A Year Without Alcohol

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When this post goes up, I’ll have gone 109 days without alcohol. Most noticeably, without red wine. In this time I have gone on a bachelorette weekend in Mexico, a trip to London and Paris, been in a wedding, gone on dates, been to brunches and showers and holiday dinners, spent time with family, strangers, and myself, all while being sober. While it may seem like I’m trying to pat myself on the back a bit, the truth is, it hasn’t been all that hard most of the time. I am pretty proud of myself though, especially in the moments where it has been on the more difficult side. But more than the pride, I am grateful for the good, and the introspective step back that has come from this decision. And I wanted to share that part of it. But first let me back up a bit.

The History

I am not an alcoholic. At least I’m fairly certain I’m not. I would however, describe my relationship with alcohol as complicated. I was never a drinker or partier growing up. I didn’t drink in high school and college, and never really had the desire to either. It wasn’t until my later 20’s when alcohol started playing a bigger role in my life. The inescapable presence of it at every event, friends who liked to go out a lot, personally falling in love with wine (in an adoration way, not a co-dependent way), etc. I am not someone who feels the need to have alcohol to enjoy myself or to feel more comfortable in social settings or to numb the pain of a rough day, though I don’t deny it’s ability to help in all these situations. I often take breaks here and there to make sure it’s not something that has too strong of a hold on me, and mostly my conclusion is that I truly don’t feel dependent on it, I just enjoy its presence at certain points or events in my week.

But now for the complicated part of our relationship: the moments I have too much and the, let’s just call it “off-brand,” behavior that subsequently follows. I have been able to drink more than desired and walk away with nothing more than a horrible hangover (which honestly should be reason enough to never drink again because I LOATHE hangovers), but lately there have been more regrets than non-issues when it came to having too much to drink. The worst and scariest part being the fact that I would do or say things that Sober Sara most definitely would not have. Specifically in the relationship department. So more than once it’s made me stop and question if this indulgence was something worth keeping in my life.

One night, after a particularly rough weekend, I was lying in bed and literally wrestling with my own thoughts – and maybe God? – around the topic of alcohol.

“Maybe I need to give it up.”

“No, you’re fine, you’re not dependent on it, it’s not a problem.”

“But doing things I regret is a problem.”

“You can just limit yourself moving forward.”

“How has that worked out for you in the past?”

“Maybe you just need some healing around the things that seem to want to come out when you drink.”

“Is it worth it to risk doing more things you might seriously regret just to keep a beverage in your life?”

“But wine.”

“What if you tried an experiment and just gave it up for an extended period of time, then you could re-evaluate from there?”

“Sounds hard.”

“Better than saying you’ll give it up completely.”

“Ok well how long?”

“One year. Enough time to take you through all the seasons, events, and life situations you can pack into one period of time.”

“One year?! Without wine??”

“K, how bout you sleep on it?”

“K, fine.”

The crux of the argument circling around the fact that it didn’t feel “fair” to have to give up something I enjoy, that isn’t a problem for me 95% of the time, for the 5% of the time that it is. I just wanted to believe I could not make bad choices when I drink, but deep down, I don’t think I could trust myself enough to say that I knew that could be true.

The Decision

So I did end up going to sleep after that tiring conversation with myself, and awoke still not knowing what I would decide to do. As I was getting ready that morning, I turned on the podcast I was in the middle of and within 1 minute of pressing play, I heard this sentence from the person being interviewed on that particular episode (having nothing to do with alcohol whatsoever): “I had decided to give up alcohol for all of 2017 as an experiment, because I was inspired to do it, and I wanted to see how my life would change.”

A wave of awe rushed over me, realizing the non-accidental timing of hearing that exact time frame given to me just the night before, now being spoken into existence right before me. The awe quickly turned to sadness, and I burst into tears in my bathroom, coming to terms with the fact that this indeed confirmed the bleak reality that I would be taking a year off from drinking (wine).

The tears lasted only a moment, as I made some last minute bargaining pleas with my brain (“But what about that one last bottle of wine you have?? You can’t just give it away, can you??”), and as I mentally tabulated the upcoming events that were now about to be alcohol-free. But the podcast quote actually sparked another [surprising] feeling in me too: excitement. I liked the word ‘experiment,’ and the thought of this being an intentional choice for my well-being and for deepening my joy, rather than a punishment for bad behavior.

I had already been on a transformative journey of self-growth, and so I saw this as an opportunity to deepen that growth, allowing myself to be that much more present in my everyday life and with my thoughts and feelings. I also have felt like I’m getting closer to meeting the partner I’m supposed to be with, and in a season of dating and making choices around such an important and beautiful part of my life, I really didn’t want to mess that up with harmful actions or an altered version of myself created by the presence of alcohol. On a related note, I was painfully aware of alcohol’s assistance in keeping me tied to a particular person, and if I was serious about cutting that tie, I needed to do all the things to set me up for success in moving beyond that chapter. Add onto all these reasons the thought of a hangover-free year, feeling great, saving money, and being able to say that I went a whole year choosing myself over alcohol, and I actually started viewing this experiment as a really exciting challenge and a radical expression of self-love.

The Present

So here I am, almost 4 months in, and I’m happy to say I’m surviving just fine. “Experiment” continues to be such an appropriate word for this decision. It’s a true social experiment in the way of navigating so much of life and social situations with alcohol completely removed from the equation. It also feels experimental because I’m not exactly sure what the outcome will be or what the future will hold in this area. I chose (or was given, rather) the time frame of a year because I knew I needed a more dramatic step back than my normal month off from alcohol, but a time period is also just that. It’s not a guarantee that in exactly 365 days I’ll have gotten to the bottom of why certain behaviors seem to surface so noticeably when I have a bit too much to drink. It’s not a given that at the end of a year I’ll feel ready to trust myself again with alcohol in certain situations or around certain people. So there’s room for grace and re-evaluation. I just knew I wasn’t ready to give up alcohol forever, nor did I feel that was necessary or supposed to be my story, but I am willing to keep looking and seeking inward before being ok with choosing to re-introduce alcohol into my life.

The Hard

Again, I’ve been surprised at times by how much more do-able this whole thing has been than I had imagined. But the truth is that life is also just a little bit less fun at times. I’m someone who loves going out, drinking wine with my friends, dancing around and rallying everyone to head to my favorite bar, and stubbornly I’ve refused to give most of these pleasures up (minus the wine drinking obvs) because I didn’t want to accept that I needed alcohol to still do these things. And I don’t. But there’s no denying the fact that the vibe is different without the pleasurable warm buzz of alcohol flowing through you. And of its ability to blur the reality that the people around you are becoming increasingly louder, wobblier, and more apt to stay out past 12am all while you’re still acutely alert. I miss being able to include, “let’s go grab a drink” as a fun and valid reason for meeting up with someone. As a non-coffee drinker (this has changed a bit as of late), I miss having my glass of red wine as my “treat” and the thing I could look forward to at the end of a day, a comforting ritual to lean into. I miss wine in general.

The Good

As anticipated, I feel pretty darn great physically. My sleep has improved and waking up without a painful headache and an achy body after a night out (or even two glasses of wine) is borderline euphoric. I don’t lose a Saturday or Sunday to laying around in recovery and am hence a more productive human and contributing member of society. I miss nothing about the experience of a hangover.

The lack of regret is arguably the best part. I’ll get home, sometimes emotionally bummed that my night didn’t reflect the more fun, lively version I was accustomed to just a few months back, and get into bed feeling pure and peaceful and at ease. Not pure in a morally superior kinda way (remember that I am not declaring all alcohol consumption as “bad” or as something I’m permanently doing away with – this is just a personal choice for me and this season of my life), but pure in an experiential kind of way. I had spent my night in pure presence and I had full control over every word spoken and action taken. Not to say they’re all perfect or in my best interest still, but there has absolutely been a massive improvement. And so for that simplification I’ve introduced to my life, I am immensely grateful.

I chose to share this whole experience – and plan to continue to share more around it – as an example of self-love and self-care in one’s life. I have found much comfort and strength around recognizing this experiment as one that best serves me and leads to greater good for my life and for those close to me. The question I ultimately answered in coming to this decision was, “Is your emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being worth the sacrifice?” And the answer was 100% yes, hands down. Along with the decision to remove alcohol during this year, I planned to do some inner work and healing because I believe the issues I was experiencing had more to do with heart things than it did with the substance itself. So this season has actually been one of intentional addition, rather than just restrictive subtraction. And that’s what I hope to share more of in the months to come (along with some of my go-to non-alcoholic substitutions since I refused to become “boring sparkling water girl”).

The question I ultimately answered in coming to this decision was, “Is your emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being worth the sacrifice?” And the answer was 100% yes, hands down.

Overall, there are still a lot of unknowns as to what the rest of this year and beyond will bring. But I am less worried about the absolutes and the numbers than I am about the protection of my heart and the goodness I am intentionally choosing for myself. Healing and health and knowing ourselves will always be a journey. I hope this post does less to convince people they might need to temporarily give up alcohol, and more to empower you to listen for the voice that’s looking out for your greater good, for the most full and free and joyful life you could imagine, and reminds you that you’re worth pursuing that, and you’re strong enough to do anything it takes to run after that life. Love you friends, sending you peace and love wherever you’re at today.

Car Declarations

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Yesterday I made the drive out to the desert to see my family, a quick return after just being out here a few weeks ago. The two hour commute has become somewhat of a sacred ritual for me – a time to go on autopilot as I head to my happy place, allowing my mind to process and dream and pray for those two precious hours I get alone in the car.

I’m a daydreamer by nature, which has led to equal amounts of pain and joy in my life. I’m trying to re-write the belief I hold that all the daydreaming I’ve done has been harmful, and instead believe that it’s actually a lovely gift of mine, to have the ability to imagine and dream up beautiful things. But in the moments where it does more harm than good and leads me down a path of longing rather than progress, I’m aware of how I need to catch the spiraling dreams and gently keep them at bay.

In this particular daydream session, one falling under the broader category of “Things I Would Love to Hear From Elevated Importance Person,” I imagined receiving a text message filled with words I longed to hear – ones that would make me feel particularly seen and loved and validated.

Lately these have been less frequent and more easily contained, so I noted the surprising appearance of this one. Before mentally getting to the end of said desired-yet-non-existent-text-message, I cut my brain off and took a step back. Why do I need to hear these words from this particular person? What is it that I’m really looking for or seeking in that exchange? What is it that I’m not already believing about myself that hearing from an outside source would “change” in my mind?

It’s interesting how even when we feel especially confident or proud of our own decisions or life, there’s still something about hearing those feelings echoed in the voice of someone we love and admire that holds so much weight. The problem is, all the outside validation in the world doesn’t end up changing the core truths about who we are and the work we’re doing if it’s coming from a true and inspired place.

I realized I must be needing my own dose of validation and affirmation for the path I’m on and the work I’m doing at this point in my life. So in a tender and awkward gesture of self-love, I began speaking the words I longed to hear out loud in the car, to myself, drenched in tears. Highlighting just the big-picture parts of it, it went a little something like this:

“Sara I’m so proud of you.

You are brave.

You are doing good things.

Don’t stop.”

And in a weird and beautiful way, I was able to accept my own words, feeling as grateful and full as if this notification had just popped up on my phone. I think I maybe even uttered a tearful “Thank you” back to myself.

Affirmations from others are wonderful and important and can be so helpful and encouraging. But there’s nothing quite like hearing the words you need to hear from your own precious voice. So write or speak out the text message you’re waiting on. It will feel awkward but oh-so-sweet to give yourself that gift.

Like a Tray of Champagne Cocktails

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Today I saw two of my favorite personal gurus - Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed - live at an event. Both of these women and their lives and work have meant so much to me over the years.

Liz has been a voice that’s pushed me towards living a more creative life and who’s shown me how to move beyond fear – mostly through her work in “Big Magic” and her corresponding podcast “Magic Lessons.” Cheryl has been a chorus of wisdom and comfort in my ears as I consumed HOURS of her Dear Sugar podcast (along with the delightful Steve Almond), and the audiobook version of “Tiny Beautiful Things.”

So to say that seeing those voices in the flesh felt like an incredibly special gift would be an absolute understatement. As I looked at the two of them sitting in their plush chairs, facing one another and sometimes us, legs curled up on the couch and speaking words of love and admiration and fierce protectiveness over one another, I thought about how they are part of the circle of spiritual teachers in my life who I feel a physical desire to sit at the feet of and learn from, and mostly just absorb their presence. Funny how as I’ve gotten older, my dream “celebrity” encounters have shifted from things like seeing Justin Timberlake in concert to watching my favorite authors sit and have a conversation with one another haha.

I took notes on the various nuggets of wisdom each of them continued to effortlessly spill out onto us, and thought maybe I would have something to share here from it. And while they did say many beautiful and powerful things, there’s one line I just can’t seem to get out of my head.

It was from Liz, as she talked about her latest novel that’s set to release in June of this next year. She told us the background on it, how she chose that time period and why she went with the storyline she did. And then she told us how she thinks it’s a real fun read, and when describing to her publisher how she wanted people to experience the story she said, “I want this book to go down like a tray of champagne cocktails.”

I love that. While this may not be a profound piece of advice or a moving personal anecdote, I can’t tell you how much this line delighted me. It made me so grateful for the gift of words, and how they can paint perfect pictures in our minds and conjure up a full experience of feelings with one tiny sentence. It reminded me why writing is such a beautiful tool for opening up all the cavities of our brains and hearts and bodies.

So that’s all I could think or want to share. Not the most life-giving wisdom you’ll receive today I’m sure (though if you’re looking for that I would highly recommend the aforementioned pieces of work from both these women), but maybe just the tiniest tickle of delight for your brain. And a reminder of that perfectly blissful feeling you get when a good book bubbles all the way down into your soul before making you dizzy with joy and greedy for more.

Grateful for writers, for women, for words, and for the way the three of these things combine and bring an even greater sense of wonderment to my life.

Wear What Makes You Happy

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“Most comfortable draped in sequins” is a descriptor I hope to be remembered by someday. To expand on one of the things that brings me into alignment, wearing clothes and shoes and accessories that make me feel good is one of the surefire ways to bring a consistent level of happiness and confidence to my day.

What I love is how different this looks from person to person. For some, not having to do their makeup or hair and wearing comfies with no bra is liiiiiiving. For others it might be wearing sparkly cat ears or rainbow onesies (shoutout to my favorite radical self-expressionist: Kaede). For me it’s looking like I’m heading to the evening gown portion of a Miss America pageant, or maybe a black-tie Christmas party. I know to some that sounds like a nightmare, but my soul literally starts feeling sparkly just thinking about being in a perfectly fitting formal floor-length dress, with my hair up, high heels, and preferably fake lashes (I think I inherited parts of my fancy-loving self from my Mama ;) I love everything about being dressed up, including the process leading up to it.

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I’m aware that people would assume I love being that extra for the sake of attention. And I’m sure that’s not totally untrue. But I believe that wearing something that makes you feel beautiful garners a deeper level of admiration rather than cheap attention. There was a line from one of Oprah’s podcasts with RuPaul that really stood out to me (actually that whole episode is really great). For starters, RuPaul talks about how we’re technically all in drag, how everyone gets to choose the way they present themselves to the world. This is less about vanity than it is about having an opportunity to embody the way you feel on the inside and present that in a nonverbal manner to those that just get a chance to see your outside.

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At this point I need to interject with what I would hope would be an obvious disclaimer, but just in case. Please hear that this is not about idolizing outward appearances or believing it’s ok to judge others based off their exterior. I fully believe and know we are not just our bodies or our clothes or makeup or whatever we decide to put on or not put on. But it is about the understanding that we can’t fully divorce ourselves from our bodies as it is still a part of our holistic being that makes up who we are. And knowing what it is we feel best in can actually make a big difference as to how we carry ourselves and bring greater freedom and joy by fully embracing who we are.

Back to the podcast, Oprah referenced a conversation she had with Stedman [her partner for those of you who might not know], asking him why he always got so dressed up to go on flights. And he said that he was regarded in an entirely different manner when he was pulled together and wearing something on the more “formal” side. What I believe was being noticed and responded to, was the confidence and self-assurance that type of dress brought forth in him, rather than the specifics of what he was wearing.

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You know what you feel best in. That jacket that makes you feel like a million bucks. Those heels that make you walk with just a little more purpose. That lipstick that transforms you into the more fierce version of yourself. Those pants that are so comfortable and flattering that you could wear them all. day. long. and still find yourself checking out your butt in the window as you walk by. Wear those things! Ask yourself what mood or emotion you want to embody that day and then think about the things that will help you do that. If wearing a certain outfit will get you closer to that, then make that a part of your process in getting there.

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I was so grateful Tanya of Third Coast Photography (who also happened to shoot my best friend’s amazinggg wedding) agreed to do this shoot with me, and I loved how these photos turned out. Whenever I see a sequined frock somewhere that I’m obsessed with, I verbally justify the purchase by saying, “I would wear something like this to the grocery store!” lest anyone think I believe fancy clothes are for fancy events only. So it was fun to capture that idea at my island grocery store, because yes, I truly believe we should wear whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want.

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 Outfit details: Skirt - Lulu’s (older skirt, but similar one  here ), White tee -  Madewell , Gray sweater - old F21, another option  here .

Outfit details: Skirt - Lulu’s (older skirt, but similar one here), White tee - Madewell, Gray sweater - old F21, another option here.

I’m granting you permission to have the freedom to be fully you at all times and to wear that damn rainbow sequined jumpsuit to Trader Joe’s if you want to. Get it.

xoxo,

Sara B.

The Garden: Diary of a Free-Flowing Spirit 11.27.18

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When you want to do it all

 

When you want to write stories and poems and spill your brain onto paper

When you want to bring others deep into the journey you’re on

When you want freedom so fully for every human being

When you want stories to liberate and break down the walls

When you want to move to an island and know only 10 other souls

When you want to attend the most fanciest of balls

When you want to host dinners with tables that are 50 feet long

When you want to sit on the floor of a flower shop weaving bouquets in your hands

When you want people to come and find healing while being in your presence

When you want your life to shine and sparkle til all those nearby are covered in light

When you want to visit the corner of the world that keeps calling your name

When you want to carry life in the safety of your core

When you want to do nothing more than spend all day staring into the eyes of the one that you love

When you want to feed bodies and souls with food you provide

When you want little girls to be filled to the brim with the fullest of Loves

When you want older girls to walk freely and boldly through this life without fear

When you want a wine bar filled with laughter and shadows cast by candlelight

When you want to paint out your pain with the thickest of paints

When you want to start movements to end all the pain

When you want an office in a corner and a desk made of glass

When you want to wash dishes and make the house feel like home

When you want your own garden with plants for body and soul

How do you know which plant to plant first or which seed to explore?

When each would bring life in their own special way

And each would be just as fun to plant in its own kind of way

I guess you’d just pick one and put it in the earth

Because one tiny seedling is better than a garden of dirt

The Power to Heal or to Divide is in Our Hands

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Last night I noticed a couple of my [more social justice-minded] friends include a post about the events happening at the border (with the tear gas) in their stories, and their subsequent rage and disbelief as to how this could be reality. I could feel the sadness and anger begin to seep into my heart as well as I looked at the picture of the frantic mom fleeing with her children, and wished we lived in a world that was better at regarding and honoring each other’s humanity. I also did wonder what the full story was, what had happened to cause guards to throw painful tear gas in the direction of women and children?

This morning I saw a few more posts about it. Ones that listed different parts of the story, including a firsthand account from someone who lives 11 minutes from that border and was in the border line with his kids when this was going down, and who is friends with people in leadership on both sides of the border and with people who are committing their lives to caring for the vulnerable that find themselves seeking asylum with no success.

Between his account and the others I read, I gathered a few other details: that the scene didn’t resemble a war scene as some have been painting it out to be, and that it was Central Americans, not Mexicans, who had tried to rush past police blockades, and the tear gas was only thrown after some border patrol agents had been hit with rocks. Funny how quickly our feelings can shift on a story with just a few additional facts, isn’t it?

Is this scene heartbreaking any way you slice it? Yes. I’m not sharing this instance to incite a debate about which side was in the right and which was in the wrong. In my opinion, both literal “sides” could have done things better and more peacefully. Here is why I’m sharing this:

We’re in a period of history where we are more politically and personally divided than ever before, or at least it feels this way. (This feeling part is important). To me it’s not a coincidence that we also have the highest amount of personal platforms, “news” sources, and constant connection to everything that’s going on in the world. Pair that with a passionate generation who has full access to said platforms. The outcome can sometimes be emotionally driven posts or re-shares that we know deep down are going to stir up the hearts of people on both sides – whether that’s in passionate agreement with us, or in combative disagreement against us. Unfortunately this only deepens the crevice between groups of people and reaffirms the feeling of being on a “side.”

In my frequent thought-sprees on how we can begin to heal and unify as a nation, I can’t say that I’ve done much to solve this deep divide. But one thought keeps reappearing in my mind. And that is how words have such power, and with things that have power, much responsibility is required. What we may think is an innocent re-share or status update, is actually adding to the collective cries that either echo fear, anger, or “other-ness,” or do things to incite impactful change. The answer is definitely not to stop speaking up or to shy away from discussions with others, but I think the answer does lie somewhere in the recognition of the power our words can have in this current climate, no matter how big or small our platforms are, and then proceeding with thoughtful caution.

Here are just a few practical thoughts when it comes to balancing your words with responsibility:

1.    Have you read both sides before sharing a headline?

The truth is that for the most part, we’re all consuming news from people and sources that most likely agree with the side we’re already on. So they know how to get your attention and how to get you worked up in favor of their side. Take a quick moment to do some research on what the other sides are saying or sharing about the same story, even if it’s hard to swallow. Realize there are many good people on both sides of the issue and so instead of quickly rejecting what someone else might be sharing, think about how they might have come to the conclusion they did through the sources they’re consuming, just as you have.

Also, do a quick fact-check while you’re at it. I’ve been so disheartened to find stories being spread rapidly around the internet that I’ve been able to debunk as false by a quick search on Snopes. Please do your research before re-sharing a compelling-looking sound bite on Facebook.

2.    Do your words tear down someone else’s humanity?

Throwing in comments about someone’s appearance or using strong, hateful language about them, even when it’s in conjunction with disagreeing with something horrible they’ve done, does nothing to endear the other side to your argument. It most likely will just turn them away quicker. Stick to values you agree or disagree with and try to keep raw emotions to yourself rather than laced in your updates. 

3.   Be in relationship with people different than you.

I understand it’s not easy to just make a new friend in a completely different social circle. Or even to know how to find or start a conversation with someone that’s on a different side than you. But chances are that you have at least one person in your life that’s a different race/political party/sexual orientation/even gender than you that you can seek out and inquire about their experience when you find yourself riled up or stuck in your own arguments. If you don’t know someone different than you you can talk with in person, read a book by someone who believes differently, follow someone on Instagram that doesn’t look like the rest of your circle, listen to a podcast with opposing viewpoints, etc. The truth is that it’s hard to “hate” someone close up. We could have the strongest feelings in the world about something, but when someone we love gives their honest account and experience of their “side,” important shifts in our heart begin to take place.

The biggest takeaway should be that this divide we’re experiencing doesn’t have to feel hopeless. If we can become aware of the actions we’re personally doing to contribute to it (because most likely we all are on some level), commit to thoughtful sharing, and pursue diverse relationships, we might begin to see things shift in this hurting yet beautiful world of ours.

Meditation on a Love Force: Diary of a Free-Flowing Spirit 11.24.18

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I know it’s been a few days since I’ve written a post on here – it’s because I was celebrating and enjoying Thanksgiving with my best friend’s family out in Arizona and didn’t have much alone time to write. I say that less as an excuse (because of course that’s a good reason not to write), but the truth is that I missed my daily writing practice when I was away. It’s been so lovely to see how special and life-giving this habit has become in my everyday life.

So today I had a moment before I headed out on a day adventure with my sweet Kalee, and I did the thing I usually do before putting my hands on the keys to start writing when I don’t know what I’m going to write that day: I get real still and close my eyes and silence my mind as best as I can. I then sit and wait to see if there are any words or feelings stirring in my chest (or my gut more typically) that I feel called to expand upon.

While sitting in that stillness today I was made particularly aware of my heartbeat. It felt extra strong (probably because of the 3 sips of coffee I had this morning) and so I began to marvel at the often-unacknowledged miracle of the organ that is responsible for pumping blood through our entire bodies, day after day, second after second. Thank you hard-working heart that I so often taken for granted!! As I focused on the rhythmic beating, I pictured the course the blood was on as it flowed through my body. And from there I began to picture a visual meditation that I loved and wanted to share in case you wanted to use it as well:

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My heart. The source of life and energy in my body. The strength and consistency of a powerful life force coursing through my being. So grateful, so in awe. I pictured this blood as a personification of Love, giving life to me and allowing me to move through this life filled with Love in every cell of my body. I pictured the Love – a deep, rich, bold red; dynamic, glistening, substantial and smooth – starting in my heart, being created, fed and purified by Pure Divine Love, and then being released to reach every part of my body. Bursting from my chest and moving down my arms, going into every finger and then looping back out of them, after each one had been filled. Circling around my heart before coming back to my core, adding its loving and healing touch to each one of my organs. Making its way through my pelvis and then down each of my legs, all the way to my toes, warming each part of me as It goes, and then quickly turning around and traveling all the way back up again. The Love Current then makes it’s way up to my neck, touching my vocal chords that will now bring words of Love to my speech all day long, going past my ears that will be attuned to loving words and sounds I get to receive, and then feeding into my precious brain, soaking every one of my thoughts in Love from that moment on. After the Love is done making its way through every cell in my brain, it returns back down to the heart, where it culminates in an all-encompassing explosion of Love and warmth that allows me to feel and walk in the awareness of my belovedness to the very core of my being.

Repeat as many times in one sitting or throughout the day as needed.

Spiritual Synchronicity: Diary of a Free-Flowing Spirit 11.19.18

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There is something extra magical about hearing a word (not like a single word, but like a WORD if you know what I mean) that feels totally perfect for you, exactly when you needed to hear it.

This seems to happen to me often when reading my Jesus Calling devotion. I don’t pick it up every morning, but for the last 9 years, I have used this book hundreds and hundreds of times as a way to bring stillness and connection and encouragement to my day, for at least those few short moments while I’m reading it.

As I mentioned in a past post, my spiritual journey has taken some interesting twists and turns lately, and I don’t always find myself gravitating to some of the more “Christian” practices I used to do, even though I would still name my Higher Power as God and/or Jesus. But Jesus Calling is one of the practices that has remained, and what I especially love about it is how themes I’m experiencing in other spiritual realms and teachings often line up with the daily words here as well. Spiritual synchronicities, I’m telling you, my favorite things.

In a season where I’m wavering between feeling peaceful assurance I’m on the right path by leaning into my joys and Inner Voice, and stressful panic when I listen to my ego and fears surrounding jobs and money, this was something I really needed to be reminded of today:

“Leave outcomes up to me. Follow me wherever I lead, without worrying about how it will all turn out. Think of your life as an adventure, with me as your Guide and Companion. Live in the now, concentrating on staying in step with me.”

Whoa. That is so what I wanted and needed to hear today. Even though these are things I return to and dwell on often, I think part of me is afraid to fully lean into this being true, as much as I want it to be. So to get a reminder and confirmation from another location outside myself felt like a true gift, and one I could relax and breathe into.

So that was today’s dose of magic. Accompanied by the way my gold nails are glittering in the glow of my room’s twinkle lights right now. God is good.

The Right Direction: Diary of a Free-Flowing Spirit 11.17.18

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I had a fun thought the other night. In this stage of my life, and really any time I mention being unsure about what it is I want do to next, I’m brought back to the question of, “If you could do anything at all and money wasn’t an issue, what would you do?” I get this from others, but I also ask myself this question pretty frequently as well. My answer is always a combo of things and never a super clear-cut vision, but the general components have consistently stayed the same for at least the last year. Without getting into specifics, my answer involves: writing, hosting, event planning, things around personal growth + freedom for others, and having time to say yes to travels and adventures with no set schedule.

So here was my thought: I was sitting in bed in the desert, doing my end-of-day writing, and that question popped into my head. I then scanned my days for the past few weeks and how I’ve been spending then and realized I AM DOING ALL THOSE THINGS! It was the sweetest realization and made me feel like simultaneously giggling and getting choked up. I’ve found a way to be exactly where I want to be and it’s no wonder my days have been so joy-filled as of lately.

The only hiccup is that none of these things are currently bringing in any income for me (which, to be fair, is still right in line with that initial question - money is definitely not in this equation). So that’s a minor detail I will need to sort out, and am mentally working on. But for now I’m celebrating getting to a place of doing all the things I want to be doing. Even if some of them are just in the initial planning stages, I am taking steps in the right direction.

A fun celestial bonus has been the appearance of the numbers 11:11 often over the last few weeks (mostly on clocks, but they’ve popped up a couple other places too). I’m a big believer in paying attention to the spiritual synchronicities we see in our lives - as a sign you’re on the right track or confirmation you’re loved and being watched out for. And these numbers always seem to appear when I’m writing and doing the things I love, and so it serves as further confirmation to me that I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

I don’t know how most of these things would connect to sources of income for me, or what I’m supposed to do about that part of this journey, but I do know that it feels really, really good to be right in the middle of where I’m supposed to be. So onward and upward I'll continue to trek.

Love Letter to the Desert: Diary of a Free-Flowing Spirit 11.16.18

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The last couple days I’ve been out here, I’ve been wanting to put words to just what it is I love so much about the desert, why this place feels so filling and healing to me.

I know for sure a big part is the nostalgia factor. This place is home to so many of my best childhood memories. It’s making up games with my brother in our golf course of a backyard, like assembling “dinner pods” for the ducks and floating them out into the lakes, and waking up on Easter morning to overflowing Easter baskets and thrilling egg hunts. It’s second Christmases and New Years and Dad launching us into the deep end of the pool in the summers. It’s Grammy chasing us around playing “mouse in the house” and Grandad showing us his latest gadget addition. It’s careening around cart paths in the golf cart with friends once all the golfers have finished up and ice blocking together in the black of night. It’s my innocence and family and carefree, childlike fun all rolled into one.

There’s also something grounding about the desert. The way the surroundings are able to physically calm me by reaching all five of my senses – a truly connected and sensual experience in the truest meaning of the word. It’s like a visual, physical and spiritual feast for my soul.

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The colors, ugh the colors – piercing blue skies covering a neutral landscape of sand and rocks, but interrupted by almost electric green lawns and deep pink bougainvillea and cheery yellow blossoms in the trees. My favorite color palette though is when the day turns to evening, and the mountains change to hues of purples, hanging in the foreground of pink and tangerine skies, with soft golden light streaming through the palm trees, casting dramatic shadows and a comforting filter onto everything it touches.

Then there are the smells. The sweet smelling flowers mixed with warm dry air and fresh-cut grass. The way our condo smells just a little bit dusty, but in a rustic way, and how when I leave I carry it with me for a bit, on my clothes but mostly in my hair, blended with skin that smells like sunscreen and the old school Tide detergent that’s here. The desert even feels good to touch. The feel of the grass beneath our feet when we do cartwheels on the fairway, the cooling chill of the pool when you finally jump in after letting your skin get sweaty and fiery hot in the sun, the way your skin melts into the air and that perfect temperature in the early evening. Then there’s the taste of cracker bread with melted cheese and tomatoes that we only seem to make in the desert, paired with cold grapes and fizzy drinks by the pool, all delivered by my angel of a mom.

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The sounds, or lack thereof, might be what calms me the most. The gentle white noise of the fountain in the lake nearby only interrupted by the crisp *clink!* of the ball flying off the tee from clear across the fairway. Every so often there are the wild winds that pick up at night - honestly being way too overdramatic most of the time - but still giving us Californians the illusion of weather for a bit. But mostly there’s just peaceful quiet under the velvety dark blanket of night, speckled with stars.

Beyond the nostalgia and the body-to-earth connection, there’s the overarching simplicity of stillness that comes with the desert. My time is mostly spent lounging, strolling, swimming, sun-soaking, and sleeping. The ultimate place of surrender and receiving. It’s no wonder some of my loveliest and happiest memories are wrapped up in this place. And that my soul craves it when I’m away or in need of a retreat from a life that can get unnecessarily overcomplicated. A piece of my heart will always belong to the desert, which is why I’ll never stop coming here to be united with that part of me - the little girl that just wants to run wild and free, lavishly soaking up the care and love offered by my family, the earth, and grown-up Sara that still needs all those things too.

How I Get Into Alignment

When I first started learning about the concept of “Alignment Before Action,” I found myself wanting to know exactly what it was that other people were doing to get into alignment, even though I understood it was unique to each person and what specifically brought them joy.

I was most intrigued by this practice when I heard about Jess Lively’s rituals, which included things like eating chocolate for breakfast, drinking fancy crystal-infused sparkling water, designing and creating her dream home, spending long amounts of time meditating and reading books on consciousness and Quantum Mechanics, highlighting them and taking notes, and getting into such a good place before approaching any “work” that needed to get done that day. Sounds totally extra and over-the-top right? I was skeptical about this seemingly extravagant lifestyle until I heard her talk more about the outcomes. The results were days that ended up being 80% alignment time, and 20% working time, but produced high amounts of productivity, increased income, and work that was resonating with thousands of people and helping others create greater joy as well. So to say the least, this whole idea really excited and resonated with me.

As a follow-up to this post (on how this practice has greatly increased the joy and magic levels in my life), here is a somewhat abridged list of the practical things I do or think about to help get me in the best place possible each day: 

  • Getting a good night’s sleep

  • Having a clean room

  • Burning a good smelling candle

  • Making myself a yummy breakfast and treating myself to a little bit of coffee

  • Time in the morning to meditate, pray, read, write

  • Rampages of gratitude (will expand on this in the future)

  • Thinking of my friendship with Kelsey, our texts to each other, quoting the Office together

  • My friendship with Jonathan and Garrett, how we continuously and enthusiastically affirm one another

  • My friendship with Jessie, our high vibe conversations, Polos back and forth

  • Walks around the island

  • Listening to Jess Lively’s podcast

  • Listening to My Favorite Murder

  • Reading a good book

  • Making myself my own happy hour, eating it on the patio

  • Eating olives

  • When my fridge is clean, organized and filled with yummy drinks and healthy foods

  • Being in a new city or place alone

  • Putting my phone on airplane mode for awhile

  • Writing. Especially when it flows easily

  • Listening to my high vibes playlist (will share soon)

  • Dancing to my favorite songs

  • Dancing with friends

  • Taking a Grit (spin) class

  • Taking a yoga class

  • Texts and IG comments from my Mom

  • Meditating on how very loved I am and picturing it filling my entire body

  • Thinking about my future partner

  • Having bedtime routines

  • Having skincare routines

  • A calming drink before bed

  • The Office

  • Parks and Rec

  • Schitt’s Creek

  • Doing exactly what I’m in the mood for (listening to my intuition)

  • Wearing an outfit that makes me happy

  • Having my hair in a high bun

  • Wearing red lipstick

  • Wearing something with sequins

  • Thinking about all the abundance in my life

  • Having my nails done in a color that I love

  • Wearing my jangle bracelets

  • Looking at the ring I bought myself

I hope this list helps lend inspiration or guidance to ways you can fill your day with joy-filled practices. As you can see, some are as simple as listening to one song that makes me happy, or choosing to wear one piece of clothing I know I always feel good in. Others take a little more time or emotional investment. But each of them play a helpful and integral role in getting me into the best possible place I can be, so that I can bring the world the most whole, happy and sparkling self I can offer.

If this type of practice isn’t something you’re already incorporating into your life, even in a small way, I would recommend starting by doing what I just did – write out a list. Take some time to get still and think about the times in life that you are the absolute happiest and filled to the brim. What are you doing? What are you thinking about? Who are you with? What are you wearing? What are you listening to? Where are you? What’s surrounding you? What actions make you feel like you’re “treating yourself?” Or living your best life? Pay attention to these thoughts and what your intuition tells you, and then write it all down. And start to plan on how you can incorporate these things into your life, or start the practice of drawing on each of them when you feel yourself getting in a low place. Think of it as your happy toolbox!

There’s one last thing I want to say about this practice. A common pushback I hear expressed by others, or a critique I’ve even held at times about this type of living (“live your best life” / “if it’s not a hell yes it’s a no” / “do what brings you joy” / etc.) is that if we were left to our devices and were told to just do whatever makes us happy and reject everything else, wouldn’t we turn into selfish, constant cake- (or in my case, pasta-) consuming monsters who sit in a jacuzzi all day online shopping from their smart phone while guzzling down wine? Well I mean maybe for a day, if that’s what your soul really needed. But no, you wouldn’t. Because here’s the crucial difference: I truly believe that when listening for the deep-down voice of what we need in any given moment, and tapping into the hard-wired ways in which we were created to experience joy and pleasure, that we would only do things that are in the best possible interest of ourselves and others, and that all lead towards the highest good for everyone involved. So for example, if your favorite food is cheesy pasta, there may be some days that a big bowl of that is exactly what you need to bring comfort and joy to your body. But your body also knows that eating it for 2 meals a day, every day that week is probably not in its best interest, so I doubt that’s what your Inner Voice would tell you to do if you really stopped and asked it. Same goes for neglecting certain chores – you may want to say “hell no” to vacuuming the living room, and some days that’s 100% ok, but you also know that when you do, you will be caring for your home and providing more peace and joy for yourself and others whenever that room is inhabited.

So long story short, I don’t believe this is about living a life of self-indulgence and only chasing after things that cater to our base desires. Rather, I believe this is a holy (and sometimes difficult) practice that asks us to tap into our deepest crevices that have been individually hard-wired by a loving, divine, and all-knowing Source in order to live sweetly into the things that allow us to live our most whole and full lives, inevitably spilling out this pure joy and the inspired insights we glean onto everyone we come into contact with.  And that is one of my deepest hopes for humanity: that we would all have clear insight into our inner joy tanks, and have the permission and tools to access them whenever they’re needed.

xoxo,

Sara B.