I’m 38 weeks pregnant. Meaning, every time I look at myself in the mirror the reflection seems foreign. I look more like a skinny/fat alien than, well, me.
My first few months of being pregnant were a little rough — only because I made them so. I would wake up every morning thinking, “Today is the day I’m going to blow up.” I was in constant worry of becoming a whale.
I know, I know…Nikki, you should know better. And yes, I do know better. But that doesn’t make watching the body you so desperately have tried to control most of your life change right in front your eyes easy.
At 30 years old, I finally had found some sort of science to maintaining by body at an acceptable weight: eat well, do Pilates, and let go of the drama so my body wouldn’t hang to the fat. That was my formula.
And now…well, it was a whole other ball game. I decided I had two choices: stress myself out and try to control something I had no business controlling or let it go. I had no choice but to let it go, obviously.
Once I decided to let it go, I woke up one morning and instead of feeling the fear of resembling a whale, I finally understood.
My body is not mine to keep or control. In fact, it’s not even part of me. It is simply a vessel that gets me through each day. As long as I support it with good vibes, food, and respect, it will support me in return. My body is so helpful that it’ll even speak to me through disease, colds, hunger pains, and exhaustion if there is something I need to adjust or learn. All I have to do is listen.
During these 9 months, I’ve developed a whole new respect for my body. It is so badass that it has built my child all on its own. There were times where I was typing a story and it was building a spinal cord. And this is an intelligence that we think we can control? How silly, right?
We’re so used to identifying with our bodies, when in reality, the body is constantly changing. The vessel you are in today is not the same you were in when you were four years old, right? How can something that is constantly changing be us? We are something much greater than these vehicles we come in.
No doubt, they’re here to help and support us live our highest potential. But they are not here to be abused or obsessed over. They just want to help. It is up to us to know the difference between it and us. We get so caught up defining ourselves with our bodies that we forget that there is a relationship there that needs to be nurtured and respected. It’s a partnership that involves some give and take — but mostly love.
There are plenty of spiritual heroes out there who will tell you the key to happiness is to live in the present. Basically, we’re supposed to forget about the past and not harp on the future.
I had been hearing about this living in the now business for quite some time. But like many, I thought the concept was some hocus pocus bologna. We all have to plan for the future, right? And how can I possibly forget how that kid in third grade told me I had a flat face?
With all honesty, I never really thought I had a problem with living in the future or the past. Until one day when my cool, calm, and collective ego was completely called out.
The first Saturday night I spent in L.A., my new roomie and I went to a Mexican joint on the Sunset Strip to grab a few celebratory margaritas. As I’m sitting enjoying my Cali cocktail, I locked eyes with a stranger sitting near the doorway. I couldn’t help it. He had this unruly strawberry blonde hair and a mischievous smile that just made me laugh. It was one of those moments in life that you completely pass off as just another ordinary occurrence, and then months later you realize how it changed your life.
After accusing me of smiling at him, my staring partner handed me his business card. I threw it in my purse and didn’t give it much thought until I found it again a few weeks later. Since I didn’t have many friends, I thought it be worth emailing him. What was the worse that could happen, right?
A few months after I innocently accepted his business card, I found myself sitting in the passenger seat of his car, staring out the window onto Sunset Strip (poetic, isn’t it) when my eyes began to fill with tears. I finally turned to him and asked that dreaded question: “What are we doing?”
Obviously, what I really wanted to know was where this relationship going. Read between the lines: Are you my boyfriend? But he never addressed my question. Instead, he gave me the answer I needed to know: “We’re spending time together,” he replied.
We’re spending time together? What does that even mean, I thought to myself. I would have preferred to hear one of those usual guy answers like, “I’m not ready for commitment,” or “I just thought we were hooking up.” Or even, “I have an arranged marriage.” But instead I get The Power of Now-type answer, ugh.
At this point, I had two choices: I could allow my insecurities to throw away this beautiful friendship we had created, or I could look inside myself and figure out why this all didn’t feel so great. Thankfully, I chose the former.
At the time, I was 23 years old and I had recently escaped an engagement. Obviously, a new committed romantic relationship really wasn’t what I needed at the time. But since I was so caught up in my past conditionings (thinking I needed a title and a boyfriend) and my future expectations, I never stopped to notice that he and I were having a pretty fun time together. In reality, I had a lot of work to do inwardly, and the last thing I needed was an outward distraction.
I was so busy overanalyzing what this relationship “was,” that I barely took the time to appreciate the gift that was in my present. We did end up spending two uncommitted years together, and for the most part, every moment with him was absolutely lovely. And although he never became my boyfriend, he taught me patience, understanding, and reintroduced me to the free spirit I always was. Those things are priceless to me, and totally worth the girl-likes-boy torture.
We, girls, are always in a hurry. We’re always in a rush to define “what we’re doing.” But what’s the point? If you think about it, we’re racing to a place that won’t really make us happy once we arrive. Because based on our track record, the present is never enough, which basically leaves us waiting all the time.
Understanding that today is all we have is the cure to anxiety, worry, procrastination, and general unhappiness. You can’t change the past. It happened exactly how it was meant to occur. And the future will never arrive.
You are not living your potential if your focus is somewhere other than the present. And believe me, it’ll be really hard to get anything done from where you’re standing. You’ll be in a constant state of disappointment if you continue to think that your past or future are better places. Because guess what? Neither exist. But the present does.
Living in the moment doesn’t happen over night. And it’s not a concept that you master once and never have to revisit again. Just like keeping a healthy diet, living in the present is a lifestyle. It takes daily practice.
One strategy I find to be very helpful is listening. I wasn’t always a good listener. Usually, I get so excited by conversation that my mind begins to run on super speed. Before I know it, I’m interrupting my fellow converser left and right, leading us to a thousand confusing tangents.
Be aware of your listening skills. When someone is talking, are you thinking of something else? Are you trying to predict what the other person is about to say? Are you judging the conversation? If you truly listen to someone, you’re already living in the present. Plus, you’ll win some new friends fast. Who doesn’t like to be heard?
Another great way to practice now living is by being thankful. By expressing gratitude for the things you have right now, you are accepting your current state. When we focus on the things we lack, we’re automatically taking ourselves to another place other than the here and now.
Gratitude unveils your true reality and reminds you that, well, it ain’t that bad. The more you appreciate the here and now, the more you’ll want to hang out in that place. And for my fellow Type A-ers: the now is where you create and accomplish goals. Enjoying right now is how, well, dreams come true.
I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed lately. My days have been spent on the defense. You know… when tasks keep coming at you and all you can do is react? And then the things you really want to get done, because they don’t have a set-in-stone deadline, just continue to be pushed aside.
I really hate being in this place.
It’s a place where my to-do list is two-plus pages long, and nothing seems to get checked off. I just want to see that little check! I can be OCD (read: controlling) like that.
Even if I were to go on a check-it-off–the-list marathon, it would never end. A new task will always show up, and some tasks just take longer than others to complete. Sigh.
So now, I resent my to-do list and, secretly, everyone who is on it. And then I hate myself for being so annoyed at the tasks and the people making me complete them. I’m playing the victim, yes I know.
But that all changed for me yesterday.
My stepdaughter came home from school yesterday and discovered some canvases I had bought her. She decided she was going to spend the next hour or so painting. Sure, she had some homework to do, but I understood her. Painting makes her happy. It’s her meditation. The homework would eventually get done, but in order to do so with less stress, she needed to paint first.
Basically, she told her to-do list to just chill for a moment. And that’s when I realized I needed to do the same.
We’re all programmed to create. Even if you try to push down the desire, it always exist. And create does not have to be so obvious like painting. For some, it’s creating a new social media campaign for their company, or baking a cake from scratch. We all create in different ways. What’s important is that we do it.
This may sound irresponsible, but I think it’s time to put the to-do list aside, close the email, and shut off the phone. Yep, I said. And just create.
Why do I care that you create? Because I know it’ll make you happy. Those are the kind of activities that offer us clues towards what our life’s work should be.
Plus, it’s an easy remedy for those times you feel resentful towards other for no reason. No one can make you spend your time in a way you don’t want to spend it. Believe me, when you put yourself first and make that time to create your happiness will make everyone around you happier. It always starts with you.
Need a little more convincing? Watch this video where list three reasons why taking time off to create actually makes you more productive — and happy!
My mom straight up called me a coward yesterday. She did so in her charming Cuban accent, which made the comment sound like less of an insult, but regardless it still hurt.
I came to my mom with this problem I’ve been having for quite some time. I can’t seem to find inner peace when it comes to dealing with this one person in my life who is very close to me. You know, the kind of people you just can’t get rid of!
My mother is a strong believer in that love conquers all. And not in the “Oh, my boyfriend and I love each other so we’ll last” kind of way. She believes that truly loving someone, accepting them for who they are, and treating them with compassion is the foundation to living in peace. She believes that if we show love to someone that person will not only eventually give it back, but they will show love to others causing a domino effect. But above all, love yourself.
I believe this, too. But many times, it’s the type of lifestyle that is easier said than done.
As I’m telling my mother my problems, she looked at me with a matter-of-fact stare and said, “Nikki, you must love them regardless of their current situation.” I responded by saying, “Mom, but I can’t. I just don’t have it in me.” Her response? “Well than you’re being a coward.”
You know what? She’s right. I am being a coward.
I started to wonder why she didn’t tell me I was scared rather than use the word coward. After all, she was the one preaching about treating people with compassion. Could she have let me down a little more gently?
And then I realized: she used the word coward because she expects more from me. She knows I’m capable of more. And she knows that I know, I’m capable of more.
That phrase, “ I just can’t” is drenched in victim undertones. And for those of us who say those words in such a way, we must remember that what we’re really doing is acting as cowards. We’re smarter than that. We’re braver than that.
In my case, letting go of the fear of getting hurt and subjecting myself to honest vulnerability is where I’ll find the courage to discover inner peace.
I don’t have all the answers, but I am beginning to understand that courage does not come from force, but rather from surrendering to the unknown. And trusting that if I choose love over fear, I will be taken care of.
Today, join me in not being a coward. That means walking through life fearlessly, without the armor of control. We all so often choose control as a form of protection. When in reality, all it protects us from is living large. And you and I both know, we’re greater than that.