Rest

“If you get tired learn to rest, not to quit.”

I’m not really sure whether this quote has a confirmed origin, but you can find it all over the internet, pinterest and the like. It’s one of those simple ones that takes a second glance to sink in. Learn to rest, not quit. Hmm.

We all get tired. That’s one of the biggest hurdles of being an adult sometimes. Everything is so much more tiring. Responsibilities are bigger, and energy is lower. You can’t eat sugar and junk and go running off to play for hours like a kid. You have to eat right and fit some exercise into an already busy schedule in order to keep up the energy you need to get through the day. And you have to make sure you stay on top of everything so you can also get enough sleep. It’s tiring to keep from being tired.

I’m definitely guilty of being an all-or-nothing type of person sometimes. I don’t consider all the options. It’s either do it or don’t do it. Get it done in one sitting or put it off until I can devote that much time at once. Go to the difficult yoga class and work till my muscles are dead or don’t go at all. For some reason, I forget that there are other ways; better ways. Break a large project down into smaller tasks. Go to the therapeutic yoga class instead, or just rest a minute in the middle if I need to. I’m getting better at recognizing these options, but sometimes I still get so caught up in the do it or don’t mindset that I forget the options until it’s too late.

It’s kind of funny, because I’m very much not a black-or-white minded person in other areas of life. I’m usually pretty good at looking at situations from different angles, realizing that most things are a big gray scale spectrum and not one end or the other. It’s just when it comes to the everyday tasks and boring responsibilities that I let myself get stuck and overwhelmed. I mentioned on this blog several times about struggling this past semester. I was very physically organized, more so than ever, so I thought I was golden. But mentally, I was still getting a bit jumbled. I still had that mindset that prevented me from doing things bit by bit instead of all at once, and I learned that that’s the real killer of productivity. The key to is to approach things little by little, because all at once is a gamble. You might run out of time, energy, or ideas. I think I definitely hit a burnout because of that. I did not want to get out of bed most mornings. So going into this semester, when things weren’t coming together and I really wanted to just quit, I took it as a sign that I needed to rest. And I really felt a lot of peace with that decision.

When talking with my friend last week, we both were reflecting on how much we’ve learned about navigating college that we wish we had known ahead of time. All the little things that people try to tell you in high school that don’t really sink in, or weren’t articulated well enough. All the things we wish we could go back and change. But hindsight is 20/20, and some people seem to find those answers earlier than others. With all that said, we are each on our own path with our own timing, and while I feel like my college experience has really altered my life plans, I’m making peace with that. I’ve learned to leave a lot in God’s hands and let myself be guided rather than giving up and getting frustrated when something doesn’t go as expected. I know I have to keep improving and doing my part to work smarter and move forward, but I also know that I can’t control everything, and I sure as heck can’t go back and change anything.

So when it felt like everything was becoming extra tedious, things kept going wrong and I just wanted to give up, I realized that it was ridiculous to get so worked up over school and things in the past. Sure, school is very important, and I’m lucky I have a support system so that I can afford to mess up a little and learn from those mistakes. But if I was so ready to give up on everything just because of some setbacks and frustration, I realized that was a sign to chill out a little. Sometimes every setback feels like the end of the world, and it’s important not to be tricked by the American (and social media/comparison-influenced) go-go-go culture, thinking that your life is over because it slowed down a bit or took a detour. My cousin and I had a great conversation recently about a podcast she sent me that emphasized having an “eternal mindset.” The here and now isn’t everything. You have to look at the big picture, and realize that where you are is a tiny part of it. And from the Christian viewpoint, even our whole life on earth is just the beginning, the preparation for eternity. So why am I so stressed now when there are going to be so many bigger things to conquer in my life?

I hope this is somewhat encouraging. I want to do so many different things, and I already have done so many things, so I’m making a promise to myself not to get too bogged down by setbacks. If I keep learning, working harder and smarter, and resting instead of quitting, I think anything is possible. That’s the mindset I strive to keep, anyway. When you’re no longer excited to wake up in the morning, it’s time to change something, reevaluate, or just rest for once if you can. Whatever you do, don’t quit.

Weird

As a kid, the things that worried me were pretty funny. I was terrified of being dragged away by possums or murdered by katydids, and refused to set foot on the driveway after it had rained and all the worms had crawled out and dried up on the pavement, which was exasperating to my mother but that’s all pretty rational, I think. My favorite animals were crocodiles, then snails, then ducks and otters. I thought maybe if I looked around all the tiny bluet patches dotting my grandparents’ yard, or hung out long enough behind the rhododendron bush at my home, that maybe, just maybe, I’d run into a real fairy. Again, rational enough. I like to write down these random details sometimes so that I can hold onto that childhood magic, because it’s really something I never want to forget. There are millions of details in even just a couple decades of life, and it’s so magical to remember tiny ones you had lost for a while.

On the occasions when I journal, I feel like a weird private songwriter, expanding on the most minute experiences. Sometimes it’s fun to write out detailed accounts of very specific memories to give them a more concrete quality, but sometimes the raw feelings just stick better in your brain when you don’t try to translate them from abstract thought-language. That’s kind of why I feel a little out of place writing on this blog sometimes; if you were to analyze my private journal/blog it started out very straightforward and journal-y and quickly devolved into mostly vague poetry over the years, but it’s funny that I can remember exactly what I was feeling and referencing in even the most seemingly random lines while I feel more detached from the literal accounts.

Just some thoughts. Can anyone relate? I feel so emo saying I journal better in poetry but I feel like if you’re the creative writing/diary-keeping type and you’ve tried it, you can probably relate 100%. I really think abstract creative writing is closer to how our thoughts work, because somehow things tend to get lost in translation when I try to put deep emotions or experiences on paper in plain language. Maybe that’s why music is such a powerful thing for most people; pithy lyrics can hit home harder than long, explicit essays because you tend to automatically read between the lines in the way that you best connect, filtering them through your own context. I think poetry tends to get a bad rap as a weird or overly dramatic outlet, but if you consider the fact that mostly everyone likes to listen to music, I think poetry is the opposite of weird. It’s completely normal.

Once again I’m not overly sure where I was going with this little post, aside from more personal encouragement: be creative. Express yourself in a variety of outlets just for fun. You don’t have to share what you create, or you can if you want to. But don’t let the potential opinions and reactions or non-reactions of others stifle you. And maybe rethink your own reaction the next time you find yourself rolling your eyes at another person’s personal creative expression. Remember the little details about who you were as a kid, when you weren’t concerned about what the world thought.  It’s very freeing when you make the decision to not worry about likes or views, to just make things that make you happy. Easier said than done, I know.

Happy Thursday, wherever you are, and remember: you create your reality, for better or for worse.

Comfort & Joy

The last few weeks of the year tend to be pretty hectic, but I love them. People are returning home, meeting up with old friends and family, exchanging gifts, enjoying treats, watching movies, talking the night away and slowing down a bit to prepare for the start of a new year. It’s a bit of a reset button where you can wrap up the year’s projects, catch up with your loved ones, and savor all the Christmas cheer. I know my last post addressed the more melancholy, stressed feelings that can surface at this time, and those are valid feelings. Everyone has something different that might be weighing on them especially during this season, but I am still so excited for the Christmas holiday and the fast-approaching start of a new year. I think it’s always a good reminder to try to find the joy.

My family has a nice pattern of gathering with my dad’s side of the family on Christmas Eve for a traditional Eastern Orthodox Christian fasting meal, then my mom’s side of the family on Christmas Day, and the reverse on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. This year certainly will be different as it’s the first where people have moved and we have no one able to pick up hosting duties for Christmas Eve, but we are embracing the break in tradition and just planning a more low-key, different way to celebrate. I must say, I never thought I would miss that sour mushroom soup until suddenly, pretending to like it alongside my cousins wasn’t part of the plans for the year…haha!

At any rate, I really enjoy these last days before Christmas. I have been really lucky, my Christmas wishlist is more like a list of people to see, and it looks like I’m going to be able to cross off quite a few! I had a great, super chill two-night sleepover with my cousin over the weekend, my mom and I had a wonderful catch up with a family friend for brunch this morning, I hope to spend some time with my best friend (and maybe bake some cookies!) on Friday as well as see some old ballet & yoga friends at the annual candlelight yoga, and then have a nice gathering with some other great friends on Saturday. Hopefully I’ll also get to see most of both sides of my family for Christmas and New Year’s to round it all off.

Today I’m planning on a lot of handmade gift-making, so wish me luck that I don’t get in over my head with that, I’m pretty last-minute as usual! Plus a yoga teacher training deep hangout/meeting later tonight. Is it odd that I don’t feel “busy” when I have lots of hangouts with close friends and family planned? I definitely consider myself an introvert but when it comes to people I love, socializing fills me up till I’m bursting with joy.

I hope whatever your plans are, you can be filled up to bursting this holiday season as well.

Gratitude

This can be a stressful time of year. Usually I get kind of internally frustrated with people who are unreasonably negative during the holiday season, because c’mon, it’s such a beautiful time, celebrate!! Be happy!! But this year I’m one of those feeling a little more down and stressed. My typical unrelenting optimism and general excitement is a bit dampened at the moment. I feel a little odd looking back at the serious tone of my blog posts the past few months, but then again, maybe I only ever want to write when I’m feeling more serious. It does tend to be the pattern in my personal journal, but it is quite a contrast from my off-paper(-screen?) self, where I’m constantly laughing and joking around and never taking anything too seriously, whether by myself or with others. So I guess with that said, I feel more comfortable talking seriously in writing than in speaking, and it feels good to write it out so I can keep laughing and joking elsewhere. 🙂 Anyone who can’t be serious sometimes and silly sometimes is a robot, I tell you.

So yeah, I’m just not feeling that great lately; my semester hasn’t gone too well. My last one went really well despite a lot of things that could have derailed it, so this one in contrast feels pretty defeating. It “should” have gone fine, but I just had a hard time keeping up with everything for no good reason, only myself to blame. I don’t feel super stressed, I’m not one to carry much tension, but I was just looking through some pictures from the past summer and I can see a difference in my face. I looked so fresh and happy compared to looking in the mirror today. I notice a subtle, tired shift in my features when I’m weighed down. Right now, I’m ready to move on but I can’t fast forward, I just have to keep going, even though at the moment everything feels impossible (and I know I’m just being irrational). I’ve heard from a few others lately who are feeling similarly stuck, so I know I’m not alone in this…when it gets to this time of year where it gets dark so early, it’s no joke that it just gets harder to function.

All that said, though Thanksgiving has come and gone, I think the season of extra focus on gratitude should linger well into the new year. Christ is almost born. We need to remember to glorify Him and be so grateful that we can live our beautiful lives knowing that He humbled himself enough to be born on earth, to our beautiful mother Mary, (Theotokos, what a wonderful title, the mother of God!) to eventually die for our sins so that we may receive God’s mercy and have an opportunity of eternal life to look forward to even after our life on earth ends. I look back on especially defeating weeks I’ve had, where everything seemed to go wrong, and see that there were still so many blessings in every day.

A season where things don’t go as you planned is never the end of the world. It’s just even more of an opportunity to pick out all the things that still go right, all the small beauties. Even if you just smile at the fact that if you hadn’t been running late, you wouldn’t have seen that bubblegum pink Volkswagen Beetle pull up behind you at the red light. Or that plane gliding through the sky low enough to make out the detail of its wings. The little, funny things are worth appreciating even when you just want to cry. Gratitude makes all the difference. It really does turn what we have into enough. And in first world countries like America, most of us really do have enough, more than enough. The older I get, the less I want material things for Christmas. The more I just want quality time with people I love, and the chance to sit in silence and be grateful for everything, even the challenging seasons.

Questioning

My posts have gotten gradually fewer and farther between lately, but it’s not for lack of ideas or effort. I’ve been writing and rewriting, saving drafts and rethinking. I only started this blog under four months ago, and I started strong and with excitement. I still get really excited about what I can write and make for this space, it’s truly a just-for-fun project and creative outlet for me. I don’t really mind if almost no one is reading. But that initial “yay I started a new blog, I need to fill it with posts!” stage has worn off and I’m starting to question if I should be hitting “publish” at all.

What do I know, y’know? I try to write about my honest and relevant experiences, but I’m also becoming more careful. I don’t want to write and publish something that I later realize was worded in a way that doesn’t properly convey my values or my purpose. I’m only human though, and I realize anything can be misconstrued. The comfort of having a private blog or journal is that I can look back on what I wrote and shake my head if it was something silly or that I no longer agree with, or I can flat-out type “I don’t know if this makes sense, I’m just getting it out” and it doesn’t matter. I mean, I’m pretty sure mostly the only people that read this are a few friends and family, so I know I don’t have to be press-release perfect.

But that’s the thing about our social media era. Everyone can have a voice on the internet. Anyone can be an influencer. I have enjoyed reading blogs, watching youtube videos, and following people on instagram for years. I have my own few favorite “influencers” that I’ve honestly come to trust for opinions like a close friend. If I’m looking for a good recipe, I’ll often check a blog that I’ve followed for eight years before I would ask a family member I’ve known my whole life. So you see, having a voice on the internet is a responsibility. It’s easy to think yours doesn’t matter, but I’m a firm believer that no matter how small, your voice had better be intentional, well thought-out, and true to your values if you’re going to hit “publish,” and in fact, hitting publish is probably a bad idea nine times out of ten.

As a high school senior, somehow I was voted “most likely to be famous” along with another old friend. I joke about it sometimes, because I have to wonder if it will ever come true, or may even be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because of that little thing in the back of my mind, will I seek out opportunities to put myself out there, like writing this blog? Or did the few classmates that voted for me in that category recognize that I already always tended to put myself out there creatively? I do keep telling people that my dream is to be a children’s book author/illustrator, because it honestly is, and I intend to pursue that dream. In fact, starting this blog was sort of step one in that process, to practice building a style and brand identity. But, unlike my high school superlative twin who was the more deserving of the “most likely to be famous” title, I have honestly never truly desired fame.

I’m not afraid to attach my name here, as I know I am being authentic and always will. But I think that aversion to fame is why I’m hesitant to post a picture of my face on Luna Moth Life. (although for anyone reading that doesn’t know me, my face is probably not hard to find from here if you snoop around a bit) I understand that nowadays, anyone not showing their face on the internet is hard to trust and relate to, and I try to make up for that by writing as personally as possible.  I love to create and share, but I don’t want it to be all about me. I don’t feel entitled to recognition. It’s just, a byproduct of a creative life, and potentially a creative career, is that you have to have yourself in it somehow. Creativity is personal.

If you noticed in my playlist a couple posts back, I included a few Taylor Swift songs. I think she’s talented and I enjoy her music more than most chart-topping pop of this era. When I first became a fan of her a little under a decade ago, she was probably the least controversial person in the music business…a cutesy teenage rising star writing country-pop hits about love, friendship and heartbreak. Now, because of her exponential fame, she’s about the most controversial artist to be a fan of. Everybody knows who she is, and everybody has an opinion of her, usually love or hate. She was able to write a whole album centered on her crazy reputation and living with the consequences of being famous. A perfect example of what the modern media and fame in the 21st century can do to a creative person (as in, anyone doing anything).

So I guess my whole point in this rant is that this is truly an experimental platform for me, one that I might have to continually question, rethink and reorient. It’s personal, it’s real, and it’s intentional. I try to be consistent for the sake of it, but I really don’t want this to be tainted by any goal of fame or about being an influencer, just about sharing my life, and for those few who might stumble on this and not know me personally, to just connect with you across the interwebz. I’m not trying to influence you, just to sort of give you a virtual wave, a smile, a handshake, or a hug as we cross paths in this life. I write here mostly to influence myself, really. In a way, it’s just one big accountability project to get me creating more, connecting the dots more, doing more. I may decide I want to grow this blog and put it out there more in the future, but if I do that, I would probably shift the focus to be more about illustration or short stories or something not so personal. Anyway, if you got this far, thanks for reading, truly. 🙂

Trust

I think the root of so many problems lies in trust, or lack of it.

In our monthly Sunday session of yoga teacher training last week, after the morning yin yoga class, we began with a brief meditation. It involved sitting and breathing in and out for equal counts of your own timing while blocking one nostril, alternating and repeating, and then after a series of that, breathing through one nostril at a time without physically holding the other closed with your finger. I can’t remember how many breaths but it was probably around 10 minutes of this meditation.

The first thought I had when our teacher told us to begin was already to doubt myself. Not that I could do it, because we had already done this sort of active breathing meditation in the past, but just various silly things, like: “oh no, I think I already forgot the instructions–how many breaths am I supposed to take? when do I switch sides? am I doing this right?” etc. I kept opening my eyes for the first few breaths to check that I was doing the “right” thing. Luckily, after a minute I remembered that lesson that keeps tapping me on the shoulder and whispering in my ear lately: “there isn’t necessarily a ‘right’ way. just do it.”

I could’ve spent the ten or so minutes wondering whether I was doing the meditation “right,” or I could relax into it and focus on the breathing on my own pace. Which was the whole point, anyway. But sometimes we forget that we don’t always have to follow instructions to a T. Sometimes we forget that we know what we’re doing. We forget to trust ourselves.

Later in the day, we were given instructions to pair up and study the muscles of the hip, upper leg, and abdomen. We were given a list of muscles, a total of 16 groupings, told to grab an anatomy book, and figure out their attachments and origins, and subsequently what kind of movement the muscle controls. Now, I loved the one anatomy class I took my senior year of high school and I tend to retain that kind of highly applicable information pretty well, but this kind of assignment (using medical illustrations and not, like, google and youtube, mind you) seemed like a pretty big jump outside of my scope of expertise. However, since I’ve known this teacher for the majority of my life, I’m pretty used to her tendency to assign challenges by now.

After an hour, I’m pretty sure we were all going a little brain dead from the mental work, but it was surprisingly not as out of reach as it seemed when assigned. We were all used to using these muscles, we just never had to think about them that technically until that point. But we figured it out, mostly, and then it was time for lunch. Again…a small part of me didn’t want to trust myself at first, but I proved that I had no reason not to.

Later, the final thing we did was build little tensegrity structures out of popsicle sticks and rubber bands. These were confusing at first. Once we got them started, we helped each other hold them together to finish connecting the parts. As I was pulling all my rubber bands into place, I started to get that doubt again. I was sure it wouldn’t work out, saying I had probably done something wrong, it wasn’t looking quite right. Yet, as I pulled the last band into the notch of one of the sticks and we let go, it sprung into place and held its shape.

Lately, I’ve been losing faith in myself. I’ve suffered a few major failures in the past few years and I’m still suffering from the residual ego-bruises. Now, when I fall behind, I start to doubt my ability to succeed. The thing about working as part of a group, such as in yoga teacher training, is that ego is often pushed aside. We’re all helping each other, we’re open, we’re vulnerable, we’re in it together. It’s good to push aside your ego as much as possible, especially where success and failure is involved. Your failures do not define you, and neither do your successes. They just help you learn and grow. These are all temporary experiences, and you will have plenty of them in a lifetime.

Often, I need to write my experiences out to connect the dots. I didn’t really know where I was going with this when I started to write this post, I usually don’t. But I think I’m convinced now; I’m not helpless, or aimless. Maybe I should trust myself a little more…but more importantly, realize that trusting myself isn’t really about me. It’s about trusting all the lessons I’ve been taught. Abandon that ego and you find that you’re never really alone. You’re not God. You didn’t get where you are by yourself. You’ve had a lifetime of lessons: hard lessons, small lessons, shaping you and nudging you into where you are. It’s not all on me, and I would be pretty silly to think it is…trusting myself is really just trusting in something more.