Pole Fitness: What You Need To Know

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In recent years, pole dance has gained popularity as a form of fitness. Competitions are held all over the world, and it’s making its way through the application process toward inclusion in the Olympics. It’s an exciting time for the world of pole dance, and if you’ve ever been curious or considered getting involved, there are some things you need to know.

Number one, numero uno, the Big Answer to the Ultimate Question: Yes! You can do it. You, right there, reading this, with a mind already crowded with excuses. You aren’t too tall, too short, too heavy, too uncoordinated. There is no height limit, no age limit, no restrictions apply. Pole is for everyone, everywhere, all the time.

Pole dance lessons are usually offered in dance studio environments, typically several rows of poles with a wall of mirrors at the front of the room so you can keep an eye on your form. On your first day you may feel more comfortable in yoga pants or sweats, but eventually you’ll be wearing a sports bra and booty shorts. More exposed skin means a greater area that can stick to the pole, which opens up a vast realm of tricks. Make sure you scrub off lotion, sunscreen, and any other slippery substance that has graced your skin before getting on the dancefloor. You’ll need all the grip you can get!

Those are just the basics, the skeleton, the pragmatic details of your entry point into the world of pole. Telling you to wear yoga pants and avoid lotion is like telling Alice to wear comfortable walking shoes to Wonderland: it’s useful information, but it doesn’t really prepare you for what you’ll experience when you drop down the rabbit hole. It’s hard to prepare for magic.

Pole dance stands firmly at the intersection of sexuality and athleticism. It’s a rough sport and a seductive art. It is a method of expressing yourself through movement. For many it represents escape, and sanctuary from life’s struggles. It’s hard to worry about the rough patch in your relationship or over-analyze the passive-aggressive remark your coworker made when you’re hanging upside down trying to figure out how to get into your next trick without crash-landing on your cranium.  It’s about pushing yourself, calling B.S. on your limits, and reevaluating everything you believed you couldn’t do.

Pole dance is pain. It’s bruises on the backs of your legs from knee holds. It’s shiny red skin, freshly exposed because the top layer was left on the pole. It’s arms too sore to raise to the top of your steering wheel so you have to start at the bottom and crawl with your fingers to ten and two. It’s lying in bed staring at the ceiling and taking inventory of all the throbbing pieces, all the parts of your body that worked and strained and fought and thrived. It’s undeniable, inescapable effort you can be proud of.

Best of all, the pole dance studio is a sacred asylum of support and encouragement. The success of one dancer is the success of all, and everyone’s accomplishments are celebrated. Despite a culture that likes to put women in competition with one another, pole remains a place for women to build one another up. The doors are wide open, the club is forever recruiting. You are welcome here.

To learn more start with this Beginner video ladies :)


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Ditching the Diet Before I Said “I Do”

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 Photo By:  Betsy Newman

Photo By:  Betsy Newman

Less than two months before my wedding, I stood in the alterations department of a bridal store crying. Not sweet, joyful, bride-to-be tears of happiness, but some red-chest, scrunch-faced, holding-back-the-tears-but-they’re-coming-anyway crying. I stood on the platform, staring at myself in the mirror, and all I could see were my giant, too-white arms, my about-to-burst bust, and the seamstress behind me telling my mother the only way my boobs weren’t gonna fly out would be to let out the dress some more. Yes, more.

I hadn’t even started looking for a dress until nine months into my engagement, and I had dragged my feet through the entire process. I tried to put it off as long as possible. What was the issue? The same thing that had made me put off so many other things in my life: I was waiting on the weight.

When I met my now husband, I was a size 8 (the skinny range for me). This wedding dress was a 14, needed to be let out, and I couldn’t zip it up with a bra on. I felt like a failure. How could I let this happen? What would people think? What had happened to me?

Oh right, life. Amazing, everyday, falling-in-love life happened. We started dating, had Thai food picnics on the floor of my apartment, cuddled on the couch and watched Netflix, oh and traveled to Europe and ate pretzels in Germany and gelato in Italy (no big deal). There had also been long hikes, homemade chana masala, a hypothyroid diagnosis, yoga classes, job changes, and a million other things. But standing in front of that mirror, I wasn’t thinking about how beautiful and complex the last two years had been; I only saw the weight I’d gained, and that weight-centric view of myself was my real problem.

It would have been really easy for me to pledge allegiance to the next quick-fix diet formula that crossed my path. Early or mid-twenties me would have absolutely vowed to lose weight (and maybe she would have for a bit), but I’d been down that road so many times before, and I knew in my core that if I focused on changing my body for my wedding, I would end up hating the way I looked anyway. Because when I had been a size 6, I still thought I had giant arms and a chubby face. Negative body image knows no size.

Diet culture focuses on what you lack, not what you have, and even in my moment of splotchy-faced, alterations department anxiety, I knew that I didn’t want to go back there. So instead, I decided to focus my energy and remaining time on changing my mindset instead of of my waistline.

It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen overnight, but by letting go of my obsession with wedding-day weight, I was able to focus on what actually mattered. Like the fact that I was marrying the kindest man I’d ever met. Or that my family and friends were all being so incredibly generous with their time and money. That I was quite literally surrounded by love.

 Photo By: Betsy Newman

Photo By: Betsy Newman

And on my wedding day, in the let-out dress that fit me (and my boobs) perfectly, when people told me I looked beautiful, I believed them.


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Mindset

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Written By: RO

When was the last time you smiled at yourself in the mirror with a heroic stance and said “I am proud of the way that I struggled through that task” while you are trying to shove yourself into a pair of jeans or that dreaded bridesmaid dress with the 1980s shoulder pads? NEVER! My point exactly. Where am I going with this you wonder…turning the f word into a positive word; failure.

Failure is tied to our mindset. A lady by the name Carol Dweck explains that the way we think of ourselves profoundly impacts the way you choose to lead your life. Therefore, YOU decide if failure means you totally suck balls at the task you are trying to accomplish OR failure is a means of receiving effective feedback on how to accomplish a task.

When you go to a family barbecue and you vowed to yourself over and over in the car to only let yourself have one small cheat and you ended eating all four corners of the chocolate cake because it has the most frosting…you didn’t fail. You now discovered that you should drink more water and rearrange your meals so that you won’t indulge so passionately again. Don’t beat yourself up, just make the next decision a healthy one. Grab a bottle of water and omg is that a karaoke machine! This is where it’s okay to be a shiny penny.

My point is mistakes/failings are the channels to better choices! Hey, champagne was discovered by mistake! So was penicillin! And the microwave oven, artificial sweetener, post it notes, (WHO DOESN’T LOVE STICKIES!?) oh and Coca Cola, and plastic and the list goes on. Did I mention the first implantable pacemaker was also discovered by mistake? Talk about life changing! Alright alright I’ll stop, you get the picture now…and the ink jet printer. Last one, promise.

Rediscover yourself and go make some mistakes! Ok, maybe that came out the wrong way, but give yourself an opportunity to learn from your mistakes…you never know it could be life champagne. I mean life changing. Man oh man am I thankful for the mistake of champagne! Aren’t you!? Cheers to you and all your endeavors!


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Modern Period Care

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Written By: Jill Warwick

Let’s talk about my vagina.

Specifically, what I am putting in it.

Two weeks ago, a friend and I went camping. Now, when we camp, we have two basic rules:

  1. No people

  2. No cell reception.

This typically also means no working toilets and that isn’t a problem.

Until you’re on your period.

The entire week before, I kept wishing for my period to happen so I wouldn’t have to deal with it while in the woods. But, of course, nothing showed up until two days before our departure.

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But hey, on the bright side –

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I figured this was a good time to try out the Diva Cup. The thought of having to deal with pads and tampons without a functional bathroom or shower made me want to cry.

Fast forward to me standing in my friend’s bathroom with the cup in one hand and instructions in the other, with my pants around my ankles and trying to mentally prepare myself to shove a big piece of silicon inside my body.

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Inserting the cup for the first time is like losing your virginity again – things don’t seem to fit where they are supposed to go, you’re sweaty and silently wondering if it is supposed to feel this way and if this is even worth the effort.

Oh the things we have to do in order to function as a normal human while menstruating!

The box has instructions on how to hold the cup to insert it, but I still recommend reading the booklet. And holding the folded cup will come easier with practice, I think.

It took some adjusting but by the end of the evening, I was feeling comfortable.

Camping crisis averted…until the next morning.

DivaCup Model 2 Menstrual Cup
Diva International Inc.

Waking up with the Diva Cup felt better and cleaner than any other morning I have ever had on my period, other than the pressure of having a CUP INSIDE OF ME, but overall not too bad.

What didn’t feel so great was realizing that the cup had moved up too far for me to grab easily as I squatted in the woods at 7:00 a.m. Visions of having to walk into my doctor’s office to have it removed or worse, having to ask my good friend to play doctor with me, flashed through my mind as I tried to breathe and not freak out.

The best solution was to wait for the cup to move down on its own, (trying my best to use Lamaze breathing, as my friend recommended). Luckily, waiting for it to move didn’t take too long.

To compare (and to avoid any more panic about the cup getting stuck), I used an overnight pad the second night of our trip. It was nice to give my vagina a break from the cup, but as you can imagine, I woke up sweaty and gross.

I will take the Diva Cup trying to move permanently into my cervix instead of pads sticking to my ass any day.

Final Verdict: Complete Fangirl!

Overall, it is the cleanest I have ever felt while being on my period, and as tampon-commercial sounding as this is, freeing. I completely forgot about the cup during my lake-side 4th of July celebration and had less irritation while I slept.

It is a sustainable method and I can finally clean out all the excess pads and tampons I have stashed all over my apartment.

Yes there is some discomfort and adjustment, but that is how most things in life are and has most defiantly been my experience with other period products.

Side notes and other random thoughts

 

  1. While reading through the instructions, it was insane to me that apparently a person only loses 1-2 ounces of blood during their period. If that is all, why does it feel like:

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2. Using this will get you REALLY in touch with your anatomy. There is no room for modesty or hesitation here. Just go for it!

3. Taking out the cup can be uncomfortable and as you come to the end of your cycle, it will start to irritate, just like tampons typically do when you’re almost done.

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This Isn’t the Baby Blues

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Written By: Kimberly Davis

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The assumption: when you realized you’ve missed your period, or maybe your period is later than usual. Maybe you’re suddenly nauseous all the time. Whatever your symptoms may have been, something lead you to purchase that pregnancy test. And now, you’re staring at those telltale double lines, that digital ‘yes’; you’re pregnant. You should be ecstatic, overjoyed, and understandably a little nervous. You should be glowing, excited about your growing belly, cooing at babies on streets anxious to finally meet your own, you should feel strong at the fact you’re growing another human life. You should feel all those things and more, right?

The reality (for every one in ten women): prenatal or antenatal depression. Yes a pregnant woman's body is usually all over the place hormonally, and you can experience some mood swings or fatigue every now and then. But prenatal depression is much different, and it isn’t talked about as much as it should be. Prenatal depression is often brought on when the pregnancy is unplanned, met with an unsupportive partner or unsupportive family members and friends, financial stress, if you have a history of depression or anxiety, and if you are or were in a violent relationship.

While it is often hard for doctors to diagnose antenatal depression, it is always important to be completely transparent with your doctor at prenatal checkups. Your doctor is there to help you and the baby, not judge you. We need to talk more about depression during pregnancy, because once we start talking about it people will start getting the help they need. It’s okay to admit that you don’t feel happy about being pregnant, it’s okay to admit that you’re struggling. And always remember you are not alone.

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While your doctor will be able to help with treating your antenatal depression, put self-care at the top of your to-do list in the meantime; if you’re taking care of yourself you are taking care of your baby. Read a book, go out for a walk, get your hair done, have breakfast in bed, do anything that’ll make you feel good and remember to slow down.

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Raise Your Hand if You Get A Period

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Written By: Kimberly Davis

Yes, this is yet another period piece. But while I’m comfortable talking about periods, did you know that menstrual cycles still remain a taboo subject in most countries? Including the United States.

People who menstruate each month have long since been taught to be ashamed or keep quiet about this naturally occurring process. At pool parties, someone may sit on the sidelines because they “feel sick”, or they may run to the bathroom to “fix their makeup”. All of these reasons pop up to avoid saying the truth: “I have my period”.

Menstrual taboos exist all around the world, and these taboos often hold people back from education, work, and more.
 

China

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During the 2016 Olympics in Rio, swimmer Fu Yuanhui announced that she was on her period when she swam and she revealed a major misconception about periods in her country. After Yuanhui’s comment, the Guardian reported that many in China took to social media to say that they were unaware that someone was able to swim while menstruating without leaving blood in the pool.

Why is this? Because tampons are rare in China due to health concerns around them, and the notion that using a tampon means someone is no longer a virgin since the tampon will tear the hymen. Of course, an intact hymen is not a sign of virginity, and there should be no shame attached to having sex. This taboo runs so deep, that in 2015, no tampons were manufactured in China but 85 billion pads were produced in the country.

England

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More than 137,000 girls in the UK missed school in 2017 due to the lack of affordable menstrual products. According the Always (the menstrual product company), 7% of girls will skip school because of their period or because of a lack of correct menstrual products. Beyond not having the correct products girls in the UK also wear. what few products they do have, for longer than they should putting their health at risk.

United States

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Ah, the good ol’ luxury tax. As of 2018, some states still tax menstrual products under the “luxury tax”. This tax is often applied to items that aren’t a necessity, and are instead a luxury, will be taxed as such and will not be exempt, while items such as food and some medications are tax free. Menstrual products are a big part of many people's lives (certainly a big part of mine), and the cost of them often prevent some from accessing them. People like the homeless, who will be faced with either spending what little money they do have on food or pads.


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Long For Nothing. Realize Everything.

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Written By: Rosie Riott ~ @rosie_riott

Over the years, I have had the privilege of meeting and engaging with a plethora of both mentally and physically successful beings. It is always an honor hearing their stories, as well as the trials and tribulations they’ve faced on their long road to success. While in conversation, one of my favorite questions to ask is, “What keeps you going? You know, on those bad days when you really feel like hiding under a rock, closing yourself off to the world and giving up.” Almost every time, I get the same response and time and time again that response is “having gratitude.”

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According to studies done by Harvard Medical School, giving thanks can actually make you happier. “With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives and usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves, helping people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals.”

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Everyday, I come across people who just want, want, want all while refusing to believe that what they have is already quite plentiful. These people yearn for the newest gadgets, the trendiest look, the biggest house, the sleekest car. Unfortunately, when this mindset is in constant motion, in most cases, almost nothing in their lives going forward will seize to be good enough.

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Don’t you think that if we as humans, all 7.6 billion of us on this crazy planet, were trained to take time out of our days to practice gratitude for the life we’ve lived, the life we are continuing to live, as well as the people who enrich and influence our daily lives our mindsets would be completely different? I sure do.

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It is in my belief that our minds would be more focused on the actual here and now, the nitty gritty, not the what if’s, the what could be’s or the what could have been’s because as we all know, at the end of the day, that shit isn’t real therefore does not matter. What matters is finding peace and accepting what you already have and what beautiful chaos you have already created for yourself then allowing yourself to grow from that. I find that in order to gain abundance in this life, it is important to seek gratitude first for what has already occurred, and what is currently happening as is.

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So, if you are feeling like you are at the end of your rope thinking something has got to give wondering what’s next, well, maybe you ought to sit down and take a look at your life, but make sure it is all without judgement because it is important to remember the steps it took you to get to where you are now. And yes, the roads may have been tough, but you ought to be grateful for the ability you’ve obtained to bounce back and even better as each life experience passes.

One thing I’ll say is practice gratitude; you’ll thank me later.

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Beer, the Beach, and Bettering Yourself is it good?

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Written By: Emma Grosskopf ~ @big_emma_g

This summer, I have an arrangement with my brother.

The two of us are trying to get in shape this summer, because weeks and weeks of sitting on our asses and drinking beer, shockingly, doesn’t make for the healthiest of young adults.

So we are going to the gym as much as we can, and by the time our family goes on vacation in the middle of July, we are going to have reached our fitness goals.

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And, because everything has to be a competition, the person that goes to the gym least this summer has to buy the first 30-rack of beer at the beach Food Lion.

And, as much as I rag on my brothers about having brains that are solely competition-oriented, a little part of me is trying to win. But sometimes, I feel like I have to stop and remind myself that this is about more than numbers and beer.

My fitness goals are simple: to improve the way I feel about how I look. I’m not trying to raise the amount of weight I can lift like my brother is. I’m not trying to increase how long I can run like my brother is. I’m not looking to magically develop six-pack abs in the span of a couple months like my brother is.  

But I do want to feel beautiful.

I think it’s important, when we make the decision to better ourselves, to not forget the base rules about “improvement.” You know, the rules like “beauty starts on the inside” and “you’re beautiful just the way you are.”

It’s easy to get discouraged on your journey if your goal is to “change” yourself. If that’s your goal, then of course you’ll look in the mirror and wonder why your bum still jiggles, or why you still have cellulite on your legs, or why your stomach isn’t taut yet. Of course you’ll be discouraged!

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Something that my entry into the “fit life” world has taught me is that you can’t have the goal to become something you’re not. You have to accept yourself for who you are, and you have to accept that you aren’t going to look like all the gym buffs that you might see while working out. The key is to have positive, realistic goals, and developing those goals starts with self-acceptance and honesty.

And who knows! That journey might end somewhere on a beach with a 30-rack of beer. But who cares who bought it?

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10 Mindful Questions to Get Back On Track?

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Written by: Chantel M. Rivera ~ @chanty_m

I hate doing the same thing over and over day in and day out. It leaves me feeling like I am running on a treadmill, getting nowhere. It clouds my mind putting me in this uncomfortable space, so to get a bit of a kick start and reset I ask myself these 10 questions…

 

1.       What am I pursuing today?

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2.       How can I, or did I, bring Light into anyone else’s life today?

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3.       What do I need to get off of my chest?

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4.       Am I avoiding anything?

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5.       Will future me be thankful for my actions today?

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6.       When’s the last time I called my parents?

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7.       Why am I doing what I am doing, and is my “why” good enough?

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8.       Do I need to reevaluate some relationships?

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9.       When is the last time I took a break?

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10.   What am I grateful for?

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I would love to hear what you guys do to get back on track when you’ve found yourself veering off a bit. Head over to IG and let’s chat @chanty_m

-Chantel M. Rivera


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Combatting Fat-Phobia

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Written By: Danielle James ~ @danielleeejames

The body positive movement was started to provide a safe space for marginalized bodies and since the advent of social media, it aimed to highlight those bodies in the media. However, as the movement grew, it lost touch with its roots. The faces of the movement have shifted from the marginalized bodies to the size eight blonde woman talking about self-love.

While promoting self-love and appreciation of all bodies is crucial to creating a better, more accepting world, the body positive movement has lost touch with its root. It is rampant with fatphobia, despite the fact that this space was created for fat people.

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Size 16 women have much different experiences than size 24 women. No experience is less valid than another, but negating another’s experience as a fat woman because it’s different than your own is just hateful and does not promote the true values of body positivity.

We need to strive towards more understanding which will in turn lead to more acceptance. Listen to each other’s stories. Validate each other’s experiences. When you look at a woman larger than yourself, don’t let yourself think “Well, at least I’m not that big.” Look inside yourself before you go out into the world and project onto others.

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If you’re curious about diving deeper into the nuances of the body positive community, check out She's All Fat, a podcast all about the fat experience and the intersections of the body positive community. Follow a variety of bodies and experiences on Instagram. Listen more. Learn more. Be open to hearing about people different from you. Returning to the roots of body positivity starts with those of us preaching its teachings.


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Put Down Your Phone

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Written By: Alyssa Rogers

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I attended a beautiful wedding last weekend. It was a warm, sunny Pacific Northwest spring Saturday. Soft bits of cotton from trees gently and slowly floated down through the air. As the bridal party began its procession I noticed something else. This something wasn’t so pretty, though. I noticed a shocking amount of attendees looking at their phones instead of the wedding ceremony that had just started. Sure, they were mostly looking through their phone cameras and at the procession, but they weren’t watching and living in the moment and celebrating mindfully. How unfortunate, I thought, that these guests aren’t experiencing the sunshine or kiss of the breeze as the flower girl toddles down the aisle and the beautiful bride as she walks by, beaming.

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There is nothing profound or original about saying that many people these days have our phones in our hands or very close to our persons a lot. During weddings, as brides walk down the aisle, people (sometimes dozens of them!) will video record and take photos of the procession, as if professional photographers haven’t just been hired to do that very job. Focused on snapping pics, applying filters, and adding hashtags, we are missing that precious, once in a lifetime moment. We are detached from reality for the time being, and, in a way, electing to not participate in the ceremony.

We are addicted to those pesky phones because each like, retweet, comment, and notification triggers the correct neurons in our brain that release dopamine. We’re wired to seek more of what makes us happy. The more we interact with our phones, the more chemical hits we receive. We are literally addicted. But that doesn’t mean there’s not hope. Silencing our phones and actively taking time away from them to practice mindful living is essential. Some couples even ask their guests to keep their phones put away during the ceremony or entire wedding, a practice called “unplugged weddings”.

It’s wedding season. So, please, put down your tiny, handheld computers, Happy Sunday.


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Bad Angle or Bad Attitude?

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Written By: Emma Grosskopf  ~ @big_emma_g

So my last couple articles have talked about my summer journey to becoming my best self. I have been eating healthier and really cracking down with my workouts, and I’ve been seeing results.

What I’m most proud of, however, is not the results. It’s the attitude that I’ve managed to maintain so far on my journey. I have been very positive this WHOLE TIME.

Up until now. I hit a little snag yesterday after my shower, when I was feeling all shaved and smooth and fit and lovely until I caught a glimpse of myself at a bad angle. And what did I see?

Stretch marks. ALL up and down my hips. Cellulite, all over the back of my thighs. The bad angle paired with the horrible fluorescent lighting in my dorm room pushed all positive thoughts about my journey out of my head. I was horrified.

I mean it. HORRIFIED.

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I immediately put on some baggy shorts and tried to pretend that I didn’t see it, all the while knowing that this was a DIRECT contradiction to my body positive health regime.

But today I was thinking about it while I was on my run. While I run, I can feel my thighs jiggling and I know that there are bumps and lumps in different places on my body. Even though I’m eating healthy and taking care of myself, that won’t necessarily change.

And there will always be bad angles. Sometimes we’ll catch ourselves in bad light that highlights our stretch marks or our cellulite, or that makes us look old or like we have bad skin or like we have bags under our eyes. Sometimes, we will feel ourselves jiggle when we run.

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It’s important to remember that positivity is not something that is always natural to us. We have to work to be positive about ourselves even on the days when we feel bloated or self-conscious or defeated.

Those are the days that body positivity is most important.

We need to tell ourselves that WE ARE HUMAN. Humans have imperfections. It doesn’t matter what our perceived imperfections are; what’s important is that we don’t view ourselves negatively because of them.

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Screw bad angles. Screw double chins. Screw fluorescent lighting. Seriously. We have to see past what we see as “flaws” in order to grow. We shouldn’t be horrified by those things that make us human. We should accept them as a part of us because, like I said, we’re only human.


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Quarter Life Crisis- downloading now

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Written By: : Chantel M. Rivera ~ @chanty_m

So, quarter-life crisis are real, right? I am going to say yes, because I am pretty sure I’m going through one right now, and have been for the past several months. You may be too if you are…

  • Constantly asking yourself what you are supposed to be doing next, and stress over how to get there?

  • If you wonder what you’re going to be doing in five years, and the thought of being at the same job makes you want to puke.

  • Every time you close your eyes you see the things you hope to achieve far off in the distance, but in between is this huge chasm, and you’ve yet to devise a way to get across.

  • Wake up thinking- surely this can’t be all there is to being an adult, right?

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In short, aren’t we all freaking out just a little bit, or is it me?

When stripping things down I started to think about what was really causing this sudden panic when thinking of the future. Was it restlessness, fear of the unknown, or the fear of actually achieving my aspirations, and it not being enough? Is it a strange cocktail of the three? I have found, we struggle most with that space in between. The space between where we are and where we want to be. Our current circumstances don’t dictate our future unless we allow them too, so why does the space that allows for change and growth intimidate so many of us?

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I know this is an article, and as the writer, I am supposed to have some type of answer or advise to share, but tonight I have more questions? There is always going to be that space between our reality and our dreams. At times it will feel like it is the deepest chasm, and in other moments nothing more than a crack in the pavement. What I’m learning to do is focus on the small, and often repetitive, tasks it takes to connect the two sides. Take comfort in knowing that the stranger who wrote these words you’re reading, is feeling the same way you may now, or have before. Don’t focus on the gap. Focus on what it will take to close it, and start small.

Love

-Chantel M. Rivera


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