Allow Yourself to Be a Beginner

Have you ever had a great idea for a project or personal goal, that seems super inspiring and exciting at first only to devolve into another disappointment as soon as you start taking real steps toward it? This happens to me ALL the time. Everything feels so much easier and more seamless when it’s just an idea. Unfortunately, our minds forget to factor in that embarking on new endeavors is challenging and often not immediately rewarding in the way we imagined it would be. This disparity between imagination and reality can cause us to give up on the idea too quickly.

For example, I just bought myself a spontaneous gift, a Wacom Intuos drawing tablet. For those who haven’t heard of this before, it’s a tablet that allows you to create digital art on your computer. It even came with access to a couple different softwares for making said art. I’ve been giddy about getting this tablet for days. I kept checking all day yesterday to see if it had arrived yet. I couldn’t wait to get home and start creating. I even told my coworkers about it and promised to show them all the cool things I would draw with it over the weekend.

Once I got home and got everything set up and ready to go, I was immediately filled with self doubt. I had hoped the software might be more simple and intuitive than Photoshop. However, the two seem nearly identical to me. There are just SO many options. I don’t even know where to begin. I figured I’d at least be able to do a simple drawing as well as I could with pen and paper, but I was dead wrong. So far I haven’t been able to make a single thing. Instead of drawing, I spent the better part of my evening doing research and watching tutorials.

Now this is normally the part in the process where I give up. I feel crushed not only that I can’t do what I thought I’d be able to do, but also that I “wasted” so much time and money believing I could. Thankfully, I am no longer the self-defeating person I once was. When I started to feel frustrated and like I wanted to quit yesterday, I just repeated my new mantra: It’s okay to be a beginner. The progress I’ve seen in my drawing over the last few years just from doodling every day has bolstered my self-confidence. I KNOW I can do this. I’ve done it before. I won’t let my ego stop me, just because it feels insulted we aren’t already the best at something we’ve literally never tried before. Sure, it feels good to be the best, but it feels even better to learn new skills and watch yourself get better and better.

My mindset is totally different this time around. I am more determined than I’ve felt in years. I’ve fucking GOT THIS. I know that determination is all that I need. That alone is a guarantee that I’ll master this new art form one day. It sure as hell won’t be tomorrow or even next week. Maybe not even next year. But I will be better than I am today by the time I reach each of those future dates. And eventually I’ll be better than I ever believed I could be. Instead of letting my total lack of ability right now discourage me, I’m using it to inspiring me. Won’t it be so freaking cool and impressive once I figure this out?! How proud I’ll feel. How fascinating it will be to watch my amazing sponge-like mind absorb this new knowledge and build a new talent. Right now, I don’t even know what this new software is capable of. The possibilities are endless.

Rather than running from our sense of inadequacy or feeling so embarrassed by being a beginner that we quit, we can choose to savor where we are right now. I want to remember what it feels like to be this know-nothing novice. I want to remember so that I can feel all the more joy in a few years when I look back on how far I have come. Every single expert was a beginner at some point. Would being an expert even hold any satisfaction if that weren’t the case?

Being a beginner is exciting! You are learning a new skill. What a wonderful way to exercise this incredible muscle we call the mind. That is part of the reason we are here on this earth, to learn new things, to explore, to experience. We won’t be able to do any of those things if we only allow ourselves to do what we’re already good at. Being a beginner is a beautiful thing to be. Choose to enjoy it.

Mantras to Practice:

  1. It’s okay to be a beginner.
  2. I am making progress toward my goals each day.
  3. It’s fun to learn new things.
  4. I enjoy challenging myself and building new skills.
  5. Practice makes progress.
Embracing a Beginner's Mind | Harlem Yoga Studio

I Am Brave

My intention for today is “I am brave.” There is just so much going on in the world and inside of myself this year. I really want to find strength and courage from within to keep me grounded. Over half-way through the day and I still am not really feeling much weight behind this intention that I’ve been reciting.

I noticed a while ago that my inner voice often repeats “I’m scared. I’m scared. I am scared.” I don’t know when this began to be an unconscious mantra of mine. However, I’m sure it has been just as harmful as an intentional mantra can be helpful.

There seems to be a fine line separating simply shifting your focus and denying yourself all together. There is an entirely different feeling between the two. Yet for me it can be hard to find the right one sometimes. Instead of reassuring myself that I am strong and capable and brave, I often find myself just refusing to acknowledge my emotional state entirely. Pushing away, resisting, denying what I’m experiencing. It is difficult to allow feelings of fear and anxiety while simultaneously encouraging and bolstering more positive feelings to emerge.

I have to keep reminding myself that saying “I am brave” is not a lie. It is not a denial of the fears I still have. It is an affirmation of the courage that resides within me despite those fears. It is the whisper of a kind friend saying “I know you are scared, but we can get through it together. Give me your hand.” I have to remember that it isn’t an attempt to shut out the truth of my emotion. I am not ignoring the precious, though uncomfortable, signals my body is sending me. Rather, I am saying to my anxious heart “Yes, dear. I hear you. Come into my arms. Let me show you this feeling is not all that remains inside of us. You are brave despite your fear. You are strong even in moments of weakness. Don’t forget the stillness that rests in the ocean’s depths even as the surface shakes.”

Fear and bravery are not mutually exclusive. I am scared. But I am also brave in the face of fear. I am weary. But I am also filled with fire yet. I am anxious and agitated. But I am also full of love and gratitude.

For too much of my life, I severely underestimated the power of what we say to ourselves. It is not enough to try to avoid harmful self-talk. We need to actively speak kindly to ourselves each day. And even though it may seem like it’s the same, writing these things down or speaking them aloud to yourself is immensely more powerful than simply thinking it. Speaking gentle words of encouragement, intentions, and self-affirmations into a mirror is even better. You might feel silly at first (I still do), but just these small acts make all the difference. Writing or preferably, speaking engages so much more of your brain. It helps us put more focus and energy behind the words. It helps to strengthen these new mental connections we are building.

So even though I am feeling fearful of the future, even though I’ve been feeling out of control, even though I want to run, to escape, I will remain. Because I am brave. I can do this.

Photo by Eternal Happiness on Pexels.com

Everything Is As It Should Be

Everything is as it should be. This is a mantra that I like to use a lot in my meditation. It’s a helpful reminder to accept, to let go, to just be. Often we find ourselves suffering because of our own unwillingness to accept reality for what it is. We all have an idea of the way things should be, and when that doesn’t line up with the way things are it causes us great distress. Sometimes in the form of anger, sometimes anxiety, fear, sadness, etc.

For some reason it is a quite comforting thought to remember that everything is as it should be, even if it’s not what you wish it were. At the end of the day our individual ideas of the way life should look or feel are insignificant. All we can do is accept it for what it is. More than that we can be grateful that it is anything at all. And that, incredibly, we get to be a part of this interesting, beautiful, bizarre thing we call existence.

How strange it is to be anything at all.

The Neutral Milk Hotel

This too I often use as a mantra of sorts. I think it’s easy to forget how lucky we all are to even be here. Even if the world is a fucked up place, even if we have fucked up lives. We each have the option to accept it all as a gift we weren’t owed. And like a gift, no matter what it is, we should remember to say thank you, to be grateful.

I understand that sometimes when you are deeply suffering it can be hard to hear this kind of talk. I remember reacting to such sentiments with absolute disdain as a teenager. And there are still moments when this perspective can’t reach me. But there are other times when these thoughts strike me like the sudden sound of church bells, grabbing hold of me, jarring me from my mindless sleepwalking. I am able to feel the profound meaning and truth behind words that at other times may seem like simple clichés.

I hope that these words can find you in that responsive mood, if not today, then someday. Maybe they have in the past, but you just needed a reminder. I know I often do. So take a moment to breathe deeply, rediscover that childhood wonder, and bravely face the day before you with a grateful heart.

Bullet Journal Spread: December

I have definitely lost a bit of motivation regarding my bujo this month since it’s about to be a brand new year. I am more eager to begin my bujo for 2018 and make the first pen marks in my Leuchtturm 1917 notebook. This is the brand I most often seen being used for bullet journaling. They are a bit pricey so I wanted to make sure I was going to follow through with the habit before investing my money in a fancy journal. After a very productive year of journaling (in a notebook that was not necessarily sturdy enough to handle it), I am confident it is worth the money.

Even though it’s basically half-way through the month already, I wanted to go ahead and show you guys my bujo spread for December. I hope you like it!

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The photos in the last week of my November spread do not belong to me. I found them on Tumblr as I often do to jazz up a weekly spread if I’m feeling anxious rather than excited about coming up with something to doodle.

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I particularly like how my goals and tracker page turned out this month. Sadly I have yet to fill anything in because I wanted to get a photo first in the natural light, forgetting that when I get home from work it is always pitch black now. Oh, the delightful fun of the winter months. I can’t wait for the sun to return to me.

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I tried to make the theme cozy winter bunnies, but all the red ended up giving this first weekly spread a more Valentine’s Day vibe. (Oops!)

This month I experimented with adding a positive affirmation to each week’s spread so I could practice replacing the negative thoughts I have throughout the day with something more loving. Whenever I catch myself in a loop of toxic thinking, I try to change this automatic dialogue into a more beneficial one. Repeating uplifting mantras in moments of stress and self-doubt really does do a lot to alter your mental state and view of the situation.

I hope that you are all having a splendid December so far! Also, to any of you that may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder like I am, don’t be too hard on yourself. It can seem hopeless when, after making steady progress, you find yourself sliding backwards into bad habits. Just know that you are doing your best, and progress is always sprinkled with periods of plateaus and slight regressions. Just keep moving forward, and I promise that your energy, your creativity, and your enthusiasm will return with the warm air, green scenery, and sunshine. Hang in there a bit longer and don’t forget to acknowledge yourself for still trying when things get hard. ♥