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How do you measure a life?

Jamieson Van Loan

Following up on my rant last week on the Carrie Mae Weems performance, she also spoke about the elusive question: how do you measure a life? What a grand question. One that I have yet to fully digest. Her performance was in respect to the constant violence and murders of people of color and marginalized ethnic groups. The sadness and tragedy surrounding the inequality and power struggle of these groups and heinous acts towards them, begs the question: how do you calculate the value of a life?

Is it in years? In laughter? By the number of times your kids hugged you? By your skin tone? Is it based on your career growth? Your promotions? By how much money you made? By how much money you spent? By the amount of friends you made? By the amount of friends you lost? By your material objects? By the dreams you had? By your goals achieved? By the cars or houses you can afford to buy? By the moments gone by or the moments to come? By the memories you're in? By the experiences you missed out on? By the chances you took? By the times you've woken up on the good side of the bed? By the moments of pure happiness? By the not-so-great days? By the doors that opened and closed? By the countries you traveled? By the sights you've seen? By the amount of times you've loved and lost? By your resilience and strength? By your people in your tribe? By your growth?

How do you measure a life?

There are no right or wrong answers, I realized. The way we value our lives and the lives around us are intrinsic to our upbringing and our own personal core values. For me, my core values fall under, give or take, four categories: my personal relationships, my spirituality, my career and my social responsibilities. And really, the most important to me are the personal relationships or the people who love and support me and vice versa. Therefore I would measure my life by how many times we positively reacted around each, our beautiful (and maybe not so beautiful) memories we have made, our laughter, our tears, our hopes, our joys, the stories and secrets we shared and, above all, the love we all shared. I will measure my life by the amount of love that flowed through and around it. 

What will you measure yours in? If we are the sum of our parts, what will your parts be and how will they hold weight in your life? 

Miss Weems made the valid point that however you choose to measure your life, it IS of value and the same respect you hold for your own life, must be paid to others. 

This is all but a scratch on a very thick surface. How you choose to measure your life, to splash it with colors and beauty and claim it as your own, is entirely up to you. And this measurement is fluid. There are no set guidelines or units to measure by. It is not meant to be done in contrast to other lives. It is a way to take stock of your current situation and lay value to your past and hopeful future. It is a way to stay keenly aware of what is happening in your own life but to also stay present to what is happening in the world very clearly outside all of our doors. 

Please know this: each breath you take, each moment that you get to live and experience another day is a freakin' blessing. Do not take your fortuitous awakening each morning as anything but glorious. Because however or whatever you choose to measure your life by, you are still here. 

Live life without measure and love immeasurably.

Jamieson xo

Putting in the work...

Jamieson Van Loan

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending an art performance by Carrie Mae Weems at Grace Farms. It was brilliant, of course, and I am still digesting her deep message. Thank you so much to my favorite art professor, Danielle, for inviting me! After the show, we were invited to a private event with the artists and Carrie gave an impromptu speech. Besides being an excellent orator, she spoke words that really touched me. She said, and I am paraphrasing, that we all start out with an idea and it is up to us to carry that idea forward. But to truly expand on that idea you need to put in the work: the deep real intense work. And you not only need to put in this very courageous work, but that you never do it alone. The great outcomes do not happen when you are standing alone. 
This concept of putting in the work and really dedicating yourself to, let’s call it your dreams, is understood by all. Rarely do dreams just fall into our laps. We have to work and work hard at them. We have to be diligent. We have to be resilient. We cannot accept failures; we push through them. We learn and we work better. 

On a deeper level, she got my wheels spinning about the internal work that needs to be done. I have come to realize that my late 30s is when all the internal work truly began. We all look back on past years and go "wow, look how far I've come" or "I've changed so much" but this past year alone I have grown tenfold over what I grew the past decade. I focused on my internal struggles and did my best to unpack my life baggage. I worked through issues with the help of a therapist and my tribe. I took full ownership of my demons and stopped projecting and blaming. I tuned into my intuition and dived deep into my spirituality. I realized that my external work, my dreams, would not ever come to fruition if I did not really understand the depths of myself. Where do these ambitions come from? Why do I want to pursue them? What is my purpose?

Although I am still answering those questions, I have constructed the foundation for the work to be done. And I could not have come so far without my tribe. Carrie Mae Weems said it multiple times during her speech that we do not stand alone when we are working towards bringing our ideas to light. It is the people that you surround yourself with that can either push you forward or hold you back. If you find yourself in stagnation, first ask yourself what you need to change within but also ask yourself, who are you sharing your energy, your life with. Are those people bringing out your internal shine or are they squashing your glow? Do not be afraid to release people from your life that are not serving you. Our time on this planet is too short to surround yourself with toxicity. And your tribe will always evolve, as you evolve. It is ok to let go of people but still love them from afar. It is also ok to lean hard on your people. The right people in your life will stand by you and accept you wholly. They will be the major part of why and how your life work gets done. 

For those of you struggling either with the internal or external work, know you are not alone. We all live in struggle city. We are all doing our best each day to work towards our goals. We all break down and get frustrated and stressed. But you pick yourself up, dust off the negativity and you get back to the work. Because life is about achieving your ideas and finding your purpose. It is about taking each minute, each hour and each day as they come. It is meant to be difficult or else the finish line wouldn't be so attractive.

Today, I hope that you take a moment to think about your purpose and not just your to-do list. Find that nagging idea that you want to bloom and take one baby step towards it. Accept the work and the hurdles that lie ahead but know that you will get there. Your loved ones will be cheering you on each step of the way but you will carry yourself over that finish line. 

A work in progress, 

Value Alignment

Jamieson Van Loan

I recently read an article that spoke about the values that we hold and whether or not those values are actually indicative of our behavior. This, of course, got me thinking about my own values versus my idealized version of myself. Coming to the conclusion that, in fact, my value system and my actions are not always aligned. 

Like for one- I (obviously) value our planet and realize she’s the only one we have- but what am I doing every day to facilitate a cleaner, healthier planet? Answer: not much! I recycle, I try to use less plastic products, but that isn’t being very proactive about something I feel passionate about. So do I truly value it? Or is it an idealized value? Answer: yep, its an ideal value but not reality.

We like to think of ourselves as awesome, do-gooding, kind humans. We are all treating people fairly and spreading love and kindness like it’s freakin’ nutella but are the principles that we hold in high regard, actually the way we are showing up to the world? 

One great example, which we all do, (I am super guilty of this) is saying we value our time with our loved ones- HUGE but here- BUT when we are with them, we are on our cell phones. So do we value them or our cell phones? What is so much more important on your phone than the human sitting across from you? 

And I hear your side of the argument- but work, but my kids' school, but my doctor, but social media, but I gotta answer this email- whatever it is, I hear you. I am the queen of using my phone in front of others (insert barf emoji). The question is, what does this habit say about your values? Is it saying that what is on your phone is more important than the person across from you? Even though this is not black and white, I am going to have to say that if you're using your phone in front of someone else, whatever is occupying your precious attention is very blatantly more important than the person you've chosen to spend your time with. It made me realize that I do value my phone (read: work) over others and it needs to change. 

For me, this calls into question a lot of my prior values. If I died tomorrow, what would people say about me? And I mean the honest people, not the "oh she was so lovely" people. This value concept grew into what sort of legacy do I want to leave on this world.  I do not mean in a grand way but in the soft and subtle way, how do I want to be remembered? What values do I want people to remember me by?

Here lies Jamieson, she was....and here is the best part, I get to be the person driving home this narrative because my actions speak for who I am. I want to be remembered as the person who always showed up for you. The person who you could call at any point and I would be there for you. The person who hugged you when you needed it but couldn't ask for it. The person who cheered you on when you weren't sure you could succeed. The person who listened when you needed to vent. The person who pushed you outside of your comfort zone so you could grow. The person who brought you soup when you were sick. The person who reached out when you felt lonely. The person you could share your secrets with.  The person who you could dance and be silly with. The person who made you feel on top of the world. The person you could laugh with until you cried. The person who you could be your authentic self with, without judgment. I realized I do not need to be the person who saves the planet, as much as I idealistically value that. I value how much I can give to this world in a positive manner and how happy and secure I can make people around me feel. 

I have to say that I cannot stand mixed messages. If you say one thing but act another way- it drives me nutso! At this point in our lives, and the way the world is headed, be authentic with your voice and actions. It is so easy for people to defend their actions, especially when it doesn't align with what they said a week ago, but to me it is cowardly. Own what you say and follow through. The end. So for me to have such a vigorous stance for others, it is only right to kick my own ass the same way. This entire article has gotten me to reevaluate what I hold near and dear and how I can prove to the world my true values through actions. It has opened my mind up to being a-ok with not truly valuing what is socially expected of me, i.e marriage. Sorry, not interested. Moving on. It has made me hyper aware of my perceived values versus what I actually exhibit to the world. Overall, this article was a game-changer for me. 

Intrinsically, I want to be a kind and loving human. But I am not always that. From this moment on though, I hope I can dissolve the disconnect between what I truly value and my values of grandeur. My goal is to truly align my values within me and expose them outwardly. If one of my fundamental values is to be the best version of myself as possible, how can I substantiate that to the universe?

Ask yourself this, what are my values based on my behavior? What are the values I would prefer to exhibit? And then do your best to make the divide between them dissolve. It is certainly not without challenge, but it is a clear path towards growth.


Be the light...

Jamieson Van Loan

This week, one of my favorite humans paid me the best compliment I’ve heard in a very long time. Speaking about me she said, “the fun we had would not have happened without you. You make people want to sing and dance. You bring that out in people. You make us want to have fun.”
I don’t think she knew her words would make me cry, but they did. Joyous tears. The idea that I make people feel joy and fun and give them a space to be themselves. To give them the freedom and luxury to sing and dance without judgement. Holy moly, what a kind beautiful compliment!

My first takeaway is that we should all be so honest and open and giving with our compliments. I am an authentic complimenter; to the point that people may think I’m being fake, but I’m 100% not. I tend to tell people, immediately, if I like something about them, even strangers. I love that quote that says something like “if you see something beautiful in someone, tell them. It may take a second to say, but for them it could last a lifetime.” And it’s so true! We all have memories of kind words spoken about us. It is such an easy and simple way to better someone’s day, so why not do it?!

After evaluating why that compliment made me so emotional, I realized that I never thought those things about myself. Ever. I always felt like I’m the person who has the sturdy shoulders that others can stand upon. I’m the support system to their shine. I’m not the one doing the shining.

But something clicked after she said that. I AM the one who’s shining. I am the freakin’ magic. It’s been me all along. I always thought that the people in my tribe were making me feel great and making me laugh and they add all this value to my life but I didn’t realize that I was doing the same for them. I never anticipated that my presence was pulling out the magic in them. How powerful did that compliment just become?! I am a major part of the reason that my tribe feels comfortable enough to enjoy life and be silly. Woah!
Since this acknowledgement, I have now come to recognize that the light I seek and see in others, tends to be the same exact light that they see and seek in me. We all are making each other glow. We are all highlighting the beautiful, yet sometimes hidden, parts of each other. We are pushing each other to the point of illumination based on our combined vibrations. It is seriously effin’ magical!
We are all radiant beings.

I can only speak for myself but I have to be honest here, I RARELY feel this way. I rarely feel like I am conquering my to-do list. I rarely feel like I am succeeding. I rarely feel like I’ve got it all together. I rarely feel like I am influencing any beauty in this world. I rarely feel on top of anything at all. I feel like I am mostly surviving, just getting by.
That being said though, majority of the time, I feel happy. Like surreal happy. Like questionable happy. Why is that?
I think it is because I have realized that my self-confidence, my inner happiness, is never contingent on exterior situations. I am never defining my true being by what is happening outside of me. Internally, I am grateful. I am happy. I am secure. I am aware.

So what I learned this week, after 36 plus years on this planet, is that I am the freakin’ magic. I am the light. I am my own joy.
And get this- so are YOU! If you are reading this and absorbing any of this, you are your own beautiful light. If you are seeking beyond your own wisdom and growing, you are creating the light within.

With all the hatred in the world (my heart goes out to NZ), my advice today, and every day, is to be that lighthouse for others. Be that guiding illumination that allows people to be authentic and to vibrate higher. And gratefully, bask in their reciprocating glow.  
Jamieson xo
PS. Happiest of birthdays to my best friend, Lauryn! She is the beautiful human who shared these words to me. Lauryn, thank you for always being the brightest light in my world! xo

How green is your grass?

Jamieson Van Loan

With the inception of the internet, moreover social media, keeping up with the Jones’ has left the comfort of our neighborhoods and has broadened to complete strangers. We are no longer looking longingly at what the people around us have but what the rest of the world has. This desire for more or better is the constant state we are living in. This is the greener grass syndrome.

Now, I can easily say that I am content with what I have. I practice mindfulness and do my best to stay present. But I also have a travel list a mile long and see influencers traveling the globe taking gorgeous photos and living “the life” and I am envious. I want that. I want more. My desire to endlessly scroll through my Instagram, fantasizing that I’m in that hot air balloon over Turkey, supersedes my desire to just be content in the now.

Bottom line: we are no longer happy with the status quo. We are constantly inundated with what everyone else is doing and how AMAZING their lives are that we can’t help ourselves but think that the grass is always greener.

Take vacation last week. Everyone was posting their awesome beach or ski photos. They are all having a grand ol’ time. Life is awesome. And I was at work in the freezing cold wondering how I can change my life so that next year I’ll be sitting on a beach drinking a margarita. What is wrong with that picture?

Now it is not necessarily a bad thing to use the greener grass syndrome for motivation. I think competition, to an extent, is healthy. But this idea of never being satisfied with our current state is definitely not healthy.
We are all drawn to shiny new objects. New means excitement. It breathes new life into the mundane of everyday. The problem begins when we align our happiness to that desire for shiny new objects. Have you ever started a mental statement with “I’ll be happy when…” I’ll be happy when I can travel more. I’ll be happy when I can afford XYZ. I’ll be happy when I can get the same jacket as that influencer. It never ends. We are in a constant cycle of desiring more and better. And while we are doing so, we are neglecting the beauty of where we are and what we have right now. We want the shiny new object, we obtain it, we are briefly happy, and when that happiness and shine fades, we seek the next best thing to fill that shiny new object void. We need to get out of this insane cycle.

How satisfied are you in with your life? With your day-to-day? Are you constantly seeking more, someone or something better to fill the voids? Are you forgetting to appreciate what is right in front of you for the next best thing? Do you look at your life and negatively compare it to others?

Let’s do better. Let’s stop going out and buying things we don’t absolutely need. Let’s stop comparing our lives to anyone else’s. Let’s stop seeking more and start appreciating more. Let’s do our best to be happy with where we are right here and now. If you can say that you’re healthy and loved, then you’re already doing way better than most. The grass may in fact be greener elsewhere, but you’ve got pretty damn amazing grass right in front of you. Focus on your own grass because wanting others is doing you no favors.

Jamieson xo

Love is everything.

Jamieson Van Loan

Think about that statement. Love is everything. It is typically the very first human experience we have. It is what we (hopefully) are trying to fill our lives with. It is what drives us to protect, give, share, experience life with others. It could be argued that it is the driving force behind every major milestone in our lives and history, for that matter. Your love of something outside of yourself has brought you to where you are today. 

Love being the surrounding energy in most of our lives, it is sometimes taken for granted. Think of anytime you've lost your patience or gotten upset at someone you love, that is you taking their love for granted. That is you assuming that your mutual love can withstand negative energies. We forget that love is not owed to us. Someone loving us and being "attached" to us, even with familial love, is never guaranteed. It is why loss is so devastating. The attachment formed through love is broken and the loss, whether expected or not, is devastating. Moral of the story: do not take anyone's love for granted. 

I've been really trying to digest my theories and thoughts on love lately (thanks V-day). What prompts it in my life, how I share it, how I wanted it to be shared with me, my expectations with love, self-love, how willingly I accept love (like how hard is it for you to take a compliment, accept a loving gesture), how my narrative affects how love shows up in my life, etc. 

Since love is a fluid, evolving emotion, it requires attention. You've heard the saying that you attract the love you think you deserve. This means love begins and ends within you. How you love your self mirrors how love shows up in your life. If love is presents itself in a hurtful or less than charming way, it is because you believe that is all you are worthy of. The amazing part of that is you have the control to change that. Do not ever accept love in a form that does not make you completely happy. This applies to all relationships in your life. If you're lowering your standards of shared love between you and a partner, you and a friend, you and a family member, then you should reevaluate their position in your life. Life is too short to accept anything short of magical beautiful love. 

Today when you are out running around in the world, watch how love shows up for you. It is not always arriving in the package we expect. It can be as menial as the person who let's you cut in front of them at the grocery store when you only have one item or a person paying you a compliment. It can be grand and apparent. It can be just a smile. When you refocus your attention on the love constantly surrounding your life- not the chaos, not the to-do list, not the stress- but focus solely on the love, you will have a completely different day. I promise you. 

Love is a gift. No one has to love you. No one has to show up for you. So when they do, appreciate the shit out of that. Love is also vulnerable. Do not tread lightly when love is gifted to you. It should be revered and shown the gratitude it deserves. 

I decided to count how many people I had the pleasure of saying "I love you" to in one day. I said it to eight different humans! I felt, and still feel, so fortunate. To be able to be your authentic self, show up and be seen and appreciated for exactly who you are and have that fully reciprocated by someone else is nothing short of magical. How many people are you going to share that with today? 

Love always, 
Jamieson xo

Fantasy vs Reality

Jamieson Van Loan

My therapist asks me a lot if what I’m thinking or saying is actual reality. And a lot of the time my answer is no. I think as humans we are prone to fantasize life. Blame Cinderella, but we tend to sway towards a dramatization of our actual lives versus what is actually happening.

For example, do you ever find yourself telling a story and elaborating it, even slightly, for the desired response. Like your kid didn’t actually wake up at 5:15 but 5:30 or your boss made you stay late every day this week but it was really every day but not Tuesday. We all do it. I own it. We want to feel justified and acknowledged in our feelings and reality so we err on the side of exaggeration to illicit the feedback we want. This is normal.

The issue with this then becomes, does your fantasized world overtake reality? Do you live in the fantasy version of your life? Do you project your fantasies on people? Do you tend to have catastrophic thoughts? I certainly used to. I would imagine outcomes before they happened. I created a story line for people before understanding them. I forecasted my future (always wrong by the way). I created "end of the world" type scenarios (not the apocalyptic kind) constantly. I jumped to conclusions. My imagination was way more attractive than the simple reality. But eventually all those fantasized expectations led to disappointment, anger, negativity, etc. It has taken a great deal of practice to question myself and where my thoughts are coming from to prevent this distorted view of the world. I am constantly asking myself, “is this reality?”

And I’m not talking about fantasy in an extreme sense but how often does a situation occur and you try to analyze it and break it all down including the other person’s standpoint but the reality is you have no clue what anyone else is thinking or feeling and assumptions never benefit anyone. My therapist would tell me to “stick to the facts”.

The idea of the “could bes and should bes” is really poison for our thought process. Fantastical thinking tends to be future based. There are situations where you idealize past events (also not healthy) but typically it is the idea that the future (or people) could-be or should-be a certain way. These imagined expectations only cause you disappointment because rarely are they based in reality. Unless you’re a clairvoyant, you cannot predict the future.

This issue weasels its way into our inner self-thoughts as well. Telling ourselves or convincing ourselves of fake news is just as terrible. Thinking that you “just can’t do something” or “I’m not good enough” or “I’m better than that” or “I’m not worthy” is a defensive mechanism we use based on illusions. Always remember that we become the stories we tell ourselves. Be positive but truthful in your personal narrative.

This is all a reminder to stay mindful, stay present. Question your thoughts and if they are based on reality or based on a story you’re telling yourself. Stick to the facts. Use your imagination for good, like vacation planning but not for building the world around you. Being mindful of where your thoughts are originating will not only be helpful in staying present and avoiding disillusioned disappointment, but it will begin to create a healthier mindset overall. Try it today- question where your thoughts are coming from and how reality based they are. Shift them and see your mindset change for the better. 

Jamieson xo

Controlling your narrative...

Jamieson Van Loan

I have a great friend who is currently dealing with a not so great break up. Not that any break up is unicorns and rainbows, but hopefully at our age, there can be some maturity and kindness surrounding the dissolution of a relationship. In his situation, there is not. Sadly, she has chosen to spread rumors and lies about him in order to destroy his reputation. She has chosen the immature path forward. I realize the pain surrounding a break up and this desire to make a person hurt as much as you do, but there is never a circumstance, in my mind, where you have to choose to go down such a hateful path. 

This has brought up many conversations about controlling our own narrative. How do we stay calm and quiet when someone else is speaking negatively about us to the world? How do we accept a situation that is out of our control, but specifically about us? My mother would say that you should hold your head up high and continue on your path. I am a firm believer that other people's opinions about yourself is NONE of your business. But when it involves your career, your family and more, how do you stay strong enough to keep chugging along happily? 

Our conversations haven't yielded a great solution. They are rollercoasters of rage to empathy to sadness. From a business or political standpoint, when a company hits a crisis and needs to control the narrative, they always say to be ahead of the media and to attempt to control the spin by putting any information out there first. Can you apply this technique to personal relationships?

My initial thought is no. We aren't cogs in a wheel that can be manipulated by PR. But there is a slight truth to this. My advice to him was this: continue to be exactly who you know yourself to be and realize that they people who truly matter in your life have zero doubt in you. They cannot be manipulated by someone else's poor judgment and harsh criticisms. The people who matter in your life, will stand by you and dismiss lame rumors. They will stop those rumors before they have a chance to grow. The people who care about you and want you to succeed, will not listen to false gossip or be swayed by emotional retaliation. If you can stand so firm in who you are, you can find the inner strength to let the haters roll right off your back. And as embarrassing as a situation can be, you can stand in the truth that the people who believe in you will continue to believe in you. They will continue to champion you. Your strength and perseverance during a personal crisis, is how you control your narrative. 

Not allowing haters to control your narrative and bring you down is no easy task. I think for humans it is much easier to believe the negative chatter about ourselves than the positive. The best way forward is to remove yourself from situations that do not bring you joy. Marie Kondo your life, people. If if isn't bringing you joy, get it as far away as possible from you. Cut ties, move forward.

To my buddy dealing with this negative situation or to anyone dealing with someone else bringing them down, always know you make the final decision on how you approach your day. It is only up to you whether you tackle your life with love, light and joy. No one can take away that positive energy from you, unless you allow them to. Stand in your positive truth and the rest of the universe will follow. 

Stay happy and healthy this weekend, friends! 
Jamieson xo

Ho'opono what?!

Jamieson Van Loan

Our newest addition to the Maikana team, the lovely Carla, (Hi, Carla! I know you're reading this!) has been such a beautiful source of energy and grace. She stormed into our team and completely stole my heart. She had me at yoga, meditation, reiki and all the spiritual travels of her life. 

One amazing thing she taught me about is ho'oponoono (hoe-oh-poh-no-poh-no). This is the Hawaiian practice of forgiveness, reconciliation (more with yourself but also with others) and releasing needless energy surrounding negative situations in your life. 

I'll give you a quick synopsis, but I highly recommend you googling it and listening to videos or reading articles on the forefather of this practice, Dr. Hew Len. 

We are taught that we are 100% responsible for our own actions. And I completely agree with this. We must be completely accountable for our actions.

I've noticed that people tend to use others as their excuses for their own actions. ie. I did this because you made me feel this way or set me off in such a way that I reacted that way. They may take ownership for their actual actions, but they don't take ownership of where those emotions stem from. I must say, I am guilty of this. 

Ho'oponopono is the practice of full responsibility. Total and utter responsibility for everything in your life. It basically means that no matter happens or where it stems from or how it makes you feel, you are completely 100% responsible for the situation in your life and you must take ownership of the situation, positive or negative. 

It is easy for all of us to take kudos for positive situations in our lives. Oh you won an award or got a promotion- kudos, good job. Easy to accept. But what about the negative situations, how do you handle those? 

Ho'oponopono wants you to take full responsibility for negative situations and realize that you essentially brought yourself into that situation and now you must deal with yourself and how to heal from that. It's not that you asked for it, per se, but that your own subconscious and underlying historical perceptions manifest the situations you're finding yourself in. 

When Carla told me about this practice I was a wee bit skeptical. So what... I just own every single thing in my life? Like if someone cheats on me or hits my car- that is my fault?! And the answer is pretty much, yep. 

Your approach, or better yet mantra, to every situation are these four notions: 

1) I'm sorry
2) Please forgive me
3) Thank you
4) I love you

You are to use these four energies for all situations. If you're angry or upset, repeat these lines (over and over again) and send that energy towards that issue. It is supposed to help you take responsibility of whatever happens and to begin to heal from within. We tend to need others' apologies or their ownership to begin to heal from our disparities with them. Ho'oponopono says nope! It is from within that you can heal. No outsider's words or actions can help you heal, only you can move through the recovery. 

I have to say, that since I've started really conceptualizing the practice of ho'oponopono, it has become to make much more sense in my life. It has stopped me from the blame game and the judgmental (read: defensive) stance we can sometimes take in our negative stories. It is a fresh perspective. I recommend you all try it. It may not be for you, but it is a good way to dial issues back in. 

Give it a whirl! Find a way to say, "I'm sorry I caused negativity in your life. Please forgive me for this. Thank you for being open to my apology and open to me as a human and I love you no matter what". It is not easy but it is worth trying. 

Have a beautiful weekend! 

Jamieson xo

Excuse me?!

Jamieson Van Loan

I listened to an online workshop recently and the speaker said that one day he woke up and decided to stop making excuses for himself, under any circumstance. That he wouldn’t be too tired or lazy or unmotivated or blame the weather or whatever excuse in the book to keep him from accomplishing his goals.

This got me thinking of my common excuses (mostly, I’m too tired) that I tell myself, the excuses I tell others and the excuses that I make for others. If you start to listen to yourself and pay attention to the way your mind reacts to your to-do lists, scheduled plans, mandatory events, goals, dreams, etc- how are you showing up or are you making excuses? How many things are on your “I’ll do that next week” list?

I’m gonna own that I make excuses. A lot. I did not even realize how many I make until I started paying attention. From trivial things like “oh I can’t make a healthy breakfast because I don’t have time” to more important things like “I can’t speak on that panel because (insert fear based excuse)”. It comes down to a few overall excuses- my time, my physical & emotional state and my fears.

Realizing this, has made me reevaluate my priorities. Am I putting energy in places that truly matter? Since last month, I’ve been really paying attention to what I give my energy to, how it’s serving me and how can I avoid my inner excuses and just get it done? This has been a game changer for me. A lot more of my life seems to be falling right into place. This change in my thought process has caused an energy shift in my life.

Another part of this topic is making excuses for others. I am constantly doing this. I like to think I see the best in people and even though this is typically a positive thing, it has its disadvantages. What I have realized is that if someone is showing you exactly who he or she is, believe them. Stop making excuses for other people’s poor behavior. 

Creating excuses, internally or voicing them into the universe, is not serving you. It is your mind, or more likely your ego, attempting to protect you. To keep you in your comfort zone. Don’t allow this to happen anymore. Stop making excuses and start tackling your day with an “I got this” attitude. The absolute worst that can happen is you fail and within each failure, the greatest growth occurs. It’s a win all around.

Head into this weekend, paying attention to your inner voice and your excuses. Pay extra attention to how you justify others and their behavior. Allow them to make their own excuses and stop doing it for them. This mental shift will begin to open more doors for you. It is a way to starting saying yes to the universe more. And we all need to be more "heck yes" this year.

Jamieson xo

Come on ladies!!

Jamieson Van Loan

I heard a story this week about one mom screaming at another mom in a Stop & Shop parking lot because of a situation between their two teenage daughters. One grown (debatable) woman was actually name calling the other, using words like “fat” and “ugly”. This disturbed me to no end.

I do realize these women had underlying unresolved issues but how, in 2019, have we resorted to this emotionally barbaric behavior?

How, after a momentous year of female empowerment and women finding voices they had buried years ago, are situations like this- woman vs woman- still happening? Come on ladies!!

I’m by no means standing on a soapbox or allowing a few bad apples to poison the collective but I really need to speak my piece on this. Society has already categorized us as the lesser gender (sure we'll take unequal pay, no problem) and here we are breaking each other down. What is going on? 

Personally, I have had moments the past few months dealing with other women and their approach, or lack thereof, to supporting my female driven business. In case you didn't know, Maikana Foods (andMaikana Herbs) is a completely female owned and run company. Collectively, we are a team of six hardworking, driven, smart, kick-ass-and-take-names females. Anyone else hear Beyonce's "Who runs the world?" song playing in their head right now? 

To me, there seems to be a great divide between the women who truly and actually support other women and the women who just preach it. Do not be a woman who just preaches it. 

Be the woman who champions other women. Be the woman who other women feel secure enough to be vulnerable around. Be the woman who creates space for other women to grow and thrive in. Be each other's biggest supporters. 

I will admit, there have been many moments in my life of jealousy, insecurity and competitiveness with other women, but fortunately, that immaturity died along with my 20s. I came to realize that if we are not paving a path of compassion and generosity for ourselves and one another, then who else is going to? Standing in solidarity with each other should be so deeply ingrained in us as females, that situations like at Stop & Shop should not exist. 

Let's all make a pact to stop being mean girls. Stop bashing each other. Stop being the reason another woman is upset. Stop criticizing each other. Stop measuring ourselves against one another. Just stop this insanity.

We are all in the same boat and we need to stop rowing against each other. Rowing together is what will carry us farther in life. 

So let's work on being happy for one another. For being the joy in another woman's life. For building up another female, rather than tear her down. Let's be kind to our daughters so they can learn to be kind to other women. Let's accept and worship our bodies and not nitpick at each other's "flaws". Let's stop comparing one woman to another and just own that we are all amazing in our own right. Let's all be each other's biggest cheerleaders!! 

If we cannot build a sisterhood at this stage of human evolution, we are screwed. Remember- the next time you want to criticize or gossip about another woman- stop yourself and ask, "what does this say about me?". It speaks volumes. 

I hope we can all learn to truly champion each other. And above all, respect each other. Male or female, respect should be the most common of decencies.

Jamieson xo

So far, so awesome!

Jamieson Van Loan

We are four days into the new year and I’ve been loving all the social media posts about people focusing on their self care and self love. A lot of people seem to be taking true self care- focusing on what heals and feeds the soul, a more mental health to feed their physical health approach. From meditation toand more into their day to day. It seems a far departure from the days of crash diets and other quick fix “new me” ideas.

Don’t get me wrong- trying to be the very best version of yourself is what you should be striving for each and every single day. But the idea of a “new year, new me” sounds like a tough ideal to live up to. Baby steps lead to big steps lead to major change. But it doesn’t just happen overnight.

Although we all have the capacity to change what doesn’t agree with us- it is never a quick fix. We can decide in an instant to change but for that change to stick around it takes time and effort. A real commitment. Do not assume you can do it in 21 days or a month or two months. It will take time, but the beautiful part is that one day down the road- that change you made will be so ingrained in you, that the effort and focus to maintain it will be unnecessary. It will be a solid part of you. But deciding today to change and actually commit is all it takes. One decision, one baby step forward, one day at a time. Leaps and bounds to ensue.

There are a few things that stuck with me this week during everyone’s resolution chatter. One quote I read said if you can improve yourself just by 1% every single day, imagine how amazing 365% improvement will be at the end of the year. If you can do one tiny little thing- meditate for for a few minutes, choose a healthy food option over a junky one, text someone and let them know you care, hug a friend- really anything that is positive, you can change your mindset daily and vastly improve over the year.

Along those lines, practicing gratitude can truly change your perspective each day. I wake up each morning and write down three things I am grateful for. And during difficult or stressful times each day, I try to recall them. Resort back to gratitude over jumping head first into stress and anxiety. Try to find peace and gratitude in the most ordinary of moments. It is not always easy but it works! Also keep in mind that those chaotic moments are impermanent.

I heard in a podcast this week a man asked a crowd during a lecture, “how many of you are suffering from a toothache right now?” And a few people raised their hands. Then he asked “how many of you are not?” The hundred plus others raised their hands. Then he said, “how many of you are grateful to not be suffering from a toothache?” No one raised their hand. Be present, be grateful.

Yet another takeaway from this week was this crazy idea:
what would happen if you stopped complaining?!
Honestly, I’ve tried to go one full day without a complaint this week and I couldn’t do it! And not even big complaints- that was easy- but minor grievances like sitting at a red light talking to myself saying “ugh when is this light going to change?” It is so difficult! But I’m going to keep trying. My goal is to make it a habit. No complaining, who’s with me?

Because isn’t that what it’s all about, boosting your mental health?

Physical health is so important, don’t get me wrong, but your mental health is the foundation we grow from. When we feel down in the dumps, we aren’t jumping up to go work out. It all becomes a struggle. But when your thoughts are positive and your mental state is happy: you want to work out, you want to improve and feel motivated. Keep in mind that a positive mindset is also directly related to the food you put in your body. Junky food creates a negative mind. In the moment when eating a Big Mac you may feel satisfaction, even joy but it dissipates and then the “why did I do that” or “ugh now I have to work out” creeps in. Eating junk food brings out the inner critic. Put down the junk and make better choices this year. 

On that note, if you haven’t looked at our Resolution Reset program coming up January 14-18, please do. I’m so excited for our first reset program and to be participating in it. The menu is capital A, Awesome. 

If you’re on Instagram: you can follow @lilies.and.lambs and enter her giveaway to try to win our RR program also!! But don’t miss out on it! And keep in mind Maikana will have a limited regular menu that week.

Hope this first week of 2019 has been awesome for you! I know it’s been 27 times better than I could have expected so far!!
(Zero expectations = more life wow moments)
Loving it! Have a wonderful weekend!

Jamieson xo

Whatcha got 2019?!

Jamieson Van Loan

We have come to the time of the year where introspection and reflection become more prevalent. Moving into a new year can come with profound motivation but also a sadness with the passing of time, regrets and things lost. My nutritionist and close confidant, Katie Diehl and I have discussed this past year at length and she has deemed it the “year of the devil”. We have both faced great challenges- workwise and personally. I will be the first to admit that the first half of this year was soul breakingly difficult for me. I was depressed and heart broken and barely had the motivation to make it through each day. I was at the lowest I had ever been as an adult. There were moments where I really questioned my existence on this planet. But to know me before the years that hardened me and to know me now, I am a completely different person. It is true that the most difficult phases in your life will spit you out on the other end, changed for the better, if you allow for it.

At first, I was saddened that I wasted months of my precious time being upset about a loss. We have all had these thoughts in our heads...why did we waste our time on XYZ? But now, I look at this passing as such a gift towards my resilience and strength. I grew tenfold this year and ended up being happier than I have ever been. Back to my previously stated cliche, "if you can switch your mind from why is this happening to me to what can I learn from it" you will always be in a better space. 

Please know and remind yourself that if you are going through a difficult time, it too shall pass. And you will recapture your personal inner strength and confidence again. The world will not end. You will regain your happiness. It all may evolve into something unexpected, but it will change for the better. I promise. 

What I realized most this past year is that I need to constantly be realigning my happiness in life. What I thought was my utmost happiness in January of 2018 was not even close to my happiness factors in December of 2018. We are perpetually evolving and what fed our souls months ago, may not be what we need in our present. This is a time to let go of what is not feeding your soul. Reevaluate your relationships, your career, your dreams, your goals, your everything and call into question this: Who and what is truly supporting me and driving me towards my goals? Without any drama, without any chaos.  Who and what is adding to my happiness, not retracting from it? 

Focus on the people and things in your life that will make 2019 more beautiful and carefree; not the people, jobs or situations that are adding stress to your plate. Focus on your inner happiness and self worth and the universe will pay attention. Realign with what is truly serving you.

This forced realignment is the best way to move into a new year. It is a way to let go of your past weight and move into a lighter new year. What can you shift in your life that will make 2019 lighter, more fun and joy filled? 

I’ve spoken about my dislike of the word resolution in regards to the new year before. As language is essential in helping frame our mindset, choosing the right term to boost our motivation in the new year is key. Last year I spoke about setting goals for yourself and I think this is important. Set goals for yourself but do not make resolutions. To resolve is permanent and nothing is permanent. To set attainable and rational goals is the best way forward. These goals need to be manageable and must have the freedom to evolve, like you. Do not beat yourself up for not attaining them. Be ok with failure. Expect bumps in the road. The true attempt is what is important.

Here are some of my tips for 2019:

Move forward, not backwards.

Know your worth and act accordingly.

Pick your battles. Not everything truly matters.

Be kind. Be compassionate. Be empathetic.

Learn lessons, move on. Don’t harp.

Only your health and time are of the utmost importance.

Love is easy to share, especially when you love yourself first.

Listen to listen, not to respond.

Compromise whenever possible. Most of the time it won’t matter how you got there, just that you did.

Be kindest to those who support and love you. It’s easiest to take them for granted. Don’t.

Genuinely compliment people. Share what you’re feeling. You may share a positive thought with someone casually that you’ll never remember but that they may never forget.

Always remember that your most difficult day, could be someone’s easiest. You never know what people are struggling with- be compassionate.

Be kind to yourself. Don’t internally beat yourself up for missteps in life. They will always happen but being forgiving and kind to yourself is the best policy.

Self care & self love are guaranteed to make you happier.

Realize what is in your control and what is not. Essentially you can only control yourself and your reactions.

Be the person you hope your kids will some day become.

All of life is impermanent- always keep that in mind. Stop attaching yourself to ideas, people or things knowing this.

Love, hugs and kindness are free. Spread that shit everywhere.

May you all have the happiest and healthiest beginning of the new year! 

Jamieson xo

Holding Space

Jamieson Van Loan

A lot of our holiday season is spent holding space for others. We do this without even realizing. Now that I think about it, we are constantly holding space for others. Effortlessly. The problem is that we don’t always hold space for ourselves.

Let’s start at the beginning though, what is holding space, you ask?

Essentially it’s the act of being present and there for someone else. It is giving someone compassionate, nonjudgmental support. Lovingly embracing them in not just a physical space but in an emotional one.

This comes easily to me. Comforting and protecting another soul. Done and done. The problem for me and I’m assuming a lot of us, is do you take the time to hold space for yourself?

I had someone recently tell me that my philosophy of “do you” is a bit selfish. And I can understand why they would think this- if the whole world was doing whatever the heck they wanted- there would not be a great deal of global forward movement. But that is not what the “do you” ideal is really getting at. I believe we should be doing what feeds our soul each day. And yes, there is a wee bit of annoying adulting that gets in the way, but life is a balance. The most important aspect is that when we do what makes ourselves or our inner spirit happy, we then become more generous, kind and joyful humans overall. Our happiness creates a ripple effect. Being “selfish” enough to seek personal happiness is the most effective way to spread more joy in the world.

The interesting dynamic is that we hold space for others best AFTER we have taken the time to hold space and care for ourselves. Just like you put your oxygen mask on first before helping those with you, you need to care for yourself first. Emotional self care is of the utmost importance.

Be open to others holding space for you. I, admittedly, do not ask for help often or easily. But we cannot thrive without our tribe and this means allowing them to support you unconditionally. Be vulnerable and accept the space and support. 

What I’ve enjoyed seeing on social media this past week is the honesty surrounding the holidays. While some may thrive off the holiday spirit, others are feeling their lowest. And that is ok. However you feel this week, just know you are not alone.

Here is what I’m personally doing this week: I am managing my expectations. This applies to all things, not just the holiday season. Expectations typically incite disappointment. Allowing things to unfold as they come and being at peace with the situation is true emotional intelligence. It has taken me a very long time to learn this lesson. I have to accept that there will be circumstances that will upheave my peace and all I can do is control my response. Holding my space and being compassionate to myself when things may go awry is crucial. Taking a note from Frozen, “let it go” is sometimes the best response. Try that this week: just let go of what is not serving you, let go of expectations, let go of perfection, let go of ego, let go of negativity, let it ALLLL go. Breathe in love, exhale everything that is not benefiting you. Hold your space!

I wish you all a very peaceful and beautiful week ahead! Sending you all love and good health.

Jamieson xo

Learning curves

Jamieson Van Loan

You know when you're on the listening end of someone's problem and you sorta want to shake them and be like, HERE'S THE ISSUE AND HERE'S THE LESSON TO BE LEARNED. But we all have to go through the learning process on our terms. No one can coax us through the process, or present the lesson, without us having to trudge through the hardship. 

I initially started this rant on a completely different plane of thought. But life lessons kept popping up this week. There is that cliched (but completely relevant, hence the cliche) quote that basically says "when you stop asking why is this happening to you and replace it with what can you learn from it?" you can completely alter your perspective. And I couldn't agree more. Life will always have its difficult moments and decisions and it's what you draw from those moments that will aid in your evolution. 

As someone who is a sounding board for many friends, but also someone who reaches out to my tribes people for advice constantly, the question of what can I learn from this situation is always a topic of conversation. If this is not a continual subject in your world, I recommend making it one. It takes the natural instinct to complain into a completely different realm. Our complaints, our issues, become the foundation of learning. How can I process this situation in a way that isn't stressing me out, but is adding to my growth? 

And don't get me wrong, it is not easy to do this all the time. Sometimes we are stuck in shitty circumstances that makes us question our very purpose on this planet. We have all been through heartbreak and loss and massive regret and cruelty and pain. None of those situations or emotions beg us to find the silver lining. Once you get distance, healing and lessons typically prevail, but it isn't always so apparent. 

Our innate response to difficult situations is to put up our protective walls.  Our defenses go up. It is not our fault or our issue, but the other person, who is causing the grief, who is to blame. Our negative emotions and ego like to push against ownership and fault others. In the moment that your mind goes into that mode, that is when the reality check comes into play. Questioning the reality of your thoughts is key. We all over analyze, dramatize and do the "woe is me" dance when we want sympathy and understanding.  So stepping outside of your situation, as difficult as that can be, is so beneficial. How would a stranger, an unbiased human, interpret this incident? 

And if you can mentally distance yourself from the situation, can you push even farther and begin to see the lesson hidden among the suffering? This takes so much emotional intelligence and strength. It is no easy feat. 

But the quicker you can move through the "woe is me" phase into the growth phase, the happier you will be. 

I think one of the best gauges for tough situations is asking yourself the question, "will I care about this problem in a week from now, six months from now, a year from now?" How detrimental to my actual life is this? And if the answer is not at all OR the solution is completely out of your control, then let it go. Move through the emotions you need to, but let it go. Learn and move forward. 

That is a crucial component to dealing with tough issues, are you actually moving forward and through them? Or are you being stubborn? I know friends, and shoot, I've been there plenty of times, who are stubborn, or moreover, stagnant with their problems. They complain and get upset over and over again, which can be beneficial in the venting realm, but it's not facilitating to healing and moving past your problem. How many times can you complain about a circumstance before you take the leap to change it?

Typically taking the leap to change or learn from your issue is the more arduous path. And therefore, typically the path we choose last. I am urging you to choose it now. Be the person who acknowledges the negative situation and expends the least amount of emotional energy on it. Own your part of it, fix what you can, and then shut up and figure out the lesson.
Move forward.

If you are spending the valuable time you have on this planet, upset or stressed or complaining, you're on the wrong side of the tracks, my friend. Don't misread this- we will all be upset, stressed and will complain- but it is how you handle it and progress through it that matters most. Learn and grow- your future self will thank you.


Don’t be in sales...

Jamieson Van Loan

I am not a salesperson. I never have been. I remember working for Bear Naked right when they got into the Norwalk Stew Leonard’s and having to demo granola for Kelly & Brendan. I was the worst! It brought out all my insecurities. In my mind, I felt so far removed from myself. Who was I to be selling this stuff? I couldn’t seem to find my true voice. I couldn't handle the rejections and rudeness. Fortunately, they had a great product and it sold itself...phew!

Since owning my restaurant in Costa Rica and now having Maikana, I’ve had to work on my selling skills. I’ve had to get comfortable with things that typically make me uncomfortable. From conference calls to business meetings to marketing myself- all things that used to make me want to run and hide, I’ve had to face head on. Still, when my phone rings, I want to hurl it across the room but I don’t. I’ve accepted that sometimes we have to feel uneasy in order to find the good stuff. This applies to all aspects of life.

I read this article about relationships and energies a few weeks ago and the line that stuck in my head is: 

“You are not a salesperson. It is not your job to convince someone to like you.”

In the past, I have spoken about energies or vibrations needing to align for you and someone to click. This is completely true. Some people you vibe with and some you don't. 

But you know that feeling when you’re not clicking with someone and you can’t understand what YOU did wrong. It is so easy for us to question what we are doing wrong or how we can change in order to appeal to someone else. As an over-analyzer, I’ve definitely been here. Why doesn’t he or she like me? What can I do to make them like me? What is wrong with me?

Answer: not a damn thing.

You are exactly who and where you are meant to be. You are surrounded by the people who are the exact support characters you need at this moment. You are amazing, as is, and the only time you should ever change something about your character is if YOU want to better yourself, for only yourself. No one else. 

If someone doesn’t like you or understand you, that is their problem. Not yours. It is not your job to ever convince or persuade someone to like you. Ever. Never ever.

Do not be a salesperson.

I have been that person. The person who is malleable enough to fit in and can adapt to people and situations in order to stay inside the supposed box. I was young and thought that being who I was "supposed" to be was the right thing. I have since learned the opposite.

The effort needed to portray a different version of yourself is exhausting. And even when you've convinced yourself that this is who you are, eventually you will not be able to suppress your inner spirit. This goes back to what I've said before: let your freak flag fly. The people who rally around that flag are your tribe. 

 Sadly, I still see people my age and older trying to impress or behave in a manner contradictory to their true self so others accept them. When are these people going to be comfortable enough with their own character, their own ideas & beliefs, their own soul to give zero effs about who likes them or not? 

Life is too damn short to be a salesperson.

Taking ownership of your beautiful self and celebrating who you are, with people who do not want you to change a damn thing, is one of the greatest joys in life. Just being accepted for exactly who you are is a gift. Be grateful when it happens.  

Side note: asking people to change for you or assuming people should change for you is just as bad as not being accepted. I've heard countless stories of people saying "oh I thought he/she would change". Why, why would you ever think that? It's fantasy, not reality. 

I vow to never be a salesperson for my character. I vow to love and accept myself as is. Because who I was yesterday, who I am today and who I will be tomorrow are not the same people. And the wonderful humans who see the beautiful value in those genuine versions of myself are all I need in life.

Take the same vow: love who you truly are and never be a salesperson for your soul. 


Seek refuge...

Jamieson Van Loan

The holidays are filled with joy, laughter, sharing, kindness, compassion and love...mostly. They are also filled with sadness, regrets, depression, stress, anxiety and the more darker emotions. For me, they are a mixed bag.

Like right now, I need a break, a pause. I want to be sitting on a deserted warm beach drinking a mai tai and worried about what time is sunset. Living up the pura vida. But I’m not. And that is ok...with a caveat. If I’m not seeking refuge in travel, I must seek it elsewhere. I must be aware of what I need to recharge, reset and move forward.

I realized how important this is after speaking to a friend who is more of an internalizer and tends to deal with issues in his own head. To some, this may completely work and be fine. I am going to go out on a limb and say that this isn’t the healthiest way to deal with the rollercoaster ride of life. And I told him that.

Humans desire connection and that is made through vulnerability and openness. A major part of being vulnerable is allowing people into the places of your life that aren’t the prettiest. Having humans in your life that can be your sounding board and help you through tough times is of utter importance.
Finding that tribe, the people you connect with on a deep soulful level, is where you can find your refuge from difficult times. I am so so fortunate to be blessed with such an amazing tribe. And they are all over the world. They do not need to be right here, right now (hello facetime). Do not be afraid to reach out during the tough times. I repeat, do not be afraid to reach out during tough times. If not to your tribe, to me. Stranger, friend or client, I am here for you. Always. You are never alone.
Refuges do not have to be just people. They can be a space. I tend to go to my meditation altar or the beach. Certain spaces can be healing and help realign the chaos inside. We need a space to stretch our sanity. Seek those places whenever you need to.
Personal refuge can also be found in the most menial tasks. I love pausing during the day to make myself my favorite tea (umm have you tried Trader Joes’ Winter Wake up- yum!). Or pausing for a two minute meditation- no matter where I am. Deep breathing for ten breaths. All easy to do and all help me move through my day. What little tasks make you feel better?
Although refuge seeking is a major part of self-care, there are also physical ways to self-care during the holidays that help alleviate stress. Figure out what these are for you and add them to your day. For me it is yoga. I do not let anything mess with my yoga schedule this time of year. As a bonus, I love going to the infrared spa, Inner Light in Darien. I always feel so much better after a session there.
Do not be afraid to drop plans during this schedule-packed time of year to find space to heal. As a people pleaser, I find this the most difficult to do. To say no when I need to. Say no to what does not fill your soul. I have to ask myself this all the time, “is this going to make me happy or stressed out?” And there are some stressful things that have to be worked through but if the ultimate answer is not bringing you joy, say no and move on.

So seek refuge. Find your person. Your tribe. Your place to heal. Your work out. Your daily task. Your sanctuary. Find it and own it and appreciate it. Be grateful for the people you can vent to, do not take advantage of their kind ear. Listen to them without wanting to respond. Reciprocate their kindness. We will all survive this holiday season, especially if we do it as a compassionate community. That is the importance of the holiday season- the coming together, reconnecting, fueling each other’s spirit and sharing love.
Be love, share love.
Jamieson xo

Keeping it comfy...

Jamieson Van Loan

The holiday season always seems to be a time of reflection. A time where we ponder where this year has gone and what has brought us to this current space we occupy. Recently someone asked me about my life plans, for lack of a better term. At my age, I get the typical questions "do you want to get married" "do you want kids" etc. And I have my generic response "hopefully, one day" (although hope is a four letter word for me but that's another rant). 

Normally, I put zero thought into this line of questioning. Curiosity is a natural human condition. Whether it be the holiday reflection or the past few weeks of my life, but this time I really thought about these questions and my answer. 

Here is my conclusion: 

This is me. I am 36. I am single. I have no kids. I do not own a home. I have never been married. I have chosen this life. I have had opportunities for all of those things but I chose this life. Do I want kids? Yes. Do I want a husband? Meh.
JK, a life partner may be cool. Marriage? I could take it or leave it. 

I have never been the girl with ambitions to wed and have the white picket fence with 1.5 kids and a labrador. If this is you- kudos- you know what you want.

For me, I wanted adventure. I wanted to travel. I wanted experiences. I wanted stories to tell. I wanted to witness cultures. I wanted to meet new humans. I still want these things. My desire for experience has not been satiated. 

I realized that what feeds my soul the most are the things that exist outside of the normal comfort zone. What I mean by "normal comfort zone" is the ideals that society imposes on us and that majority of people desire and obtain. And these are all beautiful things to desire: a family, a home, a partner- it is what life is about. It is just not what my life is about. 

I have an irrational fear of routine. I quit a catering job once because if I had to make 300 more Vietnamese spring rolls, I was gonna chop my arm off. I couldn't bear showing up to work every day and doing the exact same thing over and over again. The monotony was killing my soul. One aspect I love about being an entrepreneur is that I never know where my day is going to take me. I am constantly being forced to do things that make me uncomfortable. I live in a state of dis-ease with work and I love it. I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

Comfort zones are the spaces where habits and rituals exist and where stress, anxiety and fear are at their lowest. It is where most people enjoy spending their lives. And why wouldn't you? Less stress and anxiety is what we all want. 

But for me, I need to be in a constant state of evolution. I need to be forced to exist outside of the settled spaces and experience the discomfort. I need to experience the unknown. For its in this realm of discomfort that growth occurs. 

There is a term called optimal anxiety. Essentially, it is the favored level of anxiety that you can handle while still being productive. Everyone has a different level and I tend to have a higher threshold. It is not that I crave stress and anxiety, but I do tend to thrive in those situations. 

When you're in your comfort zone, you're safe and secure. But there is no expansion. You are not pushing your limits. This to me is not an option. I need to be thrust into the unknown and challenge what I think to be true. 

And this is what I learned about myself this week. I crave challenges. I want the difficult puzzles that need to be viewed from all angles to be solved. I feel the most happy when I am not settling for the status quo. I need the grueling moments so I can examine myself and find my growth. 

And this year has been nothing except growth for me. It has been my most difficult and most rewarding year yet. I am at the happiest I have ever been and yet I had the most painful beginning. How can this be? 

It is because my challenging situation forced me to break down a barrier. I had no choice but to move outside of my comfort zone. Once the boundary had been knocked down, I was able to expand. I am so grateful to have gone through it. The personal evolution has been immeasurable. 

This brings me to my entire point. I may not have babies and a husband and a white picket fence. And I may never have those things but my life is filled with love. The amount of love that is showered on me every day and that I have the honor of sharing with people is infinite. I can't tell you how many times a day I say "I love you" to people. How lucky am I? 

So next time someone asks me what my life plans are, here is my answer:
To be loved and share love. 


Accepting the chaos...

Jamieson Van Loan

There is something in the air this week. Chaos, that dirty ol’ B, has entered my home and I am not happy about it. You all know that I meditate, actively practice mindfulness and gratitude, practice yoga, go to therapy- essentially, do my utmost each day to show up and be the best version of myself. But damnit if there aren’t weeks that just push me so far that I can do nothing but give in. I have to surrender to the monkey mind, to the daily stresses, to the roller coaster and allow the universe to swirl around me. My younger self would be inclined to freak out, probably drink a bottle of wine and export all my stress on my closest humans. Joy oh joy.

My current self acknowledges that days or weeks like this just exist and there is nothing I can do about it but keep on swimming. In the heightened moments of stress, I still practice my deep breaths, my mindfulness and reality checks, but sometimes it is not enough. Sometimes I need more. Sometimes I need a release. I need to cry. I need to yell. I need to run (literally, and if you know me, that doesn't happen often). I need to dance my face off. I need to eat a lot of Girl Scout cookies.

I like to think of these weeks as transition weeks. No one’s path is constant and steady. Our lives are peaks, plateaus and valleys. Sometimes we are winding up or down these mountains (or being hurled up or down) but either way, we are in motion.

I imagine myself on an island that is lovely and comfortable but I can see another island ahead and it’s magnificent and has way better fruit but I need to get there. Sometimes the ocean between these islands is calm and gently rocks me to my new space but sometimes the seas are rough and angry and I have to fight to arrive at my island. This week I paddled against the current with high winds and a hole in my boat. Either way, my motion is forward. I am moving through it. I am not fighting against the volatile universe. I am accepting the chaos and progressing.

Acceptance is critical in these moments. Letting go of control and expectations and owning that you may have to eat some shit sandwiches in life allows the darker moments a shorter lifespan. Acceptance of the uncontrollable aspects of your day grants you the freedom to separate, almost elevate, yourself from its negative grip. The chaos loses its power over you.

In yoga teachings, the Sanskrit word for faith is Sraddha. It is this faith, or energy, that you hold that your life is on its exact path. The concept that no matter what, you're exactly where you are meant to be at that given moment. The essence of sraddha always rings truer and louder during the darker or chaotic life moments. For me when the unanswerable questions bubble up inside, my sraddha deepens. Always knowing your life is where it is meant to be, good or bad, makes accepting the chaos easier.

With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching (where did this year go?!), chaotic weeks like this inspire the most gratitude for me. Eating shit sandwiches reminds me of how great my life truly is.

As an ode to Thanksgiving next week, here are some excerpts from my gratitude journal:

I am grateful for the people in my tribe who support me relentlessly and aggressively. My best friends who never allow me to accept second best or settle and push me towards gold.

I am grateful for my family who have seen me and supported me at my best and worst. They are the foundation that I stand upon.

I am grateful for the people who make me belly laugh, who heighten my joy, who brighten even my best days.

I am grateful that I have the luxury to pursue my passion each and every day. 

I am grateful for my health. For without it, I would be nowhere. 

What are you grateful for?
Write it down, say it aloud. Shout it from your heart!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week! Squeeze your loved ones and tell them what you love about them.

Be love, share love. xo

The Power of our Words

Jamieson Van Loan

Last week I discussed the power of thought. The idea that your thoughts are essentially the canvas for your day-to-day life. The other, and easily as critical, factor that is an extension of thought, is the power of our words.

I have touched on this before, but we tend to forget how powerful our words are. Just like the thoughts you put out into the universe help create the world around, words are also generators within our existence.

First of all, think about your words and how they affect others. You can use your language to create love in someone’s life, to make them happy, to make them sad, to help, to hinder, to make them feel secure, to shame, to hurt them, to cause pain, to cause joy, to heal, etc. Your words have a direct impact on the people around you. Essentially your words have the power to uplift the people around you or destroy them.  How insane is that power? You can alter someone’s entire path through your words. 

I once read an article about imagining your words as either bullets or seeds. If your words are hurting someone or dragging them down or condemning them or negatively criticizing them, your words are bullets. They are destructive. If your words are seeds and they are showing support and creating a nurturing world with others, they are constructive. Speak seeds, not bullets.

Our goals as humans should be to raise our language. Not in an ostentatious manner but in a demonstrative way.  We should be constantly promoting the well-being of ourselves and others. Building up, not tearing down.

Imagine the world without language (anyone seen the movie, “A Quiet Place”? Watch it!) and how difficult it would be to make human connection. How are you using language to connect with the world?

But what about language and how it pertains to you? To your mindset?  To your goals?  

There is an energy factor behind your words. Imagine how you feel when you’re around your best friend and you’re chatting and laughing. The energy that exudes from the shared language between you is positive and almost palpable. When you are in a difficult situation and the verbiage becomes negative, your energy level drains.

This energy is what hides behind intention. We must harness the energy that comes from our words, from our connections, to create the intentions that we set forth in our day.

How are you going to approach the world today? With love? With stress? With frustration? With truth? With kindness  & compassion?

The energy we put towards our linguistic construct is quintessentially our character, the basis for our true selves. So the way we language is a critical part of how the world views us. This is why honesty is always the best policy. What you speak, speaks volumes of your character.

Keep this in mind for when you speak to yourself. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Self love is the most important love. 

With our words setting our daily intentions, we can then begin to verbalize our goals, our dreams and set them into motion. It is vital to have full faith in your words. To truly believe that what you say will indeed manifest. Manifestation through language is just as powerful as manifestation through the mind. Believe in your thoughts and words and the rest will follow.
My bottom line: 

Always speak the truth. Always speak with consistency. Try to avoid gossiping or wasting time on verbal trivialities. Speak to create positivity around you. Speak with intention. Speak with love and respect. Be effusive with your language. It will create a positive space for you and for those who enter your universe.

Namaste xo