Can I be honest for a moment, friends? This week kicked my ass. No really…it did. But like anything in life, there are always silver linings and little moments of joy we can grasp onto in the midst of the “oh my god, what is happening?!” kind of lessons.
While this past week seemed to be one thing after another, one of those things lead me to my beautiful friend Lily Diamond’s event with Levo League on Thursday evening. We met through me doing some photography for her incredible book, Kale and Caramel, and she has only continued to inspire me, both creatively and personally, since then. Being a small business owner in a big city can often feel so isolating, and this past week pushed me into such a lonely, frustrated place that I hardly had any energy leftover to continue trying for myself and the things that matter to me. Even still, I made my commitment and I showed up to the event…and I’m so glad I did.
When the elevator opened up into the downtown Los Angeles space, the introvert in me was relieved to see an intimate setting with a small group of women. It was instantly safe, warm, inviting — just what I had been hungry for. And speaking of hungry, don’t even get me started on how many of Lily’s amazing toasted sage + pear + pomegranate hors d’oeuvres I consumed over the course of my time there. (Side note: I’m not one of those women who believe in the false politeness of party nibbling. If I like your food, I’ll eat it all.)
One by one, this small group of women went around a table and shared so much more than delicious food. We shared our vulnerable truths — our fears as we move into the holidays, grief, loss, family struggles, and how we cope. Many of us actually shared something in common: when we are overwhelmed by family and holiday stress, we just want to hide under a massive comforter and pretend nothing else exists. It seems that we are all working so hard to cultivate our own sense of safety and belonging, and my god, it is so draining.
It was so refreshing for me to realize that while we romanticize the hustle and the world makes us feel so minuscule, we are really not alone. Somehow, we are connected — and being intentional about forming this community is a reminder that we desperately need. What we also need is to find healthy ways to cope and remain in a state of peace, even as the holiday chaos takes its toll.
Around this engaging table of authentic women, we ended our time together by sharing the ways that we will cope, and I want to share mine you in hopes that some of these ideas might set you free and bring relief when you need it most.
I have realized that it is crucial for me to constantly find the beauty in people and in things. When my faith and trust have been tested, broken, and discarded, I have to dig deep into myself to see the value. And then, I must believe that everyone else is also wandering around with something incredibly worthy that I can benefit from. It’s hard to see at times, because we are also walking around with so much pain. A friend of mine, Julia, reminded me over a phone call this week that everyone is hurting. And it matters that we care. Start with nurturing your own wounds, and then with a deep breath, bring grace where you can to those who may seem hard to love.
And as silly and small as it may seem, I cannot thrive if I don’t cultivate beauty in the details of my life. This beauty has become a security for me that allows me to energize and gain strength from my surroundings, and I can’t tell you what a difference it makes. We are sensory beings, and if we can fill our senses with joy and wonder, it can create a safe haven in the midst of our most difficult weeks. Some of my tips for creating an atmosphere of peace are:
-Always have your favorite music on. (My recent go-to in my home is French on Pandora.)
-Candles. Lots and lots of candles. Trader Joe’s currently has a vanilla pumpkin candle that makes my entire place smell like thanksgiving, and it’s pretty wonderful.
-Plants. Flowers. Life. You don’t have to be a crazy plant lady like me, but I swear it is powerful to have living beauty in your space.
-Nourishing food. There is something special about preparing a meal with your own two hands. Whether it’s a cup of matcha or French press coffee, an apple cake, or your favorite dinner dish, lose yourself in the process of preparation this week.
-Forage. This one sort of combines a lot of the above, but there is something to the process of truly getting out there and finding your own sparks of joy. Head to your local farmer’s market this week. Pick out some fresh flowers. Taste the samples. Smell the fresh herbs. There is healing in the steps we take when we are fully present.
Friends, I made a weird, ugly, crumbly gluten-free pie today. Was it amazing? No, not really. But I cultivated something. Elizabeth Gilbert has this quote about how if she isn’t actively creating something, she’s actively destroying something. That’s exactly how I felt with this flawed little pie. It’s about process over perfection. Every single time.