life gets weird, and then it gets beautiful

One year ago this week, I left the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at a hospital in Austin, Texas. It was the end of one of the worst weeks I’d experienced thus far. I spent seven days sitting in a chair, by myself. I had some wonderful people visit me and it felt like I really did have friends, I don’t want to leave that out. Most of the time though, I was/felt alone. It wasn’t a bad thing that I spent time alone. In fact, it was wonderful. It was a terrible week that ultimately changed my life in a good way. I was in a lot of emotional pain and I felt very isolated. The only thing I could do was feel it. So, I cried a lot. I couldn’t get out of my chair without a nurse present in case of a fall. I had to lose sleep and get really intense lights flashed at me. There was a lot of distress. We were trying to induce a seizure. It turns out I don’t have epilepsy. It was very impactful.

A very cool thing is that a friend came to visit me and gave me a pin of a roadrunner. It was a very meaningful gift. What is so cool about it is that now, in the past month, I have seen probably one hundred road runners as I traveled through the Southwest. That pin became more meaningful. Roadrunners remind me of how much my life has changed in the last year. A big pink lotus sprouted from the mud. What a fucked up and amazing journey that year was. Something I can only appreciate as I revisit and continue to heal. The universe brought that to me as a little symbol of what was to come (something I like to believe when I feel like it). 

Being sick was terrible and so scary. Because I was giving so much of my attention to my relationship, I never really got to address my illness and heal from it independently of everything else. So, that’s what this month is really about. It’s about connecting to where I was on each day one year ago. I give myself the opportunity to feel the feelings I didn’t express at the time. I thought I was going to fall somewhere and I thought I was going to die from it, and there would never be an explanation.

Doctors didn’t know what was wrong, everyone was confused, I had weird symptoms one day and others the next, none of them related to each other. I was afraid I was going to die. It was not a fun thing. I had no idea what was wrong, and I tend to lean toward dress rehearsing for tragedy. All I could do was slow down. All I could do was keep breathing through the fear and imagine what type of floor pillows I would have in my meditation room.

(Sometimes when I’m really bummed out, I like to picture my dream meditation room. It makes me feel calm and optimistic about the future)

July of 2017 was the worst month of the worst year I’ve had since I began my healing journey six years ago. Jonny and I began talking about splitting up sometime right before or right at the beginning of July. I was falling/fainting/passing out/whatever about once a day. I got two or three concussions over the course of a month from losing consciousness and hitting my head on stuff. I fell down the stairs, I fell in the shower, I fell on our concrete floor. One of those falls turned half of my face black and blue. The emergency room staff got to know me very well in a short amount of time.

I started falling and it just got worse and worse as time went on without an answer. I spent about four months trying to figure out what was amiss. It was a lot of things. Primarily, anxiety. It knocked me off my feet. My body knew that there was a hole in my life before I did. My priorities were all over the place and praise had become something I was dependent on for motivation. I felt like I needed achievement in order to be worthy of love and attention. I needed to be irreplaceable.

I have since been reminded of something that my therapist told me when I was about sixteen-years-old. She said, “you are not disposable.” That phrase whispers in my ear when I feel shame or sadness about how things turned out. I ultimately left work.. I didn’t know what I was going to do. So, I figured it out. I worked really hard and I started freelancing. I took every job I could. I put myself out there. Now I’m a writer. (if you want to know more about this, I am happy to email you some tips).

Turning 26

The week I left my job, I turned 26, Jonny and I were sort of planning on not working out, and I had a 103-degree fever with a side of bronchitis. Ugh. What kept me moving forward was the understanding that my life would someday be more beautiful than I could imagine. The fear of death would come and I would remind myself that, as scary as the present moment was, all would be well. (All was already well, and I was not willing to believe that at the time). I thought, “yes, someday I will feel good. I feel horrible and out of control and heartbroken right now. And there will be another beautiful day, even though I don’t know when it will come.” Knowing that is how I never raised my voice at Jonny, and never gave him an ultimatum in the heat of the moment. I needed to have compassion for my best friend, and I did. He's always been my best friend. 

forward 

What really started to turn things around was my desire to feel a stronger connection with my inner self. I decided to go out and try to build better connections with current and future friends. I went on Bumble Bff dates with really fun women who also wanted to make friends. I went to parties by myself and talked to strangers. I went to the women’s march by myself and chatted with people the whole time. I got a mandolin (I have potential!). 

In September, after some serious therapy, both together and individually and some very long and serious conversations, Jonny and I decided to stay together. It felt like a bigger decision than when we decided to get married after a year and a half of dating, at 25-years-old. Now, we are stupid in love with each other. We realized how sacred our relationship is. He is who my soul started searching for thousands of years ago.

With our therapist, we started looking at our values and talking about what actions we could take to build the life we want. We learned how to argue (which we do when Jonny is hungry or when I am tired and haven’t had enough quiet time). We decided to move to California, and we wanted to take the long way. 

We spent three weeks on the road on our move to California. Cool freelance things were happening and once we were nearing the end of our trip, we decided to keep going. We asked, “What else do our inner-seventeen-year-olds want to see?” And we made a list. And here we are. Today we’ll explore Yosemite National Park. Tomorrow we head to Tahoe. And then every park in the Pacific Northwest, a few in Canada, and even more on the way back to California. I got to pick any park to spend my birthday in, and I chose Zion National Park, where we were only able to spend one day when we went a few weeks ago.

I have been exploring my femininity and drawing in the masculine to see how they can co-exist together. I have been diving into feelings of loss, gratitude, anger, and silliness. Sometimes on long drives, I just start crying. Whatever comes up is allowed in any moment. The word, “namo” has been echoing in my head since I listened to “Radical Self-Acceptance” by Tara Brach. It means “I bow.” The idea is to bow to everything. I allow it to exist, and I allow it to pass through on a beautiful leaf down a stream. I bow to my fears and I bow to the beauty around me. Sit with me, have tea.

Gratitude

I am so grateful today because I knew everything would be beautiful and it totally is beautiful. It is absolutely validating that my life is more beautiful than I ever could have planned, and I knew that day would come. Even on the worst days, the most despairing of days, I had hope. I’m not sure I’ve ever been through something like that and not lost hope. It’s really cool that, though I was a total wreck, I was able to observe myself in the moment more than I have in the past.

This is an incredible journey, there is so much inspiration to learn everything about every tree and every mountain and every person we see. I am observing my life changing and allowing myself to be whatever I need to be in the moment. There are sad days, and I allow them. There is resistance and insecurity and weirdness, and I do my best to allow those days. They are far and few between. I allow the beauty and the connection with others. I make hilarious (it depends who you ask) jokes, I run around with the dogs and try my best to train them, I breathe with Jonny every time we stop to explore something new. Allow it.

I continue to be curious about what each day will bring. I am slowly piecing together what might be a good balance for my spiritual and professional life. What pace of life do I want? Where do I want to live? How can I incorporate mindfulness and kindness into my professional voice? How can I fulfill my desire to work with others and create and lead, while staying in a place of stillness and calm?

Today is more beautiful than I could have planned. The love of my life is next to me and we have our sweet dogs. We are engaging with this earth, and we are so grateful. I was right, once again, life got beautiful. It will always get beautiful. I will remember that for as long as I can. Life gets weird, and then it gets beautiful. 

Simone Hunt
a letter to my suicidal friends

To those of you who want to die, 

I need to tell you something. I need to tell you to go outside. Find a forest. Sit in it. 

I have spent a lot of time outside over the last three weeks. Around every corner, there was something new. 

I spent hours looking at the stars as I sat under the Double Arch in Arches National Park with Jonny. I touched this giant arch, a result of hundreds of millions of years of movement and change. I nearly cried when I first put my hand to the sandstone. The moment I felt it, I heard, "this is what being alive feels like." 

I'm not telling you to go off the grid. I'm suggesting you take a short or long drive to a place that is alive with a quiet soul. Sit under a tree and really think about what it means to be made out of stardust, just like the plants around you. Allow the nurturing spirit of these trees to give you the feeling of comfort that you need. If this sounds weird, I want you to know that it's not. 

I sat under a huge sequoia tree in Sequoia National Park. Over 20 feet in diameter, over 200 feet tall. On the National Parks Service website, in regards to sequoia trees, they say, "The vast size of the sequoias is difficult to comprehend fully. It is so out of proportion to commonly recognized measurements of trees or other familiar objects that figures regarding size do not register a clear picture of its vastness." I sat under these trees I'd only seen pictures of. They sounded hollow, it was so weird. They were really soft. 

When I stood in oneness with these trees, I thought, "when you know everything, you become a tree." It was comforting. I have more to learn. I felt a mother's voice say, "Oh, my sweet baby, I am so glad you are here." 

Every day, I saw something I'd never imagined. Something so big, I was stunned. It felt physically a bit like fear, but it wasn't scary. It felt like I'd lost my breath. I want you to feel that, too. Don't die before you sit in the presence of giants on purpose. Give in and allow yourself to imagine what it might be like to truly feel this life in your bones. 

We were walking in the Grand Canyon when we met and spoke with a monk named Swami who gave us books about past lives and Buddhism. It was wonderful to share that moment with him. 

We stayed on a Navajo reservation in a male hogan. The largest reservation in the country. Our closest neighbor was 25 miles away. We spoke with the women there about their traditions and their history. We smiled and laughed with them. It was an unexpected late-night conversation. They gave us beautiful necklaces. 

I encourage you to talk to someone new. I know it's scary and weird at first. It doesn't take long to get comfortable if you try to remain in the present moment. Maybe it's meaningless. It feels good. It feels like connection and it feels so good. I want you to feel that. 

Maybe it doesn't seem feasible. And I've definitely seen a lot of the South West by taking a very scenic route to California. Not a ton of people are able to do that. We went to a small park in Marfa and played on the swings and felt that same sweet feeling we felt when we turned a corner and were welcomed by a mountain. It can be as simple as taking a walk. It's all about approaching it with an intentional wonder. Give yourself permission to try it. 

Ask your inner child what they need. "How can I honor you right now?" We would say, "What do our seventeen-year-olds feel like doing?" And then we would be silly and listen to hip-hop and do jumping jacks on the side of the road. We sprinted through White Sands National Monument with our dogs and laughed the whole time. 

Awaken your curiosity. Everywhere we went, we tried to take away at least one new lesson. With every interaction, we asked, "What can we learn from this? How could I have been more present? How did it feel (in an emotional and mindful way) to jump in that lake?" 

We spent twenty days in the car with our two dogs. (We put them in doggy daycare while we were in Las Vegas and Boulder... it was awesome). 

I went to a casino for the first time and I played the quarter slot machines. I lost $6 and moved on. There was a lot of interesting people-watching, and very interesting water features all over the place. All in the middle of the desert. 

We met other peers who were on the road, too. We came across a man our age traveling solo with his airstream.  

There were a lot of powerful conversations. There was a lot of healing. There are painful pieces of my life. There are relationships I wish I had, there are feelings of abandonment, mistrust, resentment, fear. I had to practice non-attachment to those feelings. I allowed them to come up. I spoke those feelings out loud, and I allowed them to pass. Acknowledge, have tea, let go, repeat as needed. This is not a practice I have perfected by any means. As my dear friend Liz says, "Day by day, in every way, I keep getting better and better. " 

A Zen master had a mantra that she repeated over and over. She said, "thank you for everything, I have no complaints whatsoever." I'm currently working through all the loopholes that negative Sim could come up with, and then I hope to adopt this mantra. Thank you for everything, I have no complaints whatsoever. Don't you wish you could say that? If you want to die, this might be pretty eye-rolly. Just... suspend disbelief for a second, okay? Imagine yourself saying it. Imagine yourself believing it. What would your life look like if you could say this mantra aloud and feel your heart open with acceptance? 

If you want to die, it is a red flag. It does not mean that something is wrong with you. It means that you need to reach out. At first, it's easy to be resistant. Embrace even the smallest feelings of willingness to make a change. Those feelings grow if you give them space. Breathe into it. Sometimes it feels like pain. You're growing. Allow. 

I have the word "allow" tattooed on my hand. I got it when Jonny and I were struggling big time and everything felt like it was falling apart. I wanted to allow that pain to flow through me. If we were going to part ways, I didn't want to do it in anger. (side note: we didn't part ways. He is my very best friend, my romantic sweetheart, and a human being I admire who encourages my spiritual growth on a new level). 

Now, when I see my hand, I remember to allow the happiness. I remember to allow the gratitude and the emotional reactions to these places. The fear, the uncertainty, the anger, the vast beauty, allow it. 

Continue your self-compassion practice as you embrace trust, love, vulnerability, fear of the unknown. Allow it. Chade-Meng Tan wrote, "Happiness is not something that you pursue, it is something that you allow." 

Give yourself breath. Sit next to a tree. Look at its leaves. That tree is where you get your oxygen. Allow yourself to be amazed by that, even if you don't want to. See what it's like to give yourself a moment of wonder. 

Look at a tree or a plant in your house or the grass outside. Imagine yourself seeing that connection. Isn't it amazing? It's the weirdest thing ever! Tap into that oneness, it is there. It is always there. You don't have to believe in anything to have a self-transcendental experience. 

This journey is not over yet. There is a lesson in every moment, a peace that exists in the root of your bones. Take a moment to feel it. There is a chance that you have had some experiences of conditional love. That doesn't mean unconditional love doesn't exist. Give it to yourself. 

Ask for help, because if you feel suicidal, you're having a hard time seeing the big picture. I always felt that I saw the big picture so much that I knew everything. Once I knew the truth that life is stupid, the only option was to kill myself. Let me tell you that despite how true it seems, you don't have to fucking do it. It's not the only way, it's not badass, it's not a jab at anyone, it's a stab. 

My best friend is still healing from the years she feared that I would kill myself. We met in sixth grade. For most of our friendship, she didn't know if I was going to make it. She is so happy I am happy, though that fear sometimes lingers. A professor once told me, "everyone is precious to someone." You are precious. I am precious. 

We are a young nation on an ancient land. Stay here. Be in it. Be a part of the ripple of life that began with the big bang and flows through your lungs. It moves when you smile. It grows when you hug. It comforts when you cry. Learn about the history of the rocks you see on the ground. What did the land where you live look like 450 million years ago? 

Go on a walk, go on a scenic drive, spend one night at a state park. Ask someone to join you if that feels comfortable. Definitely don't go alone if you're actively suicidal. You never know what opportunities for impulse could arise and you need to set yourself up for success. 

We were at King's River in King's Canyon National Park. I felt the water in my hands. It was new and fresh. Just like me, it had never been here before. Always new, allowing. Embrace feelings of healing that you feel, even if they are fleeting. 

I always thought nature was cool. I saw breathtaking beauty in my backyard as a child when deer would walk by and eat the flowers. However, I had never seen so many things that were so incomprehensibly big that they took my breath away. It changed my life. It is changing my life. 

To those of you who want to die, don't. You don't have to. You are made of the stars. You are just like the stars. Shining and burning and changing. You are precious because you exist. If you don't know that yet, you aren't done. 

 

 

Simone Hunt
halt! don't kill yourself!

When celebrities kill themselves, an increase in suicides tends to follow. In the months following Robin Williams' suicide, suicide rates increased by around 10%. 

Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are not two people I ever thought I'd mention in the same sentence. They seem to have nearly nothing in common. They were both struggling with darkness in a big way. And they killed themselves in the same week. 

Suicide makes me terribly sad. I feel a deep connection to suicide because I had such an intense infatuation with it for over a decade. I know that beast quite well. The idea of it taking someone's life makes me cry and it makes me angry. 

Suicide is preventable. It's a really scary thing to prevent, though. You can't prevent your suicide if you're unwilling to give anyone any kind of subtle hint that something might be amiss. A ton of people have no interest in speaking to someone about their sadness. 

When I was suicidal, I had a lot of dialogue that went like this: "If I tell her I want to kill myself, she's going to call the authorities and it's going to fuck up my whole plan. I've already made my decision. It will only break people's hearts if I tell them what's on my mind. They know something is up, they just don't care about me. If anybody actually knew the real me, they would want me to die." 

I survived through my suicidal years, and it's not because I reached out. I didn't go to someone and tell them all this shit was on my mind, the way I really hope others will. I blacked out on xanax and white wine and screamed it at my dad, and then found myself in a psychiatric hospital. I was a sloppy drunk with access to fantastic mental health care. 

It was while I was in care that I learned how to prevent any future suicidal tendencies. There are a lot of ways to cope with emotions in a way that allows you to feel them appropriately while addressing the bigger picture and your role in it. 

this is not a fight

Stop thinking of it as a battle. I am not at war. I am mostly a little bit depressed most days. At least, right when I wake up. If I follow my morning routine and things are generally consistent, I stop noticing my depression after a few hours. I am not battling mental illness. I am sitting with it. I drink tea with it. I ask my depression what it needs and I am gentle. 

I fought really hard for a long time. Being on the front lines is exhausting. In any war, years of taking bullets and trying to heal them while still taking more bullets would lead any soldier to prefer death. I had to get off the battlefield and go rest. That's why I'm alive today. 

I haven't wanted to kill myself in six years. I think about suicide all the time. I have thoughts that flow through and say, "ugh, that was stupid. Kill yourself." And then the thought passes, just like every other thought. If I get a lot of them in one day, I write myself a note and I let someone know, "man, I had a lot of intrusive thoughts today, it really bummed me out." 

I was speaking with a friend about my six years on this journey. I said, "I wake up every day and I choose life." I've been thinking about that and I think I would reword that sentence. I don't choose life. I chose life six years ago. The door to that decision is closed, I already picked which one I want. When thoughts come up that contradict my decision, I know they are not the thoughts I need to be listening to. You do not have to fight. 

pick your favorite coping skills, make them small  

I got stuck in an undertow about three months ago and it was really scary. I was sucked into an extreme darkness for about three hours. An undertow is what I call the moments when my critical talk takes over and beats the shit out of me. This doesn't happen very often, because I have a really solid compassion practice. It feels like someone else is screaming at me. It's the pissed off part of my ego. It is mostly triggered when I feel like I have accomplished nothing in my life. 

On the second hour, I told myself that I was going to do three things, and if those three things didn't work, I would call a professional and follow their recommendations for what to do next. I wasn't feeling suicidal, I just felt like I couldn't breathe and I was in a lot of pain. What's really cool about that is that the three coping skills I tried worked just the way they usually do, and I was feeling better within an hour of trying them. I was also exhausted and slept for ten hours that night. I felt like I had just taken a beating, and I needed to take some deep breaths. 

Here are the three coping skills I tried: I made a list of three things I'm grateful for, I did three nice things for myself (brushed my teeth, wrote myself a note, asked Jonny for a hug), and I decided to reach out to three people. Two of the people I texted were in the car together and they were at my house twenty minutes later. 

It is really important to prepare future you for the shit storm. You know how you get. Try to write a short note to freaking out you and give yourself a piece of advice you think you would actually follow in that moment. Start seeing what might work for you by practicing new skills when you're feeling good. If you know how to do something and it's easy, you're more likely to actually do it when you're in a shitty spot.  

1-800-273-8255

The suicide hotline is the fucking best and I think everyone reading this should call it, just to practice. I called the suicide hotline every day for thirty days and all I said was, "I won't keep you long, I just wanted to practice calling because sometimes I get suicidal and I want to know how all this works." 

I have called the suicide hotline during four times of crisis in the last six years. It's my backup number for when I am convinced that none of my friends want to hear about my problems. I don't call it regularly, but because I know how it works and I know everyone there is super nice, I always have it in my back pocket. 

The suicide hotline is awesome because you don't need to tell anyone in your real life what is going on. You can call and talk and get some clarity. You can ask questions and get some guidance. You can also call just to have someone listen and validate and care about you. You don't have to have a gun in your hand in order to qualify for the suicide hotline. You don't even have to have tears in your eyes. 

Also! There's a text line that I have not tried! CRISIS TEXT LINE! Text "home" to 741741

learning 

Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain were game changers in their respective fields. They were also friends and family members and they were so special to the people who loved them. Everyone is special to someone. 

For some, these very public deaths will be further motivation for suicide. For those suicidal folks, I have one thing to say -- this is your story. You do not need to die. You can choose where this goes. I know, I know, it doesn't feel like it. Call that number, text that friend, look up that therapist you heard about. Speak this out loud. This is a story that only you can tell. This is your story. Cherish it. 

If your friends are struggling, give them the opportunities they need to talk. It is never your fault if your friend commits suicide (I almost didn't type that because sometimes I feel like I could have prevented Trevor's suicide if I'd just been a bit more annoying). However, as a friend, you have an awesome opportunity to be a listener. 

Talking about suicide does not automatically enroll you in the nearest state-run acute care hospital. You can talk about suicide openly and without judgment. 

You can validate and give love and hugs. As a friend of a person struggling with mental illness, you will need patience and understanding. Willingness to have the same conversation as many times as necessary. Willingness to have no answers. And if your friend is struggling in a way that you think needs more attention, you are not shitty for calling a professional. If you're not sure where to start, you can start by calling the suicide hotline and asking them what you can do to help your friend. 

 

 

Simone Hunt
six years ago

Six years ago today, I begrudgingly took the first step in my healing journey by entering inpatient psychiatric care. It was a Thursday.

Since my stay in care, I have not attempted or planned a suicide attempt. I have not written a suicide note in six years. Sometimes I forget what a huge deal that is. I know how to avoid killing myself today. I don't need alcohol or cocaine to make me feel better. I love nourishing my body with healthy food and pizza. 

Year six was a tough one, folks. It started with being sick and my marriage sucking, and ended with OG's heartbreaking death. Though it was easily the most tumultuous year I've had since 2012, it was also the most beautiful. There was a giant puddle of mud, and out of it, a fucking garden of lotus flowers grew. No mud, no lotus. 

mud 

Being alive is very cool and sometimes quite painful. That's part of it. Pain is simply a passing moment. It's been easier to buy into that as I have begun observing my pain in a new way. I spent time in both physical and emotional pain this year. I felt it. I can't tell you how grateful I am that I felt every minute of it. 

I felt angry when I needed to feel angry. And feeling angry did not mean sounding aggressive. Jonny and I had a lot of long talks about whether or not we wanted to be married. I had to take a few five-minute breaks so that I could go break pencils and cry for a moment before returning to the conversation with a rational mind. We did not raise our voices or stand up during any of our conversations. We were sitting down, facing each other, even if we couldn't yet look at each other. I was pissed. Our only rule was: always come home. I texted my brother every other day to ask him if I could come stay with him. But we always came home. I'm so grateful and so proud of us. It was really hard. 

I meditated, I played with buttons, I screamed in my car. I went to therapy and just cried and yelled. I ate a lot of donuts and really started leaning into food to change the way I felt. I read my book a bunch of times (I can't wait for you to read it, too!). 

In July I spent seven days in the hospital because we thought I had epilepsy. I don't. I had a deep underlying anxiety that I was not willing to look at. I had other things to focus on and I just forgot that I had a lot of shit that I didn't feel like dealing with. It took us five months to really know what was going on. I got concussions, made trips to the ER, hurt myself falling down the stairs. I was just passing out fucking everywhere. That brought me a lot of pain. I couldn't go to work, drive, walk upstairs when no one was home. It was weird, to say the least. 

I am so grateful for that experience. It's been nine months since I last fell. I hadn't counted out the months until I just went to type that, so now I'm crying. It was not a cool time. It was also totally amazing. I read a shit ton of books, I wrote a lot, I asked people for help. I couldn't hide this. There wasn't anything I could do about it yet and I was a liability everywhere I went. So I had to fucking own it. Not easy. I cried and screamed and yelled about that, too. 

Existential angst is in the DNA of my everyday. I got curious about my spirituality in new ways. I played with it like I was solving a rubix cube. I was so mad at the world. I thought I was doing everything right. Praying was a regular thing. I just needed to be really mad at someone. So I got really mad at source/universe/oneness, and I had a thing or two to say about this bullshit. Yelling at the universe felt good. I'm not into the idea that anyone is listening. It's just about the energy I feel when I say it out loud, directly to the grander scheme of things. 

lotus 

September and October were two huge months of catching my breath. I had done everything right. I graduated from college, got a job, got a house, got married, got promoted. I was doing all of the things and I was loving it. It felt so good. There was never a moment that I didn't love it. 

And then I got sick and things took a turn. I was really sad all the time and I lost some of my light. Completely out of nowhere. For no reason. Though my life is beautiful beyond belief today, this shit was not fate. 

I rested in September and I began coming to my senses in October. As soon as Jonny and I had our first shitty relationship talk, we emailed the therapist we'd gone to for premarital counseling (we came up with a d-word action plan before we got married - 3 months of therapy). 

Jonny is getting better at self-compassion and mindfulness than I am. We have had amazing conversations and we talk about parts of the future that we are worried about. We respect each other as individuals. We remind each other to come back to breath, and we communicate our needs instead of trying to read each other's minds. His journey through this year has been admirable and inspiring. He embraced his own community, he cried, he asked for help. I asked him to write about it for me so that I can share it with all of you. 

Friends started coming into my life as soon as I opened my heart to community. I'd been pretty isolated while I was sick. No one understood what was going on. I didn't understand, doctors didn't understand, it was so confusing. There was so much going on I couldn't keep everyone on the same page. I was tired of telling six people the same story every day. There were two women that really held me through that process and kept me from going totally crazy, even when I didn't want to see anyone. 

New opportunities to put myself out there started presenting themselves. In therapy, Jonny and I were asked to really think about what we want our lives to look like. We got really clear on our values. One of those values is relationships. We take our values very seriously, so I had no choice but to start focusing on relationships. 

I want to be around people I want to be like. So I started surrounding myself with those people. I asked my friends to invite me to parties/rallies/talks so I could meet people. And I met a lot of people! I am surrounded by powerful women and I am a powerful woman. It is amazing how much pretending to be confident can accomplish. It helps me actually feel confident! I forget that I'm pretending.

I went on a very healing women's retreat, and I'm going on another one soon. I am allowing myself to be seen by women. Discussing spirituality and truth with people I love makes my heart beat stronger. My dear friend and fountain of inspiration (Liz, thank you for sharing your healing with me) gave me the gift of my mantra for this coming year. I am worthy. This is what I need. 

My long-held truth that life is meaningless and insignificant has begun to make yet another evolution. I am connecting with the things that tether me to my existence and make me feel good. This journey has led me towards a path of exploring the metaphysical with an open and willing heart. I can't wait to tell you more about it. 

grateful 

I experienced emotions and energy in a way I never have. As a result, I have discovered on a new level just how fucking powerful and resilient I am. Using the tools I have gathered from brilliant people over the last six years, I walked through this storm with certainty. I was absolutely certain that I would get through it.

I had no doubt that my life would feel lighter, and it does. Today is a big day, and I am full of gratitude. Six years ago, I wished my dad a happy birthday (happy birthday, pops!!), and I walked through the doors of a psychiatric hospital. That twenty-year-old girl was skeptical and pissed off. I am honoring her today by getting all of the hugs she was too afraid to ask for. Sweet, precious, beautiful girl, you do not have to end your life to finally breathe. 

 

 

 

 

 

Simone Hunt
can't go under it, can't go over it.

There is no way around pain. Though this may seem obvious, it's something I really came to understand within the last 48 hours. I can't get around it, I have to go through it. 

I was sitting outside with Jonny, watching the dogs play before we went to bed. I started feeling really sick as I was thinking about the death of a wonderful man and the plight of addiction. I will say his name for the rest of my life. O.G., my dear, I will love you forever. I felt physically uncomfortable, I couldn't sit still, my mind was racing. I figured he'd be around forever. 

I tried to pause, I tried to get still. I did a quick body scan, and I felt so many places where I felt really tense. My chest was tight, for some reason my ears felt really weird, my calves were tense. I was shivering. I tried to pause again. I was feeling all of this pent up energy in my body. 

So, I decided to stretch it out. I opened my arms, I shook my legs, I sighed really loud a bunch of times. I cried, I cursed a lot, I said "ughhhhhhhh" really loud. I needed to let the emotional pain I was feeling move through me. There is no way around pain. Screaming in cars is cathartic. 

I was feeling so angry about this fucking opioid epidemic, dude. It sucks. I have to let myself cry. I cry for the devastated families and the significant others and the best friends. I replay every hug and every philosophical conversation. I think, "I could have reached out more, I could have been a better friend, it's been eight years since I saw him every day, why didn't we stay close? I could have, I could have, I could have." Though that wormhole of regret is not productive, it's so easy to get stuck there. I wasn't around for him. I thought we were all done dying. 

Really tight hugs feel really good. It's okay to have the same conversation over and over and over again. This blog post is really hard to write. Writing helps. It's so important to move the energy/feelings through your body and heart. 

It will be painful. It will be so painful. There isn't a way around it. Avoiding pain does not mean it's gone. In my experience, feeling it is the only way to heal. 

Here are some things you can do 

  • let your community take care of you 
  • cry 
  • scream 
  • do yoga 
  • go on a run 
  • play with your dogs 
  • ask for a hug
  • write 
  • take care of yourself 
  • say his name 
  • write letters 
  • go on a long drive 
  • listen to music 
  • dance 
  • shake 

miss you 

I will miss O.G. every day. As I feel the pain of this loss, the pain of all of the other losses rises to the surface. I have to look at this as a new opportunity to learn. This loss changes my life. It changes my worldview. I'll give tighter hugs now. I'll listen to his favorite music. 

 

Simone Hunt
hurt people hurt feelings

Kindness is magic. When I feel myself getting frustrated, I remember that kindness is magic. It doesn't make me feel better. It reminds me how I want to handle feelings of resentment, fear, jealousy, annoyance, or anger. 

Shitty feelings feel shitty. That's the nature of them. It sucks when those shitty feelings involve other people being assholes. There's this feeling of injustice that needs to be corrected. The way I choose to go about that feeling is to not do anything. At least, I try to not do anything. Yet.

If someone has just done something that really pissed me off, it's best I don't say anything. I risk saying too much or not getting my point across. It frequently causes even more of a mix up. I find myself thinking, "it's not fair that they said that to me. My feelings are hurt, obviously they're in the wrong." 

Instead of reacting to that thought, I say, "kindness is magic." It gives me a pause. It buys me some time so I can take a step back. The fact that I'm sad doesn't always mean that other people are wrong. It feels like they're wrong. It feels like I have been wronged. I think, "well, if they knew they hurt my feelings maybe they would stop doing that." That's totally true. It's also sometimes just a personality trait. 

When I've been hurt by someone, I have to consider whether I've hurt them. It doesn't make their behavior okay. It does help me understand and empathize with their behavior. Every situation is 90/10. That means that 90% of the current situation is based on your entire history with the person you're talking to. 10% of it actually has to do with the present moment. 

So, when someone is shitty, I have to consider their side of their history with me. And, I have to consider my side of that history. Maybe I'm especially pissed because I'm actually still pissed about something that happened months ago. Maybe the same is true for that person. 

My teacher taught me that when someone triggers you, it's a red flag that you need to take a closer look at yourself. Is this person triggering a deep insecurity that you're afraid is true? Get curious about it. 

what to do 

breathe

If you're feeling that blood boil feeling that totally sucks, try to slow down by taking a few deep breaths. You can try square breathing by following this illustration. Try doing this exercise three times and see how you feel. Increasing oxygen to your brain helps you feel calm. 

Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 2.25.06 AM.png

write 

It's so easy to stay pissed off. The more you think about how you have been wronged, the angrier you may begin to feel. Writing can help because it helps you see this issue outside of yourself. Thinking about your feelings and your relationships can be really productive. It's not going to be super productive if you're super fired up the whole time.  

In order to get to a space where you can think about the situation objectively, you can write out your frustration. Try to see what might be important to look at and what you can leave behind. 

talk 

First, talk to a friend or a mentor. It can be so easy to have tunnel vision when you're deeply enmeshed in a frustration. Having someone to talk to can help you gain a clearer perspective. Then you can decide whether or not you want to talk to the person who has hurt your feelings. 

It isn't always necessary to have a conversation. Maybe you learned what you needed to and you don't feel like you need to talk this out with the person you were frustrated with. Maybe you do. 

When you go to have a direct conversation with someone, make sure you have an outline of what you want to say. Talking about feelings is a vulnerable thing to do and it can be easy to get defensive and angry. Breathe your way through it. Be kind to yourself and to others. 

kindness is magic 

When you don't know what to do, do the kind thing. If you don't know what to say, don't say anything. We can't know the whole situation. We can't know the whole story, even if we were there and paying attention. You feel your heart pounding in your ears and your palms start sweating. Pause. 

healing women healing women
 Photo by Paige Newton (instagram: @paigenphoto)

Photo by Paige Newton (instagram: @paigenphoto)

I recently learned something I already knew, but had never experienced on such a deep level. I learned how to let myself be seen.  

I signed up for something based on my interests and curiosities. I signed up for something because a badass woman I have a total friend crush on suggested it. I hung out with 8 women I'd never met, and had the most fulfilling weekend I've had in years (aside from my wedding, and that was a different kind of energy). 

It was a weekend of yoga, meditation, and laughter. It was amazing. I processed pain, I gave encouragement, I got so many hugs. We had an amazing dance party. There was delicious food. It was just everything. I went into it with an open mind and a deep intention to remain authentic. 

I thought, "I don't know anyone, I can just be completely myself and see what happens. If it doesn't work out, Jonny will pick me up and I will move on from this." I went into it sort of like an experiment. What happens when I put the true, authentic Sim in house for a weekend with a group of people she's never met? I went into it with a curious mind. 

I was definitely nervous. I want to say I was terrified, because that's typically what I would feel. I wasn't terrified. I didn't try to get out of it at the last minute. I thought about it, and I really wanted to follow through. Two of my values are community and relationships. If I canceled, I would not be following through on my values. 

magic happens 

At first, I thought these women were so cool they were out of my league. By the end of the weekend, I realized that they are my peers and my sisters and my soulmates. I didn't think I was worthy of friendship from women as open and expressive and honest as these women. 

I am worthy of everything I want. You are, too. You are worthy of everything you want. Say it out loud. Say it again. You are worthy of everything you want. Look in the mirror and tell yourself. I need you to know it. 

listen 

By listening to these intelligent, spiritual, and wondrous women, I started looking at my world differently. It was 48 hours, and it changed me. 

I haven't consciously sucked in my stomach since the retreat. I'm like, "fuck it, y'all, I just ate a lot. Deal with it." Owning my body. Feeling myself in my body. Loving my body. Healing my body. 

By taking care of my body and paying attention to what it needs, I can process the emotion I have held on to. When I did yoga (not a super yoga expert by any means), I felt tension released and I felt lighter. 

When I meditated with crystals, I held my emotion separate from me and I gave it to these beautiful stones. Whether you're into that shit or not, it's a cool practice and a way to hold a tangible object that can represent whatever you want it to. For example, I use crystals as reminders. I keep one in my pocket and when I feel it, it reminds me to take a deep breath and check the present moment. I really like crystals. 

validation 

I'm still on cloud nine because eight women who are just total badasses became some near and dear friends. I talked about books that changed my life and they had read them, too. I talked about things I've learned in therapy that might be a little "woo woo," and they knew exactly what I was talking about. They taught me even more. They broadened my horizons, they showed me new worlds. 

They taught me things that I never thought to know. It was cool to be on the exact same wave length with so many people. We all felt it. There were tears. It was really impactful. 

act 

Positive action invites positive growth. That's not mystical shit, that's just the way things work. When you take forward action toward something you are interested in, you will learn something. Even if things get weird, you will learn something. 

I want to be the person I want to be. That's what I'm all about right now. In order to do that, I have to put myself in some uncomfortable situations. That's really easy to do, because a lot of social situations make me nervous. 

I'm not saying I like throwing myself in shark tanks holding bait. It's all about easing into it. Give yourself what you need to feel comfortable as you venture into new territory in order to experience the growth you need to become the person you want to be. 

healing women healing women 

We healed each other a little bit more. We gave each other unconditional love and we learned a lot. I made some of the closest friends who know me in a different way than anyone else does. I may not see them often, I may not see them. That's not the point. 

Being surrounded by that feminine power was exactly what I needed as I venture down the path of defining my own womanhood. 

I am powerful beyond belief and I am a fucking badass. I've been telling myself that for years and believing it (off and on) for about five. I learned it on a deeper level over the course of the retreat. I am so grateful. 

The next few blog posts coming your way have to do with completely different topics than this eye-opening retreat. However, they are connections I have made in my life as a result of the after effects of this time. This retreat was a pebble in the pond that made a ripple through my being. 

this is the point

Get yourself out of your comfort zone while remaining authentic. Usually, when I'm out of my comfort zone, I'm a chameleon. I adapt to whatever the situation calls for in order to avoid rejection at all costs. 

I didn't do that with this retreat. I don't know what was different this time. I was totally free. Those badass babes made my heartbeat stronger and my determination clearer. I will thank them forever. 

 

Simone Hunt
Kindness

the root of everything is kindness

As a result of some serious breakthroughs and epiphanies over an incredibly authentic and treasured weekend (more on that magic later), I have come to a new level of understanding about the way I see my world. I want to share it with you. I love sharing my truth with you

I frequently explain that nothing truly matters in the grand scheme of things. I talk about how life is meaningless. It makes me feel peaceful. On the other hand, I do feel that life has meaning. And I see it in the lives of others. So, what do I mean when I say, "life is meaningless, everything is insignificant"? This is my biggest contradiction.

There are lessons we must learn in life, and I believe the force that holds it all together is truth. Sit in the moment. Let go of ego. Let go of material. Be here. Breathe. 

be kind in the dark

I have been through plenty of fucked up shit, I don't need to qualify. Neither do you. I have found, through all of the mud, that a lotus always grows. Always. It does. Because in the moment, you are breathing. You are here. This is the truth. 

Sometimes it is horrible. It is painful and it feels like it's never going to end. I know. That is when you breathe. That is when you feel it. Allow it to flow through you. The energy must come out. You do not have to self-destruct. You do not have to cause harm to yourself or others in order to move through the pain. 

Scream in your car on the way home, break pencils, play with buttons. Feel it all, you are in the moment. Be there, and then breathe there. Breathe. I know it's hard. I know you think you can't. You can. 

come back to kindness 

Always come back to kindness. That is the root of everything for me. Everything. In 50 years, in 10 years, in 200 years, at any point, nothing you have done or ever will do really actually matters. Nothing. That's not what this is about. It's kindness. 

You don't need to worry about whether you will be remembered. You will be. The tiny energy and the emotion and the compassion and the kindness you place in motion will continue, it will continue beyond anything you could imagine. It is tiny, and it matters. It matters because the ties that bind us together are made of the kindness we share with each other and with our planet. We have to let it flow through us. It feels good. It can be passionate, peaceful, determined. Discoveries and progress, new innovations. 

The energy put into forward motion must be kind. If there is not kindness, there will not be peace. Whatever energy is emitted is what will continue forward. 

be kind

What you do doesn't matter. Be kind. I don't understand why we go to the grocery store and see all these people and avoid eye contact and pretend they don't exist. It's weird. And when I say, "we," I'm including myself. I fucking hate going to the grocery store. I'm just saying, it's weird that we actively ignore each other. 

You are constantly unsure. Constantly doubting yourself. That's when you can get quiet. Sit with yourself. It's hard to sit still. It's hard to drive in the car with the music off. It's okay. You're okay. There is no wrong way to begin. Go on a quiet walk. Sit in a quiet room. Smell a good candle. Listen to that song. Pause. Observe. Breathe. Kindness will come to you when you ask for it. You'll know what to do. 

take care of yourself

Be kind to yourself. You are a small being with a huge heart and you truly are doing your best. Even when you stay in bed all day, you are doing your best. Be kind to yourself. Connect with others authentically and treat yourself to truth and peace. Take a bath. Watch your favorite movie. Be kind. 

Kindness is not a personality trait, it is a plane of existence. You do not know what to do next. Perhaps you think you know, or you have a vague idea. You don't know. Take the kind action. 

Look to your values and ask your inner child. Ask the universe. Ask your friends. When you misstep, there is nothing wrong with you. You learned something new. Celebrate.

You are doing life every day with no roadmap or idea of the future. That sucks. It's scary. You have a job interview tomorrow. You're preparing. Imagining. You think you're going to get the job. You're afraid you're going to get the job. What if you don't? What if it goes terribly? What if you're not enough

And then you go, and the interview is great, and you do get the job. Or, you go, and the interview is great, and you don't get the job. Or, you go, and you make a fool of yourself and you are shamed until the next decade. Anything will happen. 

Be kind to yourself, you cannot tell the future. 

life is meaningless 

Life is meaningless! On an individual, ego-to-ego level, there is no such thing as you. Your sense of separateness that you have from others doesn't matter. Your individuality, the way you dress, how you talk, your mannerisms. Those are all results of the lessons you have learned and the experiences you have had while you have been here. Those details are precious and beautiful, they help you determine what kindness path you are going to take. 

Also, this isn't about you. It's not about anyone. You're an atom in a living organism. You don't have a say about what that huge living organism does. What you do have a say in, is its health. And its overall health determines what it does. 

You are here right now. That's just the way it unfolded. The fact that you are here is really important. You are here and you need to learn and open as much as you can because the health of this huge organism depends on it. 

You can do and be whatever you want. You can be a computer programmer. You can value luxury and buy cars. You can work at a non-profit organization. You can drive the city bus or sing for stadiums full of people. You can do all of those things at the same time. Whatever the fuck there is to do, you can do that. 

Do it in kindness. You know what kindness is. You can't, like, kill someone in the name of kindness. You don't speed in a school zone because you like it and you think that means you're being kind to yourself. You know what kindness is. 

Suicide isn't kind (I'm also not saying it's mean, though).I always thought it was a super loving thing to do because I would be letting my whole family off the hook. Making decisions from a poor mental health state is not kind. (suicide is also unkind for one million other reasons). 

you are worthy 

Kindness also happens to feel really, really good. When you open yourself up, you are allowing love, vulnerability, connection. Give that gift to yourself. You deserve it. Feel good.

You matter (you are matter), your ego doesn't matter. You are here and you need love in order to give love. You deserve love. Others deserve love. Love feels good. You don't need to shy away from that anymore. 

None of these material things or achievements really mean anything. As a part of the world we live in, there are social contracts we have to follow. That does not have to be as restricting as it sometimes feels. Meditate. Stretch. Breathe. Be kind. 

Nothing matters, be kind.  

Simone Hunt
anxiety blocks

You know when you have so much to do, you just can't do any of it? Is that a normal thing that happens? It happens to me all the time. If I let my email inbox pile up, I stop checking it. I get super nervous out of nowhere and I get to this weird place where I just can't bring myself to open my email. 

I'll type in "gmail.com" and then close out that tab before it even loads. I just get so overwhelmed so quickly. This happens when my to-do list gets unreasonably long or when I accidentally take on too many clients. I just sort of shut down. 

Over time, I have figured out a few ways to get through that block. 

begin it 

The hardest part is getting started. You need to let that email inbox load without closing it out. For some reason, I find it easier to do this in a public place rather than at home in my office. I think this is because if I'm at home, I'm more likely to stall even longer.

Usually, stressful emails don't show up. But I'm braced for it and it's not a fun feeling. When I'm at home, I let myself off the hook. I stand up and I go do laundry, I take the dogs out, I clean my desk. Anything but check that email. 

By going down the street to a coffee shop, I make a smooth transition into grown-up work mode. I can talk to my inner child and say, "hey, grown-up Sim is going to deal with this and you don't have to worry about anything scary."

put on your grown-up hat 

I know that most of my anxiety is my inner child freaking out. I speak to myself in a kind way (usually in response to a bunch of intrusive and rude self-talk). I also hold myself accountable. Yeah, it's totally okay that this is happening and there is nothing wrong with you. It doesn't say anything about what quality of a person you are. 

Also, though, it's not cool to skimp on responsibilities. Yes, for sure, anxiety happens and it slows things down. Be patient with yourself, definitely. Also, do what you need to do to cope with the fact that you need to take care of things -- doctor's appointments, meetings with clients, sitting down and actually writing. 

Getting to that coffee shop or making phone calls to grown-ups who are way more grown-up than I am can be intimidating. What helps me speak to myself in a reasonable and motivating way is reminding myself of my values. 

look to values 

Is my procrastination affecting other people? It's definitely not helpful to me. Is that in line with my values? Definitely not. 

It's not kind, it's not focused on connection, and it doesn't align with how much I value work ethic. I want to be the person I want to be. So, objectively asking myself if my behavior is within my values helps a lot to move me forward. 

don't hold on to shame 

Getting into anxiety blocks where I just can't focus on anything makes me feel like shit. All of the things lead to all of the thoughts. Shame creeps in when I know I'm not living according to my values. I talk shit to myself because if I could just pick up that phone or check that email or go to the grocery store, everything would be fine. 

I find myself frustrated because these are such simple things to do, and I somehow can't do them. It's like there's this invisible force of anxiety keeping me from moving. 

When I notice negative thoughts, I do my best to let them pass. I put them on a leaf in a stream in my head and I let these shitty thoughts float by. 

feel good

Remember how good it feels when everything is done and taken care of? Start by focusing on one tiny thing, instead of all of the things. Focus on the inbox, focus on the errands, focus on the phone calls. One at a time. Start with making your bed. 

The more you can get those feelings of success from performing responsibilities the more you will accomplish. Allow yourself to feel good when you complete one thing, even if you have a bunch more to do. This helps build confidence and creates momentum to keep going down the to-do list. 

anxiety blocks 

In order to best overcome anxiety blocks, look to what has worked in the past. Do you need to let other people know? Do you need an accountabilibuddy? Maybe you need someone to sit with you when you check your email. 

Get curious about what causes this anxiety. Is it fear of the unknown? Fear that people are angry with you? Are you trying to self-sabotage out of fear of success or fear of failure? Are you just sick of everything and want to run away? 

Ask yourself what you need. This stuff is going to get done, you're going to check your email at some point again. You'll get through the anxiety. It doesn't always feel like it, but it is possible to reach out and ask for help at any point in an anxiety block. 

How long do you want to go through this anxiety? What have you tried so far? Can you take a step back and come up with a reasonable plan of action? What support do you need? 

By doing these things (after years of trial and error), I've found those anxiety blocks to move through me quickly. I've developed my ability to ask for help (from compassionate and hard working people I trust) to the point that it doesn't feel uncomfortable (even if I'm embarrassed that I need help doing something as simple as dialing a phone number). 

forgive yourself, ask for help, move through it, feel better, repeat. 

Simone Hunt
mindfulness, one button at a time

Mindfulness and Buttons! 

I've had a difficult time meditating because that's just where I am right now. Any longer than a 10-minute meditation and I'm out of the game. There's a lot going on and my excitement about everything makes it difficult to want to come back to my meditation. So, I've looked for other ways to get my daily mindfulness fix. 

This is where buttons (like, the buttons you put on a shirt, not the buttons on an elevator) come into play. All you need is a jar of random buttons. I got a shit ton of them for like $5 on clearance at the craft store. Most craft stores sell just big bags of random buttons. 

Get a bunch of buttons and put them in a jar

I got about 100 buttons and I put them all in this jar, which looks cool on my desk when I'm not using it. 

button 1.jpg

Pour all of the buttons out to make a big mountain of buttons 

button 6.jpg

Set a timer 

If you have an extra 10, or 20, or even 30 minutes, set a timer and put your phone on silent. You can do this every day, twice a day, or just when you're feeling particularly anxious. 

Categorize! 

Organize the buttons into any categories you want. You can organize them according to color, shape, size, number of holes, whatever. I tend to go about this with the slowness of putting together a puzzle. I take my time and I always see buttons I haven't seen yet. Some of them are really cool. 

Today, I organized the buttons according to color. After 15 minutes, the timer went off. I had not gotten through all of the buttons. That isn't the point. You don't have to organize every button, so don't worry if you run out of time. 

Be mindful

As you play with these buttons, you might find your thoughts wandering off. That's okay. I've found this activity to be a helpful alternative to meditation because I can't help but come back to the moment if I am looking for a specific button type. I'll find myself thinking about all of the shit I need to do later, but I am brought back to the moment when I can't decide if a button is green or blue. 

Notice the wide variety of colors and shapes. As you reach for each button, hold it and look at it before you put it down. Feel the edges and notice how this button weight differs from the last one.

This focus on exactly what is in front of you will give you a break from the endless thought-loops of anxiety or weirdness you might face throughout your day. Taking at least ten minutes to do this will give you a nice moment of calm. 

Check it out! 

button 7 .jpg

When that timer goes off, take a pause. Look at the cool assortment of buttons you've arranged. Use the clean up time as a transition back into your day. 

To clean up, you can scoop the buttons onto a piece of paper and use it to pour them back into the jar. 

 

Simone Hunt
letting people go

I recently had a great talk about letting go of other people. I'm currently dealing with two types of letting go: 

  1. Letting go of what other people want me to do. 
  2. Letting go of what other people are going to do. 

This blog post is only talking about the first one: letting go of what other people want me to do. 

I realize what letting go feels like on new levels all the time. A lot of the time it feels shitty and heartbreaking because I care what other people think so much. Just when I think I've got letting go down, I figure out how to do it to a new extent. And I always feel better in the long run.

I have changed so much and I have so stayed the same. As it seems to go. As I make changes to build the life I want, I can't help but look to others to make sure I'm doing okay.  

Letting go of what people want me to do 

I'm good at taking direction. When someone tells me to do something, I like explicit instruction and some examples. However, as I grow through this second puberty (my twenties), I find myself exploring my identity and my dreams and my values. 

I get into a tricky spot because on one hand I'm saying, "I am a strong and empowered woman and I feel proud to make my own decisions." On the other hand, I think, "What life path can I choose that will make [person I admire] happy?" 

The decisions I make are my own. I really like it when I make a decision and the people I look up to say, "wow, that was a great choice."

That does not happen 100% of the time. By any means. And it crushes me. Or, it did. I'm feeling better about it now. When I look to the sidelines and see people disappointed, even though I am living exactly the life I want to live, I start to feel sad. 

If I'm doing what I love and so many people in my life are proud, I tend to focus on those one or two people who are just in total dismay. If I'm happy, but they are not celebrating with me, am I really happy? 

(There are a lot of people I consult before making big decisions and I listen to those people. Right now I'm just talking about the people who are hyper-critical and shitty.)

how I let go 

Here's how I've been moving through this dilemma: I've been focusing on living according to my values. I cannot express how much I love values. I learned about values in-depth about six years ago and it finally sunk in almost a year ago. 

I look to my values the way I look to my mentors. If I am living up to these values, I feel proud of who I am and what I am doing in my life. I value kindness, authenticity, safety, curiosity, and relationships. Along will a billion other things like humor, work ethic, and gratitude. I tend to focus on a couple of values at a time. Primarily safety and kindness. Those two pretty much cover exactly what I want my life to look like. 

If I do something that someone doesn't like, I have an easier time letting go when that action is in line with my values. It holds me accountable on a new level. When I get still and I pause before I act, I know if what I am doing is in accordance with my values. 

Making a difficult decision feels better when I make it myself (with the support of people who accept me and know my vision). It's easier to look at the critical faces in the crowd in order to determine what I should do next. But that option feels shitty. It's inauthentic. 

There will always be people who think they know how to do life better than anyone else. They have rules and procedures: get a master's degree, get a job, get health insurance, don't fuck around, do life this way or else you're stupid. I'm serious, people think that way. It's insane. What's even more insane is how frequently I find myself believing that this formula is the only way to go about life. 

accepting their disappointment 

Sometimes people are going to be disappointed. A lot of those times are really going to suck, depending on who the disappointed people are. If what I am doing is in line with my values, I have to get cool with their disappointment on an emotional level. 

Intellectually I understand that I cannot live a life that makes everyone happy. If I zoom-in to one person and focus on making them happy, I'll end up unhappy and I'll have made some decisions that disappointed other people. So, pick one, I guess. 

Emotionally, letting go is more difficult. What I need to remember is that when someone is disappointed in me, it does not mean I am no longer worthy of their love. My inner five-year-old goes nuts when people disapprove. She feels unloved. She feels fear. But I am my own loving parent now, I don't need to so deeply depend on other people to tell me that who I am is acceptable.

Brene Brown suggested a brilliant thing that I think about a lot even though I am not super into Brene Brown anymore. She said to get a tiny little post-it, and on one side of it write down the names of the people who know me, understand me, and accept me. Those people are the ones I talk to before I make a decision. Those people hold me to my values and they show me new perspectives. There are five people on that list.

There are people I deeply love who are not on that list. And if they are not on that list, they don't get to have a say. 

here's what I really think 

Life is meaningless, dude. In a really beautiful and cool and wonderful way, it doesn't mean a thing. According to the community I want to live in and the social structure of my life, I have to pay bills and have a job. Even if that means having a shitty job to pay those bills. 

Still, though. I don't have to be miserable. I can be exactly who I want to be. All that is going to happen is I'm going to die when I get old or I'll die young in some kind of horrific car crash. Who knows. Why would I spend this experience of life on worry and doubt and fear?

I want to feel good and I want to be kind. I care about other people because I have emotions and I like to feel them. Ultimately, what do we know? What does anyone know about the right or best way to live life? 

When I let those people go, I'm also releasing a huge weight off my shoulders. I can deeply love someone and still not give a shit about their opinion. 

Also this: 

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Simone Hunt
self-motivation

praise as a motivator 

I don't have coworkers and I don't have a boss, so I have had to learn how to be entirely self-motivated. It has been a major part of the freelance hustle. I found myself feeling really overwhelmed. Since I make my own schedule, I thought (in the beginning) that meant I could work as much or as little as I want. And I totally can, if I want to be super duper hungry. I still need to pay bills and maintain relationships with clients. So, it turns out I have to work for multiple hours every day or else I won't have a job. That's just sort of how jobs go. 

Because I don't have coworkers or a boss, I don't get praise. I have to be honest and say that praise was a big motivator for a long time. I didn't realize how much I relied on praise until I didn't have anyone to impress. I mean, I can try to impress my clients. But it's not their job to encourage me. 

If I lose motivation and slack on work, I'll just lose my client. It won't be a conversation or an action plan, I'll just be out of a job. So, I've really had to figure out how to make myself work when it is the last thing I want to do. When I wanted to have a slacker day in previous work environments, I would show up and do my very best and still get paid. That is not the case in the freelance life. 

how do I self-motivate? 

In learning how to motivate myself I have learned that procrastination is certainly a motivator. It's also terribly stressful and an ineffective way to produce quality work. It's a difficult habit to break. I'm working on it. 

I try to maintain a really consistent daily routine

I spend the first hour of my quiet morning writing in my journal. I try not to check my email, though it is frequently the first thing I do before I get out of bed. And then I work for about 8 hours with a break every two hours to take the dogs outside. 

In my previous work environment, I was constantly inspired. The people I worked with were hard-working and friendly. There were goals and objectives and procedures. Always new ideas, new things to improve, different people to collaborate with. 

I am my own source of inspiration 

I spend most of my time at home or at coffee shops with my headphones on and my eyes on my computer. When I hit a wall in my day, I try to reset by empowering myself and getting inspired. I do this by thinking about all of the ways in which I am a badass. Instead of thinking about how I am overwhelmed and have so much work to do, I think about all of the awesome work I have done recently and throughout my life. I have written hundreds of pages in the last six months. I typically write about twenty pages per week. So, when I am stuck on a project, I remember how capable and hardworking I am. I remember all of the times I thought I wouldn't finish something. All of the times I struggled with a task. And all of those times turned into successes. 

I categorize my days

I learned this when I was writing a piece about time management. The idea is to chunk major tasks into categories and then structure days according to those categories. The freelance life means I work at least a little bit seven days a week. So, categorizing my days has been something that really works for me. For example, I schedule all of my phone calls and meetings on Mondays -- meeting Mondays! Tuesdays and Thursdays are my intense workdays while Wednesdays are for maintenance and side projects. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are spent on starting projects for the next week, editing, and checking in with clients. 

I remind myself how much I love my work

It's super helpful that I am in a new and interesting line of work, doing my very favorite thing. I get to write about a variety of interesting topics, make clients happy, and try new writing styles that I would otherwise be nervous to try. I write for multiple hours, every day. Thousands of words (words are my very favorite thing in the history of anything ever). 

I am as much in awe of language as I am of the stars. When I am overwhelmed and stressing out about my work, I think about the beauty in it. This brings me right back down to earth. An instant perspective change. Yes, this is hard work. Yes, it is sometimes confusing and intimidating. It is also my very favorite thing to do. Whether I am writing about how to be a good parent or writing reviews about waterproof walkie-talkies, I absolutely love that I get to help people articulate their message so that they can connect with their audience. I'm the one who gets to construct that connection. It is very cool to think about. 

So, when I just think of the reason I do this work, the other stuff doesn't seem to matter so much. 

I work long enough to enter a flow-state 

Flow is what happens when you are totally immersed in the task at hand. You lose track of time, you're totally loving the moment, you are just totally fixated by what you are doing. Whether you're rock climbing, knitting, or trying to get work done, a flow state is not out of reach. In order to get into the flow, here's what I do: 

  • Get rid of distractions. I take the dogs out, I put my phone on do not disturb (with the option for it to ring after three phone calls -- in case someone dies), and I clear my desk so that it feels fresh. This also helps me ease my getting started anxiety. 
  • Put on good music. Lately, I've been rocking the west coast rap essentials playlist on iTunes. Very effective. Sometimes I listen to classical music. 
  • I start with the task that will make me feel accomplished. I work on something that will help me get started -- something not too difficult but not so easy that I don't count it as work. This helps me ease into work without feeling overwhelmed. 
  • I commit to twenty minutes. I make a decision to work hard for twenty minutes. But I don't watch the clock and I don't set a timer. I just tell myself it will be twenty minutes and usually by the time it would have been twenty minutes, I've forgotten and I am totally in the flow. 

moving on

I've always been a dreamer and I've tried to be a go-getter. I realized that much of what was keeping me going and inspiring me was the positive attention I got from people when I worked so hard.

Working hard when no one is looking has given me a new sense of satisfaction with my work. I'm not hustling as hard as I am so that I can get praise. I'm not doing this with my eyes on the next promotion. I work this hard because it makes me feel good. I'm learning how to be proud of myself in every moment. I'm learning how to inspire myself and give (not too much of) myself to my work. If I feel authentically proud of myself, I don't need anyone else to tell me how awesome I am. 

 

 

Simone Hunt
a little bit anxious

I know what to do when I am super anxious. I have plans of action and a slew of effective coping skills for extreme situations. When I am too anxious to leave my house, I take a shower. Too anxious to dive into work, I start with some kind of small success (like writing a blog post). When I am too anxious to stop crying, I watch that geometric breathing video.  

 

So, when the anxiety is extreme, I know what to do. I'm pretty good in a crisis. The issues come when I have just a tiny bit of anxiety in the back of my mind. The kind of anxiety I can ignore and still get things done. 

what to do about tiny anxiety 

I have assumed for years that having a tiny bit of anxiety is really good fuel. If I'm always on edge, I'm more likely to be perfect. If I always think I am about to fail, I will be more careful to not fail. If I assume my husband is going to die any minute, I'll cherish him more and I'll be safer when I am the one driving the car. This thinking makes total sense to me, but it has proven to be ineffective.

When an anxious thought pops into my head, I don't always have time to directly address it. I'm in the middle of a sentence and I don't have time to worry about whether I'm going to die in a car crash today. So, I've been trying to do two things. 

1. mindfulness every day 

I know that I preach mindfulness a lot. For the last couple of months, I've been making a much more conscious effort to practice mindfulness every day. Not just on super depressed/anxious/ptsd days. Doing this has decreased the amount of random intrusive negative thoughts throughout my day, not just when I am doing the mindfulness activity. 

my favorite mindfulness activities

  • Use a button jar! Get a giant jar. Fill it with random buttons (you can get them for super cheap at craft stores). Set a timer for five minutes, dump out the entire jar, and organize the buttons in any categories you want (color, size, etc). 

  • Watch your hourglass. Start with a one-minute hourglass! I use a five-minute one. I watch it for one cycle and if I need another five minutes I turn it over.  

Practicing mindfulness on a for real regular basis has been nice. Sometimes it's inconvenient or I don't feel like doing it. But it's only five minutes. It always goes by quickly and it was never a total waste of time, even if I didn't spend any of those five minutes actually being mindful. Knowing that I tried helps me know I am getting better. It's just like going to the gym. 

2. remember the facts

When I am in the middle of work and I get a random, terrifying thought, I tell myself some facts about the present moment. I am at my computer. I am typing. I am working on a blog post and my dogs are on the floor. I don't need to worry about whether I've received that email. I'll check my email in an hour.  (jumping from task to task as you think of them is not super effective because it can take up to 20 minutes to re-focus on a task once you have broken focus). 

Part of our survival revolves around finding the bad. It's most of what our brain looks for. (learn more about negativity bias)

So, when I get anxious out of nowhere I think, "thanks for the warning, evolution! I'm not in danger right now so I will pay attention to this stuff in an hour." 

The ratio of how much bad stuff we notice compared to how much good stuff we notice is insane. Most of the things my brain perceives as threats are minor or nonexistent. When I am in the middle of something and I have a thought that might actually need attention, I write it down on a post-it and I get back to the task at hand. I'll let future-sim handle that one. 

keep moving 

When my anxiety is so big that it yanks my attention, I have no choice but to pay attention to it or else it will eat me up. However, there is some anxiety that I can choose to move past. I can hear it, I can say, "yep, I see you," and then I can move on. That way, it doesn't have to derail my task, but I don't ignore it so much that it gets bigger. 

I can acknowledge it, set it aside, and then keep moving. 

Simone Hunt
never go to bed angry

"Never go to bed angry."  If anyone ever tells you to follow this rule, just know that you don't need to. I mean, do what you need to do. If you can stop being angry about something on command, never go to bed angry.

Over the messy confusion that was my first year of my marriage, I went to bed angry a lot. Sometimes a good night's sleep was all I needed. Sometimes I went to bed angry and woke up with a totally different perspective. Going to bed angry has saved more arguments than staying up until 5 am and trying to talk it out until we each had to go to work, only to come home exhausted and even more frustrated.

If I had never gone to bed angry, I wouldn't have slept for six months. Fuck, I already barely slept for six months. And I promise that those sleepless hours were not spent trying to not go to bed angry.

I think the principle to take away from this idea is that it's best not to push things under the rug. Go to bed angry, and talk about it the next day. Even if you're feeling better, talking through the situation from a non-angry place is really helpful. Honestly, I think that's like a key component and I really don't want to gloss over it. 

Talk about the argument. It's super important. I've found though that talking about tough stuff is best introduced with some kind of phrase resembling, "hey dude, can we talk about the shit we said last night?" And sometimes the answer will be, "not right now, we're having a nice day and I don't want to bring that up right now. Can we talk about it tonight?" 

And then, when you talk about it, know that you might get riled up again. We've prevented that by following some suggestions we got from our marriage counselor about how to talk when we're disagreeing. We face each other, we sit down. Standing up can be more threatening. We maintain eye contact. It's insane how much these guidelines have helped us.

We don't trigger each other so much and we are better able to stay in a vulnerable and compassionate place. Try it!

So, go to bed angry if you need to. It's okay. It's going to be okay.

 

 

 

UncategorizedSimone Hunt
where to start with self-compassion

Self-compassion is a straightforward concept -- be nice to yourself. So, why is it so hard to grasp? Being nice to others comes as a generally accepted given, despite varying definitions of "nice" across individuals. I think we can agree that people prefer when you are nice to them rather than rude. That idea doesn't always translate directly to our relationships with ourselves. Love and kindness is not typically the first thing we give ourselves when we need encouragement.

Research supports the notion that we are more successful when we are compassionate to ourselves. However, do you ever find that you are more motivated when you are self-critical?

If you do, you're not alone. There's a dude named Zig Ziglar, who I only recently heard about. He's super smart and has a bunch of good things to say about how to be successful. He's a motivational speaker and he's written a shit ton of books. Pretty credible dude, I really like his emphasis on being authentic and kind to others. He also has a quote that I really disagree with and I'm going to talk about it for a second.

He says, "when you are tough on yourself, life is going to be infinitely easy for you." A lot of people agree with this line of thinking. And honestly, that is totally cool with me if it works for you. I'm also just going to say that no current research supports this quote, and all of the current research discredits it. (Don't worry, Zig Ziglar has a bunch of other good quotes)

People who don't think self-compassion is going to help them frequently think that being kind to ourselves is "soft" or lazy. When I was a kid practicing soccer, I used to tell my brother to tell me that I was really terrible at it. I thought that would help me get better. This method certainly wasn't working with school, but perhaps it would with soccer. It didn't. I don't think that was entirely the fault of my negative self-talk (my feet have always been too big for me), but the negative self-talk certainly didn't help.

In fact, negative self-talk never helped me. I've never achieved something amazing by treating myself as though I were my own shitty boyfriend. Absolutely, on the road to really cool things I have doubted myself the entire ride. The difference today is that I don't get swept away in the whirl of negative thinking as quickly. And as soon as I say something shitty to myself, I usually say, "hey, you're a bad bitch, let's keep going."

I learned self-compassion from a bunch of therapists, and I believed them because they had a lot of experience. They cited some very cool people who I ended up really liking.

One of those people is a badass warrior princess named Dr. Kristin Neff (self-compassion.org). She actually teaches at The University of Texas and I sometimes (every time I got to HEB) imagine running into her at the grocery store and then becoming her apprentice. A girl can dream.

Anyway, Dr. Kristin Neff pioneered self-compassion research. She is the reason I know what self-compassion is. The big term used to be "self-esteem," but the keyword became "self-compassion" after self-esteem proved to be not super sustainable over time.

I'll tell you why self-compassion is sustainable and why self-esteem isn't. Self-compassion is basically like, "hey girl, you're average, you are not better or worse than anyone, and that is fucking awesome." Self-esteem is more like, "wow, you really have something especially special that no one else has."

Self-esteem doesn't last because as soon as you actually aren't especially special at something, your self-esteem may drop. Self-esteem has requirements. Self-esteem compares us to others. One of the consequences of an emphasis on self-esteem has been a huge increase in narcissism over the last decade.

Self-compassion is badass because it sees the goodness even when life is a shit storm. I was reading a blog post about self-esteem vs. self-compassion on Dr. Krstin Neff's website and she defines self-compassion so clearly and beautifully. She says:

Self-compassion involves being kind to ourselves when life goes awry or we notice something about ourselves we don’t like, rather than being cold or harshly self-critical. It recognizes that the human condition is imperfect, so that we feel connected to others when we fail or suffer rather than feeling separate or isolated. It also involves mindfulness — the recognition and non-judgmental acceptance of painful emotions as they arise in the present moment. Rather than suppressing our pain or else making it into an exaggerated personal soap opera, we see ourselves and our situation clearly.

The part of that quote that I absolutely love is the part where it talks about connection with others. Pema Chodron talks about this in her book, Start Where You Are. I recently felt like a total failure when I quit my last job. Ugh. It sucked. Even though it was my decision, and it was ultimately to improve my health, I still felt like a failure. I was so proud of that job. Anyway, when I was going through that process, I thought, "wow, I wonder how many millions of people have felt this way before. And now, because I am experiencing this too, I am connected with all of those people."

Thinking about it that way helps me feel a lot better when I fuck something up because I remember that millions upon millions of people have all felt the exact same way. So, that can be pretty powerful. I'm not alone when I say something stupid or accidentally sound really harsh in an email reply to someone who used a smiley face. I use smiley faces sometimes, too! I was just in rush!

I really want to talk about mindfulness and radical acceptance, but those will have to be separate blog posts. Both are involved in self-compassion practice.

Begin your self-compassion practice slowly and grow it over time. It can be difficult to change a habit that is so engrained in us. It's engrained in our culture. It's hard to escape that grip. And, it can be uncomfortable to tell people we love ourselves.

So, you don't have to fall in love with yourself all at once. I didn't start loving myself until I kept up little self-compassion breaks over time. I started practicing self-compassion when one of my therapists asked me to say "I love you" while making eye contact with myself in the mirror. Everyday for 30 days. And I totally did it.

Ugh. I still remmeber the first time I did it. I was nauseous. At the time, I'd had a recent suicide attempt. There wasn't a ton I loved about myself. And I'd never told myself I loved me... because that's a super weird thing to do. I said "I love you" to myself for the first time in June of 2012, and I have said it almost everyday since.

I've implemented a lot of self-compassion practices in my daily life. I take self-compassion breaks and write myself nice notes. Really simple things. Things that sometimes feel embarrassing and weird because it feels so counterintuitive at first.

note.png

You can do your own research and start your self-compassion adventure however you want. I used to teach some self-compassion workshops, and based on what I've learned from Dr. Kristin Neff, the best way to start being self-compassionate is to notice when you're not.

Sometimes we say rude stuff to ourselves and we don't even notice. You can start your self-compassion practice by simply observing and noticing when you are self-critical. What are the common phrases you say to yourself? Does this habit really help you?

You can start with that and move from there if you find that you do want to try something new. If you're curious about this topic and you want to read some more in-depth research, check this out.

UncategorizedSimone Hunt
an intentional year

On January 1st, I woke up pretty confused because for the first time in my adult life, I was actually asleep by 10 pm on New Years Eve. I was disappointed by this because I felt like I had missed the opportunity to be a part of the official transition into the new year. So, we spent January 1st pretending it was New Years Eve again so that I could start the new year properly. My little family, consisting of my two dogs and one husband, sat down together to discuss what we hope to leave in 2017, and what we hope to bring with us into the new year. We put together a list of core values that we will post in our house and aim to be mindful of as we travel through another year. Based on what we learned in 2017, we came up with five guiding values.

These values were put together as we were thinking about steps we hope to take towards creating the life that is most authentic and sustainable for Jonny and I as a couple and as individuals. In 2017 I learned that my connections with others were so important to me that I frequently held on, hoping for approval for longer than I ever needed to.

A lot of people cared about me throughout the year. When I was sick, when I was facing my own personal struggles, and when I walked through the "oh my god I'm married" realization, there were friends by my side throughout the entire journey. I was so worried about the relationships I thought I was losing that I stopped looking at the strong relationships I already have. As I walk into 2018, I have a clarity that will hopefully last at least through the end of January. With that clarity, I see a similar set of priorities with a different way of looking at them. I intend to foster the relationships that are mutually supportive and loving. I intend to prioritize feelings of community during a transition from comfortable routines to new adventures. And just like Brene Brown (via Theodore Roosevelt) taught me, I don't need to worry about the opinions of those who are not fighting the arena.

I hope to try out new ways to explore my authentic self so that I can show up in every arena looking to my values for guidance and insight. I set random dates on my phone calendar to alert me of my core values throughout the year. I Thought that was a cool idea.

In my journal most mornings, I spend three pages of incomprehensible rambles attempting to answer one question -- what do you want to create today? We asked ourselves this question when we were thinking about 2018 as a whole. What do we hope to create? What is our one goal? Our 2018 big, challenging, vague goal is to be both intentional and curious.

On January 1st, I woke up and realized an entire year had just flown by. I noticed that even though I made progress in mindfulness and careful consideration in 2017, there were some major lapses and major returns to auto-pilot and people-pleasing. As I take more steps into my own, I hope to act according to my values in moments where my gut reaction is to make a quick decision and keep moving. I hope I'll slow down and observe each step and then take action to change direction when I notice myself wandering.

My spiritual curiosity is at an all time high. I am learning to take pieces of what I learn, from Brene Brown to Sam Harris, and experiment with what it feels like to see the world's issues and my own from a different angle. How can this inform the way I see my existence? How can I chase my curiosity without moving though it too quickly? 

I know I will forget, I know I will fall back into the patterns that are comfortable to me. That is the nature of my adjustment to new endeavors. Every change that occurs in my life occurs for the first time. It's a new experience every time. I can give myself a break (hopefully, eventually) when I do not walk through new experiences with untethered courage. I do things for the very first time every day, whether I notice or not.

I hope to remember this as I continue to strengthen and then forget and then strengthen and then forget my commitment to self-compassion and introspection. Whether taking a personal inventory at the end of the day or realizing it's December 31st 2018 and I forgot to practice any values, I will aim to be kind to myself.

Persistence in 2018 is essential. I know that I must partake in the positive changes I wish to see in my community and in my country. That starts with being kind myself. And then it grows when I reach new depths of kindness for others catalyzed by my own self-love.

On January 1st, I woke up and decided to celebrate New Year's at midnight since I had missed it the night before. Once again, I was asleep by 10 pm despite my strenuous efforts to stay awake. If 2018 supplies plenty of early nights and intention-setting meetings, I'll be more than pleased.

UncategorizedSimone Hunt
i think it's going to be cool

  There are things I need to leave in 2017. I am taking this opportunity to let the new year symbolize a new beginning. Just as there are things I need to leave behind, there are things I need to bring in order to show up completely for what this year may have in store.

I carry around my anxiety like I went out of my way to get it. Sometimes I wonder if I really want to let it go. What I have noticed more lately is a new kind of anxiety that feels like more of an existential “I am always so confused about what the world is” feeling. And I don’t know how to leave it.

Staying in the present moment has not been my thing lately. I give myself maybe a couple of minutes maybe once a day to meditate and be mindful. But as soon as that’s done it’s off to the races again. I’ve been told to not read the news as much. I don’t know how to leave it.

Don’t get me started on my attempts to read people’s minds. I’ve been very wrong about that lately. I don’t know how to leave it.

This is where the tricky part comes in, okay? The thing is, I do know how to leave it. I know exactly what I need to do. I replace the things I don't want to hold with the things I do want to hold.

I'm going to be mindful of my information consumption (and I'm going to delete three of my news apps).

I don’t get to leave behind the political climate, but there are things I can do to protect myself a bit more. I can be mindful about the information I engage in.

I was doing some research the other day and I found an article about the Low Information Diet. At first, I thought it was a typo and that it was supposed to say, “low inflammation diet.” But in fact, the Low Information Diet (aka selective ignorance) is a thing. It’s super effective and research supports it.

The guy who wrote The 4 Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss, is all about the Low information diet. I looked more into him because I haven’t actually read The 4 Hour Work Week (I’ve pretended that I’ve read it, does that count?). He’s a super smart dude and he’s doing big things to change the way people approach their work and their lives in general. I especially like a blog post he wrote about curing anxiety. I pulled a lot of inspiration from that piece. Big things I took away were the need for play, and news as the biggest source of anxiety.

I intend to leave my phone on the charger across the room while my ipad is dead so that I can spend time with my friends and not worry so much about the latest in Washington.

I plan to play. I've been craving a good swing set sesh lately. We just got a new puppy and we have a one-year-old pup, so I will let them remind me to play.

dog dog dog pic
dog dog dog pic

I hope to cultivate authentic community and foster supportive relationships. I will leave behind those things I tell myself that keep me from approaching new people. Maybe I'm just lazy. I joined Bumble BFF and I went on a friend date that went well, so, that's a step.

Once I'm actually having a conversation, I'm fine. But the moments leading up to those conversations are rough. Also the moments of silence when you sort of forget what to talk about. Those feel like long sprees of awkward eye contact with a person who may or may not think I'm a total fraud. How could I know? Best to assume the worst.

However, I do get comfortable quickly, and I know how to put on the game face when I need to, for sure. It just takes so much energy. Running on auto pilot can work, but goodness is it exhausting.

I have found that the more authentic I am with others, the better connections I have with them. Fostering relationships with people who support and love me, who I support and love, was one of the most powerful experiences I had in 2017. I'd like to further embrace this in 2018 by cold calling (or texting, if I'm nervous) the people I care about who I just don't call enough.

People save my life, and goodness do I love my people. In 2018, I'd like to make a more active effort to reach out, listen to, and love the people I care about. The things that once concerned me are not important to me anymore. My standards were insane. It was because I didn't realize how much I hated myself. It always is. When I further embrace self-love and recommit to my wellbeing, I get to reconnect with the oneness of everything that is or isn't.

I'd like to leave behind poor prioritization and refocus on the things that make me a better person. 

In the last month I have found a growing interest in the way spirituality is really defined. My curiosity about the connectedness of the universe and what that means or doesn't mean at all is at an all-time high. As I am more concerned than ever for the wellbeing of this weird ass fucking world, I am also experiencing a lot more existential angst. Instead of pushing that away or ignoring it (because I have thought about life plenty), I have allowed my curiosity to guide me towards people who have asked these questions, too.

I find the answers in meditation.

So, I'd like to recommit to my meditation practice. I also want to go back to being obsessed with gratitude. I make a gratitude list everyday, but I do it as though it's just a thing to check off my list. I'm going to put a lot of thought and intention into my happy jar this year, and I'm going to take time out of each day to visualize, write down, and talk about my gratitude.

I want to create. 

I want to create the life that my husband and I are feeling brave enough to go after. I want to create memories and friendships with people I just so happen to meet.

Writing will help me create tangible pieces of myself so that I can somehow feel less alone and less burdened by the thoughts which have no business in my head.

Someone once asked me, "are you looking forward to your life over the next three months?" and that still echoes in my head. I ask myself this question all the time. And today, I can't wait to see what life has in store. New mistakes and fears, new resentments and weirdness. And new opportunities to persist with gratitude and grace.

UncategorizedSimone Hunt
california air

I haven't written in a while because I sort of went through a couple of weeks where I wanted to quit writing all together forever. I kept thinking, "why do I have a right to put myself out there? What's so great about the bullshit I write?" I just sort of had this moment where I was convinced that me writing wasn't only meaningless and a waste of time, but that it was also destructive and horrible. Like me writing was doing some kind of disservice to people. I don't know where I got these ideas. I was feeling insecure, neurotic, and I was beginning to question my worthiness for love. Why would anyone love me? What's so important about me? I don't blame people for thinking I'm full of shit (I don't actually know for sure if people think that), I think I'm full of shit, too.

So, I went through all of this shit, and now I'm sort of getting over this idea that I am a total fraud. Here's how I'm trying to do that: I'm trying to give myself more compliments. I am spending time with people who voice their support and love for me. It's amazing how the people I surround myself affect my worldview and feelings of positivity or negativity. I just don't want to spend any more time being disappointed because I don't have approval from specific people. I get support and encouragement from so many people, but that disappears the moment I don't feel loved enough by just one person. So, it's tough to let go of that. I get so desperate for understanding and acceptance that I end up making a fool of myself.

I'm working on that by crying about it when I need to, and taking a bunch of deep breaths, and developing new boundaries. I get to make a choice about what kind of relationships I want to spend time on, and what kind of relationships breed negativity and tension. Why should I subject myself to such a twitchy situation?

It's okay to feel shitty, man. In fact, allowing myself to just sit and allow myself to hurt is how I feel so wonderfully loved and joyful today. If I don't process these feelings, resentment and sadness fester into questions about how valuable I am to others. So, the only way to get through it is to get through it. And it sucks and it hurts. However, because of all of this shittiness, I feel like I've climbed up a really tough mountain, and now I'm at the top looking at a beautiful view.

It's been a tough year. A tough year for me, for this country, for this world. Ugh. What a year. I am in a lot of fear about what is happening to this country and I get pessimistic and negative. So, how can I spread positivity? How can I shine light for others? That's tough to do when I'm having trouble finding my own light. The only thing I know to do is hold on tight to gratitude. Always grateful.

The last six months have been difficult. I've struggled hard. I wrote a bunch of vague blog posts. I do that because I don't like to include specific people in my post, even though sometimes a reader close to me might know who I'm talking about. I try to be authentic and expressive while remaining respectful. I don't always do a great job of that.

Over the last few months I ate a lot of donuts, and then I got really into working out, I did a lot of knitting, I bought a mandolin, I tried to become a hat person, I quit my job, I just started cross-stitching, I thought maybe I'd be the kind of person who would hike the whole PCT.

Some of these hobbies have stuck around. I love cross-stitching and I love my mandolin. I really like my hat, but I don't have the confidence to pull it off in public, so I just wear it around my house. The thought of donuts grosses me out. And I still like working out but I'm not so obsessed with it.

I didn't really want to publish this blog post on Thanksgiving because I'm about to talk a lot about gratitude and there are more days of the year where you can express gratitude than this one. So, whatever.

I am so fucking grateful. By practicing gratitude and deep breathing, I made it through a really tough time. One of those phases where I was like, "wow, how could anything ever get better? Everything is just going to suck forever." And here I am, almost all the way through the darkness. I feel like I'm about to watch a really pretty sunrise.

Everything that has happened over the last six months helped me grow up. I have a much better sense of who I am. I felt like I was watching myself from afar. And I saw myself being strong, patient, compassionate. I have to be real and let you know that I was inspired by myself. I was so impressed with the way I kept my head held high. The way I got out of bed before 8 am every day and then immediately made the bed.

Here is a secret trick that helped express my rage. I was so angry. I was angry at the universe for taking people away from me. I was angry at myself for neglecting relationships that are really important to me. I was angry at the people who weren't reading my mind and then giving me what I wanted (mostly affirmations and attention). So, I would go to my office and lock the door. I would set my timer for five minutes. I would put a huge pile of pencils in front of me (I have thousands of pencils from my teaching days, if you want any), and once I started my timer, I broke as many pencils as I could in five minutes. I channeled all of my negative feelings into these pencils. It has become one of my favorite coping skills. Highly recommend. It helped me feel my feelings and get the energy out. It is such a relieving coping skill, and it is not threatening at all.

I have a much better sense of who I am as an individual. For the most part, I am proud of the person I am. I'll never be done growing. I'll never be done learning. I will always make mistakes, and I will have to own the consequences and do my best to have those experiences guide me towards being the person I am meant to be.

I have to give a shout out to my siblings, to my in-laws, to my whole family, and to my friends who have given me tough truths, difficult conversations, unconditional love, donuts, hugs, and shoulders to cry on. I don't exist without other people. And all of you shape me. You teach me. You help me grow. And whether or not we have spoken over the last six months, you've still made an impact on me that has helped me grow and learn.

There are no mistakes in art, only happy accidents.

UncategorizedSimone Hunt
breathing

There's a lyric to a song that says, "all that I know is I'm breathing, all I can do is keep breathing." That's all I'm trying to do right now. Keep breathing. And it's the only thing I'm certain of. Since I was 15, I've been making 10-year plans. Mapping my goals and the steps it would take to get there, deciding on big careers and identities. I've always had some kind of plan for the future. As I've grown a bit older, I still make 10 year plans, but I do so with the understanding that everything will likely change. And when any changes have happened, I get excited because I get to sit down and re-write my 10-year plan. I have an entire binder dedicated to this process.

What I'm getting at is for the first time since I began this habit, I don't have a fucking 10-year plan. I don't have a plan for what's going to happen three hours from now. I don't have a plan for my next six months.

Right now, my biggest goal, the number one thing I am trying to achieve: see how long I can go without wearing a bra.

It's cool and it's the worst thing ever. I'm calm and I am losing my mind.

UncategorizedSimone Hunt
write more

I want to write more. To chronicle this time in my life. I feel like I have hit puberty all over again. Only, this time is worse and the growing pains are more painful. I'm getting pretty good at leaning into uncertainty. I am learning to say things like, "maybe I will go," instead of, "I am going to go."

I really don't know anything. I have no idea what will happen next. So, how can say with confidence what is definitely going to happen?

I found that I have spent about the last 6 months being exhausted. Any free time I had I spent sleeping or rewatching Parks and Recreation on Netflix. I'm not kidding when I say I have watched all 7 seasons 6 times over the last 4 months.

I tried to tie my identity to work. I tried to tie my identity to what I thought a wife is supposed to be like. I let go of who I am. I stopped being curious. I let go of what I love, of what my hobbies are. So much so that I do not know what I like. I do not know what my hobbies are. I don't know how I want to spend my time.

Now I have an opportunity to explore the world of myself. I stopped doing my self-compassion rituals because I was happy and loved myself. I have learned the hard way that self-compassion takes maintenance. I learned this because I am so deep in self-loathing. I woke up a few days ago, looked in the mirror, and said "I don't like you." It was sad and I proceeded to go to my closet and cry for a while.

I've started to say "I love you" in the mirror again. I'm writing myself notes. I wrote myself a love poem the other day. I might put it on here, but I am too nervous to do that right now.

I took the TV out of my bedroom. For some reason, I didn't like movies. Now, I am curious about watching super popular movies that I have not seen. Most of the time, when people ask me if I've seen a movie I say, "oh yeah, totally. But it was so long ago that I barely remember it. Great movie, though." I'd like to watch one movie that I have not seen every week. Other than that, I am done with TV. I use it like I used to use weed to numb out and chill for a while.

I preach a lot of things. I talk a lot about the importance of letting go image management. But I realized that image management is all I do. Posting on social media all the time about how great my life is. My life actually is great, I just work hard to let people know that I am just fine and everything is under control.

The truth is, I don't know myself. I stopped being connected to my true self. My life is not going wonderfully and nothing is under control. I am powerless. I also feel empowered to work on myself. I feel like I am a badass warrior princess, conquering my little world and loving myself again. All I can do is love me, focus on me, be a good friend, feel everything I need to feel -- scream, cry, laugh, relax.

scream, cry, laugh, relax.

UncategorizedSimone Hunt