unique
Mar18

What Makes You Unique

One of my dearest friends (whom I lived with in San Diego) started Marie Forleo’s B-School last week. She texted me one night to ask me what I thought her three best qualities were. She has many, so I thought for a moment about which qualities I felt weren’t the obvious ones, things like the way she can effortlessly put someone at ease.

Your best qualities are what make you uniquely you, and there’s no better way to find your path in this world than to know what you add to the big cosmic equation.

So I asked myself, what are my three best qualities that make me who I am? (I asked my friends too, just to see if they perhaps see something in me that I’m missing.) Here’s what I came up with:

1. I am totally devoted to helping others achieve their dreams. You’ve got an idea? Maybe want to start your own business, devote all your time to your art, share that with the world? I’m in your corner.

2. I am so willing to adventure solo. I do love having a good mate along for the ride, but there’s nothing stopping me from venturing out on my own to explore.

3. I can pour my heart into my writing. I’m so at home when I’m dreaming up things to write or typing away. I’m more of myself when I’m sharing myself with others, and the written word is often the best way I express.

I’ve been thinking about possible career paths to travel, and one in particular is beginning to take shape in my mind, one that utilizes these strengths of mine. But I’m not officially ready to say exactly what that is yet.

Tell me, what are your three best qualities? And how do you use them? How might you use them in a career?

(I’m certainly happy to offer suggestions for those of you whom I know well.)

Glen Alton in Virginia
Mar06

Grounded

On Sunday morning, there was a brief warm spell in the area. You could smell the rain coming, but for a few hours, it was sunny and glorious. My whole winter has been spent indoors practically, so between the cold and snow and freezing rain, I was determined to take advantage of the hint of spring.

The boyfriend and I drove out to Glen Alton, an old homestead that was sold to the Jefferson National Forest, mainly to look for deer antler sheds (I love a good treasure hunt) and walk around the trails and ponds.

We wandered off from each other at one point. I was following a deer path I found in one area of the woods; he was off on another. I was alone, eyes scanning the earth around me for any signs of where the deer might have bedded or moved or eaten. For a moment, I stopped and closed my eyes. And there, for the first time in so long, I felt truly grounded and connected with the Earth again.

Sometimes, I like to blame this need to be grounded on my Capricorn sun sign. But we are creatures who love and find certain places we feel more at home in than we do in others. I feel the same way when I write or am solving a puzzle. I suspect many artists feel the same way when they’re deep in their art, and many scientists know the feeling well when they’re immersed in their research. We ground. We connect. We tap into something more infinite, more expansive, more abundant.

I can’t wait for more days in the forest, by the river, in the sun. Spring is so close. But even for the remaining weeks of cold we have ahead, I’m reminding myself that I need to ground even indoors, with those things I love.

What grounds you?

 

coronadobeach
Feb27

Why I’m Never Taking Another Vacation

Growing up, family vacations generally fell into two main categories: beach vacations and Orlando, Florida. For a long time, I thought those were the only kind of vacations people took.

Relaxation

The beach was always my mother’s thing. She loved the sound of long lazy days near the surf and sand, exploring the area here and there, but mainly just “relaxing”. The beach provided the escape she needed from her regular routine, and for me and my brother, it meant extra time with our father, who often worked 60+ hour weeks to provide for his family. There was an imbalance I saw, all the work and the little vacation time to relax.

Blame it on my living in large cities or the fact that I’m my father’s daughter, but I’m doer. I’m always moving, working, trying to create. I don’t want to sit and try to relax for days on end. But more importantly, I don’t want those few days to be the only time to relax.

Relaxation is becoming a daily practice for me. It comes in time at the gym, reading, writing, meditation… When it’s warm, I hike, and whenever I can, I go to the archery range and shoot. (Combining archery and hiking? Now that’s the best.)

Excitement

Orlando, on the other hand, was the epitome of an exciting vacation when I was a child. The lights, the rides, the constant chaos of people moving about the parks and waiting in queues — it was easy to enjoy it all. As I got older, Orlando became Vegas or Atlantic City (mainly based upon the wishes of ex-boyfriends).

But as time passed, I found myself bored. I didn’t find sitting for hours, pulling the handle of a slot machine, and hoping I strike it big thrilling. And even though I still very much enjoy a good wooden roller coaster, it’s somehow not the same.

Excitement had changed entirely for me.

Nourishment

Vacations changed again. This time, they were more about pampering myself with a massage or eating at an upscale restaurant. I wanted to indulged a little bit, and I wanted to nourish myself a lot.

We all need time away from our daily lives, to see the world again, to see ourselves again, but I’ve used — and seen other people use — vacations as an excuse to nourish ourselves or even just finally take time we need for ourselves. We should’t need an excuse. We should take that time now. Nourish now. Relax now. And find excitement in every day.

Me

I’ve learned that I need to add relaxation, excitement, and nourishment into my daily life, not just “vacation time”. I’m by no means perfect at it. Sometimes a whole week goes by before I realize I’ve spend nearly 12+ hours each day working. But I’m getting better at it and making little steps. Sometimes, it’s as simple as making sure I go to the gym in the morning and trying out a new cafe in the afternoon. But those small things make a signifiant difference in how I feel about my life.

As for vacation time, I’m going to redefine it.

I want to travel and adventure. I want to laugh with strangers in places I’ve never been before. I want to wander streets and lose my way, discover little galleries and restaurants and bakeries. I want the sky at night to be filled with strange stars and spices in the air. I want to fall in love with cities and towns and places that have lost their names.

This is where I feel alive.

So I’ve decided I will never take another vacation. From here on out, I’m taking time for myself every day. From here on out, there’s nothing but adventures and journeys, wherever they should take me.

So what will you do to nourish yourself today? And what adventure will be your next?

innatSkye
Feb25

Writing a Novel

Over a year ago, I sat in the pub of a small in on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, outlining a novel. The ideas had been swirling around in my head for a few months, and there it all began to come together: the reluctant heroine, the unexpected hero, a villain for the reader to empathize with, a story in the future and in the past and in the present of our hearts.

I mentioned it here and there — I was so excited about it that I just couldn’t contain my enthusiasm. People ask me about it now and then. They want to know how it’s coming along, how many chapters I have written, what my progress has been. I’m almost embarrassed when I tell them that there is no progress, that the novel is on hold. It’s still a piece of me, and I will breathe life into someday, but that time hasn’t come yet.

My inner critic calls me lazy, points out my unfinished endeavors: a novel, an adventure, a magazine, a masters thesis.

We fight, this inner critic and I.

I may be not writing that novel, but I am writing something much more exquisite and complicated: my life.

There are twists and turns and unexpected surprises. I’m living in uncertainty and adventure and beauty. There are highs and lows, and just when I think I know the next step and can control the ending, I discover there’s another path for me.

In the last year, I’ve started my own business, delved deeply into archery, fallen in love, moved to a new city, struggled, soared.

That chapter was titled “Following Your Heart.”

Now I’m plumb in the middle of one titled “Doing What Feels Right and Finding Balance.” And let me tell you, this one has been a real doozy.

What would you title the chapter you’re living right now?

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