MAGIC HOURS: 2018 WAS THE YEAR I DECIDED WHICH WORLD I WANT TO LIVE IN

I started out in the blackest pit, but I could still see a small patch of yellow sunlight as I lied in the bottom of the hole. I scribbled on papers around me; this time I’m going to get out this time I’m going to get out. With moist yearning eyes I raised my eyes towards the sky & hoped that some bit of warmth would make its way through to the inside.

That I would not only make it, but making SOMETHING of it. Something I could be proud of.

The roaring cacophony of quiet drowned out myself as I stood at the edge of a sea I had no knowledge of, falling into the same coping pattern I had always escaped from radical change by using.

 

Wokandapix / Pixabay

She stood at the top of the pit, spitting down onto me & shrieking with laughter. I was dragged through the dirt. They threw putrid mud down into the hole, cackling at my inability to rise up. I numbed out, tried to dissociate from my experience in any way possible. Even if the whole numbing was a temporary fix, a question, possibly dangerous. But it couldn’t be more dangerous than it would be to leave me unchecked, left to my own devices, exposed & able to do worse things. She was not my worst enemy, nor was he, nor were they. I was. So I faded back just enough that I could crawl through each day & wake up again the next. Never enough time. That was okay though, maybe better. But I could never escape enough.

Was there really anything beautiful about acting as the tragic figure I’d written myself to be, but never really wanted to become?

I had just come out of the whirlpool with the new knowledge that what I had been seeking HAD NOT BEEN THERE. I finally had the experience, but it was worth much less than the price of admission.

Rakicevic Nenad

Then the world exploded; all that I knew fell out from under me & was replaced, rebuilt, reinvented.

In the best way possible.

I woke up one day. It felt sudden, but I’d been slowly waking up for the past few weeks. And it struck me as soon as sunlight touched my skin: I was becoming sad less often. I had realized my sorrow for what it was: an illusion I had firmly believed in & lived, but one that didn’t have to be real for me any longer. It HAD been real: the pain was too fresh, the blood too vivid, the scars too deep for it to have been all in my mind. But as easily as it had planted its deadly seed deep inside the soil of my meadow, I could slowly pull the roots out from under the soil & destroy the plant before it destroyed the whole world I saw. The whole world I wanted to believe in.

And once I realized I had let the tiny yearning to feel something, the tiny yearning to understand melancholy, grow to such ugly proportions, it began to dissolve. It ceased to grow. It began to fade back into the darkness which it had come from.

jplenio / Pixabay

And then another day, I woke up & realized I wasn’t sad anymore.

I have discovered that joy is always more interesting than sorrow. Each day I bask in the pure gloriousness of living that way. I am already a success. The binary of success & failure has always been an illusion. I have cut the threads holding me to what I once was: afraid of the future & afraid of what people would think. And now I am myself again.

I have finally decided what world I want to live in.

I do not have to beat myself down & stay hidden & bleeding under the highway overpass in the darkest night. There is a whole other world on top of this one, layers of worlds, & I am the explorer discovering them all. Each one feeling better than the next, & I am the one finally letting myself feel good. The world I lived in was not tied to circumstance, but to choice. My choice.

I have seen both sides of the coin. I have lived in both dimensions. Both are equally as real, but it is always me who decides which one I will live in. And by the simple shift in perspective; flipping the switch & crawling through folds of energy until I am firmly back on the level I rebirthed myself on. The Vortex is real.

The Universe always had my back. It was always sitting there, hidden in the back row but cheering the loudest of all. It was always rooting for me even when I was afraid that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing. Just when I thought all the lights had gone out, the Universe always showed up holding candles, slipping a crumpled piece of paper into my hand which contained a clue for what I should do next.

I found myself. She sat there alone & frightened, but I brought her back into the light. Alone on that dark sacred highway at night, as I drove under the warm yellow streetlights illuminating the smooth dark highway, with the jazz playing deep & quiet & ineffable in the background. & the feeling bubbled up inside me, it frightened me because it was so strong & so sudden, the pure vibrating eternal radiance of the sincerest relieved joy. I found myself on that drive home on the pitch-dark highway as I trusted in the golden radiance & recorded the exact color of moonlight on my arm. The moon shone down around me on the sacred fields & the tiny farmhouse & the sleeping cattle, quiet & smiling & deeply nurturing in the pale blue sacred light.

It turns out, the environment I most needed to change was the environment inside me.

And there I was, slowly & quietly chipping away at the darkness which had held me back for so long. Slowly building a better foundation, brick by brick.

I was afraid to let myself be happy because I was so used to being sad & afraid that a future that felt good was also an uncertain one. At least with sorrow, I had its cold stale hand to hold, a familiarity I knew I could always return to. With sorrow, at least I knew what my future would feel like & how I would cope with it.

When I realized it had all been a sham, the walls shattered, & I found myself free in a meadow of sunlight.

What had once been a darkness I relished & lovingly extracted every ounce of pain from now became a song I’d never liked but heard play too many times on the radio. My old standby patterns weren’t beautiful & tragic – they were just boring, & didn’t allow half enough time for me to merely exist & simply be. Too much of it was shrouded in routine & in monotonous pandering to the politics touted by over-idolized figures I wanted nothing to do with.

Sometimes before I would wonder what it would be like to disappear & reappear somewhere else, my future free & with my slate cleaned.

No baggage to carry, no fight against my own glass ceiling upper limits. And in a way, I have. I have found the hidden door in the forest, concealed behind twisted wooden vines, & I have stepped firmly from the land of darkness & into the light. I have approached the door & grasped the gold handle, stepped in the fallen leaves & heard the crunch of the new moon in the starless sky. I have stood in sudden afternoon light holding that door handle, hand frozen, afraid to move forward, refusing to accept that I AM WORTHY ALREADY.

Too separated to accept that the Universe will always love me anyways.

Too devastated by the secret knowledge that all along, another world has been parading in tandem with this one, & I could have stepped into it at any moment had I been ready sooner.

And then I opened the door.

Sunlight spilled forth. I trust you, I trust you. I picked the road leading in the direction of the same breeze I’d felt on the beach & in the city, one which wordlessly murmurs of home. And I have found that home.

The whole world is fresh. The whole world has been reborn. The Phoenix has risen from the ashes, ready to believe in its own greatness again. She would be proud if she saw me, to see what she becomes. To see she becomes the person she needed when she was a kid.

I know now that I have what it takes & have the tools to do anything & become anything that I choose to. The whole world is new, & yet it’s been there all along, waiting for me. Everything looks different, everything feels different, because now I see everything through the lens of vibrant optimism instead of the mournful, violent grays of sadness. I realized I have a choice in how I feel & what world I choose to see. In whether I struggle to survive, or flourish & thrive.

I feel like I finally decided which world I want to live in.

I have found the magic again.

I Think I Have Finally Cured My Depression

I finally gathered the things I need in order to know how to thrive.

I Think I Have Finally Cured My Depression :: Ashlee Craft's World

Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash

Originally published on The Ascent

I think I have finally cured my depression.

I have been depressed for ten years. And that is enough. And I think I’ve finally beat it.

Unlike other times I thought I had won, my healing was not due to willpower, or by forcing myself out of the darkness with willpower alone & convincing myself that I did indeed feel better.

Instead, everything changed because I changed my environment into one which allowed me to gather tools & learn how to use them & manipulate them into the things I needed to be. And most importantly, an environment that let me use them.

After almost a decade of being (never formally diagnosed, but I know how I’ve felt) clinically depressed, I finally feel like I’ve actually won. I’ve had my moments before of triumph, of discovering some secret that let me be happy for sometimes months at a time. But it was never like this before.

See, every time I felt “cured” before, I was always afraid that it was all in my head. That one day, the depression would come crashing back down on me. I never could believe that maybe I was actually cured. Because the other times, the feeling of “cured” had come about so suddenly that I usually couldn’t see a logical reason for why I felt that way. Not to say that those times of being cured didn’t mean anything, because they meant a great deal. It’s just that they couldn’t last because there was no concrete reason for WHY I felt cured.

And mostly it was because despite my “healing”, I was still the exact same person inside. I was still just a depressed person experiencing happiness for a while.

But this time, it’s different. And this time, I’m not afraid.

Because this time, my healing wasn’t this sudden miracle that happened out of the blue. My healing was a slow, deliberate process. It’s been a long time coming, but I feel like it finally might be here. And I feel like this time, it’s going to last.

Why?

I have finally learned the tools & put systems in place that are necessary to keep myself happy. I have built those tools & used those tools & figured out how to best make them work for me. I have molded those tools into systems & new actions & new ways of responding to life. I have built a solid foundation out of these tools. I have used these tools to become a different person.

This is why I believe my happiness foundation is stable now. It’s didn’t happen by magic; it happened by gathering & learning tools, & by using them.

I Think I Have Finally Cured My Depression :: Ashlee Craft's World

Photo by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash

Author & speaker Darren Hardy says that learning is the ability to produce a result. If you haven’t produced the desired result, you haven’t learned it yet.

Since January this year, I’ve been part of author Benjamin Hardy’s outstanding 52 Weeks of Momentum course/mentorship group. Thanks to being part of the group, I’ve read the most amazing combination of high-level books that I’ve read in any year, ever. My mind has linked together so many concepts between various books & I’ve had numerous breakthroughs that have utterly changed my life.

Benjamin Hardy’s newest, best-selling book is called Willpower Doesn’t Work. The book centers around the idea that rather than using willpower to try to change your life, you need to change your environment so that it causes you to naturally become the kind of person you need to be. Once you’re the person you need to BE, you can do what you need to DO so you can have what you want to HAVE.

But the biggest thing this course has done for me was totally reinvent my mindset in the best way possible. The books I’ve read throughout the course, plus Benjamin Hardy’s mentorship, the exceptional other members of the group, & the course content have taught me a whole new mindset, which I then applied to my life in brilliant ways. Brilliant, especially the ways I am finally understanding how to apply them to my life.

I Think I Have Finally Cured My Depression :: Ashlee Craft's World

Photo by Hazzel Silva on Unsplash

In the middle of June, I had a huge mindset shift. Everything slowly began to change. I can’t name a specific THING that changed it; the assemblage & combined influence of everything I was learning & experiencing & doing in all aspects of my life finally were mixing together in the perfect way.

And over the next two months, I made a lot of changes that shifted my mindset majorly. I started listening to podcasts & audiobooks in my car & at work whenever I could. I filled my mind with high-level stuff & surrounded myself with the environment & the people I needed to be around, to the best of my abilities. I committed to eating healthy & exercising. I committed to living a life that I loved. I started committing to caring for myself & my goals first, prioritizing them above the noise of the rest of the world. Because if I am not shining as bright as I can for myself, how am I supposed to be a light for others?

In the back of my mind, I guess I realized it. A lot of difficult things happened in the span of those two months, things that tested this new person I was becoming. But in the back of my mind, I still knew it was true.

I was slowly becoming less depressed. Slowly becoming deeply & unequivocally happy.

The sun rises slowly, & we still see darkness until we realize the sky has become light again. I didn’t usually realize how the depression was fading & happiness was becoming a more predominant emotion until I realized.

I Think I Have Finally Cured My Depression :: Ashlee Craft's World

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

It turns out, the environment I most needed to change was the environment inside me. And there I was, slowly & quietly chipping away at the darkness which had held me back for so long. Slowly building a better foundation, brick by brick.

Then the breakthrough happened. And the foundation was suddenly recognizable as a foundation.

I was listening to the audiobook version of the excellent book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza. It’s one of the books we’re reading for the 52 Weeks of Momentum course.

And I heard this phrase:

[…] train the body to be the mind in order to live a predicable future based on a memory of a known past.”

And he talks about how when something happens & you feel a certain way, your body remembers the way it feels, it keeps firing those neurons together until they wire together. If they fire & wire together for long enough, eventually the emotion from that singular incident can end up becoming your personality.

That’s when I had my breakthrough.

All or at least most of my depression throughout the past decade most likely stemmed from my first bout of it that I experienced when I was 14.

At 14, the feelings of depression were new & interesting & mysterious. I reveled in them, wanted to explore them because I’d never quite felt that way before. I felt a sense of connection with others, even fictional characters, who felt that way. So feeling depressed became a way of feeling connected to something bigger & more interesting than myself.

And because that was my mindset, whenever something happened, I’d feel like it was a relevant time to feel depressed. Something along the lines of, “If I am a depressed person, this would be a time that I should feel depressed so I will look for those feelings of depression in this situation until I find them.” So I replayed the feelings in my mind, felt depressed, & did it all over again.

I’m not saying none of my depression would have happened if it wouldn’t have experienced that first episode & found it so interesting. I think it’s likely I still would have experienced depression from time to time naturally due to fluctuations in brain chemistry. And I’m not saying what worked for me will necessarily help you feel better. But I’m sharing this here because I hope it helps someone. Because it helped me. And I want you to know it DOES get better.

I Think I Have Finally Cured My Depression :: Ashlee Craft's World

Photo by Asdrubal luna on Unsplash

This cycle of feeling depressed & finding it interesting began to grow on its own. Out of my control. Then it wasn’t so interesting anymore. Then it was something I had to struggle through. Something I had to fight off ferociously so that it would never succeed in its desperate efforts to push my head under the water & keep it there. Sometimes, it took everything I had to just to push it away one more time. It would retreat for a while, but hours or days or months later, there it would be again. It became darker & harder to control as it grew.

The depression became a big part of my personality. It became an addiction, in a way. I almost felt incomplete without it.

I tried feeling better. I used all the willpower I could muster up. Tried to force myself out of it. Pulled myself up by my bootstraps, time & time again. Sometimes I felt “cured”. But like I said, I was still the same person inside. Still a depressed person deep down who was trying to be happy. I still didn’t have any foundation in place to make the good feelings stick around.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve really been trying. I’ve been learning. And I’ve been taking action on what I learned. But it was just over the past few weeks that it finally all clicked.

I Think I Have Finally Cured My Depression :: Ashlee Craft's World

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

Admittedly, I was afraid to move on from depression. Terrified to let go of it actually. Because after having it for so long, I was terrified that if I moved on from the depressed feelings, I’d always feel like something was missing. That my art & my personality would be lame & one-note without it. That in the back of my mind, I would always be longing to feel those feelings again. Craving them.

But the quote from Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself not only showed me the cause of my often depression-based personality, but also why I was afraid of moving on from it.

A memory of the known past.

I was afraid to let myself be happy because I was so used to being depressed that a happy future was also an uncertain one. At least with my depression, I had its cold stale hand to hold, a familiarity I knew I could always return to. With depression, at least I knew what my future would feel like & how I would cope with it.

But once I realized both the cause of my depression & the reason it was terrifying to move away from it, it all became so flimsy, like a house of cards in the breeze.

And then all it became was something in my past. Not who I was anymore. Not who the future fated me to be.

I started being able to see myself as someone that a joyful, vibrant future was possible for, & I’ve never felt that so deeply before. I tear up a little bit as I write this, because five years ago, I never could have fathomed a future as full of possibility as the one I’m able to see now. Back then, it always seemed like all the future could hold was more darkness, more depression, & more emptiness. I didn’t know how I was going to deal with all of that, unrelenting, year after year. But now, I feel the deepest confidence & faith in myself that I not only will everything be okay, but I will too because I’ve become the kind of person now who will always find a way to thrive.

I am going to keep adding new tools to my toolbox. I will keep searching & seeking & exploring & finding new ones to add to it. Especially when it comes to something as important as mental health, it’s vital that you don’t become complacent. This is something I will always be tweaking & improving & discovering new things about. I recognize that being cured is still dependent on me building & maintaining the foundation I have built. But I know how.

Photo by Kevin Schmid on Unsplash

And I’m not saying that I will never feel down again. I assume that at some point, I will. It’s just that I will never let it become part of my personality EVER again.

Because now, I finally have a sign that I’m heading in the right direction.

I am filled with an expansive playfulness & enthusiasm towards life & towards the kind of future that I can not only build for myself, but use to light the way for others too.

I feel genuinely transformed. Instead of being world-wearied & fearful when I think of the future, I am filled with a deep, unrelenting confidence now. The confidence that whatever happens, I have the tools & know how to keep being the person who can handle it.

And I am exceptionally excited to see what comes next.

Would I Rather Be at Home or Be Traveling?

Would I Rather Be at Home or Be Traveling

In light of my recent vacation to Denver, Colorado (WHICH I AM GOING TO POST AN EPIC ARTICLE ABOUT IN THE NEAR FUTURE) I’ve considered this question.

Would I rather be at home, or would I rather be traveling?

Porapak Apichodilok

On one hand, traveling is totally AMAZING. You have the opportunity to see & so fantastic things & have wonderful, life-enriching experiences. You get to see & do things most of the people you know have never done or seen. You have a whole smorgasbord of new experiences & places & foods & people & environments at your fingertips.

But traveling can also be exhausting. Airport layovers. Connecting flights. CANCELLED FLIGHTS. Just the overall crazy busy action of cramming days’ worth of activities into a single day & trying to “get your money’s worth” & optimize every minute of your (short) vacation so you can see & do as much as you can in the time you have. Before you have to go back home.

Monica Silvestre
But HOME is also amazing. You have your comfortable familiar bed. Your beloved family & pets. Your cozy routine of drinking tea in the morning & going shopping & working on your art. You have the rooms you decorated with incredible care to make their vibes perfect, & the sweet pets you raised from babies, & the time to go about your day at your own pace. Everything is familiar & certain & comfortable. It’s easy being at home.

But home can also be bland & monotonous. It’s the same environment you’re always in. Most of the experiences you’ll have today at home are the same ones you had yesterday. It’s easy to fall into the trap of familiarity & allow every day to be basically the same.

Free-Photos / Pixabay

But traveling feels so good. It feels good to escape your comfort zone & throw yourself into an environment which is surprising & novel & filled with adventures to be had. The confidence & joy you gain from traveling is unmatched by almost anything at home.

Pixabay

But coming home feels so good too. It feels good to be safe, to be nurtured, to have a cozy den to retreat to. A place to support you as you become bigger & better versions of yourself. The comfort & joy you gain from being at home is unmatched by almost anything while traveling.

So this is my answer:

I love both. I love traveling just as much as I love being at home.

Both fulfill different needs of mine. Both are excellent in their own turns.

Travel informs home of fresh ideas & concepts & memories & experiences. That makes home more interesting. And home informs travel of a common thread of familiarity that runs through any destination, where you start to feel like you can make yourself at home anywhere.

And if you didn’t have home, travel would be overwhelming. And if you didn’t have travel, it wouldn’t feel so darn good to have a home to return to.

Both need each other, & you need both.

Together, travel & home are opposites that join together to make one well-rounded, exceptional life.

❤️

My 2018 Goal List

My 2018 Goal List :: A photo by Gareth Harper. unsplash.com/photos/yACpBcInUos
2017 was definitely an outstanding year. I went on my Epic Florida Road Trip. I rode on a plane for the first time (to go to Houston to see Queen in concert). I saw a lot of amazing bands in concert. l produced a lot of creative work & added to my business. I released my first app, & I published 11 books.
But 2018 is going to be THAT MUCH MORE AMAZING.
Because 2017 gave me the tools & the confidence I need to level up even more this year. For me, the theme of 2018 is: “DO DIFFICULT THINGS WELL”. I really want to challenge myself & grow as a person, so I specifically designed these goals to do just that.
Here’s what I have planned for 2018:
  • Become a self-made millionaire. This is my top goal because it will help a lot of my other goals happen. I’m going out there to get the good things that I deserve. I do this because I love myself, & I also love a good challenge.
  • Start eating healthy consistently & exercising daily. Over the past year, I have IMPROVED, but I’m still way behind where I’d like to be as far as healthy habits. I know I could do better. I end up only eating 1-2 servings of vegetables a day. This is due to my “addiction” to processed sugar & non-vegetable foods. I also walk a bit each day, but I can be quite sedentary at times & don’t exercise the recommended 30 minutes a day. Sometimes, I also eat too much sugar. But I want to eat healthier, I know it will help me feel my best & have the most energy, so I’m going to do this.
  • Live with passion every day. Like Tony Robbins talks about. I’m going to make 2018 my happiest year yet. Making sure I’m living with passion & taking time for self-care are habits that will help me do this.
  • Publish more books. This year’s book list includes: my Epic Florida Road Trip book. A photography album of artistic photos of the Tampa Bay area. A seven-zine series of photos I took on my road trip. The second zine in my Flowers series of photography zines. A zine of botanical garden photos. Several poetry books. My essay book, Not a Dime a Dozen. A Tarot card dictionary. Several more books for my Wonderful Wildlife & 50 Adorable Facts animal series. The second book in the Summer Hayes series. More issues of Assemblage.
  • Release my third album of music. I released my second album, “confusion is over”, in 2015. I’ve done some cover songs, but I have not released any more albums or singles since then.
  • Get a pet tortoise & pet crested geckos. I’m currently prepping for a red foot tortoise hatchling right now & I’m doing a ton of research. Tortoises are fascinating & so sweet. I’m really looking forward to adding one to my critter family. Sometime later in the year, I plan on getting some baby crested geckos too.
  • Create & release my first Udemy course. I’m working on a course RIGHT NOW that’s based on my 101 Ways to Love Yourself course. I still have a pretty long way to go on it, but it’s going to be an amazing, comprehensive course. It will have more than 100 videos, many worksheets, podcast versions of each episode, & much more.
  • Go to A LOT more amazing concerts & other awesome places/events. I have some of these activities planned already. I’m making sure I always have something to look forward to doing. I learned in the past year that adding to my “experience library” is something that adds immense value to my life.
  • Release at least two more apps for iOS devices. Last year, I released my “Adorable Fall Stickers” app for iOS devices, & I have a few more apps in the works.
  • Travel to a state I’ve never been to, travel somewhere else in Florida, & travel to another country. This was on the list last year. I did go somewhere else in Florida & to another state, both of which were goals on the previous list. I’m refreshing this goal because I want to do the same thing this year but with different places.
  • Become a certified ethical hacker. Ethical hacking has always fascinated me. If nothing more it will help me educate myself about web security for my own benefit. I bought the Udemy course, & now I just have to DO THE COURSE.
  • Go on another road trip. An RV would be amazing to help me achieve my road trip goals. I would love the feeling of being able to have a mini-home I can take anywhere.
  • Buy an RV. An RV would be amazing to help me achieve my road trip goals, & I would love the feeling of being able to have a mini-home I can take anywhere.
  • Become a life coach. I love helping & coaching other people achieve their goals & live their best lives. I realized that last year, so becoming a life coach is definitely going to be something I pursue in 2018.
  • Direct, produce, write, film, & act in a full-length indie film. This was on last year’s list & I didn’t do it. Which means I HAVE to do it this year. I love film, I love acting, & I think it would be super-awesome to actually make my own film. I’ve completed four short films, but I’m taking the bull by the horns this time & making a feature-length film.
  • Expand my network & make genuine friends. Everybody can benefit from this, & it’s something I definitely need to do. It’s also outside of my current comfort zone, so you know what that means? I have to do it to grow.
  • Get all the domains I have purchased but never made websites out of made into websites & making money for me. I currently own 10 or 11 domains, & I’m only using three of them. I’ve owned some of the domains for years & still haven’t made them public. This is embarrassing. They’re sitting around costing me money & no one can see them. So VERY SOON, all these sites are going to be up & running, & I’m going to post links to them on this blog when I do!
  • Become a fashion designer & start selling my first original clothing design. I have some great designs that I will release over the next few months. I’m so excited about seeing them when they’re done. I’ll be even more thrilled to be able to wear them myself, & being able to share them with others.
  • Walk a marathon. Last year, I walked a 5k. I need to challenge myself physically. I don’t enjoy running, but I did want a goal that was out of my (current) league, so I chose this. I know it will require a lot of training, but I’m ready to train. This will also help me achieve my goal of making 2018 my healthiest year yet.
  • Launch several products that I have in the works. Many of these are things I’ve wanted to do for forever. It’s time I made them something you can buy!
  • Complete all the online courses I have purchased. I bought them, & like my domains, they can’t benefit me until I use them.
  • Read 75 books. In 2016, I read almost no books. In 2017, I read 57 books. My goal for 2018 is 75 books. Another stretch goal, but I’m going to do my best! Besides, for a book-lover like me, the idea of reading 75 books & gaining all that knowledge makes me drool.
  • Interview more people for my blog. I love doing this, & I have a few people slated for this right now. It’s so much fun, I love the value I’m able to provide whomever I’m interviewing, & I always learn a ton.
  • Grow my online store. I have so many products, product ideas, & new designs that I can’t wait to show you!
  • Become more of a minimalist. I made progress here in the last year (it was on the 2017 list too) but I have a lot more progress to make. To echo what I said in my 2017 blurb about it,

    “This means excluding things – physical things, mental things, wasted time, unhappiness – to make more room for the things that really do feel good. I’m not trying to have as few things as possible, but as many things that make me happy with as few unnecessary things as possible. I really like this quote from this article I was reading earlier, titled Like Henry David Thoreau, but with Wi-Fi. ‘Everything in my life become my favorite thing.’ I want to live my life like that. “

  • Become a contributor to the Entrepreneur Magazine website. They’re one of my favorite websites. It would be an honor to be considered “good enough” to be a contributor. This will require me to improve & hone my writing skills, so it’s a good challenge.
  • Partner up with some of my favorite brands & companies in a way which benefits us both. With these new products & new ideas that I will launch in 2018, I’m going to add a LOT of value to the brands I partner up with.
You can stay updated on these projects & follow me on my favorite platforms with these links:

2017 In Review: I’m On My Way

2017 in Review: I'm On My Way

At the beginning, I was terrified. Stressed more than anything, but still terrified. The world around me was closing in, claustrophobic. There was no space, no time, no energy to breathe. “If I can just get through this…” I kept telling myself. I made myself trudge there every day even when I didn’t want to. I had to. I kept counting off the days until I would be free again. I felt like breaking down was as imminent as a heartbeat.

 

The dams were open. I had just come out of the whirlpool with the new knowledge that what I had been seeking HAD NOT BEEN THERE. I had searched for it, implored that it show up, talked to them, tried to open up, felt at home, lost it, had to remain there. For years & years, the thing that haunted me had been my own deep isolation, & through trying to find that connection I learned it had never been what I’d been looking for. I finally had the experience, but it was worth much less than the price of admission.

 

I watched as people around me changed. I drew back, quiet, the recluse in the hall. I watched them branch out & make new connections. Their connections made me jealous, sad, outcast at first. “WHY NOT ME?” I cried to the broken windowpanes. But through the months & the journey, I realized I liked solitude & connection, but only if connection was genuine, & if it was authentically valuable to me. I would hate to have friends like she has. What a change from before, when even the most deadbeat of friends would have been welcomed with open arms!

 

But I connected with things differently. I saw them differently, felt them differently. I felt the visceral satisfaction in the lighting when it was just the right way. In the photographs I saw. In the music that played over crackling speakers on vinyl. In the way it smelled in the car when the sky was just clearing from rain & that song came on the radio & I plugged into beautiful, indescribable things. I still embraced the Alien I had discovered last December, but it stopped being so self-loathing, & I learned to love it & trust it.

 

I realized I didn’t have to be like anybody else.

 

& despite my terror that 2017 was going to be bland & meaningless, mixed with my hope that it would be the year things finally began, I started finding my way.

 

I stopped doubting the way I felt about the inherent things inside me, feelings I’d carried since birth. I stopped putting on their brown-lensed goggles that made the world look dark & muddy & hopeless. My real eyes saw colors other people could not understand, & different things had meaning to me than what they found valuable. I got my sustenance from the images inside & outside of my mind, & from the specific feelings those images evoked. I stopped looking at her life like I was falling behind, like I was the late-bloomer, like there was something wrong with me. Because perhaps I was, had been blooming, but my flowers were much different than hers.

 

I let the weird, wonderful authenticity of my real self finally show through. I loved the things I loved with childlike abandon. I stopped apologizing so much for the things I should never have apologized for in the first place. I opened up to the things worth letting into my life, & finally said no to the things that stopped serving me, or never had in the first place. I stopped feeling so guilty about doing what I needed to do, especially when I saw people weren’t as disappointed by my lack of participation as I’d always thought they would be. I learned that happiness was my choice alone, & that it was separate from my circumstances.

 

Most of all, I opened up & let the Universe change me, I let it show me beauty, I let it show me awe, I let it show me pure joy. & I let myself feel those things, finally, deeply, lovingly. The Universe always had my back. It was always sitting there, hidden in the back row but cheering the loudest of all. It was always rooting for me even when I was afraid that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing. Just when I thought all the lights had gone out, the Universe always showed up holding candles, slipping a crumpled piece of paper into my hand which contained a clue for what I should do next.

 

I was never alone in this.

 

& when I set out on adventures that months before I never could have began to fathom, I found myself. I found myself on the pier at sunset. I found myself in the deep night of the Everglades. I found myself in the ocean swimming with the loose shark. I found myself in the photo of pure joy I saw in my own face as I reached out to touch the animals. I found myself in the perseverance it took to push past my comfort zone & repeatedly triumph. I found myself in drive along the bridge trying to get to where I would sleep, & in the arms of beaches, quiet Atlantic waves lapping my feet at sunset. I found myself in hotel rooms, sleeping in cars, hiking the trails; in the explorations, the tribulations, the challenges, the pain, the fear, the uncertainty, the moments of sacred profoundness. I found myself in a room of people who believed they deserved better, & in the seats of concert halls as familiar music played. I found myself on the airplane, in the music I heard there, in the jazz night in the city, in the gardens, in my own courage of getting myself there, somewhere new, & back home safe. & I found myself on the hill watching the headlights go by on the highway at night, under the full moon while people skipped in time with pure, alive radiance contained in music.

 

2017 in Review: I'm On My Way

 

& I finally learned to be happy. Alone on that dark sacred highway at night, as I drove under the warm yellow streetlights illuminating the smooth dark highway, with the jazz playing deep & quiet & ineffable in the background. & the feeling bubbled up inside me, it frightened me because it was so strong & so sudden, the pure vibrating eternal radiance of the sincerest relieved joy. In that moment I learned a new emotion; spontaneous laughter sung out from my lungs in euphoria; I could not help but laugh at how beautiful everything around me was. I found myself on that drive home on the pitch-dark highway as I trusted in the golden radiance & recorded the exact color of moonlight on my arm. The moon shone down around me on the sacred fields & the tiny farmhouse & the sleeping cattle, quiet & smiling & deeply nurturing in the pale blue sacred light.

 

2017 ended up being the year of OPPORTUNITIES. Where I learned how to see opportunities where I only saw dust before; to have the courage to pursue them when I found them; to open myself up to the vulnerable faith that everything really was going to be okay & let the magic change me.

 

At the end of 2016, I summarized the year with the phrase,

 

“I did my best.”

 

But 2017 was bookended by a much more optimistic phrase:

 

“I am on my way.”

 

Because I truly feel like now, I am.

 

2018, I know you’re going to be amazing. The seeds I have sown in 2017 are going to blossom into things that will nurture me. They will blossom into big beautiful trees & the brightest neon flowers. Now I know how to make, to design, to build, to manifest an amazing year, & now I know who I am & who I’m going to be, I know that all good things are available to me.

 

& so 2018, I say this deep & from the bottom of my heart:

 

I trust you.

Why I Unsubscribed From the Groupon Email Newsletter: An Open Letter

Groupon Newsletter Image

I signed up for Groupon a little before Thanksgiving. I knew people who got really good deals on it so I went to check it out, & I was impressed. They had some really, really good deals on things. I bought several Christmas presents from them. Even more interesting to me than the “Groupon Goods” was that Groupon sold were tickets/admissions to real-life experiences in my area. I found some amazing things I never would have thought to look up, & at great prices!

I love Groupon. I still do. I think it’s a great tool for finding cool experiences you can have in your area or somewhere you’re traveling, & getting a great deal on those experiences. It’s got some pretty nice discounts on things you might want to buy yourself or someone else for a gift. I love that it makes me aware of things I might want to do & experiences I might want to have.

BUT SERIOUSLY.

STOP EMAILING ME SO OFTEN.

I wouldn’t mind getting a Groupon newsletter. Getting deals sent to your inbox, making you aware of deals they have, & reminding me of Groupon’s existence are all very good things that I have no problem with.

But getting what seemed like 3+ emails EVERY SINGLE DAY from Groupon (or anyone) is just way too much noise. Even after Black Friday was done, they just wouldn’t stop emailing me. I get a lot of newsletters, & I don’t have time to read most of them. I don’t like being emailed constantly. I don’t like subscribing to a newsletter where as soon as an email arrives, it feels like a burden to read or something to frantically keep up with. If it starts feeling that way, there’s a 99% chance I’ll either delete all the emails as soon as they arrive or unsubscribe entirely.

There is a really easy solution to this. One that allows the brand to increase the amount I’ll spend with them, stop bothering me with emails, AND keep me as an email subscriber.

I had the same problem with Zulily a year or so ago. Zulily, the clothing-&-gift deal website, is kind of like Groupon — great deals, limited-time-offers, cool things to buy. But they also shared a penchant for sending me way too many emails. Minimum of once a day, there would be an email from Zulily. I started deleting the emails without even looking at them.

I was about to unsubscribe completely.

But Zulily had a nice little feature that I discovered on my way to unsubscribe.

You could choose how often Zulily emailed you. Once a day, once a week, or never. They also have a “Snooze” feature where you can keep your current settings but not receive any emails from them for 30 days.

Some email newsletters just piss you off because they send an obnoxious amount of emails & give you nothing in return. With those, you just want the emails to stop. With a newsletter like Zulily (or Groupon) that sends you good stuff but just emails too often, you’re willing to negotiate. You WANT to stay subscribed, you just don’t want constant emails.

I picked “Once a Week”, & Zulily has never annoyed me again. I have purchased way more stuff from them AFTER decreasing the frequency of emails than I would have if they kept emailing me every day, because then I would have unsubscribed completely & not thought about them very often.

When I started getting annoyed at how often Groupon emailed me, I clicked on the link at the bottom of the screen that said “change frequency of emails”. I thought, “Awesome, I can fix this like I did with Zulily!” I was excited & relieved. But to my disappointment, the only choices you had were to either unsubscribe completely, change the region the deals were for, or unsubscribe from individual types of newsletters, like Groupon Goods, Groupon Getaways, etc.

No option to change how many times PER WEEK I got an email. For any newsletter that sends out “daily deals”, I think this being able to opt out of just those & have control over the frequency of emails is essential.

With no other choice, I did what I had to do.

I unsubscribed from the Groupon newsletter.

I think a lot of brands are afraid that if you don’t get emails from them at least once a day that you’ll forget about them. If this is the reason these brands don’t offer an option to reduce how often you get an email, this doesn’t make any sense to me. Annoying me by constantly telling me about how many sales you have makes me LESS LIKELY to read ANY of the emails because I find it overwhelming, even if the content is good. I’m only going to spend my money when I WANT to spend my money.

I don’t like feeling like when a brand is pressuring me into impulse buying stuff I don’t want or need, rather than making meaningful purchases when I feel like it & developing a mutually respectful relationship with the brand.

If I unsubscribe, I have to manually go to the website & look for deals if I want to buy from them. I’m not going to do that, say, once a week, so I’d be seeing their stuff a bare minimum of 4X more if they gave me the option of only receiving an email weekly vs me unsubscribing altogether. Sure, I might miss some deals that I might have been interested in, but I’ll still buy way more stuff from the brand because I’ll still be subscribed to their newsletter.

Groupon, if you’re reading this, I will gladly re-subscribe to your newsletter once you offer an option to only be emailed weekly. I miss seeing what you have to offer!

BUT:

Marketing should be more like a mutually-beneficial conversation & less like someone shoving an ad in your face. I know you’re better than that, & I think the payoff you’ll get from giving your customers more email options will be more than worth any effort you would put into implementing this.

17 Better Things to Spend Your Money on Than Kylie Jenner’s New $360 Silver Series Makeup Brushes

 Things to throw your dough at that might give you more value for what you spend.

I just read an article about how Kylie Jenner recently came out with a set of makeup brushes in her Silver Series line. If you haven’t heard yet, they cost $360 for a set of 16 synthetic brushes. Do you know a ton about makeup & understand the difference between different makeup brushes? Do you still believe that the brushes are a great price for what you’re getting? By all means, buy them then. I have nothing against the brush set, except that I personally think it should be less expensive.

The thing is, I want you to buy what’s going to make you GENUINELY HAPPY. Not just spend your money on something you think you’re supposed to want or like.

These brushes might be the perfect thing for you.

But this article is for the people who aren’t totally on board with buying the brush set but still feel like buying SOMETHING. The alternatives on this list are equally great alternatives for anything else you’re on the fence about buying. Especially if what you’re debating buying is something else that’s hyped, new, popular, & probably overpriced, especially for everyday people who don’t need pro-quality tools for whatever they do.

I want you to spend your money on things that are going to add real VALUE to your life, however you define that value. Because it’s not really the price that matters as much as whether the value you’ll personally get from buying something is equal to or higher than the price you’re going to pay for it. I just don’t want to feel pressured into buying something just because it’s “cool” or because a celebrity is involved with it.

So if you’re debating about whether to buy the brushes (or other expensive, popular item), here are 17 way better things you can use that money for that will give you back so much personal value in return for what you’ll spend on them.

  1. Invest In Yourself. This is my absolute #1 use for this money. NO OTHER INVESTMENT will probably give you as good of an ROI (return on investment) than investing in yourself. Websites like Udemy offer courses in pretty much EVERYTHING you could ever want a course in, & they always have courses going on sale for $10 — $20 or so, which means you could get a LOT of courses for your $360. On Udemy, you can take classes in everything from business knowledge, marketing, & finances, to playing guitar, healing people with crystals, & becoming a life coach. SO MUCH POSSIBILITY HERE. You could also use some of the money to take a IRL class, buy books/ebooks, or take a college class. Investing in yourself will help you become a better person, learn the skills you always wanted to have, start your own business, increase your knowledge, get a higher paying job, or develop a new hobby (which could turn profitable). All of those can potentially increase your happiness so much, which makes investing in yourself an awesome thing to spend your money on.
  2. Pay Off Some Debt. From a financial standpoint, paying off your debt is one type of investing that ABSOLUTELY will have a ROI. The stock market can crash, but money spent paying down your debt will always benefit you. Most money you’ve borrowed in one way or another has interest you pay on it (or will pay on it if you don’t pay it off before the interest-free time is over). So by paying down your debt, you’re pretty much putting money in your pocket by not handing it casually over to the bank each month via paying unnecessary interest. Spend your money here, & you could possibly increase your credit score, pay off a loan sooner (so you don’t have to keep putting money towards it each month), avoid unnecessary interest, avoid late fees, or if nothing more, increase your net worth & get closer to achieving financial freedom.
  3. Put the Money in Savings for Your Emergency Fund. Do you have an emergency fund? GOBankingRates says that 34% of American adults don’t have one at all. Now is a great time to start, even if you don’t have an emergency fund. Even putting $5 in savings is better than having nothing in your emergency fund. I know that technically, you’re supposed to have a few months’ worth of living expenses, but starting is so much more important than perfection. For me personally, even having a few hundred dollars in my emergency fund feels really good, because it gives me the confidence that if something big comes up & I need to pay for it, that I will be able to without having to worry about it. Being able to have certainty in your future might be more valuable to you than owning new makeup brushes.
  4. Put the Money in Savings to Buy Something Big. If you want to buy your dream house, car, RV, Jacuzzi, or something else expensive but valuable to you, this is the perfect time to put this money in savings so you can pay the down payment on one of those things. Sure, having nice makeup brushes might feel good, but how amazing would it feel to be able to confidently go shopping for one of the above & more easily be able to pay the down payment? Then you’d own your own house, or have a reliable car you didn’t have to worry about, or be able to travel the country in your RV, or be able to chill in your Jacuzzi sipping your favorite milkshake. The options are endless!
  5. Adopt a Pet. If you’re really ready for a pet & you’ve done all your research, the love & enjoyment you get back from owning a pet will be unmatched. IMO, nothing feels better than having an awesome animal to care for, to nurture, & to love. BEST FEELING EVER. My pets are my world. If you’re ready for a pet & know exactly what you’re getting into & how to care for it, this would be an awesome use for the money. $360 is enough to get a lot of types of pets & still have some left over for supplies, vet care, etc.
  6. Donate it to Charity. Think about how amazing it would feel to be able to write a check for $360 to your favorite charity! So many people/animals could be helped with $360. Your money could be used to feed the homeless, build schools for kids in another country, assist battered women, rescue abused animals, or save the rain forest. Going to sleep at night knowing you made an impact on the quality of life of another living thing is so worth it.
  7. Invest in the Stock Market. First off, DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A FINANCIAL ADVISER (or do I play one on TV), so please do your research or talk to a real financial professional before doing this. But there’s no reason to be scared of the stock market. I know us millennials grew up during the recession & some of us are nervous about the stock market for this reason, but if you utilize it right, can be a good place to put some of your money. Unlike most regular savings accounts (unless you have a high-yield savings account), if you invest correctly the stock market can grow your money beyond the rate of inflation. But do your research or talk to someone who is qualified to work with you on this if you want to pursue it. There are lots of brokerage websites you can sign up with & begin investing if knowledge-wise you’re ready to do this, such as Ally Invest, which I like because there are low fees & no minimum investment needed to fund your account.
  8. Use the Money to Start Your Side Hustle. In the back (or front) of your mind, maybe you have a business idea you’ve been thinking about for a while. DO IT NOW! There’s literally never been a better time in history to start a business, thanks to the Internet & the infinite number of people you can reach through technology. Maybe you watch your favorite YouTubers & wish you had a good camera you could use to make vlogs too. Maybe you love nothing more than making a perfectly-decorated cupcake & thought about starting a catering business. Maybe you want to learn how to be a programmer so you can get a better paying job or make apps everyone will use. Maybe you’ve started doing research on starting your own business but you haven’t been able to do it yet. Use this $360 to start your side hustle. The extra income you could make from it (as well as the possibility of working for yourself one day, if that’s what you want) might be way more valuable to you than buying new makeup brushes.
  9. Buy Concert Tickets. Over the past year, I’ve gone to a lot of amazing concerts. EVERY SINGLE CONCERT I’ve ever gone to has been more than worth what I paid for the tickets, regardless of how much that was. Getting to see your favorite musicians in concert & hear them playing it in real life & know that YOU ARE IN THE SAME ROOM AS THEM breathing the same air & they are really REAL & everything is such a thrilling feeling. Going to a concert lets you experience the music in a way that makes YouTube pale in comparison, especially when the crowd starts singing along & you realize this big amazing thing that you’re part of.
  10. Get Your Car Fixed. Or whatever other item has been broken for too long or needs some work done but you keep putting it off because it’s expensive. You know what I’m talking about. Stop procrastinating. Get your oil changed. Fix that squeaky brake. Get that annoying cavity looked at. Get your driveway pressure washed. There is probably something kind-of-broken-but-not-broken-enough-you-have-to-fix-it that you should just FIX before it actually causes a problem. Then you won’t have to worry about it anymore. It will be done, & that will feel good.
  11. Travel. Traveling, like concert tickets, is something else I’ve always found gives you WAY more value out of it than the money you put into it. $360 won’t necessarily cover a lot of travel expenses (unless you’re going somewhere close by or only staying one night). But there are some amazing hotel + flight packages, so this money might get you something like that depending on where you go. You could also go camping or take a weekend enjoying a “staycation” & checking out all the awesome attractions in your area. If you’ve always wanted to go on a cruise or travel to another country, put this money aside & you’ll be way closer to being able to afford the trip of your dreams. Makeup brushes < watching a stunning sunset in a place you’ve never been before after spending an amazing day doing things you’ve never done before? Like they say in the MasterCard commercials, “Priceless.”
  12. Invest in Your Hobby. Whether you love stamp collecting, scrapbooking, belly dancing, playing video games, crocheting, or cooking, spending this money on your hobby could be a great use for it. Buy those collectibles you’ve had your eye on for forever, get yourself a new video game, or take a class up upgrade your skills & become even better at your hobby. And, if your hobby is makeup, you might enjoy buying a lot of really nice but less expensive brushes for the same price, or get the higher-quality versions of some other types of makeup you’ve been wanting to try. You could also buy yourself a good quantity of less expensive makeup, giving yourself more makeup variety for your money & more possibilities for your look.
  13. Upgrade Something You Use Every Day. Does your laptop piss your off daily because it’s so slow? Do you wish you had a better phone? Is your fridge so old that you are surprised it’s still running? Is your mattress so uncomfortable you spend most of your night rolling over & trying to get comfortable? Does your bath towel rip in half a little more every time you shower? (mine just did). Is your bike so rusty that you could find your way back home by retracing the rust flakes? Upgrading something you use all the time might be perfect for you. Even if the $360 doesn’t cover the full price of upgrading this item (like a fridge, for example), it should cover a decent chunk of it, & you’ll be that much closer to making your life easier thanks to your new upgraded gadget.
  14. Spend the Money On Your Business. If you already have a business, think about how much you could improve it for $360! You could use it to buy the WordPress plugin you really need to pursue that awesome idea you had, pay for Shopify for a year so you can have your own eCommerce site, boost your top-performing Facebook posts, hire someone to revamp your website, improve your logo, buy inventory of a new product you’re interested in selling, purchase a better tool or service to level-up what you’re able to put out, or increase your business knowledge.
  15. Do a Random Act of Kindness. Pay for the groceries the person behind you is buying. Give your waiter or waitress a really good tip. Pay for the person’s drink in line behind you at your favorite coffee shop. Buy a warm meal to give to a homeless person. Buy pet food & donate it to an animal shelter. Get the money broken down into $20 bills & hand them out to people. Buy something nice for someone you love. However you choose to spend it, doing something nice for others will feel SO AMAZING.
  16. Invest in Your Appearance. You can still use the money you were going to spend on makeup brushes to improve your appearance without buying the makeup brushes. In fact, you might even be able to do things that help you feel & become more like your best version of yourself for the same or less money. You could color your hair the bright-neon-fantasy color of your dreams, put the money towards a set of Invisalign braces, buy yourself some amazing new clothes, or get a facial, manicure, or pedicure. You’ll not only be looking & feeling good, but you’ll also probably get more value for the money you spend on it.
  17. Invest in Your Health. Investing in your health, like investing in yourself, is a fantastic way to spend your money. As long as you make consistent-as-possible use of the health things you throw your dough at, the value you’ll get from this will only compound. There are SO MANY things you could use this money for to improve your health. You could join a gym, take dance lessons, sign up for multiple 5ks or marathons, buy some exercise equipment for your home (like a new set of weights or a trampoline), hire a personal trainer, get the newest fitness wearable, or buy some really nice running shoes & new exercise clothes. You could also invest the $360 in buying more organic vegetables or grass-fed meat throughout the year, going to the chiropractor, learning how to eat better, or taking yoga classes. Anything health-related you spend it on will be an excellent investment not only in your health, & in your future.

If you still think Kylie Jenner’s new Silver Series brushes are a great price, they must be something you know will really add value to your life. Buy them & feel good about the fact that you realized they’re something you really want that you know will matter to you.

But if you’re now really hyped up & excited about how great putting that money towards your business would feel, or helping others, or upgrading something you use everyday, do that instead. You are the only one who can define “valuable” for yourself. The best thing is, you can divide the money up between multiple things on the list above if you want. There’s no reason you have to pick just one. Maybe you spend $100 adopting a cat from the shelter, & then you spend $100 on marketing your business & put the other $160 in your savings account. Whatever makes the most sense to you, go get those things.

Go pursue what’s going to add the maximum amount of value to your life.

DISCLAIMER:: I AM NOT A FINANCIAL ADVISER, so please talk to an actual financial adviser if you have any questions/concerns about anything on this list. Thank you!

I’m Going to Become a Millionaire in 2018

Just one favor from you: hold me accountable.

I’m going to become a millionaire in 2018.

That’s my big goal for the upcoming year.

I don’t know how yet, but I have some exciting ideas. But the how is not the important thing just yet.

The important thing is that I’ve decided.

Declaring this goal publicly is equally important. Being publicly held accountable for ACHIEVING the goal you set is supposed to be really helpful. Public accountability makes things happen.

So I need your help, just one tiny favor from you:

HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE.

That way if I wimp out & DON’T do this, I’ll know that other people were counting on me to hustle & make my goals happen. I’ll feel embarrassed that I didn’t do what I said I was going to do. I’ll be disappointed. I hate disappointing myself, but when it’s only you you’re answering to, it’s easy to say, “Well, I guess it just wasn’t the right time yet.” When really, you could have done it if you had a reason to.

If you knew you HAD to. If you burnt all your boats & went for it.

By saying this to you, I’m making it so I HAVE to do this.

Not that I don’t have very compelling personal reasons “why” even without anyone knowing about this. I do know my “why”. My “why” is because being a millionaire would allow me to live my best life, provide for my family beyond their wildest dreams, help elevate & empower & promote other artists/writers/musicians/awesome people, & to do my part to take care of the world. They deserve me living my best life. I deserve me living my best life. I feel like achieving that level of success so I can do those things is my duty. Because I can’t lift up other people as much as I’d like to if I’m in the pit too.

IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE ALIVE, YOU MIGHT AS WELL TRY TO BE ALL YOU CAN.

I know I deserve to live my best life, because I’ve always, ever since I was a kid, known I was destined to. I’ve definitely had my dark times & doubts, but they never were able to kill that underlying thread, the message deeply entwined in who I am that one day, I AM going to make it big.

When things have been dark, that knowledge that I’m meant for something greater — the greatest happiness, the greatest success, recognition, wealth, & intentional & good-feeling fame — is what’s allowed me to rise back into the light. I have always been heading towards these things.

I hold myself accountable to a very high level. But even I sometimes wimp out & play small & think, “maybe I don’t deserve this”. Or I stop when I don’t know how to move forward & let myself get distracted by other things. Or I’m afraid of succeeding. Afraid I won’t like it once I get there. & then I don’t make it happen. I don’t try push enough. Then at the end of the year, I look back with some disappointment that I didn’t do what I TOLD MYSELF I was going to do.

& because I’m getting very tired of falling back on playing small, on not LETTING myself have the money & the success & the HAPPINESS that feel far away even though I know they’re totally within my reach, I’m trying something new this year.

That’s why I need your help.

I just read the amazing “ What Happens When You Take Full Responsibility For Your Life” article here on Medium from one of my favorite writers, Benjamin P. Hardy. The article is about taking radical responsibility for your life & actually COMMITTING to making your dreams happen. Unconditionally & unquestionably RESOLVING to achieve your goals. I highly recommend you read it if you want to make 2018 your best year EVER.

In his article, he challenged the reader to make a big decision & then make sure everyone else knows about your decision so they can hold you accountable. The reason it encourages success is because people like being seen as consistent with what others believe they are. You like seeing YOURSELF as being consistent with what you believe you are. This is one way you “burn your boats”.

Your mind will almost literally move mountains to keep up with what it believes its standards are.

This is why people who don’t believe they deserve something will go to great lengths to sabotage any sort of success. They can’t believe they deserve it, so they don’t let themselves have it. Even if having it would be way easier than resisting it.

This is also why people who believe in their own success will overcome even the most crushing of setbacks & achieve outstanding things. People can do miraculous things when they really believe they can do something.

People also don’t like letting other people down, because disappointing others & not living up to their expectations doesn’t feel good. Especially if they expect something great from you & if they genuinely want something for you which is in your actual best interest.

So, if I’m not a millionaire by the end of 2018, I’m going to feel disappointed because I didn’t do what I said I was going to do. I’m not going to feel like I was consistent with what was expected of me. With what I TOLD YOU I was going to do.

But I don’t think I’ll be disappointed. I believe this IS possible for me. Even if I can’t see exactly how yet. But I do have a lot of options, a lot of ways it could pan out.

Sure, it’s an ambitious goal. It’s by far my most ambitious yearly goal yet.

But I’m no stranger to making big goals. At the beginning of this year, I made some pretty big plans about traveling by myself for the first time, & they weren’t even very specific goals. ALSO, a lot of the goals I set at the beginning of the year were NOT things I actually expected I would accomplish this year. I made them with good intentions, but I also put them on there like, “Well, I hope this happens this year (but deep down inside it’s probably not going to)”.

& I still made them happen. Because somewhere along the line, I started genuinely believing they WERE possible.

That’s how 2017 ended up being the most freaking amazing year of my life. I went on an epic road trip around Florida by myself (my first trip away from home), traveled from Tampa to Houston to see Queen (one of my all-time favorite bands) in concert, saw a lot of my other favorite bands in concert, ran my first 5K, published numerous books, acted in a play, started investing in the stock market even though I knew nothing about it when I started, grew my online business, started a podcast, bought my absolute DREAM guitar (Fender Telecaster Thinline 72′ Series), & started my own weekly show on YouTube. I also really figured out what I wanted & who I wanted to be.

An amazing freaking year. & yet at the beginning of the year I assumed the year would be cool but also kind of lame, & that I wouldn’t really move forward much. That it would be just like every other year before it.

But I was wrong. I got out there & made shit happen.

& I learned who I want to become in 2018. What I want. Another piece of the map showing me the way to my best life. The best life that I am actively creating for myself.

It’s time I took radical responsibility for my life. It’s time I stopped playing small & pretending I can’t have or don’t deserve the things that make me light up.

So I’m sending my declaration out there loud & clear. I’m ready. Let’s make this happen.

By the end of 2018, I will be a millionaire. & it’s going to feel really good, in all aspects.

So, will you help me?

Will you hold me accountable?

& I’ll hold you accountable too. Let me know in the comments what you’re going to create for yourself in 2018.

We’ll watch those boats burn together. Then, with no more excuses stopping us from becoming our best selves, we’ll watch 2018 become the most amazing year of our lives yet.

 —

Thank you so much for reading this! If you could click on the APPLAUSE button on the left, that would be fantastic! Hope you have a really great day.

23: A MANIFESTO

Girl With Neon

  1. I am much better-equipped to handle life now than I was a year ago. I remind myself of all the ways I am different now, & how this year, I think I can make it.
  2. A year ago I was terrified to even be in the play. I desperately wanted to break out but I was also desperately scared to. I kept deliberating over whether I should or shouldn’t. The whole process terrified me. Now look at me. Going on road trips around the entire state of Florida all by myself. Traveling around the country to go to meaningful concerts. Taking actual strides – big, massive actions – towards those goals I have so desperately loved.
  3. When the Universe speaks to you, you should listen.
  4. I refuse to let others make me feel small. For too long I have shrunk in their presence, packaging myself for them as something easily understood & easily pigeonholed. For much too long I have let them make me feel like I am inferior, in a variety of ways. But I am not easily packaged up, not easily defined, not easily categorized or classified or described. The world wants me to be just like them. THEY want me to be just like them. Therefore, my greatest rebellion is to be  authentically myself & to reinvent myself continually.
  5. “The strong give up & move on, while the weak, the weak give up & stay…”
  6. What do they have that you don’t have? What separates the successful from the unsuccessful? You are made of the same stuff as they are; you have the potential to stand beside them as their equal, just as they did when they were starting to stand next to their heroes as equals. Run to it. You have just as much right to be there as they do. You have just as much right to be there as they do.
  7. Theme of this year :: make life my playground, & love every minute of it. Create that which I know is mine. It is mine.
  8. The sublime moment when you were driving home in the gorgeous afternoon with the perfect lighting & that song was playing. You had never heard it before, but it struck you as being the most beautiful song you had ever heard. When you heard it on the stage, you knew it was.
  9. You listened to the same album three times in the same week. Twice in the same day (funny of him to mention that song). Each time, it became more beautiful. This is where it’s at. You whispered the very first time, & you were right.
  10. “I try my best to be just like I am, but everybody wants you to be just like them.”It doesn’t matter what they think of me. I do not have to answer to them. A number of them will never understand me, & this is something wear proudly every day. I am glad that I am not like them. I am glad that I am not so simplistic & easily understood that they are able to falsely believe I am the same as they are. Alien. Different. Beautiful & strange. Alive. I am completely myself. I will know when I have found my people, because they will understand me without trying to categorize me.
  11. MASSIVE ACTION.
  12. I am the same age now as you were when you first started. This is incredibly inspiring.
  13. I think of all the things that I am creating for myself. All that I have accomplished in a year & all that I will accomplish. How I not only survived, but thrived. Even when I could have I did not break down & I did not give up. How I fought, tooth & nail, for what was mine. Even when it was unpleasant. I did it. All the projects I am working on are exciting to me. The books I have a deep need to write. I am going to be on that show. The music that flows from me. The art that I see in my mind. Training for that race, & the things I will learn there. Investing, in all aspects. Branching out & connecting with people instead of continuing to hide. Finally getting my shit together. All the places I will go. I know now I have the power to make all of this happen for myself. I am determined as hell, & I will make this happen.
  14. I am wealthier now than those who try to bring me down will ever be.
  15. It didn’t have as much value to me as everyone told me it was going to have. This wasn’t to say it lacked value – the value remained in knowing, & in being able to put a name to experiences. It also contained value in the simple subtraction of being able to tell the difference between the things I really liked & wanted, & the things I felt like I was supposed to enjoy but found unnecessary. The value was in knowing myself a little more.
  16. the difference between what I want to do & should be doing / weekends, weekends spent playing / the breeze & sunlight reminded me of when I was a child / I remembered lying under the umbrella on the deck, recording my own radio show with a tape recorder / it was an illusion, the way they told me being grown up had to hurt / they told me happiness was all a scam / all around me I saw adults falling into the depths of the rat race, the rat race they’d created, thought it was the way it had to be / but they were just trying to sell escapes & they were jealous of your dreams / the sign on the wall read happiness was a journey, happiness is an adventure / I thought about how the magic had been missing for quite some time / I needed to carve out a safe space for it to live & make sure I cherished it & welcomed it / whatever it takes, I’ll keep that magic aliveStop Waiting for the Other Shoe to DropThere is No Other Shoe
  17. STOP WAITING FOR THE OTHER SHOE TO DROP. THERE IS NO OTHER SHOE.
  18. The first time, as they were leaving, I whispered into the deep encompassing warm noise, “thank you, thank you, thank you.” I thanked them specifically. I thanked them for what they had given me. I thanked them for being there. A few days later, I knew I had to go there, if only to thank them. To thank them for helping me through one of the toughest periods of my life. Their art saved me, & it was only right that I had the chance to thank them. To show them I am no longer what I was. To love them, & to feel the love. That type of gratitude can be life-changing. Thank you thank you thank you. I made this happen by myself, for myself.
  19. The real value of it wasn’t even in doing it, but rather in the type of person I would become by doing it. In knowing beyond any shadow of doubt that I am capable.
  20. The things that stress out other people will energize me. Being busy energizes me. Working on my art energizes me. Everything I do energizes me.
  21. Without speaking about it, without having to, I was quietly moving myself towards the sunlight & freedom that belonged to me. The Magician. Strength. 
  22. I think about how good it will feel when I am there. We will be playing music together & I will know then completely free of doubt that I am exactly where I am meant to be. It will feel so damn good. It will be one of the best things I have ever done in my entire life.
  23. What you see here is what contains an infinity of multitudes. It contains all the art, all the ideas, all the energy, all the love. I am made of stardust. I love you so much. I have never been more proud of who I have become than I am right now. You are doing amazingly. You have come such a long way. I cannot even begin to describe my absolute love for you. I love you I love you I love you.
  24. I found the magazines in the closet. I hadn’t gotten rid of them like I had intended to, three years ago. I laughed. It felt like coming home. They were still there. This was the first time in five years that I was finally obsessed with the music again. The knowledge & love that I thought I had lost was still there. I saw things & the names of them popped back into my head & I suddenly knew them again. I finally had something to do again. A mission. A dream. No longer dormant. This time it was for real. It had always been my favorite. It wasn’t something I suddenly developed a longing for even though I hadn’t known if it a month previously. I had always loved it, it had always been a part of me. I reveled in it. It was real, it was transformative, & it was mine. It felt like coming home.
  25. “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better.” “Be obsessed or be average”. 
  26. On the road I found myself quietly in between the nurturing trees & the radiant city streets at night. Lights on the water. The immensely beautiful coral reef ocean floating quietly. I could see for miles. I touched what had come before me & what was yet to come. When I had to fight for the only thing I had. I have myself & myself has me. Holding that close. I faced what terrified me & emerged the warrior.
  27. It was the kind of change I felt deep in the very center of me. It shook me to my core, & laughed to myself. I finally bought the album & listened to the first two songs off of it. Then I put on the most beautiful song I could think of & danced. I felt the energy shifting as I orchestrated & sculpted the year before my, my fingertips brushing softly past all the beautiful things I am creating. The beautiful things I am creating. It is all mine. All mine. Then it turned to midnight : I hugged myself & put on a different song. My new anthem. Authenticity feels so amazing. You can change, you can change. You can make it.
  28. You are capable of immense happiness. Remember the feeling you had as you drove on the quiet highway with yellow streetlamps & the jazz was playing & you found yourself spontaneously laughing even though you didn’t know why. Remember how fucking powerful that was. Remember the incomprehensibly beautiful transformation where you literally felt the shift inside, literally felt the Phoenix being reborn from the ashes, metamorphosis. Remember how it felt at the end, better than anything else you could have imagined, you were trembling with joy, as the cocoon slowly slipped away & was left behind as you emerged & drank deeply from the rich deep night. Remember the exact color of moonlight on your arm as you drove across the quiet darkened countryside, how the moon vibrated radiantly in the sky & you laughed freely. Remember how free you felt as the chains were finally left behind in a darkened seat by the stage & you were not the same person that had walked in there. Remember how it felt to finally, mysteriously, beautifully heal. You are capable of immense happiness. That is your “RISE”. That is your flame. That is everything you ever needed. Now you know what to do.
  29. “When you realize you lack nothing, the whole world is yours.” “Everything I need is inside me right now.” Remember these. YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED.
  30. What an amazing way to beginThis is going to be my best year yet.
  31. “Now it’s up to me, ooh, what will be…”
  32. I am finally becoming the master of my own fate. I am finally HERE. I am fucking unstoppable. I am fucking unstoppable.