Signed, Sealed, Delivered:: A note on Valentine’s Day

The tradition began in 2017.

I used to work for a global flower company, so I know just how crazy the world can get over Valentine’s Day. Nearly every industry hops in to capitalise on your emotions and convince you that you aren’t doing enough. It’s hard to escape from the reminders about LOVE and incredibly easy to feel overlooked. No matter how many times you tell yourself ‘it’s just another day,’ it can be hard to bury the feelings of loneliness and longing that threaten to rise up.

So two years ago I visited an indie stationary shop to find the pun-iest cards I could and scribbled a love letter to the friends who may be feeling overlooked. I licked stamps and posted it snail-mail style to their homes so they would have something special to wake up to on the 14th.

Sending out cards with handcrafted messages and knowing that someone was going to feel seen, encouraged and loved, has surprisingly become my favourite tradition of the year. If I could, I’d write every lonely heart that stumbles onto my page a handwritten letter that lets you know how utterly brilliant and significant I think you are. But all the stationary in the world wouldn’t be able to do it justice.

So here’s my digital letter to you.  


Hey you,

Firstly, you’re allowed to feel like punching the person who patronises you for being sad about your singleness. All of a sudden it feels like everyone becomes an expert when it comes to why you don’t have a partner. “Read more books,” someone once told me, as if the answers to my singleness could be found by flipping through endless pages. Although they carry good intentions, people can inadvertently say the wrong things when you open up about your dating struggles. They’ll question and pull apart everything about you such as whether you’re searching too much, if you’re putting yourself out there enough or if your relationship is right with God. Soon all you end up with is a laundry list full of inadequacies and all the ways you don’t measure up.

Be hyper-intentional about who you choose to be vulnerable with. Limit it to the people who know what to say to make you feel better and politely ignore the ones who hold out measuring sticks and point out why you aren’t enough. If you’re the type of person that needs a permission slip, let this be it: You’re allowed to feel sad, you’re allowed to feel lonely, you’re enough as you are. Your relationship status is not a reflection on you or whatever faith you hold.

I know how tempting it is to break out the spreadsheets and analyse why you haven’t been lucky yet or why someone who you secretly think isn’t as great as you are, managed to find their person first. But doing so will only drive you crazy and fuel the lie that good things are reserved for everyone else but you.

When I first moved into my new house, everything looked brand-spanking new from the outside and my friends gushed over how lucky I was to live in such a beautiful place.

“This house is such goals,” a friend squealed as I gave her a tour.

But upon closer inspection, we realised the builders had left behind some pretty significant flaws. Small ones at first, like a badly done paint job and a few missing tiles. But soon they were bigger issues, like misaligned kitchen cabinets and a horrifically constructed fence.

In the same way, it was really easy for me to assume that everyone’s relationship was perfect when I was scrolling through their Insta feed or looking from afar. But once I became privy to the intimate details of the relationship and found out what was really happening behind the scenes, I quickly learned that the reality didn’t quite match the picture-perfect version that was being portrayed online. All that to say, you have no idea what’s happening beneath the surface of someone else’s relationship or their life. You have no idea if the couples you’re admiring are in it for the long run or dating for dating’s sake. Although other people’s stories may be happening right now, hold onto the hope that soon, so will yours.

When I get really caught up in my feelings, I like to cave in to the belief that I’m too messy for anybody great to handle. It’s taken a lot of good friends to show me that this was another one of those bullshit lies our mind likes to offer up sometimes. We all think that we’re messy or too much or not enough to ever find someone who could fit us. But show me someone who is too much of a mess, and I’ll show you someone who dared to take in a chance in Life.

Years ago, I read someone say that they would rather have their heart cut and bleeding over the floor after daring to take a risk, than have it standing perfectly cold and pristine in the corner. I clung onto this so tightly and it’s become my favourite encouragement to give to anyone who’s wondering if the pain will ever go away. The messy ones are the ones that are warm, and brave and dared to put their heart on their sleeve. They are the ones to be admired. So don’t go adding it to the list of reasons why you’re not enough.

The person you are now is not the person you were two years ago, last month or even yesterday. You are forever growing and transforming, and so is your person.

As someone who used to be a secret writer of various YA fiction, I know that my most well-received stories are the ones where the protagonist has undergone great character development. Where they’ve experienced hardships or encountered obstacles that ultimately prepare them for the story line that’s about to unfold.

And I like to think that’s how each of our stories will pan out. Everything we’re doing, and everything that’s happening to us, is ultimately refining us into the person we’re supposed to be when we meet our significant other. I don’t have a timeline for you but when they come, you’ll be in your element, and he’ll be in his.

Above all, I know that there’s a well of untapped love and affection inside of you that you’re waiting to lavish on the right person. I used to hoard the amount of love I had, as if there was only a limited quantity I could offer the world. I’d go about my day and think about all the crazy date ideas and gifts I would get my person when he finally graced my doorstep, and I’d keep it all to myself just waiting and waiting.  

It was a long time before I realised that this was a scarcity mentality. You are not a squirrel that has to store nuts to survive in the Winter, and who has to bare your teeth at anyone who comes near your stash of love. You are a human being that’s been designed with an overwhelming capacity to love others.

The best thing I’ve ever done for myself on this romantic holiday & even on regular days, was to pour the love I’d reserved for my person, onto others. It was deciding that although they hadn’t come into my life yet, I wasn’t going to sit around and let my compassion for people wither away and grow bitter in the dark. Instead, I was going to show up and love others the best way I could. And if words and feelings are the best way I can serve people, then so be it.

The reality is that we’re broken humans living in a broken world. There are people who need you to see them. Like really see them. Like get -down-in- the- mud-and-look-at-them-in the eye type of see them. And what a shame it would be if we missed the people who really need us, all because we believed our love was only worthy of the romantic kind.

Because here’s the kicker:

Your love is not reserved for your significant other.

Your love has the ability to mend wounds and spark hope.

It is capable of inspiring encouragement and reminding people to keep pressing forward.

So on a day where the pressure is on to have the best, most Instagrammable moment, let’s bring it back to love.

Encouraging you always,

Ash x

Know anyone feeling angsty about V-Day? Show them love and forward this letter to them x

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Everyone struggles to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for? Subscribe below and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

CHECK OUT THESE GEMS WRITTEN JUST FOR YOU

The Truth About Change

Ash Chow the truth about change

I flew home from England this time last year.

I’d completely forgotten about the date until I caught up with my friend Jess last week. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to bring the kindred spirits you meet overseas back home with you, and Jess was one of them.

“I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since we’ve seen each other,” she said as we sat down. “What’s happened since then?”

A whole flurry of memories from our time abroad rushed through me as she said that. Some were nostalgic memories about the people I’d met, while others were of more traumatic incidents that I’d buried and repressed.

Then came the aftermath.

People who go on exchange or travel for an extended period of time like to joke about never wanting to come home. But for me, it was a hard fact. In the days leading up to my flight, I remember hoping that something would happen so I wouldn’t have to get on the plane. Maybe I could stay here for a few more months, I thought to myself- a sentiment that was destroyed once I checked the state of my bank account.

If I was strikingly honest, I was afraid of coming back home and feeling restricted by people’s judgements and the responsibilities of the real world. Above all, I was afraid of coming back to a place that I believed wouldn’t have good things for me.

And sure enough, once I landed, everything crumbled.

One of my favourite writers likes to label this point of time as the valley. The valley is something we all go through. It’s this rocky, cavernous space in-between each highlight moment that we have to navigate before reaching the top again. You might know it as the low point in your life when depression came back or when things felt stagnant, no matter how much you tried to move. It’s that place where you feel like giving up every two steps and you’re unsure if you’re ever going to see sunlight again. 

Time slows to a crawl when you’re in this emotional pit of despair. All of a sudden you become this fortune teller who only ever predicts crappy things about your future. This person would most likely go out of the fortune telling business in real life, yet when it comes to our lives and our voice, we’re quick to believe the bad things. 

My valley lasted for two whole months. This sounds like nothing in the grand scheme of things, but every day that passed felt as long as a year. All I could feel was anger towards a God that hadn’t pulled through on the promises He’d made, and a devastation that all I was ever going to know was the ache that stemmed from loss and heartbreak.

I’m only able to recount these memories now after looking back at my journals from last year and seeing every page with ‘I’m angry!’ and ‘This sucks!’ scribbled across it. But when I sat across from Jess and thought back to those moments last year, I could only feel a flicker of what used to be intense, fiery emotions.   

All this to say, so much has changed since I landed back in Melbourne a year ago. A lot of the beliefs I held about God not having good things for me are gone, and the things I cried over or worried about are now only distant memories. The worst outcomes that I’d believed for myself never came true, and when I look back on the things or people that hurt me, the only thought that reverberates across my mind is how ‘the victory is sweet.’

“Everything has changed since last year,” I told Jess.

Change.

That word used to be a death sentence to me. Whenever I was in a good place with friends, family and work, I would always pray that everything would stay exactly the same. I was so sensitive to it that on my first day of my 2nd year of Uni, I could actually feel that everything was different and I called a friend that night to cry about nothing being the same. We sold our old house a few months ago and I remember texting everyone that I wasn’t emotionally ready to move out even though our new place was literally 10 minutes down the road.

But a few weeks ago, I got a string of messages from someone going through their own valley season. She’d lost faith, felt forsaken, and was basically quoting lines from my journal right back to me. And turns out, the thing I said that gave her the most comfort was that ‘things change.’

The way things are now is not how they’re going to stay.

This can be an incredibly scary sentence depending on what position you’re in. For some, it can feel like a sense of foreboding that the triumphant mountaintop they’re on now could come crumbling down. But for others, it’s a comforting reminder that things will get better. That the feeling of grief or heartbreak or lost sense of hope, is not going to sit heavy on their chest forever. That they will not have to bunker down and declare their emotional pit of darkness ‘home’ for the rest of their lives.

Regardless of what feeling it evokes, change is inevitable and necessary. We are not meant to stay stagnant. Gosh, what a boring life we would lead if we were allowed to remain as we were. There would be no room for new beginnings or second chances or fresh relationships. There would be nothing to give us momentum or push us forward. We are intricately designed to move and evolve and grow, and funnily enough sometimes growing requires us to go backwards first.

My close friends who know my past like to tell me all the time that I’ve changed. Yet all I can see and feel is that I’m the same mess of a human being I always was. But I think that’s how change manifests itself sometimes. There won’t be a finish line that tells you to stop running, or a banner declaring you’ve made it. Instead, the best, long-lasting, transformative changes happen incrementally over a long period of time. You most likely won’t see all the ways you’re growing when you’re in the thick of your mess, but rest assured it’s happening.

So, at every point you feel defeated, remember to hold onto this- things change.

Know anyone feeling like they’re stuck in the same spot forever? Sharing is caring!

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Need someone to show up for you?

Then you’re in the right place!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends.  I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for?

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Check Out These Other Gems Written Just For You:

How to Write About Pain

Sometimes life can slam into you and catch you off guard. I tried surfing for the first time this week so I was literally slammed into by waves. I’m sure my surfing experience will become the basis for a whole other blog post, but for now I’ve learnt that although the waves will keep coming, you don’t have to pick yourself up alone. When I couldn’t muster up the energy to write this week, my writer friend Rachel Kang kindly offered to take over for me. Although she lives halfway across the world, she has been such a light and a blessing. I know you’ll gain so much from her words.


Poison.

That’s the name of the first song I ever wrote.

I’d been sick, battling an incessant bout of sore throats. I later came to learn that this bout of sore throats wasn’t just a bout of sore throats—it was a bout with strep throat and, all those weeks, the strep throat had gone undetected and untreated.

I remember asking to sit on the sidelines in cheer practice and asking if I could just mouth the words without singing in chorus because I had no voice to yell or sing with.

These bouts with strep throat led to me developing, Rheumatic Fever—a rare disease that comes from untreated strep throat. It’s a triggering autoimmune condition that unleashes the antibodies in your body to fight against your own body.

It stole my heath and my heart; it stole my voice—my physical voice and my literal voice.

So I wrote.

I needed a song that reached the deepest depth of how I felt. So I wrote. I needed words that surfaced the sinking shoreline of my soul. So I wrote. I had no listening ears, none that would linger long enough to hear my broken heart day after day after day after day. So I wrote. I wrote because a journal doesn’t care how sappy you sound. It doesn’t fold in and close up when you set fire to its pages.

Like a punching bag, hanging high from the ceiling on chains that choke tight around to keep it suspended, a journal never gives—no matter how strong the punch is, it holds its own.

That’s why I wrote. And that’s why I think you should write, too.

I’ll never forget the words I penned for my song, “Poison.”

I can feel it
I know whenever it’s there
On my lips, on my tongue
I can feel it tear
At the voice 
That sings so strongly 
So weak, so fatigued
I can’t go on

Those words still touch me deep in places no other words can. And I know, without a shadow of a doubt, it’s because I wrote these words myself.

I’m sure there are places of pain in your heart—places where the sun hasn’t shined, places that are deep and are dark. Places begging to be seen or heard or understood. Begging for release and relief. So, here’s how you write about those places and that pain:

  1. Let your pain be personal before you make it public. Social media has made sharing our stories so easy; it’s become second nature to us to type up the things that we think and are feeling and to share them. I believe there’s a very defined differenced between writing to reveal and writing to heal. Writing to reveal makes sharing your story about others. Writing to heal keeps the process personal and preserves the purpose that your writing was first intended to serve. Writing that isn’t shared publicly is more prone to endure the practice of patience. By practicing patience, we give our hearts and our minds the space to process what is hurting, where it hurts, why it’s hurting, and what needs to happen to make sure that kind of hurt doesn’t happen again.

    Pray and push through your pain before you jump to promoting it. Sit with your pain before you seek to share about it. Rest, before you run to rush and tell the world about it. Linger in it for a little while, and then lean into the lesson that will inevitably come from it.
  2. Believe that journaling is a validated form of writing. Often times, people think that because their story of pain involves another person that they can’t write about it. That couldn’t be anymore far from the truth. The beauty about writing is that it can be all things: it can be a blog post that is public or a handwritten card that is only ever read by one. Writing can be quickly typing up an Instagram post that gets 1,000 double taps and hearts, or it can simply be a journal entry, to be seen by no eyes other than your own.
    The words in your journal are no less validated than the ones from that famous author on the pages of that book between your hands. Your writing doesn’t have to be popular in order to be powerful and your story doesn’t have to go public in order to be justified.
  3. Pick your poison. You’ve got to write in the way that best allows you to process and push through pain. When I write in my journal, I feel as though I’m able to write to release, to vent. But — it always just stops there; it’s never enough. When I write a song, though, I feel like I’m actually able to heal. I feel more free, I feel more moved to cry and sing and fight through how I’m feeling. When I blog, I feel as though I’m able to organize my thoughts. And, yet, I always feel like blogging is not a time for helping myself. Rather, my focus naturally rests heavily on writing to see others be helped. But, that’s just me personally.
    Writing your way through pain doesn’t have to look like someone else’s way. It doesn’t have to look like writing a best-selling novel or a sappy diary with lock and key. It might look like writing letters to yourself. Or keeping a notebook of poems by your bedside. Or an unpublished blog. Or iPhone notes in your phone whenever tears come bubbling to the surface.
  4. Don’t use published writing as way to get back at people. I learned this from a wise acquisitions editor from Revell back in 2012. There is a stark difference between writing that seeks to simply share a sentiment and writing that seeks to destroy. The closest thing I can compare this to is the kind of tension that takes place between rappers at odds with each other. Think Tupac and Biggie and their endless battle between each other through song. Decades later, both of their bodies laid in lower caskets beneath the ground, there’s no taking back or redeeming the violent words or the legacies they left upon this earth.
    When you look back on your words, do you want them to be written in such a way that they point to the rage and strife that you held against others? Or do you want your words to paint a picture of a person that pushed through their pain without dragging the names of others through the mud? A person who knew hurt (deeply and widely) but still found a way to heal, and help others too.

And your writing doesn’t have to be perfect. And you don’t have to bare it all or worry about doing it right. You need only to hold a pen in your hand and to touch its tip to the page. To make strokes and traces letters that form words.

Your heart will find its way from there.

Where do you see yourself falling on this list of thoughts on writing about pain? Do you feel as though this is something that you’re already doing, or trying to do? Or is writing about your pain hard to even think about, let alone write about?

Originally published on January 7, 2019 at www.rachelmariekang.com

Rachel Kang is a writer and editor. She is the creator of Indelible Ink, an online community for writers and want-to-be writers. She has written for (in)courageThe Daily Grace Co., and Charlotte Magazine, and is unapologetically passionate about words, stories, the creative process, deep cups of tea, and you. Hellos always welcome at Instagram.

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Everyone struggles to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for?


Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!


Gems written just for you:

Observations of Loneliness

When people find out that I write weekly on the internet, they inevitably ask where I get my inspiration from. If I’m honest, there’s 22 years’ worth of stories backed up in my mind, but sometimes the words don’t want to come out. This sounds strange for someone who’s literal job is to produce words on paper, but I have to respect that some stories are living entities that don’t want to be born before their time.

At times like this, I like to turn to my friends and ask what struggles they want me to write about. Because I don’t want this page to be about me. I may be drawing from my own experiences as a springboard, but it’s never been about me. At its simplest, I want this to be a place where people who’ve gone through hard things can come and feel understood.

And so, when it came time to find a topic last Wednesday, I asked a friend what she needed to hear.

“Write about loneliness,” she told me.

And I hesitated.

Loneliness is a subject I knew I’d have to open up about, but I didn’t feel like I could unpack such a weighty topic with the finesse or justice it deserved. So I copped out last week and re-posted something else. But since then, a lot of lonely hearts have been reaching out to me and it’s gotten to the point where I can’t delay this post any further. I’m learning that while there are some things that benefit from us sitting and waiting, there are others that we need to have the courage to speak up about- even when the words aren’t pretty.

So for the lonely ones, this post is for you.

***

I haven’t felt lonely in a long time.

I say that because there was once a time where all I felt was lonely. I was straight up dripping in loneliness. I couldn’t tell you what joy or excitement was, because all I had was years of heaviness and isolation wrapped around my bones. Loneliness would be there to greet me in the morning when I opened my eyes. And it would crawl into my bed every night like an unwanted visitor. I would go about my days with an achy, gaping hole in my heart wishing for something or someone to fill it, and I would despair that my whole life would be tainted with this longing.

Being able to write ‘I haven’t felt lonely in a long time,’ is a hopeful reminder that it passes. For someone who once thought that I would literally bleed out loneliness, this sentence is a reminder that it doesn’t sit on your chest forever. Like the majority of other emotions, it’s transient. Although it may feel like days, months, or god forbid, years, before it finally dissipates- it always does.

If you’re in the depths of a lonely period now, then that sentence likely won’t do anything for you. Loved ones have probably said it to you so many times now that it no longer has any soothing effect. It’s become as tired as a cliché. But the thing with clichés is that people wouldn’t repeat it unless it was true.

At its surface, I find loneliness is triggered when I notice it’s been a while since anybody’s checked in to say ‘hey’ or ‘how are you?’ Or when it feels like everyone in the world is having fun without me. My gut reaction is to wonder what’s wrong with me? What fatal flaw do I have that pushes people away or makes me not worth missing?

Now that I’m on the other side, I know that it’s rarely a ‘me’ thing. 80% of the time, people are likely too caught up in their own lives to think about reaching out. Although I don’t doubt that the intention and love is there, the execution can be lost. As easy as it is to turn inwards and nit-pick at our flaws, the truth is that we’re living in a world with other unique humans. Some people may express their love in different ways while others struggle to be the first to initiate a catch up. A lot of my friends have to recharge on their own before they have the energy to invest in others.  People not reaching out probably has nothing to do with you. Often, it’s a prompting to set an example and be the invitation.

Yet I also know that loneliness isn’t just about who’s messaging you every day. You can feel the ache of loneliness when you’re alone and wonder if you’ll meet anyone who fits you. Or you can feel the hollowness when you’re surrounded by people who don’t really know who you are.

When I’m brave enough to sit down with my loneliness and really look it in the eye, I find that it hits when I don’t feel seen and known. When I feel like I’ve been overlooked. Loneliness floods in when I feel misunderstood or like nobody ‘gets me.’ At our core, I think that’s what we’re all craving. We just want a tangible reminder that we’re not forgotten. That we’re seen and known in our entirety and every part of us is loved.

But babe, to be seen and known is to let other people in. There’s a tendency in us to want to come off as Neyo’s Miss Independent. We want the world to know what we’re killing it on our own and we don’t need no man, friend or missus.

But if I were to ask you to be really honest with me- like, gun-to- your-head-tell-me-the-truth-type-of-honest- I bet you’d tell me that you’re keeping people at a distance because you don’t want them knowing about the dark spots in your life. The things that cause you shame.  The opinions you don’t want to air. But if loneliness is here to teach you anything, it’s that you need people.

It’s coded into our DNA to love and lean on people. We were made to relate to others and to hear the words ‘me too,’ when we open up about the scary parts of our lives. Don’t brush off your desire for companionship or write it off as weak. Being open about needing people is the most courageous thing you can do. So tell the ones you love about the things that makes your heart ache, the things that keep you up at night or the wounds you’ve kept hidden. There are people who are just dying to understand everything about you, if only you just give them the chance. For so long I’ve thought that a lot of my past was too shameful to let anyone know. But all of us are just looking for someone to connect with. Loneliness dissipates when you begin to let others in to your dark spots.

The danger comes when you rely too much on people. Your loneliness reveals the things you’re relying on to plug up the holes in your life and be your saviour. To be lonely is to feel endless waves of hurt and angst, and it’s tempting to seek solace in someone else’s arms or the Disney movies on Stan. But there comes a point where you have to really ask yourself if you’re just using other people to distract you from the discomfort in your life?

A few years ago, when loneliness was all I felt, I would claw at anything and anyone just to avoid acknowledging the gaping hole in my heart. I would message people I had no business messaging and start conversations so I would feel a little less lonely. There was once someone I clung onto so hard because I didn’t want to have to sit with my own thoughts. Even though I knew I had to let him go, I would always reach back out again when it got too hard. In the game of push and pull, I would always be the winner.

I think we’ve all been guilty of clinging onto people who have long outgrown their storyline in our lives because we don’t want to deal with the aftermath of loneliness when they leave. But we run the risk of turning people into collateral damage when we do so. More often than not, those relationships end up disintegrating and two hearts inadvertently get hurt. This idea of collateral damage is a whole other post for a whole other Wednesday. But for now, I try my hardest to check myself and make sure I don’t play with people’s emotions as a distraction.

You can ask people to sit in the mess with you for a while. You can try your best to describe what it feels like to hurt on the inside, all whole knowing that your words will barely scratch the surface of what it feels like to ache with loneliness. But you can’t place people on a pedestal and ask them to rescue you.

Loved ones would tell me that I had to really be comfortable with who I was alone before I could ever invite someone else to be a part of my life. And I would hate that. Like really hate that. I’d have to resist the urge to throw something at the person who said that to me. Because I wasn’t a stranger to being alone. I’m the self-proclaimed Queen of losing people and having to pick up the pieces by myself.

But it’s one thing to squirm through the whole lonely period while clawing at others to distract you. It’s another thing entirely to be able to sit with the discomfort and find its purpose.

When I sit down with others and tell them about the dark period in my life, they inevitably say that they would never have imagined I was lonely because I was always surrounded by friends. All to say, that no one is immune from loneliness. There’s no vaccination you can take. It’s as inevitable as the sun rising and setting. It comes and it goes.

Loneliness will strike me again at any time. It may come as soon as I stop writing this and watch other people have fun without me on social media. Or it may lay dormant for a while only to come raging back in full force on Feb 14th. Loneliness can feel like a pit in our stomach even when we’re with lots of people. Or it may feel cold and hollow when you sit across from someone and feel like they don’t really know who you are.

Something beautiful happens in your loneliness though. It’s something you’ll only be able to see once you’re past all the heaviness and angst, but rest assured it’s there. Loneliness is what it means to be human. It’s up there along with love and joy. As much as you’ve always wanted to fast forward through the achy breaky parts in your life, loneliness is there to widen your capacity for love. It breeds in you a deep compassion, astounding empathy for the hurting ones and an appreciation for who you are when you’re on your own.

Know anyone that feels lonely? Sharing is caring!

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Everyone struggles to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for?

Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

Gems written just for you:

Pushing Through The Fear

This piece originally appeared on the Eight Hundred Words blog, but fear is one of those emotions that never strays far from us. I heard someone say today that ‘Fear and Excitement can feel like the same thing in our stomach,’ and I wondered how many times I’ve avoided doing something because I was fearful. This piece may apply to writing, but it doesn’t change the message behind it. Fear doesn’t get to win. You do.

‘Don’t you want to change the world?’ flashed the text on my screen. I actually laughed out loud when I read it. The notion of me, a twenty-one-year-old who’s barely completed her degree, changing the world was so absurd I spat out my coffee.

The night before, I had sent (yet another) message to my friend, vomiting all my worries and fears into the little text block on Messenger. I’d whined that my words probably weren’t going to be good enough to be published by anyone. I wondered if it was too pretentious to call myself a ‘writer’ if I only had one self-published article online. I asked a bunch of ‘what if’s’ and ‘who did I think I was to set up a platform and be a voice.’

I typed out a whole essay, and he sent me back seven words.

Don’t you want to change the world?

To his credit, those words did stop me worrying. But only for five minutes. Then I went back to overthinking every little decision I was about to make.

I’ve written a lot about fear lately. Heck, I scored my first client because of my words on fear. I think what makes me an expert is that me and fear go way back. He was there when I wanted to apply for Class Captain but didn’t because I was scared of rejection. He lurked in the background years back when the writing itch first began and made me fearful of what people thought. He showed up every time I wondered if I was worthy of more in my life, and he always shut me down.

You see, fear is the guy you didn’t want to invite to your party but felt obligated to. He is a stage five clinger who latches to your side the entire night and begs to be the centre of your attention. When all you want to do is be the life of the party, he whispers taunts in your ear to keep you off the dancefloor. Fear wants to rob you of every little thing that could make you great. He loves seeing you doubt your ability to string together words and weave stories from your imagination because it keeps you small.

So let this be your pep talk today: Fear does not get to win. Fear does not get to smother your dreams to death. Sometimes the only way to get over it is to just do the damn thing. Sure, you may come out on the other side with a bruised ego – but you’ll still be alive! Fear shrinks every time you dare to step forward.

If you want to call yourself a writer, do it loud and proud. Forget this idea that to be ‘legit’ you need fancy by-lines, a publisher or get paid per word. If you write with intention, you’re a writer. Words have power and you need to speak out your own destiny.

If you want to set up a website and claim your domain name–go ahead and put your money where your mouth is. You don’t want fear delaying you for so long that someone else with the same name claims that website first.

If you want to post about your work, just do it. You are your first cheerleader. No one else will advocate for you as hard as you should for yourself. People may scroll right on through or they may roll their eyes. But someone needs the ideas and stories and wisdom you have to offer the world. Your story might be the lifeline they need to keep going. I always tell myself that even if only one person resonates with my words, it would be worth it .

I wish I could tell you that the anxious thoughts that dart around your mind and the urge to throw up will stop once you hit Point X on the map. That once you publish a certain number of articles or achieve the most notable byline, you’ll never feel the angsty clenching in your heart again. The truth is: fear is a constant companion. He’ll tag along whenever you even think about

venturing outside your comfort zone or pursuing ‘something more.’ And gosh, I hope you’re constantly going on new adventures and saying yes to uncertainty. That’s what makes our lives so exciting.

You may think that just because I’m writing this, it means I’ve got it figured out (spoiler alert: I don’t). I still juggle fear every day–he just takes on different personas to the one I’m used to. But I have to decide every day that fear doesn’t get to smother my dreams anymore.

My friend was right to ask if I wanted to change the world. Maybe changing the world isn’t just setting up a multi-billion-dollar corporation or achieving ‘world peace.’ Perhaps it’s feeling the fear and moving forward anyways. When 99% of your head is screaming at you to stay insignificant, trust the 1% that whispers ‘just try.’

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Everyone struggles to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for?

Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

SEARCHING FOR MORE?

What People Don’t Want To Know About Self-Belief

happy girl what people don't want to know about self belief ash chow

It’s been a month and a bit since I’ve started consistently posting on Wednesday’s and actually telling people about it. I know I keep counting the weeks, but it’s just astounding to me that I’m still here. It’s astounding to me because I’m always plagued with discouragement and wonder if my stories are really worth following along.

Although- that’s not true.

I know there are people reading who benefit from this more than I ever hoped.  

On New Year’s Eve, two beautiful souls gifted me a framed collage made up of all the thoughts and feelings people felt after reading this corner of the internet. In the early hours of the 1st of January, I read the compilation of love letters people had written to me to say that they could feel the depth of emotion in my words, and they felt seen and understood. It was the most thoughtful gift I’d ever received, and a tangible expression of the impact I’d always hoped to have. At the start of a new year, I felt empowered, celebrated and motivated to keep going.

But only for two days.

The next time I had to sit in front of a blank page and figure out what to write for that week, I felt anxious again.  I would get high-key stressed about sewing parts of my heart onto the page and putting it out to the universe, only for people not to care or show up. The same thoughts would run around my mind, like a tortured hamster who was forced to stay on his wheel, and I would wonder if it would really be a big deal if I just stopped showing up to the page.  

Often, in the midst of angst, uncertainty and yet another existential crisis, the help we need comes from unexpected sources. Kindred spirits are conjured up from thin air. The hope you needed to keep going may be found in a blogpost you might not ordinarily read but felt compelled to anyway.

People and words have always been the balm that helps soothe my wounds, and I’m a sucker for calling a bunch of people when I need help wading through my emotional mess. So is it really a surprise that on the brink of giving up I would meet someone who encapsulated both of those things?

As someone who used to be fluent in the art of losing people, I’m astounded by the way God crosses our paths with the ones who help us unravel our jumbled thoughts.

We met quite by accident.

While I was waiting on the phone to vent and cry to someone else, he picked up instead. He was one of those rare, old souls that knew how to help you wade through the swamp of your emotions, but also knew how to call out the good things he could see in you. I would call him a guardian angel, but I’ve learnt it’s irresponsible to place other fallible humans on a pedestal to be worshipped. So maybe we’ll just call him a friend.

When the anxious thoughts began to invade my mind and crush my chest, I called him again to ask what I should do. I regurgitated the same thoughts about feeling discouraged and waited for him to drip feed me all his comforting wisdom.

Instead, he asked “How many people is it going to take for you to believe in yourself?”

Have you ever wanted to punch someone in the face because you know they’re right, but you also don’t want to hear it?

 All we could hear was the fuzziness of the phone line as I let the implication of his words sink in.

How many messages will it take for you to feel good?

How many people have to validate you before you feel legit?

How much affirmation and confirmation do you need to fill the holes in your Swiss Cheese heart?

“I guess it’s just easier for me to fall back on the narrative that I’m not going to succeed and that this isn’t going to be worth it,” I explained to him.

“So…it’s easier for you to not believe in yourself than it is to challenge yourself?” He said wryly.

Again, I resisted the urge to hang up the phone.

“Yes…” my voice trailed off as I contemplated the absurdity of that sentence.

And it is absurd.

I would shake the shoulders and metaphorically slap any loved one who told me that they didn’t believe enough in themselves to keep persevering. I’d give all the pep talks, hold them accountable and make sure they were implementing the baby steps that would get them off their butt and moving forward.

It’s easy to push other people out of their comfort zone, but when it comes to us, we’d rather cover our ears and stay comfortable.

I am the Queen of staying comfortable. I bet you are too. We crave comfort so much that we’d rather stay snuggled under the blanket of thoughts that tell us we aren’t good enough, this isn’t going to work or it’s too damn hard, because we think it’s going to keep us safe and warm.

Except it’s not.

If you dared open your eyes and take a good hard look around, you’ll realise these thoughts are just lies designed to keep you in one spot. But even after knowing the truth, we still stay curled under those blankets. We’re a generation that longs for escapism, yet we don’t actually like the change and the challenge that comes along with it.

On Boxing Day, I bought a pair of really beautiful, high quality, tan sandals. It’s now January and they’re still sitting untouched in the box they came in. I’m still walking all over the city in my old pair of shoes where the heels are worn down and the straps are badly frayed.  You might think it’s crazy for me to attach myself to them, but I’ve worn them so many times that they’ve moulded to my feet. They’ve been with me on all my adventures. I know the exact fit and feel of them so well that trying to wear anything else would feel wrong.

While I was thinking about these shoes, I was reminded of something a mentor once told me.

“You have this habit of running back to the old things in your life that you can’t even see all the new things that are right in front of you. God has a whole new life He wants to give you, but are you ever going to reach out and take it?”

***

I don’t know how long you’ve been conditioned to crave the thoughts that keep you in one spot.

But I know that even attempting to believe anything different will feel so wrong and so weird that it’s easier to slip your feet back into the old pair of shoes. You know, the ones that carry you down the path of fear and inadequacy. Because of this, we find it hard to believe anyone who says there are good things ahead of us. We struggle to reach out and seize it because it’s easier to believe the lie that we’re not worthy rather than get disappointed yet again.

But anything that makes you into a better person will require a constant re-shifting of the things you repeat to yourself, and above all – a fight.

People will fight hard to believe in magic, sparkly vampires and the Avengers, yet they can’t imagine a reality where they believe in themselves.

Self-Belief isn’t a nicotine patch that you slap on once and expect to be cured from the addiction to your deprecating thoughts. It doesn’t come from 100 people telling you how much potential you have or 200 double taps on the screen. It’s a day by day thing. It’s waking up and choosing to wrestle with the thoughts that moan ‘come back to the blanket of lies.’

I’ve spoken to dozens of entrepreneurs, listened to every motivational speaker and every podcast host, and they all say the same thing. Self- Belief is a you thing. It’s there. It’s literally in the name. It’s an inside job no one else can complete but Y-O-U.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t lean on your people. It doesn’t mean that you can’t ask them to rally around you or support you. But your cheerleaders can only cheer for so long before their throats get hoarse. It’s going to be up to you to keep rallying around yourself when everyone else falls away.

My friend on the phone was right to ask me how many people I needed to believe in me before I believed in myself. All the external praise in the world won’t do anything for you if you can’t learn to validate yourself first.

People can hold up the mirror to show you the dark spots, sit with you in your mess, and hold one end of your string of jumbled thoughts. But it has to be you that does the work of untangling the lies that you’re not going to make it. No one else but you.

That’s a really scary sentence to process. Until you realise it’s actually freeing. The person you’ve always wanted to come along and save you from your deprecating thoughts has always been you babe.

No one else but you is going to know whether you’ve done the work to change your perspective and believe in yourself.

 But you’re the one who’ll get all the benefit baby.

Only you.

Know anyone doubting themselves lately? Sharing is caring!

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Everyone struggles to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for?

Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

Need more encouragement? Check out these gems:

All The Love a New Year Won’t Give You

Cute outdoor garden cafe

It’s Day 002 of 2019 and I’m not going to sit here and talk to you about your New Year’s resolutions. I’m not going to give you advice or encourage you to write all the goals you need to become a better person.

I’m sorry, I’m just not.

Because I’m sure in the last few days you’ve been inundated with posts and captions and stories about all the things people are doing to become shiny and new.

We humans love new. We love the shine and sparkle of a fresh start or a new present. I know I’m not the only one who promises to take extra care when I get hold of a brand-new gadget. I make sure I set it down on the counter softly. I imagine all the ways my life will become better because of this innovative piece of tech. I encase it in a hard-shell case and I’m careful not to bump it against anything. But when the shine inevitably wears off and it’s suffered from a few dents and bruises, I’m back to tossing it around, being nonchalant about dropping it, and forever testing the limits of its strength.

 I think most of us approach the New Year like that. Heck, that’s how we approach a new week. A new year seems like a fresh start. We truly believe we can become a different person once the clock ticks past midnight. We put this ideal version of ourselves- the one that works out every day or drinks green smoothies-  on a pedestal and hope that the new year will really bring about a new me. We treat it like a reset button that deletes all the terrible habits we’ve accumulated throughout the year, like midnight snacking and putting three sugars in our coffee.  Above all, it’s blank slate containing no mistakes.

I remember when the clock struck midnight at the start of 2018.

Actually- no.

I don’t remember.

That’s because when the countdown ended, and the fireworks shot off into the sky, my head was jammed down the toilet throwing up the contents of my stomach because of one too many drinks. And so that’s how it started. Day 001 of 2018 began on the backend of a culmination of mistakes. Ones that I had been pushing down and desperately trying to avoid the consequences of. On the morning of the first of January, I cracked my bleary eyes open in a European hostel and felt shameful dread after reliving blurry memories of the last two months. I couldn’t help but believe the lie that this was going to set the tone for the rest of the year. That a precedent had been set for 2018 to unfold as disappointingly and as tragic as that first day. That the choices I’d made would cause ripple effects that would delay the dreams and fantasies I wanted to happen, as if a roadblock would erupt somewhere and divert all the things that I’d been hoping for onto a slower, longer route. The date on my phone flashed to say it was a new year, yet I still held on to all the mistakes that had been haunting me at the end of 2017.

I think so many of us like to give in to the lie that any wrong move we make will permanently shut the door on the things we want. We believe the choices we make carry a whole ton of weight, so we’re rendered paralysed when it comes to making a decision. Do I say yes to this invitation? Do I apply for this job? Do I date this person or should I wait? If we do make a choice that turns our badly, we feel like the whole house of cards has come tumbling down, and our efforts to rebuild will mean it’ll take extra-long before we finally get the things we want.

I remember coming back home and trying to explain to my friends why I felt this way. While holding back tears, I would tell them that surely my mistakes meant I was going to be disqualified in God’s eyes or that it would delay the arrival of the person I wanted to date. And surely it meant that my purpose in life was constantly going to elude me and that the string of bad decisions I’d made basically sealed my fate as a spinster who would always repel good things.

Maybe you think I’m being dramatic, but I know I’m not the only one who can feel like they’ve screwed up their whole life after one mistake. We believe that our actions are forever capable of screwing up the plans for our life.

But I just don’t think you’re that powerful.

I’m sorry. You’re just not.

Why do we believe we have so much power to wreck things, but not enough to start fresh? We’re big and mighty when it comes to ruining things in our lives, but when it comes to deserving the good things we see ourselves as too small and insignificant.

You’re not powerful enough to deter the plans for your life or the things that are meant to be yours.

If that were true, we would never ever receive good things. And I don’t want to believe that about your life. I know it’s really easy to repeat to yourself that nothing good ever happens to you. That sentence used to loop around my mind on repeat because I really couldn’t see any of the good things I had. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t remind you to look for the little things: like that one friend who knows exactly what to say or the fact that ice cream exists in this world.

Maybe these are superficial examples, but sometimes that’s enough. You wouldn’t discount the beautiful, little things that you see in someone you love, so why would you discount yourself?

You’re not powerful enough to ruin the plans for your life.

But you are powerful enough to persist through each day and keep walking even when it’s dark and foggy.

You’re powerful enough to give yourself a fresh start any day you want.

All I know is that I spent January and February of 2018 feeling like I was the biggest screwup and that I had to spend the rest of the year paying my dues. There were days when I thought I would forever be trudging through the longest valley and always lost in the wilderness. But then the other 10 months of the year birthed something new and unexpected. People left and people entered. New parts of myself were discovered and things were whispered in my ear that soothed my soul. I took chances and said yes to people, only to have them turn around and say no. I shed so many litres of tears that I felt permanently dehydrated. And yet I still got up and surprises still happened. Now I know that just because things start off as foggy or feels difficult, or even just plain boring doesn’t mean that’s how it’s always going to be.

There’s 363 days left before the next countdown. 363 days of things, events and opportunities you know nothing about. It’s normal if that sentence scares you. It might just mean it’s a year where you’re going to carve out something different for yourself. The opportunities you never expected to happen because you thought you’ve screwed up your life, will knock on your door. The dreams you thought were going to be delayed may show up in unexpected ways.

No matter how your New Year’s turned out, and no matter what you’re feeling on this 2nd day, I hope 2019 is a year of rebuilding what you’ve lost.

I hope it’s a year where the hard times help you discover a different part of yourself, and I hope it’s the year you finally begin to let others in.

I hope it’s a year where you know how to pick yourself up after an inevitable fall.

I hope it’s a year where all the stars are closer.


Hey you, 

I don’t ever want this corner of the internet to be a one-sided conversation. If I could sit across from you and talk to you about all the jumbled thoughts & feelings you hold in that big heart of yours, I would. So let me know how you’re feeling about the new year in the comments below. I’ll be reading and responding!

Ash x

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Hoping to start off the year on the right foot? Then you need to be part of The Wednesday Club.

Everyone struggles to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for?

Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

New here? Check out these babies:

High High Hopes For A Living:: Promises of A New Year

It’s the last Wednesday of the year and only five more days till 2018 comes to a close. And if I’ve learnt anything these last 22 years, it’s that hearts tend to get heavy around this time.

Now that Christmas is over, people will soon be accepting invitations to see the fireworks and engineering plans to stand next to the person they want to kiss at midnight. There’s something about the closing of a chapter that make us reflect and reminisce on the year that’s gone by. We wave goodbye at memories that’s been made, make lofty plans for the year ahead, and set massive goals as New Year’s Resolutions.

A few years ago, I remember standing in a park with friends on New Year’s Eve and looking up expectantly at the night sky. There was excited chatter as we waited for the fireworks to signify the start of the new year and a hopeful expectation lingered in the air for the year to come. But when the balls of light exploded in the dark sky and friends around me started cheering and pairing off, I remember feeling unsettled. A heaviness sat on my chest and as the buzz from the alcohol wore off, the questions began to flood my mind: What have I accomplished? What’s going to happen next year? Who will I meet and where will I go?

In a world where we’re constantly projecting our highlights online, I hope you know that it’s normal to feel anxious when the year comes to a close. It’s normal to feel scared and uncertain about what the next year is going to bring. It’s ok if you still feel lonely and like nothing’s changed even after the clock’s struck midnight.

As we slowly wandered back into the house and continued with the festivities, I wondered if there was something wrong with me for not enjoying the night. For not feeling giddy with excitement about the new year and all the transformation I hoped it would bring me. For feeling lonely and hoping that next New Year’s Eve, things would be different somehow.

I think most of us feel more anxious around this time than we’re willing to admit. We look back at our year and see all the things we failed to achieve and all of the bucket list goals we didn’t accomplish. We mourn the death of New Year’s Resolutions that never survived past the second week of January and we ache for the fantasies that have yet to pass.

It’s the last Wednesday of the year and only 5 more days till 2018 comes to a close. And if I’ve learnt anything after 22 holiday seasons, it’s that it’s ok if your year didn’t go as planned. It’s ok if you didn’t hit the all the milestones you wanted or if you didn’t meet the person you’ve been waiting on for a long time. Maybe you didn’t get the job you wanted or maybe you’re frustrated about not being ‘there’ yet. You aren’t the only one who’s ever mourned the dreams that have failed to arrive.

My mentor recently told me that I should acknowledge myself first. That I should give myself credit for all the things I’ve accomplished and all the milestones I did reach- no matter how small. Too often, we fail to acknowledge all the hard work, bravery and effort it took to initially step forward and achieve something. We can break out the confetti all day when someone we love takes a baby step forward, but rarely do we celebrate ourselves. Instead, we shove the proverbial trophy – the one we once saw as ‘the ultimate goal’- into a drawer as soon as we get it, and we immediately make plans to achieve the next big thing.

 I did that a lot this year.

It took a lot of bravery, courage and talking to people on the phone before I ever created this corner of the internet. It also took a lot of courage to pitch editors and write submissions before I ever got my work published on someone else’s page. Yet as soon as I got an acceptance email, I’d barely give myself a pat on the back before scouring the internet for more opportunities to have my work featured.

“I just want to feel legitimate,” I said to someone who had been published in dozens of reputable publications.

“No amount of bylines will ever fill up the hole inside of you that wants to be seen and heard,” she told me. “Write because it’s what you love to do. Write because there’s something you need to say. Don’t do it for the numbers. Just do it because you can.”

The lesson I learnt that day? That validation shouldn’t stem solely from numbers and accolades, and that sometimes the goal itself is not the point.

Give yourself credit for having the courage to put yourself out there – no matter how many rejections you received. Give yourself credit for daring to try something new. Congratulate yourself on taking risks and acting fearless. We’re all experts in making a list of the things we should fix about ourselves. But listing the things we should celebrate?  That’s the golden lesson of this life.

I’m willing to bet that so many of us feel anxious and unsettled because we’re afraid of the year that’s ahead. A new year, a fresh start, a blank slate, is capable of crippling just about anyone. That’s 365 days of things we know nothing about or have no control over. What will happen? Who will I meet? How will it unfold?

I used to believe that my life followed a pattern where I would live out one great year followed by a devastating one. I could trace this pattern all throughout high school where one year would be filled with incredible highs, and the next would involve me picking myself up off the floor. 2017 was far more golden beyond anything I could imagine, so I was waiting for 2018 to tear me up on the inside. I was so fearful that it was going the be the year where the bottom dropped out from beneath my feet and every good thing would crumble.

I was right.

The start of 2018 did buckle my knees and make me drop onto the floor.

But it was also filled with beautiful people and incredible ‘pinch-me-I’m-dreaming’ moments. It was a year filled with redemption, new dreams and a lot of pancakes.

All this to say that this may have been the year where nothing went to plan and you had to pick up all the broken pieces. This may have been the year where you truly tasted failure and the year you mumbled a lot of ‘Get me through this” prayers. But it may also have been the year you learnt how to stand up for yourself and figure out which five people you wanted in your corner. It may be the year you accomplished tiny goals, went a layer deeper with your friendships and laughed till your stomach hurt.

What I now know for sure is that those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

Your year can contain days that leave you weeping on the bathroom floor. But it can also be filled with moments that leave you closing your eyes and whispering under your breath that you never want to trade this life for anything else.

And after all, isn’t that what life is? A series of mountaintop and valley moments all tied up in one. I don’t think we should ever go into a year expecting it to be full of highs or expecting a bad omen around every corner.

In 5 days, the clock will count down, fireworks will shoot into the sky and it will be a whole new year. I don’t know what 2019 will hold for you. I don’t have any authority to tell you whether it’ll be the year the things you’ve been praying for comes true or if it’ll be another year of hard times and waiting.

What I will say is that each year has its own four seasons. Just like how we cycle through Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring, our year will have seasons filled with warmth from our closest friends, icy stings from rejection that may come our way, and a promise that things always grow back in the Spring.

The Wednesday Club

Need someone to show up for you?

Then The Wednesday Club is just for you!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends.  I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

New here? Check out these babies:

How To Finish A Marathon: An Ode to Showing Up

It’s been a month since I’ve launched The Wednesday Club. A month of being consistent and making sure I show up with wisdom and encouragement in people’s inbox every Humpday.

In the grand scheme of things, a month isn’t a very long time. But that’s all it takes before a person’s commitment begins to falter. That’s not an actual statistic. I’m just trying to give myself an excuse for why I should stop showing up. We humans are notorious at finding any reason to give up. We disguise them in promises and make them look pretty by saying “we’ll start again next month.” We play the pity card and tell ourselves that things have been really difficult lately, and we can’t possibly persist while life is this hectic. We justify why it’s pointless to continue pursuing our goals by citing reasons such as ‘too hard’ or ‘no time.’ We convince ourselves that it’s better for everyone if we press pause and come back to it when we’re older, wiser or wealthier.  

People will say many things when you tell them you’re running out of steam. They’ll tell you that any goal you’ve set your sights on, or any journey you intend to take, is a marathon, not a sprint. I’m in the middle of a six year Uni degree, so I know how hard it is to see the finish line when you’re in the thick of it. If I had a dollar for every time someone threw this cliché at me, I wouldn’t need to be in law school anymore. But as much as I hate certain clichés, I know that people wouldn’t say them unless it had an element of truth. I’ve run a marathon before, so I know this particular metaphor does have some weight to it.

When we launch ourselves off the starting line, we like to sprint off and pat ourselves on the back for committing to this tremendous goal. But as the race goes on, we get winded. People will surge ahead and make us question if we’re going too slow or if we should increase our pace. The cheering spectators begin to dissipate and soon there’s just you, the track and 40 km to go. With nothing to do but run, you start to wonder if anyone cares whether or not you finish. The burning sensation in your muscles will scream at you to stop and you’ll be tempted to ask if you should keep going.

In the same vein, I started my writing journey by sprinting and initially covering a great distance. I made a promise that I would be vulnerable and honest with my struggles, so others would know they’re not the only messy ones out there. Four months later, and the shine and sparkle of a new beginning has well and truly worn off, and doubt has begun to rest in its place. I convince myself that no one will care if I show up with my words, and I should just stop running now before I pull a muscle. Any artist will tell you how hard it is to keep going when you’re putting stuff out in a void and it feels like no one can hear you.

“Should I keep going?” I texted someone, hoping they’d give me the excuse I needed to stop. “Does this matter?”

***

I binge watched four seasons of ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Elementary’ over the weekend. Occasionally I immerse myself in fictional crime dramas because I love a good mystery, but I also need a clear-cut resolution within 50 minutes.

 Every episode, Sherlock and Watson will examine every part of the deceased’s life to find out what type of life they used to lead before it all went wrong. They comb through belongings, interview loved ones and slowly piece together clues to deduce what type of person the victim was.  

Perhaps I’m being incredibly morbid and creepy, but that’s what happens when you’re a sentimental human who attaches deep meaning to every interaction.

If every part of my life were laid out on the table to be examined, I want the evidence to show that I was someone who consistently showed up. I want them to see the emotional scars and bruises that reveal I fought hard for the things I wanted. That I wasn’t passive. That my heart was for serving people and every word that came out of my lips was said with love and used for good. At the end of my life, I want the person investigating my case to say, “Here lies a girl who used all the gifts she was given to her fullest potential, and she finished strong. Nowhere was there a box marked Unfulfilled Dreams or Wasted Efforts.”

All this to say that I know it’s the easiest thing in the world to find a reason to give up on your dream, your degree or your life. It’s easy to wonder if there’s anyone supporting you or whether it’s worth it to push through the heaviness of a depressive fog. I know it’s far easier to succumb to the lie that you’re not worth a lot, rather than to fight to believe that you matter. And it’s oh so easy to believe that if you were someone different, then people would care more.

“Why did you start this again?” asked a friend. “Why even put yourself out there in the first place?”

“I don’t know,” I whined back.

“Yes, you do,” he said.

And it’s true. I do know. I know in my bones that someday, somewhere, a girl is going to scroll and read through all of my thoughts and it’s going to give her the hope she needs to keep going. I feel it within every fibre of my being.

I know because that girl was once me.

It took someone else showing up to the blank page week after week and writing out their battles to give me the strength I needed to fight my own. Now that’s become my hope for this space. That it becomes the map you use to navigate through your feelings. That it becomes the guide you need to tell you that yes, things are messy now. Things hurt and everything feels tangled together, and oh my goodness why do you have a bajillion feelings?! But you are ok and you will pull through. That this truth will etch into your bones: someone else has made it out the other side and you will too.

“Should I keep going?” I texted someone. “Does this matter?”

The answer is yes.

It’s always yes to something that you know in your heart is your purpose.

It might not be today or tomorrow, but someone, somewhere, is going to need your heart, your actions and your presence to show up for them.

Keep going.

Know someone in need of motivation? Sharing is caring!

The Wednesday Club

Need someone to show up for you?

Then The Wednesday Club is just for you!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends.  I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

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Tis The Season :: 12 Days of Love Letter Writing

more love letters 12 days of letter writing

The year was 2016. 

I call it my ‘make-and-break’ year because it was the year everything fell apart. It was the year everything that supported me crumbled, and the year I had to learn to pick up the pieces and find worth within myself. 

It was also the year I discovered More Love Letters.

As someone who resonates deeply with words, I loved the idea of writing encouraging notes and leaving it for people to find. On the days I felt like I was drowning in a pit of darkness and despair, I would muster up all the energy I could to scribble down love letters and leave it around the city for some unsuspecting stranger to stumble across. 

In a world where everyone is on their phone, there’s something intentional and life giving about using pen and paper to write a letter and remind someone that they are loved and valuable. 

There are only 15 days till Christmas and I”m sometimes guilty of forgetting what this season is really about. I fret over what to buy the person who has everything, social politics, how much to spend, and what Christmas party I’m going to be invited to. 

In a season that’s supposed to be merry and bright, it can be hard to feel joy when we’re overwhelmed with fulfilling our obligations for Christmas. We forget that all Christmas calls us to do is to show love and bless others.

I write a lot about showing up for people because I know how easy it is for us to believe that no one is there for us. Sometimes we need a tangible gesture to remind us that people are good, people do care and love still exists.  

So this year, I’m writing 12 love letters for 12 beautiful, but hurting, humans as part of the 12 Days of Love Letter Writing. This campaign is designed for people to rally around those who are feeling vulnerable and lacking joy this Christmas by sending them letters of affirmation and encouragement.  

I’m honored to be dedicating this post to the lucky last love letter request and I want to encourage you, dear reader, to write a love letter and bless Brynley as well. 

Whether you wish to write a whole page or jot down two sentences, I know she’ll really appreciate any sentiment you have to say. 

Meet Brynley:

“Brynley is having a hard time adjusting to life at college. She is very anxious when it comes to social situations, work, and especially school.

Brynley has dealt with dyslexia all of her life, but has never gotten a diagnosis for it. She struggled through all of elementary, middle, and high school and persevered despite her difficulties. In High School, she would have her mom read her textbooks, but otherwise she did it all alone. Now that she’s at college, she is having a harder time doing so much school in such a short amount of time. She has tried to reach out to the Disabilities Resource Center, but has had a hard time because she is not diagnosed. I think she needs some encouragement regarding her disability and how she can possibly make this transition a little easier.

Brynley wants to be social, but has a hard time with social boundaries, like the usual length of conversations, and how animated one should be when having a regular conversation. Sometimes she speaks for long periods of time, and people get disinterested. Other times she is overly animated and people get scared away. Brynley needs some love, explaining that it’s okay to be an introvert who has a hard time speaking to others. She deserves to feel like she is welcome, and needs to know that it’s okay to feel anxious. Brynley deserves to be loved and reminded that being quirky and different is okay! Help me show her that!”

Join us in showing Brynley that she is loved + being quirky can be awesome!

PLEASE SEND ALL LOVE LETTERS TO:

Brynley’s bundle

℅ Bethany N.

780 E 1000 N Apt. 28

Logan, UT 84321

USA

LETTERS MUST BE POSTMARKED BY DECEMBER 20, 2018


Need someone to show up for you?

Then The Wednesday Club is just for you!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends.  I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for?

Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

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