I have forgotten what you look like, But if I close my eyes long enough, I can still feel your palm heat resting on my forehead And your soft kisses on my temple I can feel your breathing against my chest As I hear our laughs playing like a record
I have forgotten what you look like, Yet if I sleep long enough, I hear fractions of your voice And see the colors of the sunset from the afternoon picnic in the Spring Where we kissed under the trees and made promises we did not intend to keep
I have forgotten what you look like, Yet I still cure this open wound Which once bled and now aches from time to time While you rest under someone else’s grave to feel some company
I have forgotten what you look like, Yet I still wish you all the best, and I praise all the mess I hope you find yourself under the darkness your shadow I left some candles lit up in case you would follow
I have forgotten what you look like, I now realize it doesn’t matter A faceless soul with broken bones Once took over me, but now it is far gone I’ll save your presence like it’s old town folklore as a reminder of my worth
You have inspired me this year to attempt to wear my hair curly. We haven’t quite figured it out, but it has improved since we started working on it. Weirdly enough, even though I neglected the natural waves/curls for most of my life, I feel more like myself when I let my hair do its thing.
You have also challenged me this year big time in many different areas. For one, you love to dance and try new things, and although I have grown to enjoy that too, I have found myself being extremely critical of everything I do. Even while doing healthy things, such as going to therapy, I still wonder if I can optimize the healing process.
This year was different because we had a lot of monumental firsts. First college degree, my first big girl job, and my first summer off from school or work, I can’t forget my first heartbreak but also the first time I consciously and intentionally mapped out the year. I have been learning to say no to people and situations that no longer resonate with me. I’ve learned how lighter life can get when you have set boundaries with yourself and others. I’ve learned how valuable and painful it is to go through a rough time.
I’ve learned that my number one priority is to love, choose, and accept myself every morning. No matter how much I think, I suck or rock. I’m still showing up sometimes with an extra dose of encouragement and love—other times with the confidence of that young five-year-old who loved to perform dances for her whole family. I’ve embraced my main character energy to the fullest this year because, after all, it is my life, and I am in control (somewhat), and if I don’t do it for myself, no one else will. Through this compassion, I’ve shown myself I have learned to love others the way they are today. I often created these expectations based on potential or what I would do, and I’ve realized how incredibly selfish that can be. Everyone moves at their own pace. My only choice is how much or little space I want these people to take into my life. Here’s where boundaries have become extremely helpful.
I’m proud of you. Extremely. Utterly. You have committed to doing the work for no other than yourself, which takes a lot of courage. You have realized the external validation is just a bunch of noise that ultimately doesn’t make you feel full filled. What ignites your body, mind, and soul is as simple as acknowledging your emotions and loving them equally. The sadness, anger, and happiness. Understanding where they come from and nurturing them like the tiniest cutest baby penguins (that’s how I picture them in my head)
Plans for the new year involve some more surrendering and mindfulness to the everyday. Besides that, I feel everything will work out in perfect timing, just as 2022 has shown me.
I cannot end this any other way than just expressing my gratitude to every single soul that has crossed and continues to be a part of my life. Grateful for the health, support, love, rejection, tears, judgment, etc.
I’m grateful for little you; that keeps me company and inspires me to be authentic and unapologetically myself. That authenticity has attracted the kindest and most magical people and opportunities in my life. Because yes, you are pushing me to be better as I do the work, take life less seriously, and simply have fun. I am inspired by your adventurous, resilient, and brave qualities when in doubt.
Therefore, thank you, thank you, and thank you.
This life is nothing but a sea of growth opportunities. That is only if you decide to look at life that way. How refreshing that changing your perspective is always an option.
Before I obsessively try to convince you to start journaling every day, let’s talk about what journaling even means. I used to hear all about journaling, and it always made me feel extremely overwhelmed. What are you supposed to write? Is it like one of those “Dear Diary” situations? I have notebooks dating back to 2016, where I would attempt to write, but I realized I would mainly use them only when I was feeling sad. Journaling, for me, was one of those things that would always make me feel better about whatever emotion I was going through, but I still wouldn’t take the time to add it to my daily routine.
That was until I heard Jay Shetty’s podcast, where Liz Plosser, the editor-in-chief of Women’s Health, shared her tips on how to start a journaling practice. I recommend watching the whole episode, but in short, Liz shared that journaling also felt like another hectic task to add to her already busy life, so she approached journaling differently. She tells herself to write at least two sentences, and if she doesn’t have anything else to say, she leaves it at that. This idea completely changed my perspective on journaling.
I have been consistently(somewhat) journaling since November 2021, and adding this practice to my daily routine has improved my quality of life. It may sound dramatic, but it has. To decompress after a long day or to write about three things I am grateful for, journaling has served as my checking point to tune in with my thoughts, emotions, and overall well-being. Here I wanted to share some tips and tricks that have been extremely helpful in adapting this practice into my life.
Every day is different for me. I start by reflecting on the day, very much like a diary. I write about what I did, what I ate, and how I felt. I tend to journal right before bed, but I started journaling first thing in the morning and before going to sleep. I recommend sticking with a time you can commit to without overwhelming yourself. I always end my journal entries with what I am grateful for. The goal is to make this time about you and to write about whatever you feel like writing. It’s okay if some days nothing comes to mind and you write “Hi and Bye” the goal is to create a space for yourself to check-in. We are so used to living on auto-pilot and letting the days get by but tuning in to what’s going on inside is essential for our mental health; it’s a way to practice mindfulness and stay present.
Just like any hobby, it’s okay to miss a day, a week, or even a month as long as you try again. The goal is not to add more stress o judgment into your life. There are a few things that I do to keep myself accountable. One of the most wholesome and effective ones for me is checking in with my friends. I started texting my friend a few emojis as a way to check in right after journaling. This technique not only reminds the other person to journal but also serves as a way to stay in touch with friends that live far away or whom I don’t see often. I recommend committing to this practice with your partner, friend, or sibling to help with accountability.
Another way to stay accountable is by setting up a reminder or an alarm. If you’re more on the techy side, maybe an app or website would work better for you. Here’s a website with some options that might help. https://zapier.com/blog/best-journaling-apps/
There is no right or wrong way to go about journaling. The purpose is to make this practice whatever your body needs at the time. It’s okay to write about sad and challenging times, but we also want to honor those happy or dull days. The biggest takeaway from this practice is that the healing journey is not linear. I’ve had a crazy year full of changes, and going back to entries from months ago has been therapeutic. I laugh or sometimes cry, but most of all, I feel empowered to see the growth and commitment.
I hope this inspires you to give journaling a try. I promise you will not regret it. If anyone is interested, here’s the link to my favorite journal notebooks.
This month marks one year of going to therapy consistently, completely changing my life. My purpose behind sharing my experience is to highlight how therapy has been helpful for me. This is coming from someone who felt extremely scared to start and even had somewhat impostor syndrome when I finally started. Reflecting on the past year, I can say that it is not as scary as TV shows make it seem, and it has improved my quality of life significantly.
According to a study done by the CDC’s National Center of Health’s Statistics, one-fifth of U.S. adults in 2020 received mental health treatment within the past year. Marking a tick up from 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic . Similarly, after receiving my narcolepsy diagnosis in December of 2019 and the isolation caused by the pandemic, I realized it was time to find a way to cope with my mental health issues.
I have always loved science and psychology, which is why I believed in therapy even though I had never tried it myself. I also had the wrong idea of what therapy is really like. I thought that I would walk into therapy and have my therapist ask me a series of questions that would bring to light all of my traumas and anxieties. Then they would give me a few sentences that would change my life moving forward. Turns out therapy is way more straightforward, and it is really what you make it.
The first few times I attended therapy, I spent most of the time talking about my life, like the places I’ve lived in, my family, and my narcolepsy diagnosis. I did most of the talking as my therapist just followed up with questions. It wasn’t until my fourth or fifth session that I started to really dig deeper within myself. I talked about my life, insecurities, happy moments, etc. Through these talks, I understood my emotions and, ultimately myself.
Through therapy, I realized that absolutely no one is immune to trauma. Many circumstances of my life that were normal to me, such as moving a lot growing up, have caused patterns and anxieties in my adult life. Getting my narcolepsy diagnosis completely changed my life, and I did not take the time to acknowledge it, which heightened my anxiety and even caused me depression. Talking to a professional about the hardship of having an invisible illness while also being a young adult trying to figure out life allowed me to express my emotions, sometimes through tears and others through laughter. It made me feel seen, and this is when I started to appreciate myself and prioritize my worth instead of giving in to the negative self-talk or repeating harmful experiences in my head.
It’s not like I am immune to mental health issues just by going to therapy, but I have gained coping skills. Skills such as prioritizing and scheduling in time in my day to practice self-love. Recognizing the negative voice inside my head and how to turn its narrative into something positive. Ways to stay grounded to ease emotional pain. It has also made me appreciate myself for putting in the work to keep growing as I get to know myself more and more.
I come from an upbringing that was filled with unconditional love and support. Therefore, the idea of sitting and talking about my childhood felt wrong since I would never want to “complain” since I know I have been fortunate to have the support system I have. Truth is, we all faced adversity at some point, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with reaching out for help. We could always compare our lives to others and think they have it better or worse, but that does not matter. What matters is validating our emotions, struggles, and victories and understanding that we all deserve to feel happy.
My romantic heart sees beautiful couples, and I think back to when I was “deeply in love,” more like blindly in love. Even though it was not sustainable or ideal, it was beautiful; it was.
Love like that at a time in your life where kisses and letters defined the relationship was beautiful. You love me; I love you. I feel like we are floating in space together; every indie song reminds me of our love, touch, and essence. There is no conflict we can possibly foresee breaking us apart. Holding hands is our secret superpower and forever is the only option.
Was this love young? Naive? Unhealthy? Maybe. But it allowed me to feel. To feel dream and fly also came without a map, so with time, I got lost. I lost you. I searched for the stars as a guide. It seemed like I was getting closer to you, to us, to our magic. After months of travel, I realized I was on an entirely new island—no trace of us, just the memories that live in my heart. First, I hoped you would come looking for me. If I lost you, I figured you must have been worried and looking for me too.
You never did. This hurt me, well, more as it broke me. I blamed you first, then myself, but after winter passed and the flowers came out so did I. The sun shone clarity into my heart. It brought compassion, forgiveness and closure.
I understand now I had to get lost to find myself again. To learn to love again. I know it will look different. I’ll make sure to carry a map or two next time around.
For you, I wish the same. I wish you love, happiness and compassion. I wish you success, realized dreams, and adventures. I wish you anything that fills you with joy and purpose.
We will find our way again—different paths but exciting ones, nevertheless.
I must tell you how grateful I am to have met you. To have lived you, breathed you, and loved you. I always will. Thank you for sharing your stardust and your time on Earth with me. Until next time. Bon voyage!
I have tried hard to define what makes me happy. I have this recurring feeling that what I am chasing at the time is going to make me happy. As if once I reach that next target, I will finally become satisfied. That does not mean I’ve never experienced spontaneous moments of happiness. Still, it’s how I have defined happy moments to be two different experiences—the moments when I finally accomplish my goal at the time and the random unforeseen moments of happiness.
The more I grow up, the less this makes sense in my life. When something sad or tragic happens, am I supposed to wait until the next moment of happiness to feel joy? What happens if such moment does not please me as I thought it would?
These questions have brought me into a spiral this year but challenging life circumstances, as they tend to do, sent me on a quest to find some answers. I now feel that I do not want to wait to be happy. I want to choose to live in happiness. At first, this did not make much sense to me. A big goal of mine was to graduate college. Ever since I was seven, I thought I would be the happiest person alive once I walked that stage. Don’t get me wrong, graduating was a huge accomplishment that took sacrifice, resilience, and significant effort. Though, once I did, I did not feel any less or more joy overall. It had nothing to do with the title or the piece of paper. I mean, the pleasure I felt had more to do with the person I had become, the experiences that I was able to live, and the fantastic people the journey brought in and out of my life.
“Our notions about happiness entrap us. We forget that they are just ideas. Our idea of happiness can prevent us from actually being happy. We fail to see the opportunity for joy that is right in front of us when we are caught in a belief that happiness should take a particular form.”
This concept has turned my life upside down because now I get to question every negative thought that goes into my head and play the narrative to serve me best. I am not talking about this toxic positivity of “Yay, life is great; don’t waste time being sad. Just be happy!:-).” It’s the opposite. It means to change the narrative that things must be a certain way. How do we change the narrative? By staying present in the now. Suppose I create a scenario in my head about how I fear/hope/think some event will play out. In that case, I will continuously disappoint myself when such actions don’t happen.
I now choose to wake up and grasp a sense of how I feel. Some days I feel like the most confident and loving version of myself. These days I want to do a million things at once, hang out with loved ones to share my light. I even get an extra workout or re-organize all my drawers. On days like these, looking for moments of happiness is the easiest thing to do. I can play my favorite song or look at my dog and tear up from joy and gratefulness.
What about the days I wake up feeling like there’s nothing to look forward to? These are the days when my resilience gets super tested. I don’t feel like being around people or looking at myself in the mirror. I used to feel sorry for myself on days like these and would listen to that inner voice calling me all kinds of mean adjectives. For a while, I believed it (shoutout therapy for teaching me how to switch the story). I would tell myself all kinds of negative stories that I was not good enough, and that’s why people hated me. That so and so think I am weird and annoying. I mean, the list goes on. Getting to know myself pushed me to look at who I am at my core. I am not perfect or close to it, but I am at peace. I allow myself now to feel the feels. To cry it out to scream at my pillow. To swallow my pride and call a friend for support. Constantly controlling the narrative that these emotions are temporary and they do not define who I am.
A hard lesson I am actively working on every day is not to let people’s projections affect my energy. This concept is an ongoing journey for me. I have great days where I apply all the techniques; there are some when I don’t. The difference now is that I know I am in control of the story I tell myself. Whatever happens outside of that has nothing to do with me. “It’s not personal. It’s not personal. It’s not personal.”.
I use gratitude to ground myself and bring joy into my life. If all else fails, I know I have thousands of things to be thankful for. When I can’t think of anything because my mind is clouded with sorrow, I lay on the floor and look up. Whether it is the roof, the stars, cloud, or rain I am staring at. I can find many reasons to be thankful for any of those. And when I’m alone, but I feel lonely, I go back to one of my favorite quotes that says,
“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, 1927.
I hope this brings a glimpse of joy into your day if you are feeling down. If you are in a joyful state, I hope this is a reminder for when life gets tough. A reminder that change and growth are not linear, and we will always find ourselves in and out of this cycle. It is all about finding your balance.
If you got this far, just know it means the whole world to me that you took the time to read this. I would also love to know how to attempt to practice happiness in your daily life. Please, drop a comment with any thoughts or feedback you may have.