Intentions > Resolutions

intention

So I was listening to a podcast yesterday…

(Random side-note: 90% of my sentences begin with that conversation opener. I have a podcast problem, deal with it).

But I digress…the theme of this podcast episode was all about New Year’s resolutions. Groundbreaking stuff, right? It’s not like we just entered 2018 or anything. And here’s another bombshell—more often than not, resolutions don’t even work.

*Cue the collective gasp track.*

Not that it’s a shock to anyone who’s, oh I don’t know, made a resolution at some point, but the excitement and motivation tend to fizzle out after awhile. Once that novelty of goal-setting wears off, most of us find ourselves back at the status quo with a nagging sense of regret or an “ehhh I tried” kind of attitude. We humans are creatures of habit—we resist change, avoid the uncertain, question the unfamiliar.

It’s our struggle. And it’s real.

But now that we’ve established “resolution” carries an undertone of failure, how about a different approach? What if we used another word instead? Like “intention” maybe.

Does a shift in language matter though? Is there some nugget of nuance to extract between the lines? Umm…I think so anyway.

A resolution is expected or obliged.

An intention feels softer, gentler, more mindful somehow.

A resolution has no margin for error.

An intention creates the space to just learn as we go along.

To accept that mistakes happen but only define us if we give permission.

To honor the process of growth and renewal.

To be transformed with a loving touch on the inside, rather than browbeating ourselves into “doing better” on the outside.

One is a performance. The other is a lifestyle. One confines. The other sustains. One is action-oriented. The other is soul-centered.

I picture intention as a creative force. A conscious, dynamic burst of awakening. The genesis of every dream or desire. This might sound too meta for some, but I believe the human experience is rooted in spirituality. And we need to nourish this corner of the triangle (mind, body, spirit) before the wildest, fiercest, bravest, messiest, rawest, truest, fullest expression of ourselves can break through.

So this year, I’m issuing a new challenge to myself—acknowledge the intent behind the resolve. If my goal is to workout more often, for instance (which is an absurd goal since I already workout like it’s my job), rather than just increasing miles, weights or repetitions, I need to investigate what’s fueling this urgency.

Do I have an impulse to exercise because I want to feel active, energized and healthy?

Or could I be using exercise to “outrun” the fear that who I am will never be enough?

9 times out of 10, it’s the latter. In which case, the most beneficial strides toward self-improvement won’t take place through fitness. Resolving to workout more can medicate the symptom. Yeah, sure…of course it can. But the heart-issue will go untreated. And love, impact, art, service—they won’t sprout from a fissured heart.

Instead of focusing all my efforts on the physical, what if I tried setting my intentions on the spiritual? Choosing to affirm that I am enough without “fixing” my appearance to prove it? Now that would be a radical shift. Downright crazy. Weird and wonderful. A pattern of living disrupted. A comfort zone flipped on its head.

But hey, comfort zones are so 2017. Moving forward, I’d rather be soft and intentional. Not stiff and resolute.

So on that note…hello, 2018!

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And then You Feel Alive

Sometimes it seems this wound might never heal. Sometimes it feels this pain could last an eternity and more.

Then other times, you find yourself barefoot and lounging in the bed of a rusted ’99 pickup truck, gazing at the infinite expanse of black, losing count of all the stars. There’s a warm breeze on your face, a pulse in your chest, a world at your fingertips.

It’s those quiet moments—strung together like beads of rain, prisms of light or fractals of snow—that remind you life isn’t over.

While your lungs still draw their treasured breath, while your heart still drums its velvet cadence, you realize there’s a purpose to the cosmos. You sense it’s not through random occurrence or chance encounter that you exist in one minuscule fissure of it all.

And then, you feel alive.

Eating Disorders Hate the Word “Healthy,” So It’s Time for a New Definition

weight is not worth

“You look so healthy!”

It’s a well-intentioned phrase that friends or family members use to express their approval and relief when someone they love begins to heal from an eating disorder.

There’s just one problem though. To those in recovery, “health” is not a compliment. What is meant as sincere affirmation of the positive strides being taken, the eating disordered mentality interprets and internalizes as proof of a changing body that no longer fits the ideal.

From this perspective, “healthy” equals “overweight.” And “overweight” equals “failure.” Eating disorders thrive off a need for control and rigidity. The illness requires an excessive degree of time, effort and self-restraint. It’s demanding, uncompromising, all-consuming work.

For those caught within its grasp, the eating disorder is an identity, the area they excel in, a “superhuman” strength. Their concept of health has become so distorted, they associate it with mediocrity—a direct violation of the uniqueness they crave.

Reframing the context of healthy:

In the beginning stages of my own recovery process, I encountered the “h-word” constantly which reinforced all the fears and suspicions that my “perfect body” was gone. I had grown accustomed to measuring success based on thinness and didn’t understand the reality of this new message other people were sending me.

I heard, “You’re fat.”

They meant, “Your skin isn’t rough. Your eyes aren’t hollow. Your cheeks aren’t sunken. Your hair isn’t brittle. Your posture isn’t hunched. Your arms aren’t wiry. Your smile isn’t forced. You look more alive.”

So when I reached a state of awareness and receptiveness to the truth behind that word, I began to realize our weight-obsessed culture is in desperate need of a new definition.

First of all…

Health is not a euphemism for “guess what…that ‘thing’ you used to be awesome at—well, you’re not anymore.” 

Health is not a result of losing control over yourself or the behaviors which took you such a long time to cultivate.  

And here’s what else it’s not… 

Health is not spending hours on the treadmill or in the weight-room.

Health is not eating meals that consist of just quinoa, kale and chia seeds.

Health is not allowing a number on the scale to dictate your happiness.

Health is not indulging in dessert then inflicting punishment afterward.

Health is not using exercise for the sole purpose of burning calories.

Health is a holistic fusion of the mind, body and spirit. Health is finding balance. Health is moving because the body is designed to—not because it should conform to an external standard. Health is eating nutritious foods but not being afraid to share Chinese take-out with your friends. Health is not determined by weight or appearance.

Health is wholeness.

Health is vitality.

5 Sustainability Tips for Everyday Life {Guest Post}

Even if we don’t realize it, one of the greatest threats in the world today is climate change. This environmental hazard is responsible for rising sea levels, increased temperatures and the extinction of entire species, all of which impact our future well-being here on earth.

It’s common to blame these issues on a passive government or corporate greed, but the fact is our everyday actions are just as much a factor. We tend to avoid sustainable practices out of convenience, laziness or sheer apathy.

As the inheritors of this planet, our generation’s responsibility is to protect the environment we call home. Being eco-conscious in doesn’t even require a drastic lifestyle change. Just start with small trade-offs, and you’ll notice a positive difference over time.

sustainability

1.  Cut Down on Plastic Waste

You might think it’s impossible to avoid using plastic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a shot. Plastic is a known pollutant, and as a scuba diver, I’ve seen firsthand its effects on marine ecosystems. Coral reefs are being destroyed, and fish are washing up ashore due to plastic ingestion. Here are some strategies to reduce your plastic consumption:

  • Take a reusable canvas bag with you to the grocery store instead of using the standard plastic bags.
  • Drink water from glass bottle and keep refilling it (empty wine bottles are ideal for storing water in the refrigerator).
  • Request no straws or plastic lids for your beverage at restaurants and take-out chains.
  • Be aware of the plastic content in products you consume and choose biodegradable options which are healthier for the environment.

2.  Go Green on Your Commute

Most people drive their cars on a daily basis, but your emissions can be reduced significantly if you make simple changes on the commute. Choose to walk or take public transportation for shorter distances. For longer distances, become familiar with road cycling safety habits, and bike around town instead of driving. When you need to drive somewhere, carpool with friends to lower your carbon footprint.

3.  Use Eco-Friendly Products

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to consumer products, but often, we pick the cheapest brand without giving much thought to the consequence of that purchase. Buying mass-produced items can leak factory emissions and pollutants into the atmosphere.

So read the labels when you’re out grocery shopping. Purchase organic, local and fair trade-certified foods. Organic practices eliminate pesticides, fair trade items promote sustainable production and fair wages, and locally grown produce bolsters farming and supports the community. Also check the labels on cosmetic products and choose brands that haven’t been tested on animals and don’t use illegally or unethically sourced ingredients.

4.  Work From Home If Possible

The average American spends 47 hours commuting through traffic each year. This equals 3.7 billion hours and 23 billion gallons of gas wasted. With more companies becoming eco-conscious and more millennials entering the workforce, some businesses allow their employees to work remotely which offers increased flexibility and benefits the environment. In fact, remote working decreases greenhouse emissions by 54 million tons annually.

5.  Practice Energy Efficiency

We often take electricity for granted and don’t realize how much energy we consume by leaving the lights on or forgetting to unplug a charger. Remembering to turn off all switches before leaving the house is crucial, but you can also swap traditional bulbs for LEDs or CFLs which use less power and have a longer lifespan. The money you would save by switching out incandescents for these greener options will make this a win-win situation.

If you can afford it, another solution is using solar power. These panels are installed on the roof and converting sunlight into energy that can fuel everything from the refrigerator to the air-conditioner. In cases where enough sunlight isn’t collected, the energy is drawn from a built-in power grid. This natural form of electricity can also save money in the long-term, and research shows that solar panel users saved between $44 to $187 during their first year alone.

 

These are just a few pointers adopting a more sustainable life that doesn’t require any profound changes. If we all took these basic strides, the collective impact on this planet would be extremely positive—and in the modern world, that’s exactly what our environment needs.


 

Akshata Mehta has a passion for traveling and exploring the world. She loves to write, and is especially interested in sustainable living. Being a foodie, she also enjoys cooking up healthy concoctions in her kitchen, recording these recipes and more on her blog With Love From Akshata.

The Gorgeous Contradiction

human heart

Dear Humans,

Let’s talk.

Let’s talk matters of the heart.

A striking paradox. A gorgeous contradiction.

Hard and Soft.

Dark and Light.

Fragile and Strong.

Timid and Brave.

Leaden and Lithe.

Tethered and Wild.

Each a fractal. Mosaic. Part of a whole.

A force resolute with the spunk of a rebel.

So let’s acknowledge the shadows and summon the flames.

The murk and the mess. The gleam and the grace.

They all beat together. They all have a place.

There’s beauty. Creativity. And transparency too.

It lives just inside, gasping for a breakthrough.

Let’s feel it. Not fear it. Let’s uncage it for flight.

The heart pants for freedom. Clamors for the heights.

It wasn’t meant to be fettered and snared.

The heart is wired to cavort in midair.

It’s poetic but doesn’t rhyme.

It’s musical but sings off-key.

It’s artistic but smears the canvas.

And within that enigma, you’ll forever find magic.

So accept the absurdities. Don’t scorn the complexities.

Because the heart was made fearless. Stamped for eternity.

That’s Permissible.

permission

If your footprints are crooked like a gypsy soul, a wandering outcast shoved off the linear road

If your true north falters, and the destination obscures until it’s less an arrival, more a wrong turn

That’s permissible.

If your heart won’t contain all the wild inside, the fracas, the clutter, the imperfect divide

If your spirit is grounded, wings clipped in flight, but still dares to hope in the waning moonlight

That’s permissible.

If your pierced liquid eyes unmask a counterfeit smirk, and there’s no other defense to whitewash the dirt

If your tear tracks have withered, but the stains have adhered, a salty reminder, an obstinate smear

That’s permissible.

If your bone wearied legs are slogging through mire, so each tiptoe forward keeps stoking the fire

If your white-knuckled hands grope for an anchor to sustain through life’s eddies, its swells and its breakers

That’s permissible.

If your nights of stargazing, of groaning for impact, seem more like illusions that exist in abstract

If your mornings of stillness, remote from the world, are the last cords of sanity that haven’t unfurled

That’s permissible.

If your senses are stirring and coming alive to the flicker of daybreak, the passion revived

If your love can’t be tarnished, trampled or tamed, and you refuse to view kindness as just a cliche

Hey…

That’s permissible too.

So, listen. Receive. It’s time we all knew

To be real is permissible. And that is our truth.

 

13 Reasons Why this Life Thing Still Matters

13 reasons why

Hi. My name is “Sucker for Netflix.”

Sure, I can admit that. Why fork over $10 per month and never use the subscription, right? I get my money’s worth. And like most Millennials, I have binge-watching down to a science.

My evening workouts rarely occur without a Friends marathon streaming in the background. My hubs and I finished Stranger Things over the course of just one weekend. And my little heart did somersaults when the Gilmore Girls reunion dropped a few months ago.

Yeah…I know. Said almost everyone in my generation ever.

But there’s one Netflix series I can’t bring myself to get behind. And unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past several weeks, I think you can piece together where this diatribe is headed.

Three words.

13 Reasons Why.

The show that launched a thousand controversies—and even more opinions. The latest buzzword trending on social media, dominating water-cooler debates, and sparking Facebook rant after Facebook rant after Facebook rant. 13 Reasons Why has everyone talking. But it’s the people watching who I’m concerned about.

Because I watched it too. The entire season. Binged all 13 episodes in under a week. And that’s a decision I regret.

First, lemme preface that I’m not persuading you to agree. Nor will I condemn you for grabbing the remote and hitting “play.” I’m just adding my voice to an important conversation because people are going to watch—and their reactions could be visceral, painful, irrational, even detrimental.

Bottom line: these triggers are no joke. And they’re igniting aftershocks of despair in a world that struggles to find the hope.

This plot is fiction. The characters exist on-screen. But their episodic drama is the inescapable truth for actual names and faces. Human beings who’s experiences, narratives or traumas are being slashed open and torn apart by “fabricated” events with fatal implications.

It’s not just a show. It’s the current of our culture. It’s reality. But it’s not prompting change. It’s breeding conflict and cynicism.

And pain. So. Much. Pain.

I recognize what the producers were aiming to accomplish, and I maintain their intentions were positive. 13 Reasons Why does cast a fierce, urgent limelight on rampant social issues which often don’t get the emphasis or attention they deserve.

Rumors. Bullying. Self-Harm. Depression. Sexual Assault. Drug Abuse. Suicide. Real adversities with tragic endings. These need to be addressed—but where’s the redemption, the endurance, the courage to survive, the intensity to overcome?

The show’s theme of retribution turns death into a mode for seeking vengeance. For wounding those who caused your wounds in the first place. A corrupted form of justice without the vindication.

Life’s fragility. Death’s finality.

The heart breaks. The spirit crumbles. You oust yourself. It’s over. The end.

But…wait. No. There should be more to a story than just one chapter interrupted mid-sentence. What about the resolution—the conquest, the triumph—on the last page? That’s our motivation to keep reading. Persisting. Living.

Because we all can pinpoint 13 reasons to quit now and peace out from the wreckage of this world. But we have a million reasons to press forward, to confront the mess with a wink and a smirk, to focus on what’s good. 

So I propose a different message. 13 reasons you’re needed on this earth. Whoever you are. Whatever you’ve been through.

1. You’re a unique, multifaceted, extraordinary individual.

2. Your words and actions convey a poignant message.

3. Your influence or significance could never be replaced.

4. You’re creative, imaginative and brimming with talent.

5. Your idiosyncrasies fascinate and attract other people.

6. Your spirit of compassion enriches deep connections. 

7. You’re light and love in a dark, jaded, cruel society.

8. Your resilience today becomes redemption tomorrow.  

9. Your merit isn’t based on size 0 jeans or 100 Instagram likes.

10. You’re here to fulfill a purpose designed for nobody else.

11. Your temporary struggles make you permanently stronger.

12. Your story will empower and encourage other broken hearts. 

13. You’re not a victim who succumbed but a victor who continued.

Life is our platform. Our testimony.

Ours.

And what’s ours is worth fighting for.

13 reasons why 2