Hope, perspective, and Play-Doh

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I’m gonna get you started with two stories that are utterly unrelated except for two things:

1. They both pack a major paradigm shift.

2. They’re both about hope.

Then, I’ll have a point. I promise. Just roll with it:

Story #1 was on Radiolab a couple weeks ago. Rather than setting up the premise myself, I’ll just quote the official website:

Lulu Miller, reporter at NPR and former Radiolab producer, tells us the story of how her entire world view flipped in one scary moment. It happened on a bike trip she took with her friend Soo. Lulu and Soo are, well … different. Lulu tends to be an optimist who sees the best in people, while Soo has always been a bit more of a pessimist about her fellow man. Not surprisingly, a bike trip across the country turned that charming difference into a friendship on the rocks. But then, an unexpected encounter in the wilds of Virginia left Lulu and Soo deeply confused about the right way to greet an imperfect world.

(Source: Radiolab)

Juicy, no? Give it a listen if you have a few. Anyway, through a series of uncomfortable interpersonal encounters, the self-identified “optimist” in the story gets slapped awake to a startling revelation: Being indiscriminately pleasant + tolerant towards people + circumstances is “happy hopelessness.” 

Whoa. As someone whose personal moral code is rooted in unconditional acceptance + joy, I had to really let that one sink in. Wait, what? Seeing the best in people, giving them the benefit of the doubt, cutting them a break when they’re acting a fool… those things are hopeless? Potentially harmful? 

Hope is really seeing someone, not just who you trust them to be. Hope is calling them out on their shit, not letting them suffocate in it. Hope is accompanying someone through their lived experiences, not your “optimistic” assessment thereof. Hope is caring enough about someone to allow productive “confrontation” or “conflict,” not flee to more pleasant territory because you can’t stomach the discomfort. Hope is helping a troubled person — or situation, or world — get better, not making them feel better about being stuck in a bad pattern.

At least that’s what this story would suggest. Hope is the thing with feathers, à la Emily Dickinson? Nah, hope is the thing with razors + spikes + a lotta tough love :) Still working through it, but simply having this alternate definition of hope on my radar is life-changing in a very concrete way. It’s a new perspective I could never see before. And now I have it there to help me navigate my personal relationships + professional future.

Story #2 was told by the succulent Alexandra Franzen last week. Sip it up for a short + sweet punch of perspective. To summarize, her scalp-soothing hairstylist makes her day… and it turns out that he received a legit Daymaker Award for making everybody’s day! As Alexandra reflects:

When you meet a true Daymaker, the soul-residue doesn’t wash off after a couple shampoos.

And that fateful haircut left me wondering about things. Big things. Deep things.

Like what if, maybe, we’re all wasting our time + spinning our wheels, agonizing over questions like:

“What is the secret to happiness + success + wealth + greatness + impact + legacy + leadership + innovation + how can I fulfill my highest purpose, every day?”

When really, all we oughta be asking is:

“How can I make someone’s day?”

(Source: Alexandra Franzen)

Talk about another life-changer. Now I have a whole new question to ask — a question that is in and of itself the answer to every existential question ever. What’s more hopeful than that? Thanks, Alexandra.

And here’s the point.

Perspective is a malleable thing, a funky blob shape-shifting between your palms like the multicolored Play-Doh that results from not putting the respective Play-Doh colors back in their correct containers. Doesn’t it just fill you up with hope to know that there’s so much you’ve yet to see or sense or learn? Your entire perspective on life could change today. Hey, I just had two game-changers hit me in one week!

And those paradigm shifts were a direct result of listening to someone else’s story. They told it, I heard it, I changed. Magic, no?

Sooo… tell your story. You never know whose paradigm you’ll shift, whose life you’ll change. Last year I wrote about storytelling, sincerity, and healing. We all too often succumb to that vulnerable moment of doubt when we question if our story really matters. Well, here’s your affirmation: It does. Always, always.

Have you heard (or told) any “aha!”-inducing stories lately? Share with us in the comments please!

Happy Friday :) xoxo

One more reason to screw around on the internet: Wonderstated is now on tumblr!

Oh hey! I’ve been trying to find the perfect way to share the provocative stuff I read on the internet without a.) flooding your Facebook feed or b.) taking the time to write it up here. So, modeling myself after this fine human, I started a tumblr site… DUH. I can’t believe I didn’t really know this existed before! Do you have a tumblr? Share it with the rest of us please! Or start one — it’s super easy.

The tumblr site will serve as a curated reading list featuring the [subjectively] coolest internet content on the following topics:

  • health + human rights (and everything encompassed therein)
  • neuroscience + psychology
  • occupational therapy + justice + disability rights
  • identity + inequality
  • pediatrics + neonatology
  • body positivity (to the max!)
  • radical self acceptance + self care
  • creativity
  • economic justice + wealth redistribution
  • powerful stories + fascinating people
  • FUN
  • etc. etc.

Here’s a little peek… yeeeah screen shot… or just go to the site

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Happy Friday xo :)

A love letter to your wounds

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All this time
all I ever wanted was for you to rest
and bend
and soften.

All I ever wanted was to hold you
and stroke you
and never let you go.

All this time
you were so beautiful
and so fragile
and ever so strong.

Your tenderness is the most precious thing in the universe.
(So it is for each of us, my dear.)

You are swollen with grief
and freedom
and hot stone massages.

I’ve never had a hot stone massage
and I’ve never actually had a mani-pedi — the horror!

But I have loved you all the way
down.

I have loved you
and loved you
and loved you more.

All this time
love was all there ever was.

Come close, dear one:
you can rest now.

Fred Ho: “Pain into Power”

pain into power

Do you know Fred Ho?

Me neither, until yesterday. Weekend Edition aired this powerful interview produced by the Code Switch team, and I was seized in an instant. I love me a good revolutionary, and Fred Ho is a great one. The above quote stopped me in my proverbial tracks (but thankfully had no affect on my driving): Turn pain into power. Never become a victim; become a revolutionary. Daaaaaamn that’s good.

Living with terminal stage IV colorectal cancer, Fred knows a great deal about pain. He also knows about telling the truth without apology or euphemism or general BS. He lets it all hang out — literally, in the case of his “Celestial Green Monster” album cover:

What are you waiting for?

Listen to the interview.

No really, DO IT. And then get on up + become a revolutionary in your own life.

Happy Sunday xoxo

Challenge: Can a budget be fun? (Part One)

Ohhhh man.

Money. 

Click play on the soundtrack now and sing the money blues with me.

I’m totally itching to unleash my usual rant: how I don’t understand money, how it’s not real, how violent it is, how an alternative medium for economic life is not only possible but preferable… BUT I’d rather not come off as the kooky radical today so I’ll stick to reality. Reality being:

Money rules our lives.

boo money

Don’t argue with me on this: it does. This fact is most apparent when money is less than abundant. And so, since this blog is in large part about creative living, I’d like to tackle the whole money thing. Choreographing your cash flow is one of the most creative parts of life, because it requires a lot of courage, imagination, and dedication.

Making do with what you got
is the bread + [vegan] butter of creativity.

Last month, I saw my expenses soar + income plummet. Yayyy. So, on February 1, I instituted my first “rule” of money management.

Rule #1: No eating out.

And by no eating out, I mean no eating out. No snacks, no Starbucks, nada.

Origin story: This rule arose out of necessity last year when I first moved to San Francisco. It was a grand success, not only empowering me to survive a precarious month of funemployment in the nation’s most expensive city but also reacquainting me with the joy of cooking.

Why a “rule”? I know rules don’t work for the rebellious among us; they are just begging to be broken, no? But I encourage you to think about rules in a new way, not as restriction but as liberation. A firm rule frees you from the anxiety of choice or the stress of willpower. It reinforces your personal intentions (not external pressures) + facilitates your goals. So when I pass a yummy (a.k.a. pricey) food spot on the street, I don’t have to decide in the moment whether or not I will go in. I don’t have to force myself to choose “no;” I don’t have to wrestle with guilt should I choose “yes.” My rule already made the decision for me, so I don’t even have to think about it. When a certain option is off the table, I can relax and proceed with the option that is.

However, there are 3 exceptions to this particular rule:

1. Someone else gets the check ;)
*You know who you are… thank you!!!

2. The cost of a meal eaten out is comparable in price to a meal eaten at home (a.k.a. under $4)
*I intend to keep these purchases to a minimum, or buy fewer groceries when I anticipate an abnormally frantic week with less time available for meal prep

3. I’m really, really desperate.
*Obviously I do everything I can to avoid this, but I believe in anticipating + allowing for the possibility of “slip-up’s” (I had my first + only one so far this past weekend: a burrito at a taqueria in Truckee. So worth it.)

So yeah, I’ve been doing really great so far otherwise! Along the way, I’ve discovered a few things that make a restaurant/cafe/drive-thru/Whole Foods salad bar-free life more satisfying and even FUN:

  • Get excited about your challenge. Turn it into a mental game: think of the dollar amount you’re saving every time you pack lunch, or even keep a running tally of these “points.” Some may call this mildly obsessive; I call it pretty darn fun.
  • Cement your rule + let your self-esteem bloom when you stick to it! It’s really empowering to do what you set out to do!
  • Carve out time for food prep. And really, it doesn’t require that much time. But if you don’t make the time, you won’t make the meal.IMG_3056Pumpkin chocolate chip oat bars with cashew agave glaze
    (inspired by this recipe) 45 min to bake = breakfast + snacks for days!
  • Buy groceries with pleasure in mind. Yes, pleasure! That’s mostly what we seek from a restaurant, so you need to satisfy that urge at home if you intend to sustainably avoid pricey meals out. It can be tempting to only buy “healthy” or “good” groceries — don’t do it! Take home a full range of foods to fit your every mood. That means salad mood and ice cream sundae mood. Stock up on chocolate. This will never prove to be a bad call.
  • Recreate the restaurant experience at home. Use fancy spices. Keep feel-good condiments in your fridge. Think of the one thing (or things) you will always order off a menu — mine are mac’n’cheese, pizza, burrito, chips + salsa/guac, and any version of a hummus plate. Then make sure you have the ingredients handy so you can make these things at home :)photo-5Mac’n’cheese (dairy-free) with sun dried tomatoes + kale… modeled after Homeroom
  • Two words: slow cooker.
  • One word: Tupperware.

Well, I’ve officially told you everything I know about eating in! What’s my bottom line, you ask?

Challenge results, 3 weeks in:  

Success!
Spending: According to my Wells Fargo spending report, I spent $258.83 at restaurants in January (pre-rule) + only $6.53 in February so far (that was the burrito). For the skeptics out there: NO, my grocery spending did not increase to compensate for this. In fact, it decreased… a lot (stay tuned for another post on that).
Eating: I’ve gotten back into the groove in my kitchen, and I’ve cooked some baller food. New fave food blogs: Oh She Glows + Budget Bytes.
Mindset: I pay more attention to my spending; this feels freeing + empowering, because I know I won’t have as many gut-wrenching reckonings with my bank statement at the end of the month.

creativity is abundance

Take-Aways:

1. At first, it was really scary to be conscious of my spending. When it comes to financial matters, ignorance really is bliss. Until you overdraw from your account, that is. If you have the courage to face your finances, you can heal your insecurity + transform your habits.

2. I may not be in control of how much money I make. I may not be in control of surprise expenses (e.g. emergency room bills, car repairs). But I am in control of my day-to-day spending habits!

3. Revelation: Creativity is abundance. When you dare to think about something (like money) differently, you create something that didn’t exist before. You get more than you started with, without earning a single penny more.

Stay tuned for more creative ways to live happier + freer + cheaper :)

xoxo

PS: I tentatively promise to take better pics of my food next time :P

“Patience, grasshopper” i.e. professional development according to Ira Glass

Here’s the scenario:

You have a dream. You want to serve the world by doing ____ (or ____+____+____), and you may or may not want to make a living wage while you’re at it. Your confidence brims more some days than others, but really? You got this. You know yourself, you know your strengths (and weaknesses), and you know that this is your thing. And you’ve got a good ol’ fashioned work ethic to boot.

So: Why the f— aren’t you thriving? Why aren’t you producing what you want? Why are you wiping adolescent butts for a living? (Wait, you don’t do that too?)

As is the case with most of Life’s Big Questions, Ira Glass has the answer:

What Ira doesn’t quite get to is the fact that “The Gap” affects everyone who hasn’t been precociously vaulted to success by the whims of capitalism, not just the self-identified “creative” folk. It affects a certain badass bureaucrat I know, who can’t alter local government systems to his satisfaction. It affects my future as an occupational therapist… even though I haven’t started school yet, let alone practice (I’m anticipating “The Gap”! I’m in the “Pre-Gap”!). This phase of discontent affects any entry-level or pre-entry-level professional who is still refining their skills and building their awesomeness. 

I like the word “building” because of its active connotation (good one, Alexandra Franzen). We are not stuck, friends. We are not off track. We are building something great and beautiful and worth the long, slow grind. We are patient. We are strong.
We are builders.

builders toolbox 2Some proven balms to soothe your frustration + polish your shine…

I’d love your additions to the toolbox! Comment if you have a go-to antidote to “The Gap.”

Happy Friday :) xoxo

What story do your feet tell? (Yes, your feet!)

Last week I uploaded a YEAR’s worth of iPhone photos, prompting a stroll down memory lane. Curiously, I noticed a recurring theme: foot selfies. What the…?

But I kinda like them. And upon viewing them all in a row — reveling in where I’d been and who had been there with me, grateful for all the opportunities and adventures and love that filled my 2013 — I liked them even better. And upon rereading Vivienne McMaster‘s response to the eternal question – Why take self portraits of your feet? – I liked them even better.

So pump up the Passion Pit — let’s take a walk :)

IMG_0969Brynna, SF, March 2013

IMG_1106with Rachel & Alicia, Muir Woods, March 2013

IMG_1244Emeryville, April 2013

IMG_1325Berkeley, April 2013

IMG_1416SF, May 2013

IMG_1421with Wylie, SF, May 2013

IMG_1522SF, May 2013

IMG_1773Golden Gate Park, June 2013

IMG_1778Golden Gate Park, June 2013

IMG_1843with Richie & Wylie, Ocean Beach, July 2013

IMG_2147Donner Lake, August 2013

IMG_2161Berkeley, August 2013


IMG_2501China Camp State Park, November 2013

IMG_2642SF, December 2013

IMG_2706with Dogman, Oakland, December 2013

So… what story do your feet tell?

Congrats for making it this far!

Gotta love some good bathroom stall wisdom.

After a way-too-delicious brunch last week, I spent some quality time in the ladies’ room. Fortunately for me, there were some entertaining things scrawled all over the stall. Among the declarations of undying love (and propositions for a temporary good time), one message caught my eye:

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I was all like awwww thanks, it is a pretty big deal that I made it this far! All the way to this awesome restroom at this awesome restaurant on this awesome vacation with some awesome people. Whoa!

Oprah likes to tell the story of her own conception (yep): a spontaneous one-time affair under an oak tree. She likes to say how if her mother hadn’t walked by at that moment, if her father hadn’t looked up and said “hey, girl,” if that one sperm hadn’t won the race… there would be NO OPRAH.* All the pieces had to be in place, ready to go, synchronized for the very moment that created OPRAH. And they were. Miraculous.

We’re all like that. When you really start thinking about all the things that had to happen to get you to where you are right this very second, it’s insane. Amazing. Miraculous. So much was out of your control — in fact, had not the slightest thing to do with you — but you had to keep showing up and playing your part. And for that, you deserve a hefty CONGRATS. You have much farther to go, much more to do, but just for now, take stock of the big, warm, wide miracle that is you. Rest in that. 

Congrats.

You made it this far.

Happy Sunday :) xoxo

*Yeah I know, it’s too tragic for me to even think about.

Love Your Run?

When Erica inspired me to hop back on the blogging wagon, I instantly knew what I wanted to call my first post of 2014:

love your run

Nearly as instantly, I realized this was no good. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ever “loved” a run. Even then, “loved” may not be the aptest word choice. Valued or tolerated or relished, maybe. But loved?

Confession:kinda really resent people who love running. I mean, who loves running? It’s uncomfortable. It’s boring. It hurts. I’m not proud to admit that I get mad at the light-footed joggers who aren’t wheezing like a steam engine, but… I do.

If you’re like me, you don’t get runner’s highs or do “easy” runs. Every run is hard. And I’d like to celebrate that. 

I’m feeling like it’s pretty laudable to do something hard, buoyed by a tenuous trust that you’re worth the effort. I’m finding that I don’t need to love my runs; I really just need to love myself… and, while I’m at it, aspire to hate running a little less.

hate your run less

So here, my friends, are some things that make me hate my runs less:

Willo O’Brien on integrity, self-compassion, and feeling alive in your body (this is at the top of the list for good reason… it’s an amazing post!)

Matt Frazier on setting a good goal… and why it’s never really about setting a good goal

This book (major eye-opener!)

This podcast (on why we’re probably set up to fail, and that’s okay)

This blog (feel-good HQ)

This woman (simply unbelievable)

And my favorite motivational essay of all time – not about running, but about getting your groove back. Zero sugar-coating, just grit + grace.

Well, cheers to you for being awesome exactly the way you are right this second. Any goal you may pursue is just icing on an already scrumptious cupcake. Yum.

Do you have any go-to sources of inspiration/motivation? Share in the comments!

Note on awesomeness: A super shout-out to Lisa, Rachel, Scott, Dave, Sam, Brynna, and everyone else running this race in March! Anyone else wanna join us?!

Note on “fitness” goals: It bothers me on a deep level when we moralize exercise/”fitness,” as though the active among us are actually better people than everyone else. I’m not in a lick of shape at the moment, but I don’t believe for a second that my recent history of lounging cost me any moral fiber. Lounging + running are on equal moral footing in my book. Do what makes you feel happy, strong, and well. Or, if you can’t, don’t. Remember that part where you’re already scrumptious?

xo