Social Anxiety Necklace

Do you remember those fruit loop necklaces you made as a kid? Stringing that pastel doughnut-shaped gems onto a string was a highlight and a half. One, because I was never allowed sugary cereal growing up and two because it meant you were able to snack for days. There was also something about wearing a rainbow on your wrist or neck that filled you with a sense of confidence in knowing that you were both a proficient snacker and an incredible creator of dry good masterpieces. 

Laura Miller, the dazzling face behind a series of vegan Youtube cooking tutorials and the author of Raw.Vegan.NotGross brought about this fruit loop necklace flashback while I was watching her Youtube tutorial on Social Anxiety Necklaces. Laura makes these colourful clay necklace, which she refers to as a "social anxiety necklace," because they provide her with a "shield of calm" when she is feeling anxious. She even created a necklace to wear to her own wedding (pictured above). After posting this tutorial on social media the idea took off and you can now see a slew of these necklaces under #socialanxietynecklace. 

When I came across Laura Miller's 'Social Anxiety Necklace' it took me back to those moments of creating, making, having fun, and not taking things so cerealously (haha, my apologies). 

Opening up about anxiety on a media platform isn't new, but the perspective Laura brought to the table made me look at my anxiety in a whole new light by allowing me to understand anxiety as something that could be light, colourful, weird, playful, and most importantly...normal. It made me realise that hey, maybe there are other ways of dealing with anxiety that have nothing to do with taking deep breaths, isolating yourself to meditate, writing in a journal, or covering yourself in layers of shame for feeling something. A clay-necklace tutorial taught me that maybe we should play with our fears instead of fighting them and that maybe we should make light of our anxiety instead of suppressing it. 

If there is a choice between bathing our fears and anxieties in shame, resistance and sadness or making big goofy beautiful colourful necklaces that remind us that we shouldn't take ourselves so seriously, I will always choose the latter. There are many ways to deal with feelings of anxiousness, but the one route that is so often overlooked is creativity. When we make things with our hands we get out of our heads and remind ourselves that we are more than our brains and emotions. And getting out of your head is an even more delicious experience than eating a fruit loop necklace.



Melting An Iceberg With A Hair Dryer

Sometimes the big fat iceberg that sits between where you are and where you want to be takes a long ass time to melt.

It feels like I have been standing on the edge of my small ship holding up a hotel hair dryer to a frozen block of ice, willing it to melt the fuck away so I can sail off into the horizon. Yes, things feel like they are moving slow. But hey, better to move slowly in the right direction than fast in the wrong one, right?

It often appears that things come together quickly: Businesses' launch overnight, true love manifests in an instant, or works of art appear out of thin air in a mad burst of inspiration. 

Even though a part of us knows that shit doesn't come together in a blink and that social media is a big fat liar, we somehow convince ourselves that we are slow tiny turtles. Why can't you train for a marathon in two months or write three hundred words in five minutes without editing every sentence? Gawd, save me from my failure as a human being.

The time, preparation, struggle, and fun (hey, there are secret fun times in the process) are often hidden at the end of the journey. Instead, works of art, careers, and relationships appear in an instant, perfect and sparkling on our Instagram and Facebook feeds.

The struggle is hidden. The process is nowhere to be found.

Right now, I am writing for a design website that highlights amazing products. But I often wonder as I'm writing how long it took the designer to come up with the idea and how many scraps of paper are sitting in their trash bins. Did they have to overcome any resistance, fears, or doubts? All I see is the finished product and all I write about is the finished product. The middle is always missing from the story, which is kind of a shame because the middle is the best part. The process connects people to the creator. 

I don't want to sit at the end of the assembly line waiting for the sparkly, finished version of myself to manifest so I can finally start writing (as I probably won't be able to put my pen to paper until I'm 120). I want to write about where I am right now (aka the glorious and messy in-between).

I have a drawer full of rejection letters, a billion ideas, lots of finished projects, and even more projects I am itching to start. I am still figuring out my career and just got out of a relationship I adored. Most of the time my feelings are a mix of excitement, desire, frustration, and disappointment. 

But every day I show up at the iceberg with a hair dryer in my right hand,  a chisel in my left and a playlist of pump-up songs bursting through my headphones. Melt baby, melt


“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he'd had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” 
― Anne LamottBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life


How To Organize Your Emotions

I am reminded repeatedly by my family that as a child I used to sit in my room for hours organizing my socks by colour, length, and texture. I even so much as went to the trouble of using a sharpie to label one of the drawers "socks." Clever, right?

Yeah, I was ahead of my time, what can I say. Even today I find so much solace organzing and cleansing my closets and belongings. The process of getting rid of the old and finding the perfect home for things is both revitalising and comforting. Recently, however, my love for order and organization has left the building (and I mean this quite literally). My floors are covered in papers and my clothes rarely ever find their designated address. Finding my toothbrush at 11 pm has quickly become the highlight of my evening. 

The mess on my floor is a perfect reflection of the chaos and disarray that has become my inner world. I have been feeling a strong sense of restlessness and unease which has somehow manifested itself as the sky-high mound of clothes at the foot of my bed. 

Organizing has no longer become a priority as I sit here on my bed (okay, fine, on a pile of dirty clothes) thinking about what I'm going to do tomorrow. Time is pressing up on me like a million strangers in a crowded subway. I need to get off at the next stop, but the pressure and anxiety to keep up with the crowd is freezing my body and freaking my mind. 

It's easy to find a hanger for your dress or the least squeaky of drawers for your precious underwear but of all the objects I have found places for, I have still yet to find a place for myself. Perhaps instead of offering such sage advice for home renovation and design, these wise lovely people could please let me in on how to organize my emotions, design my life, or tell me what colour to my paint my soul so it won't feel so heavy. 

I'm in an intense and increasingly uncomfortable transition (which feels like that comfortable subway ride I was talking about above). My emotions, my fears, my desires, are all over the floor and I am slowly sifting through them. Half of my things are in an IKEA dresser while the rest spill out of plastic tubs (probably also from IKEA). It feels as if I am between worlds, half in the life I am living and half in the life I am creating. Sometimes where you live does not offer that blessed feel of warmth and strong foundation you can feel sturdy on. And sometimes that feeling of always floating is distressing and unnerving. 

Coming from the girl who loves to have her ducks (and socks in a row), this very long period of chaos is hard. But finding a place for important things (I'm not talking about your bobby pin collection) takes time.  It's hard to find a place for your work, for your voice, for your dreams, your doubts, or even a safe space to have a nice long deep breath. But finding that perfect place is often worth the wait. 

Maybe you'll find the perfect place to settle down in right away, or the perfect platform to express yourself to the world, or a friend you can pour your heart into. Or maybe you won't find the perfect place for everything all at once because that would be very overwhelming. So if all your emotional shit is still all over the floor in your room and you just don't feel like you have it together maybe you should just wait for that crazy jolt of inspiration that tells you exactly where you need to put your heart, work, voice, socks...

You don't have to have your emotions organized in perfect little compartments in your brain or you life plan colour coded, alphabetized, and labelled. It's okay if you are still sifting through the chaos and sitting in a pile of dirty laundry writing your heart out. 

Everything is good. 


Groaning In My Snorkel

"And yet, to me, most of the countless fish going about their business on the Tavarua foreshore were nameless, mysterious. Some were so pointlessly gorgeous I found myself groaning in my snorkel." -William Finnegan in Barbarian Days

The last couple of months has been filled with short grunts and deep tiresome sighs. Waking up at 5 AM to scrape ice off my windshield, scrubbing floors stained with strawberry jam, wondering where to move next, and alternating between feelings of deep depression and doubt. There is a thin line between honesty and superficiality, and sometimes you have to forgive yourself for being between worlds. 

But in between the grunts have been loan groans of sweet relief. 

I had forgotten about the moments where you find yourself "groaning into your snorkel" from the deliciousness of life that creeps up on you when your eyes are closed underwater. The groans that sneak in between the monotonous grunts of our daily rituals. 

Good songs coming on the radio at the perfect moment, sweet afternoon naps with my boyfriend, petting puppies on the street that jump up and lick your face, laughing my face off around round tables, good coffee, yummy burrito bowls, satisfying Netflix and chill evenings, long hugs, and walks on pine needles that let you leave your worries on the forest floor. 

Sweet groans will escape your lips on days when you least expect any form of relief. 

And that is a promise. 

Occupation: Aspiring Beam of Light

So, like, what do you do again? Are you like following your passion or something? Or are you like, still meditating on your faux sheepskin rug in the hopes that your calling will come through the wires of your headspace app?

I've spent the last few years really really really trying to figure out the course of my life. I've travelled, I've pondered, I've gone to school for a million different subjects, and I've cried into several different shoulders, hands, and pizza boxes. The bad news is that I still don't have the answer, but the good news is that I don't really care about that question anymore.

I've taken a pass on the passion thing and given the whole calling question the finger. In its place I've leaned into the things that make me feel excited, curious, and sort of, dare I say, alive. 

There is this quote by Rob Bell that has stuck to my ribs for the last two year:

"Calling is overrated and curiosity is underrated." 

So often curiosity sits in front of our faces, begging for our attention and action.Yet, we often miss it, mistake it as a distraction, or trample over it in pursuit of our “calling” or “purpose”.

For a long time, I felt like I was just waiting for the answer to just magically appear in my lap. Making any decision felt like such a big decision. But really, the problem was that I was making the course of my life into something so vast and unforgiving that I didn't even know where to begin. 

So I've decided to start where I am, which is anywhere, doing anything, including small jobs that spark my interest and applying for things I never thought I would want to do but feel pulled towards.

You are so much more than the lists that follow the bullets on your resume and the four-second snippets you use to introduce yourself at parties. There is your "work" and then there is YOUR WORK.

YOUR WORK is to get out of your own way, stop being so serious, and leave behind the conversation of "passion" and "calling" in the bin.

In a chapter from Os Little Guide For Finding Your True Purpose Alain de Botton finally speaks the darn truth by stating that knowing what you want is a difficult and almost impossible pursuit.

I'm sorry, did you hear that?


Feel better?

Knowing what you want isn't normal, it is actually, as Abraham Maslow says: "a rare and difficult and psychological achievement."

Alain de Botton goes on to write about how we should start asking ourselves the question of "what brings me joy?" rather than "what do I want?"

Botton believes that "people searching for their aptitudes should act like treasure hunters passing over their lives with metal detectors, listening for beeps of joy.” 

Looking for the small things that make us curious and bring us joy makes so much more sense to me than this daunting conversation of calling and purpose and passion.

Curiosity is where I'm starting and those small beeps of joy are what I'm seeking.