Create more. Hustle less.

water-reflection-1

A couple weeks ago, Shelton and I were coming home with a hot dinner in tow when I saw this. This is the entrance to our apartment complex, and for a while now I’ve been waiting for the water to be still and glass-like like this so that I could take a picture of the trees perfectly reflected. Sometimes you wait and wait and then when you least expect it, things just happen. When they finally do, you let your dinner get cold so that you can experience them wholeheartedly. I’m sure that’s a rule somewhere.

I’m doing a lot of re-thinking and reflecting in my life lately. Reassessing my priorities – asking myself questions like, “What is the most important thing to me right now?” and “Am I spending my time as I should be?” and “What makes me feel fulfilled?” and then most importantly… “Am I doing the things that make me feel fulfilled often enough?”

In case you were wondering, the answer to that question is “No.”

When I started blogging in 2009 (I can’t believe it’s been almost four years), I did so because I needed a creative outlet and I craved attention. Only one of those is a good reason to start an endeavor like blogging, but hey. At the time both my professional and personal lives were extremely stressful and taxing, and I saw blogging as an escape. It was also around this season of my life that I drank just about every day and on the weekends I would listen to music and write aimlessly until 4 am. I would do things like this instead of working through my problems. I numbed my feelings like you wouldn’t believe.

A lot has changed since then. Like, I don’t even live on the same planet anymore. Which is very ironic, because my old blog was named Sarah Planet.

Why do I blog now? If you’re a blogger reading this, or a hobbyist of any kind – I encourage you to ask yourself the same question. Why are you doing what you do? Has your motivation evolved or changed since you began?

Mine has. Every time I receive a comment, my heart flutters. I get the same feeling when I get a new “like” on Facebook. But blogging is not an escape from my life anymore – it’s a way that I celebrate my life. All that being said, I continue to put way too much pressure on myself lately when it comes to blogging. I am incredibly driven by my firstborn mentality, most of the time to a fault. My inner critic is just so mean. I spoke about my tendency to self-shame in this post about fitness, and guess what? My inner-critic uses the exact same tactics to make me feel like shit about blogging and my creativity.

“Sure, that’s a good post, but no one will read it.”

Emma and Elsie are so much smarter than you. Why can’t you post as much as them?”

“You are doing this all for nothing.”

So mean, right? These thoughts make me not want to post, cause me to think more about other blogger’s styles than my own, and leave me feeling uninspired and numb. The truth is that I love my voice/writing style now more than ever because it is more open and honest. I think the projects I have posted recently are very inspired, and I’m proud of them. When I publish a heartfelt post, I feel like I am aligned with the Universe. And those are all good feelings.

But then comes the hustle of promoting my posts on Facebook, pinning my own images, tweeting, etc. and the good feelings dissipate because newsflash: the blogging community is huge and I’m not the only one pushing my content. There is so much focus on self-promotion within the community that it’s become more important to me to receive feedback/praise on my posts than the actual act of posting.

That’s sad. But, makes sense once the pieces are put together.

So, I have decided a few things based upon these realizations. I am going to create more and hustle less. If I am hustling more than I am creating, something is wrong and I should stop immediately and give myself a break. I am going to show up and be present in my own life, and always be proud of my successes both on and off the blog. I will do all of these things even if no one is watching, it seems like no one cares, or no one gives me praise.

Create more. Hustle less. | sweetandsavorylife.com

I will create from a raw, honest place. Not a place that is driven by recognition. When I create good, honest, heartfelt content that I am sure will resonate with someone else, I will lightly promote it. And then I will post again when I am inspired, and so on and so forth. My hope is that this will be a healthy cycle of creation, not one where I constantly feel like I’m not good enough. Because that is simply not true.

I am good enough. My content is, too. And if this ever feels like work, I’m gonna back off. I’m gonna re-read this post. I am going to remind myself of all the things I’m doing well in my life outside the blog (work, relationships, personal development, etc.). I’m gonna keep being raw and keep being me.

I love the person I’m growing to be. It’s shit-hard sometimes, but crazy worth it. Wouldn’t change a thing.

-Sarah

Being Kind: 8 things I love about my body

8 things I love about myself | sweetandsavorylife.com

Lately I’ve really been taking seriously the art of loving myself. In my most recent health update, I almost didn’t go to bootcamp this morning., I realized the following:

*I am not being as kind to myself as I should be.

*Little choices make a big difference, if you let them all add up.

*My perception of my body (and how I have thought it should look for a long time) is way off-kilter. I am learning to understand the importance of loving the body I have today – not the body I might have in three months or the body I had three years ago – the body I have right now.

Pretty big revelations, if you ask me. As always, there is more churning around in my mind when it comes to the topics of fitness and the mind/body balance, but overall I’m enjoying my current mental state. It’s forgiving, accountable, and loving. Though some days are much easier than others, I am learning on the “easy” days that I’m happier because I’ve consecutively made positive choices for myself (and in turn, am loving myself). Little things like drinking lots of water, going for an afternoon walk, slicing an apple… results in me feeling very present in my life. It’s a very euphoric kind of feeling that I do my best to hold onto.

Also, I weighed myself last Friday and I have lost 6.6 pounds, down to 159.4. I am noticing small changes in the mirror as well as my energy levels – things are clicking and I am very proud of myself. Honestly, that feels better than the number on the scale. My friend, Do, who I’ve mentioned here before, left me an eye-opening comment the other day. She said, “Weight gain is never permanent to me; same goes for weight loss. Neither are permanent!” This statement is so true. There is never a point where I’ll be “done” with being healthy. It’s a life-long commitment.

I will lose weight.

I will gain weight.

I will lose weight again.

I will gain weight again.

I will get older and my body will change.

And what matters most is what I choose to do right now.

Choices made frequently become habit – what kind of habits am I aiming to form? Healthy ones. Healthy chioces that will become habit, so that when I gain weight (hello, motherhood) I will be able to lose it. So that when I get a more strenuous job (hello, stressful 50 hour workweeks) I will still be motivated to exercise. These things are important to me and deserve attention because my body deserves to be tended to, nourished and taken care of. It’s the only one I’ve got, and we have a lot of years ahead of us.

As usual, what set out to be a simple list turned out to be wordier update than I anticipated. But it’s so good to type my thoughts out – therapeutic, even. So, like I was saying when I began this post, I am actively practicing the art of being kind to myself. Lately I’ve been contemplating the physical attributes about my body that I really do love, and have always loved, and thought I’d challenge you to do the same. Even if you try to think one positive thing about yourself and the negativity vultures immediately swoop in, I encourage you to ignore them for a few minutes today and make your own list of what you love about your body. And then hang it on your bathroom mirror. Or your fridge. Or just fold it up and put it in an envelope and mail it to yourself.

I dare you.

Here’s my list: 8 things I love about my body.

1. My calves. They are huge, and as a girl I have never been deterred by this. I still love to wear heels when the mood (or occasion) strikes and every now and then I flex the muscles just to feel how hard they are. It makes me feel strong.

2. The freckles that decorate my shoulders. I am very fair skinned and still have freckles on my cheeks and shoulders. In the summer, they become more prominent and I love them. They make me feel like a kid.

3. My feet in general. They might be the daintiest thing on my body (although I wear a size 9).

4. My hair. Even the grey ones.

5. My lips. Very full.

6. My forearms. Weird, I know.

7. My boobs. This is definitely a personal thing (meaning I don’t expect anyone to understand or appreciate my lady lumps like I do). I have never, ever, wanted them to be any different than they are.

and last, but not least…

8. My schnozz! Frames the face, as they say.

Now you go.

What do you love about your body? What makes you unique? (Newsflash–you are.) Chew on it. See what you reveal to yourself.

-Sarah

I almost didn’t go to boot camp this morning.

sunrise

It’s 4:57 AM. My alarm is going off. I am smacked in the face with sleepy, and literally cannot picture myself getting out of bed and going to boot camp. I think, “Just sleep, Sarah. You need the rest.” It sounds so real and so right, that I confirm, “Yes. Yes, I do.”

Then it hits me like a ton of bricks. How I don’t really need “the rest” because I went to bed at 10:30 PM and slept like a rock last night. That if I miss boot camp, I will feel guilty throughout the day. As I laid there in bed, bargaining with myself, I knew this to be 100% true. I did what I had minutes before deemed unthinkable, and got dressed.

I’m well overdo for a health/fitness update. Been putting it off for a while now for quite a few reasons. None of them are good, so I’ll spare you. The last update I gave you was on December 2, 2012 when I posted I AM ENOUGH: The first steps on my health journey. I opened up to you about how vulnerable I’d become about my (progressive) weight gain and how it was affecting me emotionally. I revealed how much I weighed, why I wanted to change my habits, and also my need to accept my body just as it was – before I did anything to alter it. I talked about eating healthier and starting a boot camp class, and when I submitted that post I felt really good about my outlook. I felt it was positive, but without high expectations. As you probably know, when it comes to any kind of lifestyle change, it’s hard not to set yourself up for failure by raising the bar too high. Of course, we never mean to do this. It just happens.

Even though I just said that my outlook was positive and without high expectations, looking back, I now know that only half of that statement is true. I was positive, and I did have high expectations. Damn. As I sit here now typing this truth to you, I can’t help but feel like I let myself down (even though that is not true). Over the past few months I have regularly retreated to my negative, self-shaming place where I remind myself of the following:

1. All the times I cracked and ate unhealthily or had a celebratory moment.

2. How I’ve been boot campin’ it up for almost three months now with nothing to show for it.

3. That I’ll never have what my mind’s eye perceives a healthy body to be, because I don’t deserve it.

4. This is all easier for everyone else. No one understands my struggle.

What a mess. All those statements I have felt and believed, but are completely false. In I AM ENOUGH, I spoke about self-acceptance, but the truth is that an undertaking of that size is not something that can be checked off a list and considered “done” in an instant.

“I now love my body, even my muffin top that hangs over my size 14 jeans.”

Nope. It’s just not that easy. It is a daily process. Changing clothes in front of the bathroom mirror and looking at your body with appreciation, not depreciation can be a tall order on a bad day. I’ve had quite a few bad days over the past three months. Change is never easy – especially changing how you perceive yourself.

Let’s break down my go-to self-shaming with honesty and empathy. Maybe you tell yourself some of the same things? Whether your change is related to weight loss or something else, I’ve learned that anytime negativity is part of my mindset my progress time is cut in half. If not more. It’s so important to get to the root of where the shaming comes from, and why it is done. As Brene Brown says, light must be shone in all the dark corners.

1. Indulgent moments, splurge meals, celebration and the like. During the holidays, I ate like it was the holidays. Once or twice a week, I’d have some kind of splurge meal with Shelton, usually on the weekends. There was a lot to celebrate over the past few months, what with my best friend getting married (bachelorette party + wedding). Could I have splurged less? Yes. Could I have celebrated less? A resounding NO. On this health journey I am learning that regret is akin to poison. It just brings me down like none other.

How to battle regret when it starts hitting: focus on the now – the choices you can make right-this-second that are positive. Pour a glass of water, eat an apple, do 30 jumping jacks. We all know that the smallest things can make the biggest difference. Put that truth to work. Remember that you are human, and it doesn’t matter what has transpired. It only matters what happens now.

2. The amount of work put in compared to perceived “results” (or lack thereof). Yes, I’ve been working out regularly for three months and yes, my thighs still jiggle. It’s hard not to think that it’s all for nothing. That no matter what I do, my body isn’t going to change. It’s so incredibly easy to hone in on what you don’t have instead of what you do have. We all want tangible proof though, don’t we? We want our clothes to be a bit baggier, people to notice our change, and so on. It’s exhausting for me though – this vicious cycle I get so easily caught up in.

Instead of obsessing on what you lack, tell yourself what you have. I say tell, not remind, because sometimes I really have to tell-off my inner critic a lot. Reminders don’t always work – they can be counteracted. Tell yourself what you’ve got, as many times as it takes.

“It is now part of my routine to work out, I’m proud of that.”

“I’ve learned to cook many new healthy meals that I wouldn’t have before.”

“I have a better understanding of myself, and right now that’s worth more than fitting into my high school jeans. If I keep loving myself like this, I’ll eventually get there.”

3. That what I see in the mirror is not how I picture myself in my head, and is also no where close to how I think I should look. The belief that I do not have a perfect body yet because I don’t deserve one. I have a very specific image of myself in my mind, and also another image of how I believe I would look if I was perfectly skinny. Guess what. The self-image I have of myself is off base, and also my visualized my “perfect” body is not attainable. Go with me on this.

While I wholeheartedly believe that visions can be road maps, when it comes to something so personal as my body, I am literally too close to it to see it objectively. Craft projects are different. Recipes are different. Visualizing a clean junk drawer is different. My body is not a DIY project. My body is alive and moving and changing even when I feel it’s not. When I see myself tagged in pictures on Facebook, that’s me. That’s my body. That’s how I look from the side. It’s not a “bad picture” or a “bad angle.” It’s a moment, captured. Understanding this is what self-acceptance really means to me. Not constantly trying to match up what I picture in my head to what I see in the mirror, but really loving what’s real. The mental pictures are not real and they are not signs pointing me in the right direction. If anything, they’re detours and fruitless meandering paths. What is real is what I see with my eyes and know to be true in my heart. My head will jack me up every time.

Insert deep, grace-filled breath here.

I am going to let go of my visualized perfect body. The one I picture hundreds of times a day, the one I’ve been using as motivation to keep going. To combat my go-to metal images, I will focus on what is real in this moment, and also liberate myself from what “could be.” It’s entirely possible that whatever I can achieve physically with my body is more than I could ever project. I accept and welcome “the unknown” in so many other parts of my life. This should be no different.

Wow. Just typing that I feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

4. The idea that living a healthy lifestyle is easy for everyone but me, and that no one understands my struggle. Granted, I’m feeling very mentally balanced as I write this so that’s why I am all “zen,” but I do know that what looks to be easy hardly ever is. If it was easy to practice this lifestyle, no one would be obese and we’d live in a world without Jillian Michaels. I compare myself so much, to my friends, actresses, random girls I see when I’m running errands. It’s endless. Some days it seems like everyone else is so effortlessly thin, and basically what I deduce is that something is right with them and wrong with me. I ask myself, “What are they doing right?” and then “What am I doing wrong?” Goodness. For the most part I consider “right” and “wrong” to be four letter words. I even wrote about the idea of “right” in this post, There is no such thing as “the right time.”

Just because my friends and family are more fit than I perceive myself to be, that does not mean I understand all their daily struggles, some of which may include their own self-perceptions. Just because I see a girl at Target that looks incredible (to me) in her leggings, that does not mean she works out every day or even works out at all. She doesn’t have some secret to weight loss. She’s just living her life, shopping at Target. The end.

To live in the world is to be a part of that world. That means being surrounded by many different people. Some big, some little, some I know really well, some I don’t know at all. I shouldn’t fill in the blanks to their life like a Mad Lib. I am not them. I do not understand them. Any time I spend trying to figure them out is time I could be spending on figuring myself out. I don’t want to go on detours. I want to stay on track as much as possible. I want to know and love myself more than anything else, more than spending energy analyzing things I will never fully understand. I want to be present.

As I read over my words, I know that I have come further in the past three months than I ever have before. I feel that this mindset is a part of who I am now. I have never been able to stay committed to a workout/diet plan for longer than a month (truthfully) and now I feel the self-motivation to keep going. After February, I intend to mix up my workouts a bit and spend more time practicing the breakthroughs I’ve had. It is a journey, and not a short one. But it’s okay, because at the end of each day, I like it. I like the opportunity to challenge myself (both mentally and physically) in this way and want to experience more so that I can learn more. So that in turn I can write more. It really is that simple, even though fully loving myself everyday is a practice. But it’s one that I’m getting better at, and to me, that is success.

-Sarah

Just create it

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to the creative process–specifically, my creative process. See, I’ve always thrived on the fact that everyone creates differently, and that a person (whether they deem themselves artsy or not), should accept the way they create and capitalize on it. Now, I still believe that to be true… but I am starting to question how I create, because I’m afraid that I’m putting too much focus on the planning and not enough energy on just creating.

I make lists for days. I always have. Sometimes it helps me organize my thoughts, but most of the time it pacifies a part of me that I can’t explain… It’s like false productivity. I am doing something but am not actually doing anything. But I feel like I’ve gotten something done, because look! All my to-do list items have been rewritten on a clean sheet of paper. Now what?

I don’t know. I seem to sit aimlessly a lot, more than I’d like to admit. I think about ideas I’d like to do, but I don’t even do a fraction of them. Some of them I really do want to do, but it takes me ages (it feels like) to just do them. So, I am sick of my creative process. I’m sick of making to-do lists of blog posts I’d like to write, projects I’d like to complete, pictures I’d like to take, videos I’d like to shoot.

I am sick of all of that. I am going to try something new. I am going to create the instant I feel inspired and not a moment after. If I wait to create, then maybe it should be shelved until I’m ready… And I’m not going to beat myself up any more for the things I am not doing. Instead, I am going to celebrate what I have in front of me–whatever I’m currently working on.

And I am also just going to think less. Be more impulsive. Not try to plan everything out. Isn’t that what living a sweet and savory life is all about? Isn’t that what my whole goal is here?

Yes. It is.

Example no. 1: this post. I didn’t plan it. I thought about it, and just let the words spill out. Boom. Just create it.

Nike really has a point you know. Hit the nail on the head with that campaign, they did.

What are you planning, but not doing?

What are you daydreaming about, but not making happen?

How many items are on your to-do list that you are dreading?

Take that to-do list. Rip it up.

Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme… you might need to remember to make that dentist appointment. Just put it to the side. It’ll be there when you’re back in the zone. But for now… I challenge you to start that project you’ve been thinking about. Call that person you’ve been needing to talk to. Act now.

Otherwise the moment will just pass you by…

-Sarah

There is no such thing as “the right time.”

 

I am a long-time follower of PostSecret, and whenever I catch up on my Google Reader RSS feeds (which I just did… insane task), I always savor the secrets of Sundays past. This secret stuck out for me in a major way – as I have come to learn that the idea of “right” is often misconstrued in society and also within our own minds.

If you are waiting for the “right time” to do something… you are already behind on making good, life changing decisions for yourself. Let go of “right.” Be free from the stipulations you have put on yourself. Realize that anything worth doing will be difficult to accomplish and your fortitude will be tested every step of the way. Be open to the journey – it’s the only way you’ll ever move forward.

It’ll be messy. If you are worried about doing something “the right way,” it’ll be even messier. Do it your way – not the way you think it should be done. We often try to combine society’s morals with our own to protect ourselves from backlash, ridicule or judgment. But, I believe this to be a fruitless waste of time. Focus on your happiness and your happiness only. Be selfish. The only person who is truly going to put your happiness first is yourself. Own this knowledge.

We grow up thinking we’re not supposed to be selfish (and largely, we aren’t), but when your future well-being is in jeopardy (whether emotionally, mentally, physically, etc.), then I say be as selfish as possible. If you have led a self-less life, this will be difficult, but it won’t last forever. The hardest battles we will ever fight are the ones against ourselves. Overcome your need to “appear a certain way” and you will unlock strength within yourself you never knew you had.

And at the end of the day, if you are leading a life that you are proud of – not your mom, your dad, your best friend – then you have succeeded. Your life is your own. Make it fantastic, because no one else is going to work as hard at it as you will.

You can take that to the bank.