Every woman that finally figured out her worth, has picked up her suitcases of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of change.
Sadness… It is more like melancholia which I believe I was born with. I was eight years old sitting on a breakwater that my father had fashioned to protect the dikes from the waves when I first realized that this world has nothing to offer to me. Even then the feeling of being been there done that twice over and back was prominent and constant. I was not sad nor depressed. Just an understanding of a fact. There are only two occasions in my whole life that I’ve felt that way. For the rest, I’m fairly okay. Melancholic but never lonely.
They get hurt. They get abused. They get used. They get taken advantage of.
Best not to let people get too close. Close enough to harm you. I learned that the best way to protect yourself and your core is to not to form an attachment with anything or anyone. People come and go, they change, their priorities change. Nothing last forever. The only constant in this life is_ changes. So better be prepared. Just keep yourself intact and you will survive whatever may come. You don’t need anyone for that.
“ I’m wounded, and I’m bruised.
But I’m not ashamed of admitting it.
It is a part of my healing process. And I’ll embrace it with a head held high.
One day I’ll stop touching the thorns,
and I’ll enjoy smelling the flowers.” –Rahma Djebbari
I’m someone who wouldn’t mind spending all day alone.
Only one thing would make me feel alone.
Being with people I don’t feel myself with, being at places that don’t match my soul.
Being silent when I want to talk the most.
Being lonely isn’t sitting all by myself,
It’s being confined in an atmosphere that doesn’t make me feel real.
Perhaps the hardest lesson for me to learn was to love myself enough to not accept from myself or from anyone less than I deserve. To say no when I do not feel like doing something, to not let anyone manipulate me using guilt or sob stories and to live my life on my own terms. I do not owe anyone any explanations for how I live my life and I certainly will not put anyone’s wants, needs or desires before my own again and whoever finds this does not suit their agenda of using me, farewell. Sorry but from now on, myself first.
“There is a bench in the back of my garden shaded by Virginia creeper, climbing roses, and a white pine where I sit early in the morning and watch the action. Light blue bells of a dwarf campanula drift over the rock garden just before my eyes. Behind it, a three-foot stand of aconite is flowering now, each dark blue cowl-like corolla bowed for worship or intrigue: thus its common name, monkshood. Next to the aconite, black madonna lilies with their seductive Easter scent are just coming into bloom. At the back of the garden, a hollow log, used in its glory days for a base to split kindling, now spills white cascade petunias and lobelia.
I can’t get enough of watching the bees and trying to imagine how they experience the abundance of, say, a blue campanula blossom, the dizzy light pulsing, every fiber of being immersed in the flower. …
Last night, after a day in the garden, I asked Robin to explain (again) photosynthesis to me. I can’t take in this business of _eating light_ and turning it into stem and thorn and flower…
I would not call this meditation, sitting in the back garden. Maybe I would call it eating light.
I’m going to sit here every day the sun shines and eat this light. Hung in the bell of desire.”
By Lauren Klarfeld
What we carry in our backpacks is the weight of our fears.
Some backpacks are made on a swift decision. Others are planned months in advance and ticked off with a checklist. Certain backpacks are made out of choice, and sometimes others are made because we had no choice. Be it to go far or to go hide next door. When we are making a backpack, there is more to it than just physical weight.
As I laid out the remainder of my clothes on an empty table and zipped up my backpack, I knew I was trying to pack a mess. I made a decision almost a year ago that I didn’t want to be committed to an apartment, a contract, rent or a job that didn’t move me. That it had all seemed pointless after so many years to work so many hours, not only to support myself since I was 18 but also to work for things I didn’t always believe in. The home I was in, the job I had and some of the people I knew just didn’t feel like “home” anymore.
What I wanted was the freedom to go whenever I wanted to.
Go incognito and re-invent myself in every new place I was in. Dare to do those things I never felt comfortable doing before. My plan had been to volunteer from hostel to hostel paying no rent in exchange for free labour. The months that followed I walked around a city with the feeling that a weight had been taken off of me. I was alone but I had chosen to be alone. If anything I was a solitaire. And it was liberating for once to look at myself that way.
But like any backpacker, I had given up the vertical ease of a closet where all my clothes had been aligned for years for a horizontal goulash of textile wrapped one under the other. I had come with a full backpack and that was all I allowed myself to carry.
When we see things in such a constrained space or possibility, it somehow gives us perspective on the fact that one needs to be sure of their choices.
Suddenly, we cannot spend two hours trying on different clothes as we struggle with our own image—because there is just no space nor mirrors for us to do. Perfectly ironed t-shirts are a thing of the past too when you travel. And adding things to a backpack becomes a burden as it weighs heavier and heavier. And every time we pick out a t-shirt it is like rambling our hands through a lottery machine—one never knows what they’ll pick out.
The idea of leaving it all behind to live life like a vagabond has been very appealing for years in my generation. But we seldom realise that this kind of life without commitments sometimes comes at the cost of a life without the conveniences we once knew: a home to call our own, a toothbrush in a fixed place, old friends to go to when we’re having a bad day or even a home cooked meal from our mother.
See, backpacks are emblems to travelers. They symbolize the travelers’ mobile nature and our need for freedom to go whenever we want to. They are built to accommodate easy access and storage. And a backpacker needs that like he needs air: the possibility and reminder that he can move and is constrained by nothing.
But when we spend enough time on the road, whether we want to or not, our backpacks mutate. And so do we.
As I moved to this kind of lifestyle in Madrid, I realized that what was once an emblem of mobility, now became a painstaking weight to carry around. I had gone from one store to the other buying new clothes just to fit with the local’s style. I bought one colorful dress after the other and thought it was a victory for the past tomboy that I was. I hated dresses really, but here abroad I thought I could push myself to like them and no one would notice. And the summer was the worst, as this frail white skinned Belgian girl who had never experienced a real summer suddenly had to walk legs and arms uncovered.
When traveling and wanting to change ourselves, we sometimes become schizophrenic chameleons in places whose language we are still learning and borrowing. And as thrilling as it is to go incognito anywhere and re-invent one’s self—some days, we just aren’t lively chameleons. Some days, we are just lost cats that hide under cars waiting for the traffic to pass.
Little do we know that sometimes the backpacks we are carrying are in fact heavy with burdensome personal baggage already. Somehow, all the while that we pack our underwear and t-shirts, our bags are already bursting with the layers of our constant self-questioning, our fears, our inner critic, and sometimes lack of self-love.
When we travel we get rid of our old comforts and routines. And so we grow more aware of who we are and who we aren’t, and of the difference between who we want to be and who we are right now. The kind of contrast we only ever really see when we get confronted with the blank canvas of ourselves echoed by the amount of free time and liberty we have when traveling or being in a new chapter of our lives.
In the end, it isn’t just about wanting to escape what we had before, it is mostly about escaping who we were before.
We are mostly introverts that are seeking a way to grow out of it. We rarely think that growth isn’t just about pushing ourselves to become who we want to be. Sometimes, we just become who we want to become eventually, by making the choices that we’re asked not by our mind or our heart, but by our gut. Sometimes, it’s when looking back, rather than forward, that we see better today the person we are becoming.
So that day as I made my backpack again in these last seven months. I was offered a lesson on acceptance. I laid all my clothes and beauty products on a bed, and decided I’d make two bags this time.
One with all the things that I had always felt resembled me and that I needed. And another with all the things I bought that I thought I might need. And left behind only the last one.
In life or in travel, if we want to set out on an adventure with ourselves, the best backpacks we’ll ever make are those that will leave extra room for our own personal baggage.
And acknowledging this is what will allow us to carry it in the first place…
By Bailey Gehrke
We’ve all heard it before: comparison is the thief of joy.
A simple concept that is so easily forgotten. When we fall into comparison, we tend to compare our current bloopers to another’s highlight reel. We compare the aspects that we deem “Need Improvement” to something that “Exceeds Expectations.” When we base our actions and thoughts off of what something looks like, we are always setting ourselves up for disappointment. Comparison truly is a thief of joy, contentment, and self-love.
Think of a time in your life when you felt your best in your body; felt the most comfortable in your skin. More likely than not, whether it was six months ago or 15 years ago, that time is associated with a number. The number that showed when you stepped on the scale, however, many years ago, and you felt the best about it.
And now, as we look in the mirror or see a photo we deem as “unflattering,” a little voice in our head says, “If you could just get back to that number on the scale again, you’d be happier.” Or, “If you could get back to that body again things would be better.” We then set off, using whatever means necessary, envisioning the moment when we look in the mirror and see our 15-year-old body, or our 22-year-old body, or our 35-year-old body.
Here’s an unpopular opinion—an idea we may not like: we will never have the same body twice. We will never look in the mirror and see our 15, 23, or 35-year-old body. Ever again. That’s not to say that we can’t reach that particular number on the scale, but it is to say that even if we do see that number on the scale, and we look in the mirror, our bodies will not look as they did then.
Here’s what I know: I have gained weight, then lost it. Gained a little, then lost a little. Gained a little more, then lost a little more. Through all that time and through all those transitions, I’ve never looked in the mirror and saw the same body twice, regardless of what the scale was telling me. I’ve seen the same number on the scale at least five times in the last five years, and it’s visually looked different every single time.
Here’s why this happens: our bodies have a certain percentage of lean body mass or muscle. On top of the muscle is fat. The amount of lean body mass we have, plus the amount of fat we have, plus some organs and important water stuff, equals our scale weight. The visual composition of our body is dependent on how much muscle we have and where the fat is distributed within the body. If weight is gained or lost, the amount of lean muscle mass is going to change as well, which means the fat that we have gets redistributed. When the fat is redistributed, it will visually look different, because the amount of lean muscle mass is different.
Basically, all that science-y crap means is that one specific time you saw that particular number on the scale, that scale weight was made up of a very specific amount of muscle and fat. It is very unlikely you will ever see that very specific composition again. Meaning, you will never look in the mirror and see the same exact body composition twice. Meaning, you should stop comparing your “today” body to your “then” body.
Men chasing after their “18-year-old self” six-pack, stop. A six-pack can be obtained, but the process to get there and the end result will look different. Using what worked then is negatively impacting your results now.
Mamas trying to “bounce back” from your last baby, stop. Your internal organs literally shifted, and you grew a tiny human inside of you. That’s rad. Your body can’t go back to the way it was because you’ve not only made space for a new little person, but your personal growth has filled in those spaces.
Anyone trying to “get your body back” after many years of “letting yourself go,” stop. You’ve learned so much in this time, you shouldn’t be “going back,” there is nothing for you back there.
Instead of focusing on what was or how something looked in the past, let’s change the narrative. How can we become the best versions of our current selves? Not the second edition of an outdated self. Going one step further, let’s ask ourselves, “What would the best current version of me feel like?” Notice how I didn’t ask, “What would the best current version of me look like?”
We are always changing, always learning, always becoming better. We wouldn’t trade what we know now for what we knew then. We are always moving forward, and so should our bodies
– via Relephant
I lie in bed for hours, a clamp around my heart, listening to the rain against the window pane. I can’t stand the grey sky, and so I turn my face to the wall and sink into a darker place. Let me drown. I don’t wish to return to the surface. – Unknown
Once upon a time until a couple of years ago, I nursed these kinds of feelings constantly, but since I was diagnosed my priorities drastically changed; getting through the day becomes my main concern. By the end of the day, I am so exhausted physically that I have no strength anymore to entertain such thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to die but I want it to happen peacefully and preferably naturally. When I wake up in the morning – if I ever slept at all – I am preoccupied with practical personal things like getting up without passing out and dressing up without accident or consuming food without throwing it all up right after eating them. When I feel a little bit okay, I spend my time appreciating little things in life like looking up without getting dizzy and seeing what before my eyes without a flimsy curtain of clouds obscuring my vision. Funny that it takes some radical change and not for the better for me or someone to stop thinking about those unhealthy self-damaging thoughts. Is that what they call a blessing in disguise?
The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd – The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are. —Fernando Pessoa
My son said to me yesterday that the things I remember most from my childhood are not memories but longing and those that bordering on supernatural are brought on by psychosis. I remember them clearly not because it did really happen but because I believe they did. Memories are seldom complete he said. Most of the times we fill in the blanks and it becomes our reality.
Needless to say, I don’t believe him. I know what is real and what is not. And If I would fantasize or imagine anything it would not be one of my experiences. I will conjure up happy thoughts so I could fly away to Neverland. There are things that cannot be explained by any logical or scientific means. My son has to understand that. Other memories of mine that have nothing to do with paranormal or supernatural, I could believe there are some holes in it. But I don’t fill them up with my own imaginations, I just can’t remember the whole picture. Sometimes they are just a blank canvas, others have snatches of colors and outlines of some forgotten scenes often too vague for me to recognize.
I never have a desire to be someone else, but rather I have longings for different circumstances for myself. Perhaps being born into another family, country, situation, been given different chances in life, things like that. Nostalgia for something that never was I have experienced only once. I wrote a book about it. I sometimes still think about what could have been if what never was is a reality exactly the way I’ve imagined it but know only too well that it is next to impossible to happen. Perhaps it could once upon a time but interference from people and fate rendered my wish futile.
My painful landscapes consist indeed of the feelings that hurt most, absurd or not, but from different nature than those that had been mentioned above. They are both from memories and experience and I can sum them up easily in one word: betrayal- in all sense of that word.
How I wish there is an eternal sunset on my painful landscapes. It is preferable over the total darkness of what I am…
“The most confused we ever get is when we try to convince our heads of something that we know in our hearts is a lie.” ~Karen Moning
It’s painful and stressful to feel like you’re living a lie. Like you’re hiding how you really feel, saying what you think other people want to hear and doing things you don’t actually want to do—just because you think you’re supposed to.
But sometimes we don’t recognize we’re doing this. We just know we feel off, or something feels wrong, and we’re not sure how to change it.
It makes sense that a lot of us struggle with being true to ourselves.
From a young age, we’re taught to be good, fall in line, and avoid making any waves—to lower our voices, do as we’re told, and quit our crying (or they’ll give us something to cry about).
And most of us don’t get the opportunity to foster or follow our curiosity. Instead, we learn all the same things as our peers, at the exact same time; and we live a life consumed by the mastery of these things, our bodies restless from long hours of seated study and our minds overwhelmed with memorized facts that leave very little room for free thinking.
To make things even worse, we learn to compare our accomplishments and progress—often, at things we don’t even really care about—to those of everyone around us. So we learn it’s more important to appear successful in relation to others than to feel excited or fulfilled within ourselves.
This was my experience both growing up and in my twenties. A people-pleaser who was always looking to prove that I mattered, I was like a chameleon, and I constantly felt paralyzed about which choices to make because all I knew was that they needed to be impressive.
I never knew what I really thought or felt because I was too busy suffocating my mind with fears and numbing my emotions to develop even a modicum of self-awareness.
This meant I had no idea what I needed. I only knew I didn’t feel seen or heard. I felt like no one really knew me. But how could they when I didn’t even know myself?
I know I’ve made a lot of progress with this over the years, and I have a mile-long list of unconventional choices to back that up, as well as a number of authentic, fulfilling relationships. But I’ve recently recognized some areas where I’ve shape-shifted in an attempt to please others, and in some cases, without even realizing it.
I don’t want to be the kind of person who panders to popular opinion or lets other people dictate my choices. I don’t want to waste even one minute trying to be good enough for others instead of doing what feels good to me.
I want to make my own rules, live on my own terms, and be bold, wild, and free.
This means peeling away the layers of fear and conditioning and being true to what I believe is right. But it’s hard to do this because sometimes those layers are pretty heavy, or so transparent we don’t even realize they’re there.
With this in mind, I decided to create this reminder of what it looks and feels like to be true to myself so I can refer back to it if ever I think I’ve lost my way.
If you also value authenticity and freedom over conformity and approval, perhaps this will be useful to you too.
You know you’re being true to yourself if….
1. You’re honest with yourself about what you think, feel, want, and need.
You understand that you have to be honest with yourself before you can be honest with anyone else. This means you make space in your life to connect with yourself, perhaps through meditation, journaling, or time in nature.
This also means you face the harsh realities you may be tempted to avoid. You’re self-aware when faced with hard choices—like whether or not to leave a relationship that doesn’t feel right—so you can get to the root of your fear.
You might not always do this right away, or easily, but you’re willing to ask yourself the tough questions most of us spend our lives avoiding: Why am I doing this? What am I getting from this? And what would serve me better?
2. You freely share your thoughts and feelings.
Even if you’re afraid of judgment or tempted to lie just to keep the peace, you push yourself to speak up when you have something that needs to be said.
And you refuse to stuff your feelings down just to make other people feel comfortable. You’re willing to risk feeling vulnerable and embarrassed because you know that your feelings are valid and that sharing them is the key to healing what’s hurting or fixing what isn’t working.
3. You honor your needs and say no to requests that conflict with them.
You know what you need to feel physical, mentally, and emotionally balanced, and you prioritize those things, even if this means saying no to other people.
Sure, you might sometimes make sacrifices, but you understand it’s not selfish to honor your needs and make them a priority.
You also know your needs don’t have to look like anyone else’s. It’s irrelevant to you if someone else can function on four hours of sleep, work around the clock, or pack their schedule with social engagements. You do what’s right for you and take care good care of yourself because you recognize you’re the only one who can.
4. Some people like you, some people don’t, and you’re okay with that.
Though you may wish, at times, you could please everyone—because it feels a lot safer to receive validation than disapproval—you understand that being disliked by some is a natural byproduct of being genuine.
This doesn’t mean you justify being rude and disrespectful because hey, you’re just being yourself! It just means you know you’re not for everyone; you’d rather be disliked for who you are than liked for who you’re not, and you understand the only way to find “your tribe” is to weed out the ones who belong in someone else’s.
5. You surround yourself with people who respect and support you just as you are.
You understand that the people around you affect you, so you surround yourself with people who respect and support you, which motivates you to continue being true to yourself.
You may have people in your life who don’t do these things, but if you do, you understand their issues with you are just that—their issues. And you set boundaries with them so that they don’t get in your head and convince you there’s something wrong with you or your choices.
6. You focus more on your own values than what society deems acceptable.
You’ve read the script for a socially acceptable life—climb the corporate ladder, have a lavish wedding, buy a big house, and make some babies—but you’ve seriously questioned whether this is right for you. Maybe it is, but if you go this route, it’s because this plan aligns with your own values, not because it’s what you’re supposed to do.
You know your values are your compass in life, and that they change over time. So you check in with yourself regularly to be sure you’re living a life that doesn’t just look good on paper but also feels good in your heart.
7. You listen to your intuition and trust that you know what’s best for yourself.
You not only hear the voice inside that says, “Nope, not right for you,” you trust it. Because you’ve spent a lot of time learning to distinguish between the voice of truth and fear, you recognize the difference between holding yourself back and waiting for what feels right.
You might not always make this distinction immediately, and you might sometimes be swayed by well-meaning people who want to protect you from the risks of thinking outside the box. But eventually, you tune out the noise and hone in on the only voice that truly knows what’s best for you.
8. You do what feels right for you, even if that means risking approval from the people around you.
Not only do you trust that you know what’s best for you, you do it. Even if it’s not a popular choice. Even if people question your judgment, vision, or sanity. You recognize that no one else is living your life, and no one else has to live with the consequences of your choices, so you make them for you and let the chips fall where they may when it comes to public perception.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have everything you want in life. It just means you hear the beat of your own drum, even if it’s silent as a dog whistle to everyone else, and you march to it—maybe slowly or awkwardly, but with your freak flag raised nice and high.
9. You allow yourself to change your mind if you recognize you made a choice that wasn’t right for you.
You may feel embarrassed to admit you’re changing directions, but you do it anyway because you’d rather risk being judged than accept a reality that just plain feels wrong for you.
Whether it’s a move that you realize you made for the wrong reasons, a job that isn’t what you expected, or a commitment you know you can’t honor in good conscience, you find the courage to say, “This isn’t right, so I’m going to make another change.”
10. You allow yourself to evolve and let go of what you’ve outgrown.
This is probably the hardest one of all because it’s not just about being true to yourself; it’s also about letting go. It’s about recognizing when something has run its course and being brave enough to end the chapter, even if you don’t know yet what’s coming next. Even if the void feels dark and scary.
But you, you recognize that the void can also feel light and thrilling. That empty space isn’t always a bad thing because it’s the breeding ground for new possibilities—for fulfillment, excitement, passion, and joy. And you’re more interested in seeing who else you can be and what else you can do than languishing forever in a comfortable life that now feels like someone else’s.
As with all things in life, we each exist on a spectrum. Every last one of us lives in the grey area, so odds are you do some of these things, some of the time, and probably never perfectly. And you may go through periods when you do few or none of these things, without even realizing you’ve slipped.
That’s how it’s been for me. I’ve gone through phases when I’ve felt completely in alignment and other times when I’ve gotten lost. I’ve had times when I’ve felt so overwhelmed by conflicting wants, needs, and beliefs—my own and other people’s—that I’ve shut down and lost touch with myself.
It happens to all of us. And that’s okay. The important thing is that we keep coming home to ourselves and we eventually ask ourselves the hard questions that decide the kind of lives we lead: What am I hiding? What am I lying about? And what truth would set me free?
By Lori Deschene
Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She’s also the author of Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal and other books and co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. An avid film lover, she recently finished writing her first feature screenplay and is fundraising to get it made now.
In the deepening spring of May, I had no choice but to recognize the trembling of my heart. It usually happened as the sun was going down. In the pale evening gloom, when the soft fragrance of magnolias hung in the air, my heart would swell without warning, and tremble, and lurch with a stab of pain. I would try clamping my eyes shut and gritting my teeth, and wait for it to pass. And it would pass –but slowly, taking its own time, and leaving a dull ache behind.