Something was not working. Something was holding me back from my greatest potential and from helping me understand my true happiness. And it was no person. It was no ex-boyfriend or failed love interest that I could blame. It was no city or job. It was me. It was the habits and cycles I kept falling back into. It was the fact that my soul searching seemed to just crack the surface, and when I hit those real tough and tender parts, I acted like they didn’t exist and just…did something else.
The breakup happened before the start of the summer, the day before Memorial Day. We had a summer filled with plans, vacations, and weddings together. I was sad and anxious when it ended, and immediately put the pressure on myself to just “get back out there”. When I feel sad the emotion takes over my entire body. My anxiety presents itself starting with my breath, I hold it. And then my mind races. I have a hard time staying asleep at night. It feels all-encompassing. But this time it felt different.
I got back on the digital dating merry-go-round. I downloaded all the apps. I went on a few dates, but there seemed to be something majorly fishy about everyone I met.
One man, I went out with decided to tell me halfway through our date that he still lived with his ex-fiance, and she had no plans on moving out. Cute! Another, the man I was out with openly belched during our dinner date, multiple times, and when I asked if he could excuse himself to use the bathroom he told me I was “too controlling and it was never going to work”. The universe was winking at me.
The signs that I needed a break from dating and to concentrate on myself were everywhere. One night I was shuffling through my bookshelf, and serendipitously picked up a book: The Universe Has Your Back by self-love expert and The New York Times best-selling writer, Gabrielle Bernstein. I devoured it in one day. I’ve never read a book so quickly in my life. It was my invitation to grow. It was like Gabby had written the book just for me. Everything she talked about: transforming my fear into faith, letting go of my controlling ways, changing my perception, and releasing my emotional blocks made me feel warm and cozy inside.
So I deleted the apps and changed my attitude. The universe had sent me a gift with the Memorial Day breakup, I decided. This wasn't pure coincidence. It was now a summer free of plans, to reconnect with my mind and body, reflect, and awaken my inner “Spirit Junkie.”
I don’t want to mislead and act like I’ve become this totally different person. I feel like me, just better. I am fully awake for the first time, in a very long time. I was going full speed ahead, planning my future, without really looking inside. And when you look inside, that’s where the good stuff really is.
This summer I read, reflected, filled my body with good vibes and delicious nutritious food, tried new experiences, and celebrated myself at a magical place called Canyon Ranch. It was hands down, the best summer of my life.
Here, eight practices that helped me through the past three months into a new world of self-discovery, which is now my forever journey,
1. You’re Invited: Grow!
You know those moments where you can sit still or do something? I knew when all of these realizations (the breakup, the bizarre dates, finding the book) were simultaneously happening in my life, that this was my moment to make my change. It was one of those Robert Frost “two roads diverged in a wood” type things. If you ever feel like you’re in a place where the universe gives you the opportunity to approach something differently than what you’ve been doing in the past, and it feels scary but like the right thing to do, as Nike so poignantly said, JUST DO IT.
2. Become an Encouragement Bookworm
If I love what I’m reading, I can’t put a book down. And that’s what happened when I discovered Bernstein’s books. I also picked up books by other authors. It was my little treat at the end of the day. The consistent reading also helped me stay in my positive mindset. There were also days where things just don’t go right, but reading uplifting text really helped me. Of course, there were days where I just didn’t have the time to read. So I always traveled/and travel with her beautiful decks of The Universe Has Your Back cards, illustrated by Micaela Ezra. They are perfect for when just don’t have the time to sit down and read or need a little life reminder.
3. Attract Your Own Tribe
Energy isn’t accidental. It’s in your control.
The energy you give off is your main attraction points. Have you ever noticed that when someone you know is having a bad day, you can almost see it on their face? Feel it from the way they are talking to you? Energy is powerful. Every day, I tried my hardest to stay conscious of the energy I was giving off. Some days it was more challenging than others to stay positive. Things that helped me were taking my emotional temperature through the day. Was I breathing? If somebody said something that upset me, did I consider that maybe they have something else going on their life totally separate from our conversation?
4. Check For Roadblocks
Don’t turn your head the other way to things that aren’t working for you. Look them head-on.
I faced my roadblocks daily. It’s humbling to admit the things you need to work on. What is holding you back from living your best life? Fear, ego, relationships, not following your passion. Um, All of the things? I was lucky enough to speak to Gabby on the phone about my dating hiatus and my need for a mindset reboot. Something she said to me really hit home, “People go around thinking that another person is going to make them happy. But the reality is that when you are happy, you will attract the right person.” I think of that every day.
5. Recognize The Little Miracles
Miracles happen every day. My biggest miracle this summer was my awakening, but I also had little ones daily like seeing my good luck signs (bluebirds and the number 211) and seeing a direct answer when I manifested and asked the universe for something to come my way. You need to be awake to them. Maybe yours is finally reaching your breaking point at a job where you realize you need to be doing something else. Or spending a perfectly beautiful day with your S.O. to remind you of how lucky you are. Thank the universe for these.
6. Be Kind To Your Body
It’s your soul and spirit’s house, after all.
Rather than treating exercise as something I was just checking off a list, I viewed it as a gift I was giving my body. Mind/body exercises feel the best to me so I take the majority of my classes at Exhale. My favorite class is their Core Fusion Barre+Yoga, a yummy combination of 30 minutes of barre work, and 30 minutes of meditative yoga flow that made me feel like I was in flight afterward.
And while there were slip-ups, I really have been trying to embrace putting healthy colorful foods in my diet. I created some routines for myself that make me feel really good inside. In the morning, I love to put a scoop of Beauty Chef’s Glow Powder in a glass of cold water, it’s full of superfoods, probiotics, and nutrients that get my body going and I swear it makes my skin glow. And my night time ritual incorporated lots of tasty and comforting teas. I love any form of peppermint tea, and Aveda’s Comforting Teas with licorice root is one of my favorites and actually tastes like dessert.
7. Don’t Say No
The only way to learn is to see and do new things.
I tend to find things I like and stick to them, staying safely in my boxes. This had to change. I had to find growth in my discomfort so I tried, everything. I took a treadmill class, despite absolutely hating running. I tried halotherapy (Himalayan salt rooms) in a pink salt cave called Breathe Rooms in midtown. I tried sound healing via Tibetan sound bowls that was truly mind opening (you must try this!). And really tried to find a meditation practice to be my own inner therapy, a time for my mind to rest, for me to get back in touch with my breath, and to reflect. I ended up enjoying all of these new hobbies for different reasons.
8. Celebrate Your Damn Self
When the summer came to an end, I knew I needed to party with all of the miracles and positive experiences that had been given to me this summer. A gift to me, from me. So I booked my Labor Day weekend at the luxe wellness resort, Canyon Ranch in Lenox MA. It was the most reflective weekend of my entire summer. I strongly encourage everyone to travel alone, especially to a place like Canyon Ranch that is full of so much positivity and tons of self-care based activities.
There are gorgeous grounds, gardens, sculptural art, and nature. Daily, I took restorative yoga classes, meditated in the Eucalyptus steam room. I went hiking, got nightly massages, and filled my body with delicious and nutrient-rich food (the food is TOO good). I kept my windows open at night and fell asleep to the clean mountain air. And woke up every morning with a peaceful meditation to the sound of chirping birds. I met new friends at Canyon Ranch that I shared my experience with, and there was no judgment. Just encouragement and excitement. I reflected while getting back on the train to New York City and it truly felt like Canyon Ranch had given me a three-day hug. It is truly the happiest place on earth for Spirit Junkies.
Spirituality is a solo practice and everyone likes to do it differently. I hope my story, a least part of it, resonates with you. I’m sure some doesn’t. But I encourage you to be open to your own invitation if it presents itself to you.