every tone, every shade, consume them.

What do you hear? Listen. The chatter of conversation. The birds singing. The hum of the fan. Your favorite song. Your stomach growling. Silence. Can you hear it? 

What do you smell? Breathe in. Freshly washed sheets. Coffee. Your vanilla scented candle. Rain. Hold it in. Let the scent take you further into the moment.

What do you taste? Swallow. Your last sip of coffee. Morning. Lemon. Chamomile tea. Toothpaste. Run your tongue over your teeth. What now?

What do you feel? Right now. Warmth. The ache in your back. The rise and fall of your shoulders with each breath. Sunlight. The soft embrace of your favorite sweater.

Notice all of it. 

Exist. This is your life. 

Live it now. Not for yesterday, not for tomorrow. 

Now.

What are your truths?

I’m turning 31 this month. I had almost forgotten it was June. The months are flying, the seasons changing faster than ever before. 

The year of 30 brought me so many gifts, a lifetime of gifts really. It has been a year of letting go of the old to make room for the new. A year of new chapters, new dreams, new accomplishments.

During this year I've practiced letting go of the things that didn’t truly matter to me, letting go of what didn’t fit me anymore to create space for the things, for the experiences that do. 

I let go of the physical, of the focus on physical appearance. I made a promise to not weigh myself for my year of 30. I honored my strength, my ability to use my body to live, to experience life. I allowed myself the freedom to exist in my body without judgement. I used to start my morning by stepping on the scale and letting the numbers dictate how I’d feel the rest of the day. This wasn't a way to live and I knew it. So, I stopped. I gave myself a gift. I stopped stepping on the scale. I stopped defining myself by how I look or even worse, how I felt I looked. 

And now, I feel free. I feel more content and open than I ever have. I now feel stronger and have gained clarity on my worth and my value. I can say I value myself. I value my place in the world. 

I won't say that I feel beautiful because I don't. But the importance I place on beauty has shifted. How I understand beauty has changed. Beauty is character. With that newly found value I can now recognize my truths.

I am kind. I am determined. I listen. I am empathetic. I am worthy. I am giving. I am honest. What are your truths? Hint: It is not the number on the scale, how much money you make, how many countries you've traveled to, or how many things you own.

Take a moment to think about your character, your inner most truths. Acknowledge them. Celebrate them. Lean into them. Let your truths, let your value kindle that deep fire within you. 

It feels good doesn't it?

During my year of 30 I've also let go of perfectionism. Committing to imperfect action has helped me let go of my critical nature. Doubts are fading away.  

I am now 55,000 words into the book I'm writing and I recently found home in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Two of the biggest things that happened during my year of 30 happened because I let go. 

I stopped waiting to be the perfect writer to start my book. I stopped waiting to fully understand my story in order to write it. I stopped wanting the perfect writing space and uninterrupted time, and I stopped waiting for confidence. I put the doubt away, the fear and the overwhelm. I began writing my book sitting on my grandma's unmade bed in the town I grew up in, a town I hate with all of my being. I began writing my book with distractions and responsibility tugging at me ruthlessly. Little by little I had words on the page, stories that needed to be told, reflections spilling from one page to the next. 

Doubt, distraction, self-loathing, they still try to knock me down. They do their worst to try to paralyze me. I'm not saying the fighting stops, but it does it get easier. The load gets lighter.

So, what are you holding yourself back from doing because you don't think you're ready? Let go. You're ready. Or maybe you don't think you can achieve it? You can. You will. What are you waiting to do until everything is perfect? Stop waiting. Things will never be perfect. The time will never be right. The responsibilities will always pile up. The uncertainty will always find a way to creep in. Do it anyway. Do it because you love it, because it’s in you. Follow your truth.

I promise you, you won't fail. You know why? Because you did it. That in itself is triumph. Most people will never even try. They won’t reach their full potential because they won’t let go. Don’t get to the end of your life with tired arms and a heavy heart because you couldn’t stop holding on. Move forward in spite of perfectionism, in spite of doubt or fear. Move forward, one truth at a time, move forward.

Oh, and what about my house in the mountains? After years of searching I finally found home. I’m sitting on the porch listening to the birds while writing to you, but that’s a story for another day.

 

Flailing, choosing less and intuition

 * Disclaimer: This was written after 20 hours of driving and no sleep. 

We spent five hours stranded in Albuquerque because the hitch we welded onto our custom bumper didn't hold up. Perry had to call a ridiculous amount of parts stores and the last place we called had ONE left. Hallelujah. If they didn't have it we would have had to stay a couple nights in ABQ and find somewhere to house our trailer full of stuff from our storage. Thankfully we just needed to bolt the new hitch on and $400 and five hours later we were on our way.

I was frustrated when Perry first told me what the issue was and how much of a pain it would all be to sort out. I still wouldn't say I'm happy about it, but seeing as things are what they are I didn't want to waste the little energy I had on being angry or upset. I'm at the beginning of a pretty heavy cold so my energy is hard to come by. Instead of dwelling on the unfortunate I focused on what good can come of it, what I can learn from this...

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I thought about that bumper and how this never would have happened had we not changed the bumper to begin with. The bumper we had was perfectly fine and had a proper hitch to start with. But no, we got caught up in personalizing the ol' 4Runner when we got her. We had a bumper crafted and welded from pieces of steel. And for why? Because we got caught up in the aesthetic of it all, caught up in the potential. Perry had this vision of what he wanted it to look like and how it was supposed to function. We created this story in our minds of what it was going to be like as we so often do and we got lost in it. We sacrificed the functionality for the feeling, to chase the story. And although that bumper actually did come in handy when we backed into a boulder in Boulder, Colorado — it barely even left a mark — all the stress and money spent in ABQ could have been avoided. We should have either let things be and not bought into our romanticized vision of it all or we should have finished what we started and completed the bumper with the hitch so it would be fully functional. But no. We abandoned the whole vision half way through because the romance fizzled and we focused our energy somewhere else.

So, I learned don't flail about from one passion to the next, from one idea to the next — focus, figure out your why, and finish what you set out to do. If we would have paused for a moment and asked ourselves why, we would have came up with an answer that could have saved us a whole lotta trouble. 

Don't flail. Ask why. Find purpose. Commit.

It's okay to get excited. It's okay to fall into the romance. But don't drown in the feeling. Don't get lost in an emotion that is fleeting. Use your passion and excitement to fuel your actions, to commit once you know your why.

I needed the reminder to put purpose behind my actions.

The other lesson I learned from all this is don't get attached to material things. I already knew this and fancy myself a minimalist to a degree, but this whole experience drove the point home. We talked about not getting a trailer at all and just filling the back of the 4Runner with the most important things and everything else would have to be given away. I loved the concept of this, but I didn't want Perry to have to leave some of his music gear like amps and his cello. So I sided with getting a 5x8 trailer to tow. We could easily fit what we have and we wouldn't have to slim down our already slimmed down possessions. The thing is, if I would have sided against the trailer, we would have a whole lot less worries. This is a hearty reminder to choose less over more. Don't get greedy or attach yourself to material things that may just end up being a burden anyway. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Last lesson was to ALWAYS trust your intuition. The day before we headed out on our trek I was booking two hotel rooms, one in Albuquerque and one in Little Rock. ABQ was booked in seconds but when I tried to book Little Rock the site kept saying there was an error. I put it off until the night in ABQ and the site said error again. I decided to use a different booking site and I had almost completed the booking when something told me not to. I mean I was just seconds away from clicking the purchase button when I thought to myself, "Maybe I had those errors for a reason. Maybe I'm not supposed to book this." I closed my computer and went to sleep. And it's a good thing I listened to that feeling, my intuition, because we'd be out another hundred bucks. 

Listen. Trust. Act accordingly.

We had lost about five hours of driving time and Perry decided instead of booking another night somewhere he was going to drive the rest of the way home — 21 hours from New Mexico to North Carolina. I didn't think it was a good idea for him to not get any rest, but he insisted. We listened to Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita and drove until sunrise when we stopped in Memphis for much needed coffee.

Even with our troubles, we are going to make it home even earlier than we planned thanks to Perry's determination.

We may live in the clouds together and romanticize everything flailing around in our ideals and passions, but man our love is steady, our love is strong. With every experience, every moment we learn, we grow closer, we become better for ourselves and one another. But it's our awareness that allows us to grow amidst trials. It's our openness to growth that allows our love to ground us when we need it most.