As a mindful hedonist, I understand the value of presence and purpose, but I naturally default to passionately pursuing life’s greatest pleasures. Documented in many of the stories I’ve shared on JuliaSparkman.com, even as a hedonist, I have grown to appreciate the challenges and adversities I’ve faced, as they have led me to many of my best moments — spiritually, personally, and professionally. While teaching, I frequently say, “find comfort in your discomfort”, as students practice deep hip-openers and other challenging postures, like savasana.
I love traveling abroad. From the rush of the unknown to the exhilaration of new sights and sounds, I come alive in foreign places. Over the years, I’ve learned the best part about traveling abroad is the lack of connection. Wifi is generously available, but you still spend a lot of time offline, in-transit and walking around. I love the experience of being present without technological distractions.
For years, shame and embarrassment have been my obstacles.
I have wanted to share my story, but the fear of judgement would hold me back. Keep in mind, the above passage is only about 10% of what has happened. Nevertheless, I know the experiences that I’ve had are happening to people RIGHT NOW. I want to show those who are silently suffering that it will be okay and it can work out (even better than imagined).
I typically sit down with a clear idea and effortlessly write. Today, I had no idea where to start. I woke up tired and irritable. I did not feel well and my thoughts were foggy. For once, I was not ready to share. Instead of forcing it or allowing myself to feel discouraged, I decided to practice what I preach: I let go of what I thought I “should” do and I took care of myself. I napped, I ate healthy, filling foods, I swam in the ocean, and I relaxed.
Like many young Americans, I am persistently passionate about a handful vaguely related pursuits. For the last few years, yoga has always been my mainstay; but, I’ve weaved quite a few things in along the way. Up until now, I have not wholeheartedly ran after my destiny. I always keep one-foot in the safe-zone. I have gotten good at warping jobs into kind of looking like I was pursuing my destiny, but in my heart-of-hearts, I knew it was not my dharma; therefore, something I should not pursue. This week is my first week of doing entirely what I want to do (and it’s incredibly gratifying and equally terrifying).
On Friday, I popped out of bed and went straight to work purging my apartment. I’m not sure what came over me; I neglected my typical morning routine and feverishly began sorting. When I moved from Chicago to San Diego last January, I reduced my belongings by 75%. Initially, it was hard to get rid of all the PDF articles and books I had held on to since academia and those “favorite” clothes I hadn’t worn in a year, but once it was all said and done, I felt liberated and free.
It took approximately three hours to complete my project on Friday; and again, I felt like I had more with less. I found my favorite earrings I thought were long gone, I discovered $9 dollars, and most importantly, I made space for the things I really cared about and wanted to see. Over my sink, there is now room for the small painting of the township I volunteered in outside of Cape Town, the wooden giraffe I bartered for in Nairobi, the globe I bought at the Louvre, two small mosaic plates from Parc Guell, and the gemstones my cousin Margaux gave to me for my 27th birthday. All of those trinkets are more than memories; they are source of inspiration for future travel and global thinking.
As always, at first, it was challenging to let go, but now that the clothes are on their way to charity and I can easily find the things I need, I feel so much more at home and at peace.
That night, I went to Cafe Gratitude with friends. After dinner, we walked Christina to her car and in the trunk there so happened to be the exact size side table I wanted for my apartment and she gifted it to me! It was such a powerful manifestation of the practice of aparigraha. As I release the things that no longer serve me, I make space for new things that I need; I must let go to receive.
Last December, my sister Madeleine and I traveled to Costa Rica. On the night of the 25th, I was inspired to write my goals for the 2015 year. It’s impossible not to be inspired in Costa Rica. Everyone is happy, everywhere is beautiful, and the land is vibrant and free. Tired from our adventurous day at Manuel Antonio, Madeleine went to bed early and I ventured down to the community patio at our resort. With sounds of jungle creatures and celebratory groups as my soundtrack, the words flowed. I did not have to think about it, it just came to me.
Yoga is one of those things that kind of sneaks up on you, I am not sure what shifted, but at some point in time I let my resent go. Today, I appreciate and admire those accounts without letting them hurt my ego. I am proud of my practice and my mind is constantly blown by the way it unfolds. It’s not how it looks, it how it feels and as long as I am stretching and getting my head below my heart, I am receiving the same benefits as the yogis pictured in the gorgeous instagram accounts.
It’s impossible to show up and suck alone; to be a beginner, perfectly imperfect. Through my experience, I’ve needed that small push of encouragement from my mentors and ‘omies’ to keep going and to step out in ways that make me uncomfortable*. As I sit here, uncertain as to what’s next, I am no longer frightened by the unknown. I know the best is yet to come because I am not afraid to put myself out there and “show up and suck” a few times before I find my flow.
To summarize, the last 365 of my life were similar to a modern painting. It was confusing and messy and unconventional, but super beautiful and inspiring. It lit my soul on fire and I now have more strength and determination to live my mantra and fulfill my destiny! I am eager to share the experiences that emerge in the next 365 days and the wonderful things that come from my grit and tenacity.