What I wish I could’ve told my 15 year old self.

Approaching 30 brings with it a different set of challenges than my early 20’s and has me reflecting on the things that I’ve learned throughout the course of my short life. I find it extremely important to check in with myself and make sure that my values and plans are lining up with my goals and dreams for the future. This is a habit I’ve developed as I’ve gotten older and one that has become even more important and real in the last year. In an attempt to live an authentic life, I’ve now approached the age that I can look back on patterns and behaviors in my past and start to see how they’ve shaped who I am today.

Being a teenager is a very awkward time of identity crisis, where we get to make mistakes and establish our own sense of self. I remember the naive way I looked at the world and how I thought I already had it all figured out. So naturally, it seems like a good idea to start at the age of 15. Looking back, I wish there were a few things I could tell 15 year old Lauryn, or any 15 year old now.

Change is good. It’s really the only constant in life. You’re going to have to get used to it and learn to see it as an opportunity. I remember tying my identity up with my friends in high school, or my friends in college, or the people I associated with, and when those people disappeared from my life, I felt like I wasn’t sure who I was anymore. Your sense of self does not crumble when people choose to walk out of your life. Not everyone is meant to stay forever, and it can be hard to learn to say goodbye with grace. The quicker you learn, the stronger you’ll be.

Learn to stand up for yourself. This takes awhile to do because in order to stand up for ourselves we need to have a moderately secure sense of self to begin with. People are constantly going to try to take advantage of you. I know being naive is easy (trust me) but you need to realize that the world is big and there are lots of different kind of people in it. Unfortunately for you, not all of these people will have your best interests at heart. Learn the power of no and use it whenever you want. You do not owe anyone anything, don’t belittle yourself and allow people to take advantage of you. Learn to confront situations and people with honesty and to do that, you must first learn to be honest with yourself.

Your parents will eventually become your friends. At least I hope this will be true. I know it doesn’t seem like it now but they truly do have your best interests at heart, and they will shape your future. Respect them, learn from them, ask questions, and don’t hesitate. If you want your parents to respect you, you must first respect them.

Who you fall in love with for the first time will determine how you view love and relationships in the future. It can be a blessing or a curse depending on who you allow into your heart. Your body and heart do not deserve to be toyed with. When you first start dating, you will be dating a boy or girl who is more than likely unaware of his/her self and may not treat you the way you should be treated. Do not ever allow yourself to stay in a relationship that makes you feel unsafe, threatened, or that you owe them in any way. There is about a 95% chance this person will not make it into your future. Who you choose to fall in love with will determine your boundaries and how you feel about love and intimacy. Choose wisely.

Do things that you’re passionate about. Don’t worry about what other’s think about you or the hobby of your choice, do it anyways. Life is short and if you don’t explore life when you’re younger and learn to truly value what you do and how you spend your time, you’ll spend your whole life doing what other people think is best for you. Explore all possibilities unapologetically and don’t take yourself to seriously. You will fail, you will make mistakes, that’s not the important part… the important part is how you recover when you make a mistake. Let life and experience be your greatest teacher. And jump over and over again because trust me, some of the greatest lessons are learned when we fall.

Don’t plan your life too much! Half the fun is the journey, not the destination. If you plan everything meticulously you’ll only disappoint yourself when these things don’t happen. Take everything as an opportunity for growth and know that if something doesn’t work out, there’s another option that may be better suited to you. Stay open to all possibilities and listen with your heart. I always joke about being on a “no plan plan”. Don’t get me wrong, I have long and short term goals that I’m constantly working towards, but that doesn’t mean that if something doesn’t work out, I need to blame myself. Just enjoy the ride.

Trust your intuition. It’s been there since you were born and is the very reason you have a soul. It’s hard in today’s world to be in touch with our own needs and wants when the rest of the world is trying so hard to keep us distracted. Take time to slow down and build a practice of meditation. But truly, whatever you do, learn to listen to your own inner voice. If you stop listening to it, it’ll get quieter and quieter. Although it is always there to be tapped into, you just need to start doing the work. Intuition will be your greatest guide in life and will teach you that not all obstacles can be solved with the mind, some are simply not a good fit because we just know they aren’t. Trust yourself and trust that voice.

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The Caribbean’s Hidden Gem

Imagine waking up on a tiny island where there are no cars or scooters at all, only foot paths with the occasional bicycle. Delivery produce only arrives from the larger island once a week and sends the small ferry dock into a frenzy with people from all over the island setting up stands and selling the week’s supply of food. Larger items need to be transported by push cart through the jungle pathways weaving a half an hour to the opposite end, sometimes taking as many as 6 men to complete the job. Electricity shuts off daily from 6 AM to 1 PM to allow the sun to recharge the generators for the day. When the fans stop humming in the morning it pushes everyone outside to begin their day. I don’t think there is any air conditioning on the island so the fan is what allows you to sleep. The first thing you smell every morning is fresh baked coconut bread flavored with ginger or cheddar and the locals speak a mixture of Spanish, English and Creole. Sometimes you’re unsure which one is more prevalent. The people are friendly and the pace of life is slow, untouched from the rush of the rest of the world.

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Don’t go to Holbox Island in Mexico

Holbox is a small island without cars or roads located in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. It is still fairly untraveled in comparison to places like Isla Mujeres or Cozumel, but it’s surprisingly easy to get to. From Cancun you can take a bus an hour north to the town of Chiquila then a quick 15 minute ferry ride to Holbox. All of the hotels and bungalows are within walking distance unless you have a heavy backpack or a rolling suitcase, otherwise you can take a taxi ride via golf cart which is the only form of transportation other than bicycles on the island.

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What the F is going on with everyone?

A good friend of mine always used to begin a story by setting a preface. Like, somehow he had to set it up for 5 minutes before he even began to tell you what was on his mind. I asked him once why he had to preface everything he said and he looked at me like it was obvious and said, “because I want to be understood”.

Wanting to be understood is in the most innate parts of us. We are able to identify ourselves and explain our viewpoints. Being understood validates our worldview and challenges our perspective but in between every debate is the essence of wanting to be understood. Wanting to be heard.

But some times we won’t be understood. And no matter how we fight, no matter how we try to explain, sometimes it’s not a matter of being understood but being correct, getting our point across. Sometimes we just want to be right. Don’t we?

But life isn’t about being right, life is about having the right to every opinion and every action we make. It’s about seeing the beauty in differing viewpoints and appreciating the differences instead of arguing over the right and the wrong. The good and the bad. The ethical and the unethical. Our moral high ground. Our book of law.

Who are we to tell someone from another country, with a different language, a different culture that our opinion is right? Who are we to tell our neighbor that they are wrong? So, maybe we need to listen more. Dialogue doesn’t always mean equal voices. Sometimes we learn more in silence then we do in conversation.

What I’ve been feeling the last few months has been a whirlwind of energy, rash decisions, spontaneous movements, and a need for a reaction. It’s subtle but manipulative energies and we’re hurting the people closest to us. We’re all turning ourselves into storms and taking out everything in our wake. I’ve talked to a lot of friends and I’m seeing it everywhere. I’m seeing a disconnect between who people are and their actions. I’m seeing it in myself and I’ve felt a very strong pull to disconnect socially and go within.

I’ve never been an anxious person but I’ve been having these crippling moments of anxiety when I have nothing to be anxious about. Intense moments of fear that last a maximum of 10 seconds and then disappear. Moments where my heart feels like it’ll beat out of my chest. I talked to my psychotherapist and he told me that many people are having the same experience, crippling anxiety out of no where in a person that’s never had it before. He said that the energy of the universe is extremely chaotic right now, and that a lot of people don’t even have time to feel their own energies. So, those of us that do are processing these anxieties for the rest.

Being an empath it’s completely natural to absorb the energies of those around us. We are strong enough to feel them because others aren’t but sometimes we get so caught up in other energies we can’t differentiate between our own. When this happens you’ll feel completely disconnected from yourself. But I’ve had to remind myself that it’s not me, and that I’m allowed to feel these emotions but I don’t have to identify with them. I don’t have to take them on as mine.

Whenever someone I love carries out a drama in their lives and looks for a reaction I don’t have to give it to them. Because I’m realizing that the things people say to me and the choices they make have nothing to do with me. It’s their drama, it’s their problem, it’s not mine. I can choose to not react to it, and not let it affect me. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, it just means that I’m not going to join them in the agony. Right now that’ll make your friends feel like you’re pulling away but keep reminding them you aren’t, but that you come first.

Sometimes we aren’t going to agree. And that’s OK. And sometimes there isn’t anything we can do for one another. That’s okay too. Stop taking other people’s actions so god damn personally. Especially right now. People aren’t themselves, you aren’t yourself, I’m not myself. Live in that moment but know that nothing will be fixed tomorrow, and more than ever before we’re more disconnected and out of touch. That’s what happens when the world starts waking up. I know it’s scary for those of us that are already aware, but be gentle with those that aren’t because they are acting out. Love them anyways. Change is uncomfortable. Waking up isn’t easy because it challenges every paradigm we have.

The friend that calls you and wants to put blame on you for something, the partner that is telling you that you’re wrong about something, the parent that hasn’t been listening… now isn’t the time to shut them out, now is the time to love them more.

We all are trying to be understood. But we’re all unable to find the worlds right now. Love harder. Stand taller. Take care of yourself so you don’t catch and embody the negativity of others. We’re all hypersensitive beings right now and instead of ego we need humility. Find that place in yourself where you can be true to you. Currently we feel like we’re all ships passing in the night, but I assure you we’re all just looking for someone to take the time to listen.

So shut up.

I’ll say it again,

SHUT UP.

.

.

.

And listen.

To yourself.

To your partner.

To your friends.

.

.

.

Love eachother anyways because we all deserve to be loved just as much when we’re tranquil lagoons as we do when we’re hurricanes. I refuse to only love the good parts of someone if they don’t trust me enough to show me the bad. Do the same for others.

 

 

An Open Letter about the Million Women’s March

As of January 20th, Donald Trump is officially the 45th president of the United States. I logged on to Facebook for a brief second in the morning, almost forgetting and then logged out instantly. I also watched only the highlights of the Inauguration ball, speeches, and Whitehouse greetings without letting it affect my day too negatively. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m safely on the other side of this “wall” that is supposed to be built, but I know that my sisters, friends, mother and other important women are back home now, living in Trump’s new world.

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I didn’t think I’d be this girl

I didn’t always think I’d be this girl.

I had this idea of constant evolution

which we are, aren’t we?

Constantly evolving?

I thought I’d eventually evolve into

the person I was meant to be,

leaving behind all the pain.

Thinking the unfinished business

would turn itself into eventual awareness.

Not realizing that I had to do the work.

Not realizing that happiness has to be maintained.

It isn’t a state of arrival where

you coast once you’re there.

There is no finish line.

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Love her anyways.

She captivates you. She fills you up and she frustrates you. How does she do that? How is something so beautiful so infuriating simultaneously? How can she be both at the same time? It’s too intense sometimes, the range of emotions. Her touch lingers on your skin long after she removes her fingers from your thigh. And those eyes! Those eyes that say so much pain still exists in the world, but that shine with a brightness that knows how to heal it.

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Cave Diving in the Yucatan

I finally finished my full cave diving course with IANTD (The International Association of Nitrox and Technical Diving). Cave diving is part of the reason I came to Mexico a year ago and it took me awhile, and a bit of money, to finish this course. It is my first step into technical diving and now means that I can guide the caverns here as a guide to recreational scuba divers. What I do already, as a PADI IDC Staff Instructor, allows me to teach all levels of recreational scuba diving from Open Water, Advanced, Rescue, Divemaster, Assistant Instructor, Specialities and training new PADI Instructors under a Course Director. As much as I love working as a PADI Instructor, cave diving was something I did for me. I started diving when I was 12 years old and have somewhere around 3,500 dives. I’ve always wanted to cave dive and have seen technical diving as a new challenge. It was a way to fall in love with diving all over again.

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8 Things That Happen When You Travel Long Term

I’ve been living out of my backpack essentially for 4.5 years now, never really settling for longer than 6 months to a year in 1 place. In the last 6 months I’ve been hopping about much more than usual, living out of my backpack on a sailboat, back and forth to Mexico to visit my partner, traveling around the US in my van, sleeping on people’s couches and in their spare rooms, camping and visiting friends and family. I’ve had a great time but I’m happy to be settled in Playa del Carmen, Mexico again for another 5 months at least. I can unpack for awhile and nest a little, which always feels good.

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Understanding

Last night we fought

again.

How can we not fight?

When there’s so much love there

that it yanks me out of my comfort zone,

when every inch of my being couldn’t

love you any more

than I already do.

When we fight and I scream

because I’m overwhelmed

because sometimes

we don’t understand eachother.

We are so stubborn

the two of us,

that it could shake worlds apart

like I’m being torn from my own body.

Loving you is

all of the emotions I’ve ever had

coming to me all at once.

And when I collapse

on the sidewalk

in your arms,

it’s not because I’m angry.

It’s because

i’m not used to

not being in control

of my emotions.

You leave me speechless.

When we misunderstand eachother

whether culturally,

emotionally,

spiritually,

my soul breaks with

the misunderstanding.

Because it is so important to me,

to us,

to be understood.

That when we’re not,

it tears us apart

like the universe

is eating us whole.

Understanding will take us time.

But I can promise you

that I’ll fight alongside you.

Because we’re warriors baby,

and nothing is more tragic

than regret.