Celebrate and dance so free

I was in the weight room when I heard the song come on. I hadn’t heard it in a long time.

The power of music.

It can take you back to an exact moment it feels like it’s happening all over again.

This time I was transported back to a season many years ago when we were together. I had visions of you during your Junior year dancing to it. Everyone circled around you, you seamlessly flowing into impressive moves as they all cheered you on. You loved it. I stood to the side, cheering too but feeling uncomfortable, shy almost. I’m not shy. I always felt a little that I was when I went to dances. With you. You loved to move. You were effortless. I was unsure. Of moving my body. How to. I awkwardly swayed feeling like I couldn’t keep up with you.

I tried to think of a time before now when I felt free and effortless. Like you felt free on that dance floor that night in mid October. I had trouble remembering. When was it? It escaped me. Still searching, that thought brought me back. I refocused on the present moment. My accelerated heart rate. The sweat dripping down the side of my face. The weights in my hand. The reps I had done the reps I still had to do. I put them down and grabbed a heavier set. Because I could. I didn’t think I could for a long time and then I remembered the song in the background reminding me of those years we were together and how I wouldn’t even be where I was now if it hadn’t ended. Challenging myself physically and how I wouldn’t then, I didn’t even know how to.

That is such a celebration.

The power of a song.

It can not only take you back to an exact moment, the feeling you had then but it can remind you of how different you are now. And how you don’t want to feel like you did then. I don’t want to feel like I did then. Then you were the strong one, the one who worked out every day and made it a ritual. No matter what you carved out time for you. To move, to meditate. I didn’t. I didn’t have any space for that. I wanted to. It felt far away. You felt far away as you worked out in our second bedroom and I did other things with my time. Now I’m strong, I work out because I want to and making it a ritual for myself. Like you did all those years. The song was coming to an end and just as my time in the weight room was. I had 30 seconds left. I heard the end of the song, I remembered you, and how I felt that night on the dance floor, those mornings while you worked out in the room next to me and I grabbed an even heavier weight. Because I could. Because I didn’t think I would be here. Because I hoped I would.

This time I did it for you.

“Shut it down” my coach said. It was time to switch. I moved to the treadmill.

It was my last station. The end of my work out was approaching. The instructor told us that we didn’t come this far to come this far. She was right.This wasn’t the end.I was out of breath but I was happy. Smiling. Tired. But I felt strong. I was just getting started. And as if this soundtrack on this day was preselected for me when I wasn’t even expecting it, the next song came on. I hadn’t heard it in a long time. Years actually. But as soon as I heard it took me back and gave me the answer to the question I asked myself earlier. When was a time I felt free? Effortless? I finally remembered.

It was right before my Junior year. It was the middle of July and I was in a bar in Oxford England and it was late and a group of us danced under the red flashing lights to the same song that was playing now as I walked on my treadmill with similar orange lights above me. “One more time we’re gonna celebrate. Celebrate and dance so free.” And I did. I felt it. Effortless. I twirled. Freely. I laughed. In my body, just as I was. Light on my feet, not self conscious, not disconnected. Sweating and smiling. Packed between people. The dance floor vibrating in synch with our feet and the beat of the song. What was different this time? You weren’t there. That made the difference. We all cheered each other on. I loved it. The attention wasn’t on you. I didn’t feel like I was in the shadows, twirling to myself. I was present. I was happy. I felt joy. Just as I was. It was one of the best nights. That feeling that night is more than words. It is that song. And the feeling I felt that day came back as soon as I heard that song on the speakers that day in the gym. Timed just right -exactly after I had heard that other song that brought up a totally different memory and feeling than this one, when I thought of you, now I thought of me.

The power of a song.

It can take you back to an exact moment and the feeling you felt.

Sweating and smiling I felt recognized that feeling again. I had been feeling it a lot lately. Never wanting to feel like that girl on that dance floor in October of your Junior year, instead like that girl in July of mine.

And as the song started to come to an end so did my class. My coach called out a countdown to a 30 second all out. Normally I power walked, but this time I thought about the song. The girl in the memory. My feet moved to the beat in the chorus just like that night in the dance club. I increased my speed. Faster. I jogged. I made my speed even a little faster. Because I could. Because I didn’t think I would. Because I hoped I would. Someday. And I was.

That is such a celebration.

The song was still in the background, “Music’s got me feeling so free,” reminding me of how I felt in both those moments and memories, how far I had come from both those girls on those dance floors. How neither would know how it would all end up but how I hoped I would be where I was now, feeling how I felt, just as I was, in times where I had felt both far from here and close to here . Halfway there, 30 seconds left. I went even a little faster. Because I could. Becuase I didn’t think I would. Becuase I hoped I would.

Class was over. So was the song. I wanted both to keep going. The belt below my feet slowed down. The treadmill stopped.

This time I did it for you.

I looked into the mirror and I smiled at her, she smiled back at me. Tears and sweat filled my eyes.

I wiped my face. Blinked. And looked up. She was still there smiling back. I kept smiling too.

Heart being fast. I did it for her. I did it for me. And I felt free.

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Sarah Polite
May 31

Today would have been our anniversary. A day I’ll never forget. Even though years have passed since our last one together, with more distance between us with each year that goes by and someday we will have spent more years a part than together it’s a day I’ll always think of us, but -only at the beginning. That’s when it was the best. It was right after Memorial Day weekend and there was a warmth in the air. I could smell summer on the horizon even with the coolness after the sun set. It was breezy that night, I wore my favorite gray hoodie with a hole in the front pocket as we walked and talked and told each other our hearts. I was nervous so I ran my finger along the frayed edge of the pocket where the hole was growing. I tried to stitch that hole over and over again for years after that night so that I could keep my favorite hoodie, just like in some ways I tried to stitch us. But on this one, very first breezy night, there was a lot of hope in the air. This was one of those days where I remember the smell and the temperature so well that over the next 14 years we were together occasionally there would be a cool spring evening just like that one where the weather would remind me of that first night together.

I started to forget what that breeze felt like. Especially after you left.

Until recently.

It was spring this time last year. Right around Memorial Day. The days were warm and the nights were cool. Familiar. I had been working so hard on letting go of so many things that no longer served me, including you. Where there were no longer those certain unhealthy things taking up space, where they had been comfortable for so many years there was room. Lot of it. Giant voids wanting to be filled. Wide open. It was so hard not to fill them. Even in all the self work, in all the clearing out the clutter, some of these unhealthy things remained. Like drinking. And after a typical “fun” night out where I had drank too much and worried far too long after, I laid on my yoga mat, in a fetal position, rocking back and forth.

A year ago I wrote about that exact experience on that mat that day. It was just at the beginning of a big decision, and at the time I wrote it I didn’t realize how big it would be. That moment made this moment I was experiencing a full circle one, 365 days later possible.  Focusing on my my teacher’s words that day “Let go of what no longer serves you. Take what you need, release the rest.” Like a Tibetan bowl, they rang in my ears, resonated in my heart and stayed with me. 

I thought about those things that no longer served me. I thought about my relationship with food as I stretched on that mat, rocking back and forth and how I had gotten into such a healthy place, ending my co-dependent, therapeutic relationship with it and how that was so worth celebrating. Then in lieu of celebration I thought about alcohol, I curled up tighter, rolling back and forth, back and forth, as shame bubbled up.  I reflected on how it had become a more regular occurrence in my life especially in the days since removing mindless eating out of my routine. Because of that swap and how it filled that giant void that was begging to be filled, soothing it, I knew that it added nothing good in my life. Nothing. Drinking always started in good fun, even when I didn’t stop... celebrating even in the excess, until the next day. When I would wake up. Heaviness in my chest. Trouble breathing. Shame and guilt appeared and remained. For days. Sometimes those feelings didn’t leave at all, just getting buried underneath new ones. Like this one memory that will always remain. A memory I’ll never forget, like our anniversary. Sometimes I wish I would forget both.

I think back about a time in NYC years ago where I was at a fancy party for food bloggers and writers, among chefs I admired and I was didn’t’ know anyone. I was excited. I was also already nervous and that in combination with celebration, drank so much. So much. I didn’t mean to. It was all in good fun, until it wasn’t. I felt like every time I drank a small sip from my glass someone from the staff came by, topping me off with more, too much. I got sick at that party that night. So sick. All over the bathroom. I tried to clean up. I was a mess and I’m not just referring to the status of the bathroom tidiness. I didn’t think anyone would know. Oh but they did. I tried to hide it and I was mortified, I barely remember getting home that night which is scary, waking up the next day so ashamed of myself. I bashfully reached out to the PR team that threw the party first thing the next morning apologizing for forgiveness, from them and myself hoping it wasn’t as bad as I hazily remembered and matter of factly receiving a reply, being asked in return to pay a cleaning fee. My face was so red in that moment I thought it would last forever and that people would look at me and know what had happened, even if I never told another soul about it. Until now. Until you.

In the years since this experience I worked really hard on giving myself grace and understanding for that night. All these years later every time I occasionally think of it, that terrible pit in my stomach remains. My face feels flushed. I feel ashamed. That is how I would often feel a day after drinking. Even if it was a fun night. I worried. I beat myself up. Shame. Guilt. I felt terrible after, always. And after all that hard work I was doing to take care of myself mentally and physically this was doing nothing but the opposite of that in both areas. So as I left that one yoga class at the end of May of last year I decided to stop, to take a break from drinking for the month of June. Just to see what came up for me, or what didn’t come up in those 30 days.  One month passed, quickly. More easily than I thought. I was still social, probably more and still went out with friends even to bars. The most amazing thing happened in that first month. I still had fun. Even better, I had fun and then woke up the next day without any of those old feelings. I was in control of all my actions and my words and was intentional. I never felt shame in that way I was so familiar with and haven’t again. I haven’t had to worry about losing control, but not in a controlling way, in a freeing away.

So I went onto month two. And then month three. I didn’t miss it. Wait- I didn’t miss it?  My friends curiously asked when I would start drinking again. I think they worried I wouldn’t be fun anymore, I knew I would be more fun. I always told them I wasn’t sure but I knew this felt right. So I continued on.  I had a lot of mocktails, and seltzers and memories I actually remembered. I was present. I saved money. I saved energy from constantly worrying. At first I would respond to people when they asked that why I wasn’t drinking with “I’m taking a break from drinking for the month.”

Then it became “I’m taking a break from drinking.”

And then evolved into “I don’t drink.”

So after one month that turned into twelve, I celebrate that day in late May and decided that OUR anniversary would become MY anniversary. One year of not drinking. May 31 2019. A date I’ll never forget. It was right after Memorial Day weekend and there was a warmth in the air. I could smell summer on the horizon even with the coolness after the sun set.  It was breezy that night, and on this one, breezy night like that first one before it there was a lot of hope in the air.  I stepped outside and I thought about you but also thought about me and I felt it- that familiar cool breeze after a warm spring day and as the breeze blew over me this time, it felt different, I felt different and it all had a new meaning. Happy anniversary to me.

 

 

 

 

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Sarah Polite
Remembering Julian Brennan

{You and me walked down the shores of our youth chasing the sunrise, challenging the truth}


I stood by this lake as the sky danced on the water and the fireflies started to appear and I thought of you. I thought about the day at work I was told we had lost you and then I thought about the day I first met you.


You made me nervous with your smile and comfortable with it all at the same time. You were effortless in all that you but cared so much about what you were doing. You were funny. You were talented. So talented. Your kind heart made such an impact on us at work where it was so fast paced that most people didn’t appreciate you until it was too late to. You were a coworker that became a real friend but I never requested you on Facebook. Even though it was a different time then where our friendships weren’t showcased on social media I often wish I had so I could have saved photos of you. I remember one day in passing we bonded over our love of Martin Sexton. One of my favorite musicians from my college years, I have still never met anyone who loved him like my college friends and I did - until you. We had the same favorite song. I felt seen by you in that moment. And in all moments we had together after.


I remember hearing about a play you were performing in. Had you written it? I wouldn’t be surprised and now I wish I saved the program so I could know for certain. I told you in another small but important passing conversation that I would be there, and that I couldn’t wait. You smiled that smile that gave me butterflies and ease at the same time and I could tell it meant a lot to you. I sat right in the front row and kept making eye contact with you throughout the show. You never missed a beat and I felt so honored to be there to see you outside of the work role I saw you in every day. Intermission came. I stayed in my seat because I didn’t know anyone to awkwardly mingle with and you came out to the stage. You sat on a stool with your guitar. It was dark in the theater except enough light to cover you in its warmth. You started strumming and the minute I heard the first cord the hair on my arms stood up and my eyes welled with tears. You sang the lyrics above that meant so much to both of us. We made eye contact. I cried and you smiled. I’ll never forget that moment like I’ll never forget you.


Shortly after you enlisted in the Marines. After you left work wasn’t the same without you. I’ll never forget the day you came and visited us in your uniform right before you were deployed to Afghanistan. You were so handsome. You were so proud. I felt it. We all did. I only saw you quickly that day and now I wish I had taken more time from my “busy” day to visit with you. I remember thinking that I would see you again soon. I didn’t know that would be a lie. You took my breath away and again when I heard you were there I ran over to you, my eyes welled up with tears, and you smiled that smile back at me. I’ll never forget that last moment together, I’ll never forget you.  I wanted to share your name today on this Memorial Day so people as many people as possible could read it. Just once. In between the long weekend trips or holiday cookouts or even in the midst of mourning those they have lost in service too, I wanted them to pause and know you even in a small way. And just like all those small conversations we had in passing they are important. You are important even 10 years after leaving us. If everyone who read this took a moment to think of you, think of how your light will continue to burn bright.

Here is to sharing your name and your story.

To live on anyway you can.

I’ll never forget you.

Thank you for your sacrifice Lance Cpl. Julian Brennan.

As I type this I hear you playing our favorite song, my eyes are full of tears and I know you are smiling down on me like you always did.  To chasing sunrises and challenging the truth. 💛

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Sarah Polite
The turtle

Self work is a lot of work and is sometimes hard, lonely and slow.

It reminds me of this turtle.

There had just been a summer storm and the smell of fresh rain lingered in the air while rays of sun started to break through the gray clouds. The ground was still wet and warm and because of both there was a hazy mist that covered the entire trail.

I needed to be on my bike that day. I was grateful my work shift ended the same time the storm clouds cleared. I clocked out quickly and I grabbed my helmet hoping to soak up the last couple hours of daylight.  I was halfway to Furman before I realized this little turtle on the trail. Alone. In the middle of it all. Bikes whizzing by. Never slowing down. Did they see him? This tiny turtle in the middle of the road. I slowed down and I greeted my new little friend and asked him where here was going, like I was expecting a response. “Hi little turtle, where are you headed today?”

He didn’t move so.   I didn’t move with him for a few moments. Watching them carefully look ahead to where they were planning on going. The amount of effort it took for them to do just that, moving barely anything at all. I saw both struggle and peace in the perseverance at the same exact time.

I felt like that turtle that day. I’ve felt like this turtle many days before this moment on the trail and many days since. I was out there looking for something that day and found him. A reminder. He was out on that day just trying to get where he was going even though everyone and everything was moving around him so quickly. Cyclists passed us by. Walkers and people pushing strollers and walking dogs effortlessly passed. This turtle remained. At first glance it may look like he’s not doing anything at all but when I looked closer I saw him never not working hard to get where he needed to go but just not going as fast as everyone and everything around them. I wished him a safe journey and I continued on mine.

I rode around the pond at Furman thinking about the hard work I’m doing, the work I’ve done. It’s hard. It’s slow. I thought about the turtle. The sun started to set and I started to head back home.

On my way back I passed the turtle. There he was, in the same exact place I left him. He hadn’t moved at all since I saw him last but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t working hard.

I was working hard too. Some days feeling like I wasn’t moving.  But working the entire time. Just like this turtle.

The next day another summer storm and that misty magic moment after the skies cleared that called me to the trail. So I rode. Until I slowed down in the same spot as yesterday. There my was the turtle. In the same spot. He hadn’t moved at all. Not even a little bit. I started to worry. Was he ok? Is something wrong? Is he even alive? Why hasn’t he moved? I wanted to help him. Pick him up and take him wherever he wanted to go. A whole day later he hadn’t moved.  At all. But then I thought about the effort it took for him probably just to remain. To be in the exact same spot as the day before as everything and everyone moved around him. He’s trying so hard. He had come so far for not traveling any physical distance from yesterday. He was probably tired. I’m sometimes tired from working so hard too. He was alone.  I didn’t want to leave him. I wanted to protect him and I worried he’d be run over but- he remained. So I wished him a safe journey and continued on mine.  I thought-there have been many days I’ve been that turtle. In the same place for a long time but working so hard just to be there. Not being able to do anything else. To just be where I am. Feeling along while doing it. Especially on the days I wasn’t moving as quickly as the world around me.

I rode on. Around Furman and back again. On the ride back I could tell he had moved a little this time as I passed him. Just a little, not much, but I thought about the effort it took him to get there.

I thought about the effort it took me to get here.

The next day was cooler clear and sunny, like the heavy storms from the days before it had helped make it that way, make it extra beautiful now. I thought about the storms in my life. Preparing me for where I was now. I thought about the turtle. Exactly where he was, where I left him and I was curious where he was today. I hit the trail to see. I wanted to check on him, my new little friend. I got to the spot where I had seen him the last two days and he was gone. I rode back and forth a few times to make sure I hadn’t missed him and I was in the right place. I was. He wasn’t there. He had moved. Across the whole trail. Twice the distance he had traveled the two days before. He moved. When he was ready. At his own pace. Alone on his journey. Moving however he needed to whenever he needed to. The world moving by so fast. He moved at his own pace. But he got there.

He made it to the other side.

I carefully looked ahead at the trail ahead of me to where I was going and put my feet back on the pedals. I thought about the turtle. I wished him a safe journey and continued on mine.

I felt like that turtle that day.

 

 

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Sarah Polite
An anniversary, a return and a mantra

It was a Monday evening, early March of 2018 and I was attending Indigo Flow for the first time. Spring was close. I only wore a jean jacket over my yoga clothes that night being grateful that the southern winter had been kinder to me than all the northern ones I had experienced before, as I was being kinder to myself than all the years before this one.

Julie and Katie had just opened their studio to the Village just days before my first class, as they welcomed the rapidly growing community on Pendleton Street and West Greenville and the areas that surrounded it while hoping to outreach to the community that had been established there before any of the new growth around it. Growth. Community. I was seeking both, looking for a safe, welcoming and inclusive place I could practice yoga. I hoped I’d start to find it at Emily’s restorative yoga class that night. I felt it as I walked through the French doors.  And found it - somewhere cocooned in a blanket wrapped up like a warm hug, my leg resting on a block in a supine twist. This was it. Emily’s voice swirled around us as she floated by us as she said “take what you need, leave the rest.” And as the tears filled my eyes and fell down my cheeks, I did.

A year later, on a Monday evening, early March just like the one exactly a year before it Indigo had just celebrated their one year birthday. Spring was in the distance but getting closer. I wore a light sweater over my yoga clothes this time and I returned to a place on a day that meant so much to me. This Monday also celebrated the return of Emily back from maternity leave. She recently took some time to spend with her sweet son Zephryn. This Monday also celebrated my return after a small hiatus from my mat. I often joked that while Emily was away on maternity leave I was so on maternity leave too. I felt some shame and guilt about taking a break from my mat in a place that brought me so much peace and joy. Some days it weighed heavy but where there is shame and guilt there is also room for grace. I gave myself some as I walked back through those French doors and as I rolled out my mat in my favorite place there was room for nothing else on it with me besides gratitude. Grateful she was back. Grateful I was back. A year of practicing together. A new year at Indigo and a new season of growth and community. Everything I had hoped for is right where I was. 

After we welcomed her back and she welcomed us with love like she always does she asked us to stand tall into mountain pose, bringing hands to heart center and focusing on a mantra for our practice, breathing in and breathing out sharing that energy word and intention with the rest of the room. I closed my eyes. Set my mantra and sent it out to the room. We then flowed. I sweat in surrender. “Take what you need,” she said as she floated familiarly around us. “Leave the rest.” I did.

Midway through our flow she asked us to come back to our mantra, our intention we had set at the beginning and with closed eyes and steadied breathe I did. Ready for it. Except this time, nothing. There was quiet. I couldn’t remember my mantra. The one that had seemed really fitting and moving at the time I set it as I started this practice there was silence instead. I stood there for a moment as everyone moved into the next pose, trying to remember what I had originally needed and a totally different mantra revealed itself instead. Loudly. As if I needed a reminder but didn’t realize I needed one.

As we laid on our mats nearing the end of our practice, in a supine twist right before shavashana. Emily dimmed the lights. The room was dark except for a small sliver of golden light that made it’s way from a crack in between those French doors. I looked where the light entered in and where it landed and it landed on me. On my mat, covering my body in a healing, effervescent glow . I looked around, the rest of the room was still dark. The light shined on me, like a warm hug I’ve felt here before. I was in the light. I was the light.

Emily then asked us to come back to our mantra, to remember it one more time.  I squeezed my eyes tight.

“DON’T GIVE UP.” My new mantra was so loud I wondered if they all heard it too. I really hope they felt it.

“Don’t give up.” I heard again. Breathe in, breathe out. Take what I need, release the rest.

I squeezed my eyes even tighter this time.  Feeling the warmth of the light on my body. My heart open full of grace and gratitude. 

I sat up with the rest of the room and slowly opened my eyes.

“Don’t give up.” I heard one last time.

And as the tears that filled my eyes fell down my cheeks, I bowed my head to heart center and responded, sealing my practice, “I won’t.”

 

 

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Sarah Polite
Climb Every Mountain



A year ago I took my first hike with a friend. To a place she recommended but a pace I set. And for the first time in my life I was ready to set my own pace. This was more than a fun scenic hike for me, I reached out to her because I was ready to conquer a fear that had haunted me for a long time - a fear of physical activity with others. It terrified me. Specifically the idea of taking too long in a group activity and being the last one. Being the last one because of my speed, my body. It not being able to move like everyone else’s. Burning calves, heavy breathe. I would panic. I felt bad for them. I felt bad for me. But I always felt worse for them. I didn’t want to hold them back, I didn’t want to be a burden so I would hold myself back and sit out or give up, usually crying, usually after. I never wanted anyone to know it hurt me.

I often have flashbacks to gym class and always being last. The ENTIRE class waiting for me to finish the mile.

Memories of many walks in New York City when I would be a block behind the people I was walking with. One in particular as we were rushing to make it to an event makes me cringe to this day. They were so far ahead of me. I was struggling so much to make it seem like I was “just taking my time.” They didn’t wait. We made it to the concert in plenty of time that I wonder why we were in such a rush to get there.

Looking back to a beautiful dessert hike in Arizona where I should have been soaking up my surroundings but instead I was the last in the group full of strangers that didn’t know how uncomfortable I was. How hard it was for me to have just shown up, over analyzing every detail leading up to the moment we started moving through the dessert. They were full speed ahead and I was stuck in the back, apologizing to the guide the entire time eventually crying begging her to turn around going back. A hike never completed. One I longed for. 

A time on The Swamp Rabbit Trail on my very first bike ride telling the group I was with to go ahead without me, through tears and shame. 

Looking back on these memories I realized that shame I carried was heavy. It paralyzed me. It took me out of a lot of things before I even tried them. I missed so many experiences because of this and the ones I did try, my mindset got in the way. I wasn’t present.  I played out the entire scenario before I took my first step. And when I took that first step I was worried about the next one. It was exhausting. I was tired of being tired.

So I text my friend Danielle and we planned my first hike.

I wanted to stop waiting, I had already waited for so long on so many things. So, we hiked. It was one of the most beautiful days. I cherish all the new beginnings I’ve had this past year and this one holds such space in my heart.  I stood on the top of that pinnacle and the girl you see in this first photo is on the brink so much change. You can see it in her smile, I can. But she started changing before she made it to the top. Before she even got out of the car to take the hike, or before she went away on her wellness journey the week after, before she lost any weight. She wanted to pursue one of the things that scared her in the body she was in, just as she was. In the only moment that was guaranteed. The one she was in. So she did. Even though she went slow. Even though her knees creaked with every step. Even with her kind friend stood by her side every step of the way and reassured her throughout. She pursued. And from that day forward the minute she saw the sunset on top of Craggy Gardens she continued to pursue fiercely, deeply and for the feeling she had at the top of the world that day.

There have been other hikes since that first one. And there will be more. But what started there that crisp fall day still remains and always will. A year later I rented a car after my shift at the coffee shop, chasing daylight to make it back to the place where so much began. To see the sunset, to feel the cold air on my lungs and to look around at the 360 degree view. To soak in a full circle moment of growth and gratitude. I went 5 miles above the speed limit while driving and thinking about everything that has happened since the hike last year and I cried the entire way, Mumford and Sons After the Storm on repeat. This lyric more fitting for me now more than ever: “Get over your hill and see what you find there...”

I hoped for a moment of reflection, celebration, while being able to walk up the mile craggy walkway hopefully with a little more ease and a little less out of breathe than last time. And I arrived to be greeted with that part of the Parkway closed for the season. My tires slowed to a stop, I turned off the song, my heart sunk. I text my friend who was with me in spirit. I wasn’t going to get to do the hike I had hoped for, looked forward to. To be able to climb and reflect and pause. I pulled off the side of the road to an overlook nearby and cried some more with the lyrics in my mind even though the song no longer played. I had put a lot of pressure on a moment that wasn’t going to happen. Not all moments are exactly how we hoped them to be.  I took a deep breathe, I got out of my car and slowly walked to the edge of the overlook, teetering on the edge, balancing, reminded of the beauty that surrounded me even though the view was different than the one I was hoping for. It was such a beautiful view. A different, beautiful view. The air was cool and the sun was setting under the clouds. I was alone. Peace. Breathe. In and out. In and out. The girl in the last picture was feeling just that. She was having her moment of reflection, celebration and pause that she had hoped for after all. You can see it in her smile, I can.

So parked on the Blue Ridge Parkway, miles away from my original destination even though I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be.  I kept breathing, crying, grateful for the lesson I was learning that day. It was an important one.  The lesson wasn’t in this one specific sentimental hike and in climbing to the top again a year later. The lesson was in realizing that I’ve been climbing every single day since I first started.

My first happy hike. Standing on the edge of so much beauty and change. 

My first happy hike. Standing on the edge of so much beauty and change. 

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My sweet friend Danielle packed us a picnic and we sat on the edge even though I was so scared. 

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And we savored every moment until the last of the sun set. 

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A year later. Celebrating the hike that didn’t happen but the hike I’m constantly on. Peace. Pause. Reflection. GRATITUDE. 

The view. Different than I had originally hoped for but exactly where I needed to be.

The view. Different than I had originally hoped for but exactly where I needed to be.

Sarah Polite
Dear Me, Love Me: Self Care Sessions at The Ness Fest


A year ago I wouldn’t be writing this post. That is what makes it even more beautiful. It makes each word mean even more to me to be able to share it with you. To reflect and celebrate the difference a year can make. I’m grateful for it.


The Ness Fest is this weekend. It’s a two day festival here in Greenville that will be celebrating wellNESS, goodNESS, fitNESS and wholeNESS. All things that have been the foundation to my journey this past year. Especially wholeness. Wellness is wholeness to me. Wholeness has become so influential in my life.


When I heard about this special community driven event happening for the first time I knew I wanted to attend it, something I wouldn’t have been able to say a year ago. My health and wellness journey hadn’t quite started yet and while I had done a lot of personal work to leave NYC and get to Greenville to pursue a better quality of life I was still on the path to the start of this part of my story. Hilton Head Health was on the horizon and the change that followed it was something that seemed far away to me even though I hoped for it so deeply.


That is why today it means so much to me, eyes full of tears typing this to you, to not only mention that The Ness Fest is happening this weekend and that I’ll be attending it but that I’ll be there both days hosting Dear Me, Love Me: Self Care sessions.


YES. It’s happening.


I am so thankful that The Ness Fest is creating a comfortable space for me so that I can welcome others into it, for US to sit and pause, to reflect and write TOGETHER.


This past year has been an immersive lesson in self care for me that’s included writing daily and documenting each moment of this wonderful and wild journey not by focusing on things like the number scale or my new pant size but through my words and what I’m feeling in these experiences.  In between the bike rides and yoga classes they’ve had the long lasting impact on my health and have become so important to me with the new lessons and perspective I’m gaining along the way. I’ve found my voice. On the days I feel solid and on the days I’m uncertain. On the days I want to shout from the rooftops and on the days my voice shakes. Especially on those, I keep writing. And with every word I write even if no one else reads it, my voice keeps getting stronger. My truth compass guides me. Speaking my truth and writing has been such a beautiful gift that I’ve given to myself that I want to share that outlet of self care with you wherever you are, exactly as you are and however you’re feeling. 


In addition to journaling I began writing myself letters on my birthday each year and in moments of celebration as a way to reflect on the year that has passed and look forward to the year head. In the middle of it all. Between change and transition and movement. Life is always in motion and we’re moving so fast that I thought The Ness Fest would be a poignant moment for you to pause, reflect back and look ahead by creating these 20 minute self care sessions for you to sit down with me and write a letter to yourself.

 

If you could handwrite a letter to yourself right now, today, what would it say?

 

We send love notes, congratulations cards and words of encouragements to our friends and loved ones. We sign our notes to them with love and well wishes on birthdays and big occasions. Sending them nothing but the best and all the love, but what if we sent that to ourselves? Just because we need a reminder of all that we’re doing. That we need encouragement of all the things we want to do. That we need someone to tell us we’re OK,  that we’re working hard, that we are proud of them. That we are proud of us. Write to yourself like you would your dearest friend and pen pal. After you seal it we’ll hold onto your letter and mail it to you right when you need to receive it and probably when you don’t even realize it you need it. 


I would love it if you stopped by to see me this weekend and write to yourself about the weekend, about your life and about all the things on your mind and in your heart as you experience the festival and prepare to take all the moments home with you. Here is the link for more details and the full schedule. You’ll be able to schedule everything there including self care time with me.


Here’s to trying something new this weekend that maybe pushes you out of your comfort zone in a way you thought you couldn’t a year ago. I’ll be there doing the same right along beside you, grateful for the experience each and every moment along the way. This festival is for all of us- to bring wholeness and wellness to our lives and it can be scary. Remember a year ago I would have been scared to try. Feeling that it wasn’t for me. Looking for someone to reach out their hand saying, I see you, you belong here, let’s do this together. If you’re feeling this way too- send me a message on here so we can get you to experience the thing you don’t think you can do. You can.  You belong here. We all do. It’s worth it to try. Let’s do this together. 


The Ness Fest details HERE

Schedule self care time with me HERE 

 

Love, light & gratitude, 

Sarah  

 

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Sarah Polite
KEEPING IT REAL: Cleaning out my instagram feed

I laid in bed. I felt heavy. I was doing the social media scroll on instagram that takes up so much of my time. So much of our time. I went to an old friend’s profile. One I hadn’t spoken to in a year and one that hurt me deeply but one that I needed to always see what she was up to. Why did I always need to see what she was up to?

I knew what it was- just to know. Even if it hurt. A lot. My way of being connected to her even if it was toxic, depleting. But every day I did it. The curiosity would pull on me. It became a part of my routine.  Every morning- I’d wake up and grab my phone, open instagram and scroll through. Once I was done soaking up the vibes of others and feeling their influence even if I didn’t always want to feel it I would type in her name to my search bar. I didn’t follow her but I’d still look, and then watch her stories. Sometimes twice. My mood would feel heavy. My heart would too. Like a gray cloud over both. Almost to torture myself of a friendship that ended. I hoped she was happier now. From what I saw and what she put out there, her negativity remained. I felt it as she complained on video, in her car with a fun face filter. I watched and wondered what part I had in how she was feeling. Ultimately I knew it was less than I thought but in that moment it felt like all of it. I took it on.

I had to stop. I didn’t deserve this. 

So that next morning I woke up and did the same scroll I always did but this time after I watched her stories one more time feeling the weight she was giving me I did it.

I blocked her.

After I let her go and felt the relief I realized there are others that impact me just like her. Those that stir up things that aren’t always positive for me. Triggering thoughts and feelings. Those that weighed me down without even realizing they were. So I continued clearing my feed. Once I started I couldn’t stop which is normally how my constant instagram scroll starts and continues.

That morning in my bed though it was different. Instead of feeling heavy and weighed down from her and them like I normally did, mindlessly scrolling, painfully comparing I slowly unfollowed and muted all of people that made me feel anything other than worthy. No one should ever let us feel less than enough. I was lightening my load. The burden of all their BS that wasn’t mine to carry.  I was thoughtful and mindful as I continued to clean. And while I did it I realized that I have the control over my instagram feed and who I let into it. I’m trying to establish boundaries in my life and starting with social media is a great place to build some.

I can like people in real life and not like them on social media. A lot of it comes from learning  that many of us aren’t always the same people as we project online. It makes me really sad that so many aren’t their true selves across the board privately and publicly but that is their choice. My choice is how I let them into my life and affect me. So, I continued to clean.

The way we start our days set the tone for the rest of it. I challenged myself and changed my routine. Instead of waking up and grabbing my phone and doing a social media scroll, then checking email, I now lay there and think for a few minutes. Set an intention for the day.  Read a bit from a book I’m enjoying or write a few pages of thoughts fresh from my head into a journal beside my bed. I practice gratitude and make note of what I’m grateful for. These small acts are all good things. Things that make me happy and bring me peace. It starts the day in a calm, creative manner instead of filling it with other people’s lives and days and projections before I’ve even started mine. Some days it’s shifted my entire perspective, starting positively and with things that bring me joy.  Our time is precious. If we are spending time online it should count towards something,  to add to our day, to fill us up, not take away from it and tear us down.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

I want to be surrounded by the vibes I hope to put out into the world- good ones. I want to be inspired and inspire and so I did it. I cleaned out my feed just as I would clean out my closet this time of year. Instead of swapping out the short sleeves for sweaters I instead swapped out comparison to community. Connection. Inspiration. Freedom.

Raise your hand if you feel this way too and have people on social media that you always go to to see what they’re doing. Just to know. Even if you hate doing it. Even if you don’t like them that much. Maybe you love them but it’s still stresssful for you. To compare yourself to them. Even if you don’t want to. To feel like you’re missing out on their plans because you’re not there. Even if you’re happy with the plans you’re currently having or the plans you’re not having. The second guessing. The doubt. The FOMO (fear of missing out) instead of JOMO (Joy of missing out). Even if it hurts you. Being reminded of the things we don’t have instead of all the things we do have. The ones that stir up negativity you don’t want to feel....but you go, scroll and look anyway. 🙋🏻‍♀️🙋🏻‍♀️🙋🏻‍♀️🙋🏻‍♀️

I’m sending a loving challenge your way- Stop.

Stop doing that to yourself.

Stop going to their feed so often to see what they’re doing.

Stop going to their feed at all.

Mute them. Hide their stories. Whatever you need to do. They’re taking up valuable space in your head and in your heart. It’s hard. I felt guilty at first but I also know that feeling will pass instead of the lasting impact they have on my daily outcome. And guess what? Fun fact-If you mute them they’ll never know you did. Muting keeps it private. Unfollowing is also a powerful tool to clearing the way but they could know you did. If that matters to you if they know then it may cause more drama than the intention of it all. Honestly, I was so thankful for discovering this mute feature in a time where so many people I know track their followers and the unfollows they get. I know if I unfollowed certain people I would get a DM or text message asking why. That would be hard for me. This way you’ll never be asked or confronted for your choice. I never want you to be confronted for choosing you. And you can unmute them anytime- only if you want to.

You deserve to be inspired. Uplifted. Connected and a part of a community that supports you the way you support it. Anything less is not worth your screen time. Your head and heart time. Your soul time. As followers we are in control. We are responsible.

They say we are what we eat. I also say we are the content we consume. We are also the content we create. As creators we are also in control and also responsible. Being an “influencer” doesn’t speak to me but being a person of influence does. We all have that roll whether we have thousands of followers or none. Both online and in life -we influence.  So fill up fully with the goodness you deserve and put out intentional things. Speak words that don’t intentionally hurt yourself or others. Positivity radiates and so does negativity. Know that our intentions matter. Our actions matter. Our words matter.

Why are you posting what you post?

To show you’re doing something cool? Because someone else is doing it? To make someone jealous? To project you’re feeling better than you are? To try to be someone you don’t always feel like at home? Or to share your passion and creativity? To share your art, your music your writing? To share your story and your heart? To pass along a message that means something to you? To connect with other likeminded kind humans?  To help others?  To motivate? What are the reasons for you?

There’s a big difference in the first part of that list and the end of that list. Where are you located on it? Maybe you don’t realize where you fall.  Didn’t notice. Didn’t care. Don’t care. But I urge you to just check in with yourself when you can. Not with everyone else. Not determining the success of your instagram post with how many likes and shares you got but with how you felt about what you posted. The moment you felt when you took the photo and wrote the words and released it for others to experience. But with you and your why. Sit with it. See how you feel. I love to always check in with my heart and intention of why before I ever put anything out into the world. Sometimes I write and it takes me a while to give it to anyone else. I like to be certain. To be sure in my soul. Intentional and deliberate. Honest. Like today’s intention. To let you know how I’ve been feeling with social media in case you feel it too. To give permission if you need it. To make a safe space for you where you know you’re valued and heard and that you’re not alone in this world where instagram can connect us but also isolate us. To let you know what my heart has been feeling and to share my story so you can relate if it resonates. If it doesn’t may it give you to freedom to share something that is on your heart too. To know you’re not alone. I feel it too. We all do. To continue to slow down in this social media society where living in a social media society matters so much.

But so does our happiness. Our peace. Our confidence in ourselves without followers and likes and others to a validate what we’re doing even if we crave it, have become used to it, told by everyone else that’s how we should hold value and stock.

Once we change our feed to be full of people, places and businesses that bring us the good stuff our conversations about social media will change. Our perspective will change. We’ll spend less time gossiping about the feeds that bring us down, that make us doubt and we’ll talk about the good ones, the ones standing for something on the platform they’ve built to empower, educate, support and engage in a way that makes this world a better place.

They call it a platform for a reason. The definition of a platform is an opportunity to voice one’s views or initiate action. What does that look like for you?

 

Get cleaning. 

With lots of love & a lighter instagram feed,  

Sarah

 

P.S- Did you know that when you spend less time scrolling on social media and checking the profiles of people that stress you out and bring you down you’ll have more time to live life freely and unfiltered while not comparing yourself to strangers on the internet. 

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Sarah Polite
Note To Self

I sat down today to get organized. To write my to do list. It’s long. To set my intentions for the month. There’s a lot. Schedule myself for the weeks ahead. I’m busy. Write down ALL that I hoped to do, to accomplish. Be productive. Make the most of the day.

And as I started my list this came out instead.

So I kept writing and writing and writing these words until I didn’t need to feel them under my pen anymore. The rhythm of my writing as a reminder if I ever forget. Here’s to never forgetting. I stopped. My eyes full of tears and my pen out of ink.

My to do list can wait.

THIS list is the most important thing I’ll accomplish today. 💛

 

 

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Sarah Polite
So Sarah, what do you do??


This post is a year in the making. Something that has been stirring in my heart for a while.

A question I get often and every single time I meet someone new, which has happened a lot this year as I’ve moved to a new place surrounded by new people. I was even asked it last night. Surrounded by a group of new faces. Sitting around in silence waiting for the answer, asking because they didn’t know.

“What do you do?”

A simple question.

They ask me curiously, probably out of habit as a part of the introduction, but it stirs up so much more for me. It stirs up so much more than the quick answer they may expect back. The elevator pitch I don’t have prepared.

This question has become a part of our daily conversations and greeting when we introduce ourselves and for a long time I stumbled over answering it.

I remember when I first moved to Greenville, without a job it’s almost like every single Uber driver I rode with knew as they asked me about my career before I had even finished buckling my seatbelt. The question that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and felt like I had to answer it since I was in their backseat. I would close my eyes and cringe each time I heard the words from someone I didn’t know. For a while I tried to think of the one “thing” I did and what I was and how it would define me. Even before I moved here. Even when I had a job and food blog and all the things that made good answers to this question. So as I rode in the back seat because uneasiness was sitting in the passenger side I tried to get my elevator pitch across in my 4 minute car ride with a driver I may never see again. Why did I care so much what a stranger thought of me? Why do we care so much what strangers think of us?

One week specifically I remember I answered differently each time I was asked, to see what felt right and would eventually become my thing. For a woman who at the time didn’t have a job and had experienced a major life change I wasn’t giving myself much grace and was spending a lot of time trying to come across to people I don’t know like I was OK and doing something great. But guess what? I was OK and I was doing something great. I was living my truth and on my own journey even if it couldn’t be easily explained in a title and short explanation.

Then I started answering differently.

I stopped trying to define myself. The first time it happened I ran into my nice neighbor from my apartment building at a food event downtown. We didn’t know each other very well and had only met a couple of times with short hellos accompanying our run ins. He was with his wife that day and since we had a few more minutes together than usual when I went to go say hello he waved back at me and asked “So, Sarah, what do you do?”

And just as quickly as he asked it I answered. I told him why I didn’t resonate with that question and instead I was going to tell them what I was currently passionate about even if it wasn’t a job. I could tell at first he wasn’t expecting my response and I was worried I had upset him for not answering the question he had asked. My face was a little red from the rush of adrenaline I felt. From saying what had been bubbling up inside. For saying what I felt. Justice for all the people feeling what I was feeling, or just justice for myself.  I initially wanted to apologize after I spoke from my unemployed creative dreamer’s soap box, but didn’t. For going against the grain. I still didn’t. I owned that uncomfortable moment where I didn’t answer to just answer, box myself in and continue on. I wanted them to know what I was excited about and working on even if I wasn’t working full time. So I told them.

After that interaction the conversation started to change about this topic for me because I started changing the conversation I was

having about it.


We’re more than our jobs. So I started telling people what I was doing other than what my job was. Or lack of job, depending on which month this year I was asked the question.


How many of you have a full time job with a passion project on the side that you pour yourself into when the work day is done no matter how tired you are?

 

How many of you have a side hustle that brings you more joy than money it generates?


How many of you have a part time job so living life to the fullest can be your priority?


How many of you feel pressure to have the next step figured out?


How many of you have a full time career but you wish you had more time to pursue things that made you happy?


How many of you are unemployed for a circumstance that brings you stress to think about it?


How many of you are choosing to not work right now to press pause and reevaluate?


How many of you don’t know what you want to do next?

In certain seasons in my life I’ve been able to raise my hand to ALL of the above and the one thing I know for sure is the answer doesn’t get easier depending on the scenario I’m in.

Even when I had a career, a full time paycheck and health insurance it was hard to answer that question. I wasn’t always happy with my title. My job. My career path. There was a time I felt bad because of that. For having an opportunity a lot of people wanted and not being fulfilled by it. For having a passion project that brought me passion and wanting to spend more time doing it than the job I went to college for. For having a side hustle that brought no money but brought me joy. A job I was fired from brought me such shame when I was let go because they never told me why. When I decided to leave a steady income to go without one because I was seeking pause and perspective and the pursuit. When my passion project changed and so did my path. When I took two part time jobs at places I love to pay the bills so that living a full and healthy life I love could become my priority.

Sound familiar? Maybe a few or a lot of the above speak to you. Maybe contentment fills your heart with where you currently are. But no matter where we are on that path that question can sometimes can bring up all the things that we feel we aren’t instead of all of things we really are. We are so much more.

I was recently on a job interview and one of the men interviewing me joked about the dreaded “where do you see yourself in 5 years question” and said he wasn’t going to be asking me that but then proceeded to ask one very close to it.

He asked “What are your ultimate career goals?”

Pause.

He then mentioned passions I had previously discussed earlier in the interview like writing, yoga and health and wellness. He then asked if that is where I wanted to end up. Maybe one of those would be my ultimate career goal?

Still pausing.

My internal monologue started racing in the silence. I thought to myself - I don’t know why acting like I know where I’m going to end up has any impact on where I currently am. I also don’t want to just “end up” somewhere. I want to dance there, run there, glide there and float there. Twirling along the way. Laughing hopefully. But not just end up there.

There are lots of goals I have for myself so why did I have to pick just one? What if it changes? I hope it does change and I accomplish lots of them. Even ones I haven’t spoken about yet. It sounded so final. I don’t know what the future holds. So I paused some more when he asked it because I didn’t know. I wanted to do all the things I loved but not be defined by them. I paused when he asked it because I actually did know. I knew it was OK to not have the answer but I think the comfortable silence for me, uncomfortable  silence for him signaled doubt. Could he read my mind? He then quickly filled the quiet and followed up with “... or are you still just figuring it all out?”

You know what happened next.

“Aren’t we all?” I responded back. I was serious, but he laughed.

I didn’t take the job.

I had a wonderful reminder on thoughtful question asking with a woman named Barbara the other day. She sat with her outspoken husband next to me at my favorite coffee shop. I was writing in my journal which is where you can usually find me on my days off. We were both from the same town in Pennsylvania. How random and amazing is that. Or not random at all. Small world filled with big reminders. I knew I liked her and that my story would be safe with her.

She asked me about myself -not what I did but who I was and I told her. About my path to Greenville from NYC and my health and wellness journey.  How I work part at both my favorite coffee shop (where we were currently sitting) and also at my favorite taco shop. How in my free time I love to do yoga and ride my bike and write.

How I’m figuring it all out but love that I am.

That I’m grateful.

“My my,” she responded, “that’s a full life.”

I sat in silence and my eyes welled up with tears. I grasped my pen tighter, sipping my coffee as I responded, “it is.”

In a world moving so fast pushing us to climb the ladder and get that next title, promotion, raise, and prestigious award, please, go at whatever pace you need to. Your own pace. Even if you need to pause some days and crawl the other days. You’re on your way.  It’s OK to go at your own speed and not run after others just because they’re running.

In a world where we need to always seem like we have to have it figured out it’s OK not to. I have a secret: no one really does fully we all just act like we do. Especially on social media.

In a world telling us we should be making more money, doing a job because it makes you happy and brings you joy and where you feel like you’re making a difference is rewarding too and brings in a different kind of abundance even if it’s not in our bank account.

In a world always trying to make us be someone better and more successful than we already are, be yourself.

There’s only one you. There’s only one me. That’s our power.

That’s our gift.

The more I share my story and my words and respond to this question how I want to instead of how I think I should I realize that the journey I’m on is bigger than an elevator pitch and that living my life just as I am is better than anything I could ever put on my resume.

💛Sarah




 

 

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Sarah Polite
To the one who said I couldn’t ...

Doubt. It sometimes creeps in and sticks around for a while. Like when you’re making a cup of cozy tea and manage to get honey on your fingers as you’re trying to sweeten it. Then the bottle gets sticky. The counter. Your clothes. The more you try to wipe it away the stickier it gets until you finally wash it off but it still feels like there’s a little bit left - a reminder. That’s what doubt is like for me and for a long time -I was stuck.

I remember back to my early days working in daytime television I had a producer have me write her scripts for her. She thought she was giving me the valuable career experience I needed as an aspiring producer and instead she was giving me years and years of self doubt. I would submit these scripts after working really hard on them and shortly after proudly putting them in the shared folder where they lived for everyone to see I’d get a call to come into her office.

My heart raced.

I went.

She had the scripts printed. She had scribbled all over them. Scribbled in red pen. Scribbled in red pen all the things that were wrong with my writing, my words, my grammar... my story...

Me.

She told me how stupid I was. How I couldn’t write and that I would never be able to write a proper script. Red pen. Red like my face as I headed back to my desk. Red like my face every time I thought about her for years after. And guess what? For a very long time I believed her. The words stopped coming because I was scared of what she would think. When I started worrying about what she thought I worried about what everyone else thought.  I became hesitant and didn’t consider myself a good writer or even a writer at all . That title scares me still. All titles do.

After that experience I wanted to protect myself, never feel that level of shame again for my work, for being me. I didn’t believe I would be able to become a TV producer like I had dreamed because I couldn’t write scripts or tell stories. My next job didn’t require me to so I stopped pursuing that path and writing all together. I was fearful. I would have someone proofread anything and everything I was writing even an important email over and over and over again. I would rather it be edited, changed and read less as me and more as “correct” than actually get my point across, my message, my story.

The doubt remained.

Sticky like that bottle of honey.

I still believed her. But now - I don’t. Not anymore. Never again. Through my posts on here and Instagram I’m thankful that I’ve found my voice even if my grammar isn’t perfect and my voice sometimes shakes. I used to feel like I had to hide that. Hide the uncertainty, the shakiness, and how I was feeling. Shove it down and be OK, continue on with the grind and push through. Take her abuse without showing her and everyone else it was affecting me. Well it did affect me for a long time in an unhealthy way until I used her negativity to fuel positive change. Positive words and more of them.  To talk about it all - honestly and vulnerably. The shift started as I was posting about food and events in NYC and important moments and life experiences started happening that I wanted to share. In a new way, through my point of view.  So I did.  I started sharing less food pics with short quirky food puns and started sharing my heart. Deeply. Word by word. Because I felt moved to share my story. So I continued to share and share some more. 

Every time I write I think about how I was told I couldn’t. But I can. So I will. 

I’m sure you find spelling errors in my posts all the time and even this post but it’s OK- I write because it brings me joy and when I write I write so you feel like you’re hearing me tell it to you. Directly. Like we’re sharing a cup of coffee at The Village Grind and talking the deep stuff, run on sentences and extra exclamation points. The words flow now. No red pens in sight.

But just as doubt lingers it can disappear.

I put myself and my writing out there in a new way this week.

The idea of it was scary at first because of my old stories aurrounding it but I knew I was ready. I AM READY. So I submitted something to somewhere that would mean a lot to me if my words made it in there. I wrote from my heart about someone I love doing something really important for my community. And I told his story. I treated it as if I were writing to all of you on here because I am and always will be and then... I hit send on the email. I didn’t even have someone else edit it for me before submitting it. Those words were mine as well as any potential spelling errors in there too. And I was proud of them- all of them. Of me. My eyes welled up with tears the minute I sent it. In that moment it didn’t matter to me the feedback I received on the other end. The editing or suggestions. The changes. If it gets published or not. I was doing the thing I was told I couldn’t do, that I would never do and that makes this the happiest ending to my story. 

Actually, this is just the beginning.

I can’t wait to write more.

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Sarah Polite
I took a trip to L.A. and I didn’t post about it on social media


What did I do instead? Enjoyed every moment of it.  What?!  Don’t worry It’s OK, I’m OK, I had a wonderful time, I promise. Even if I didn’t Instagram it. I was present. Mindful. Inspired. Connected. Here’s how: 

 

I met new friends who originally inspired me on the internet and we got together in real life without documenting it. The conversations were so much more powerful because I was fully invested in talking to them and not sharing and saying what we were talking about as it was happening. I wrote about each conversation and what they meant to me. In my journal. Words that they made me feel. So I could remember the feelings long after my time with them ended.

Intentional connection is beautiful and there is something almost sacred about keeping it between the people involved in that special moment. I’m cherishing those talks now and taking the wisdom from them and sharing them in my life when inspired to. There are three separate women specifically who I feel have already changed my life just by being in it and the conversations we shared. I won’t be tagging them in an Instagram post because they know who they are and I’m so thankful to say they’re my friends now in addition to being the very talented, inspiring people I follow on Instagram.

 

I saw an old friend from another coast and another part of my life that seems like both a lifetime ago and yesterday all at the same time. We celebrated where we both are on the journey currently while I kept my phone in my purse. We ate amazing vegan food in the candlelight at a popular new restaurant that was so good you wouldn’t believe there wasn’t cheese in it and we laughed and talked about deep things and our hopes and goals. In that other life when we knew each other I would have needed to document that vegan Mac and cheese. But guess what? It didn’t make it any less delicious not to this time. It made it more special. We then walked down the street to a tree full of chandeliers and there was such a magic in the air I knew a photo wouldn’t do it justice so I closed  my eyes really tight, holding onto his arm, pressing pause and also holding onto the way the air felt on my skin and how full and happy I felt from way more than just the food and drink.

 

I attended a writing workshop and sat in a room full of strangers that didn’t know me by my Instagram handle. They listened to my story and got to know me as Sarah. I sat there soaking it all in and taped the two hour workshop on my phone while I listened deeply to every word she spoke, sometimes even with my eyes closed. If I was intently  focused on my insta stories and typing out what was being said in the moment it was being said I know I would have missed what was being said in the moment. I scribbled notes along the way. A souvenir I’ll cherish.

 

I wrote every day. Messy and scribbled in my journal and most pages and thoughts left unfinished. I’m not worried that I didn’t finish what I started writing but celebrating that I wrote every day. Most of the words I wrote while there still haven’t seen the light of day yet and maybe they won’t, but to make time for writing daily, no matter what the outcome was liberating and has become something I’ve been really focusing on. The joy of the process of it all and I’ve been scribbling messy thoughts and notes down every day since. 

 

These are just a few of the mindful moments I felt while on the West Coast. In the moment I kept them to myself which at the time felt so needed. I always love to bring you along in what matters to me but I honored the deep feeling this time that I needed to fill up my cup so that I can continue to share with you in other ways. There will be a lot of other ways. Old and new ones. Through my writing exercises I practiced, new experiences and new perspectives gained and the inspiration I found while there in all the things and people that impacted me. Especially in the lessons I learned and the encouragement I received. It all lives on after the stories fade from our timeline after 24 hours and the trip comes to an end. It feels like this trip is the beginning... 

 

To experience life without showing it constantly is really hard in today’s social media society but it’s possible. And beautiful to do. I’m learning to navigate life both online and offline. Currently it seems I’m spending more time offline and that has been an important lesson in living in the present. It’s been soul shaking to pause and reflect and pursue that. What really matters. How to connect deeply with others without the screen between us even if the screen brought us together in the first place, especially if the screen brought us together in the first place. It’s worth pursuing and I want to give both myself and you permission to do that when we need it.

 

Here’s to living fully without always showing we are but when we do show it to show it with heart, truth and intention. ❤️

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Sarah Polite
Where everybody knows your name

A part of my heart will remain in this corner, this space at 1263 Pendleton even after The Village Grind moves across the street after today. If you’ve been there even only once, then yours will too.

The sweet smell of lavender mochas and morning buns, Sunday donuts and the unforgettable fragrance of brunch burgers next door through the shared space. The window where the light pours in. Where the rain hits the glass. Where the people pass, walking by waving and smiling. I smile back. I see them. They see me. The sound of the coffee grinder whirring occasionally but always at the exact moment when he tries to tell me something. We laugh every time it happens. I love those moments. Where so many words have been written. Where so many stories have started and been told. Where I’ve spent full days on the corner sofa talking with friends old and new instead of doing anything else. You’ve maybe been one of those friends. Entire days. It’s worth it. Always worth it. And I always leave more inspired than when I arrived. Always. My friends behind the counter that have become my friends in front of the counter. The connections, conversations and constant company Lindsey & co. have cultivated here.

It will continue. Like an inspiring conversation that remains after you’ve left it. Like a warm hug that keeps you comforted after it ends, these feelings continue after The Grind closes at 4pm and we’ve all gone home. After this original, special, one of a kind place transforms into the new, special one of a kind place - it all remains. Honoring the old and looking forward to the new- can’t wait to settle into my new window seat across the way on Wednesday.

 

 

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Sarah Polite
Slowing down in a social media world

 

I’m feeling moved lately to change my pace. 

To disconnect to reconnect. To put the phone down more. Here are a few things I’ve been practicing recently in this pursuit:

Writing less on my laptop and picking up a pen and paper in it’s place. Writing throughout the day and scribbling in my journal, taking notes, drafting things to come. Even if it’s messy. Especially if it is. It takes more thought this way. I like that. It connects me to the page and what I want to say and how I’m feeling. I feel it deeper.

 

Wearing a watch so I don’t keep checking the screen for the time. Because when I do I see the notifications and always go online. Always. Hearing the tick of the second hand click click click around grounds me. 

 

Carrying a camera . Even if it’s big. No matter how the photos turn out. Taking them for fun, not for perfection. They can’t be filtered. Snapping a shot and putting it away. Not 10 takes. Putting them in an album. Even the bad ones. They still make me smile. There is something so intentional about shooting with film. I want to do more or that. Not knowing how it turns out until it does- just like life.

 

Writing in a day planner instead of using my calendar in my phone. Plans resonate more with me when written down instead of typed into the screen. They feel more special.

 

Writing postcards to friends on my trip. Telling them the stories and thoughts I would normally text them. Thinking of them feels a little deeper when I don’t always tell them I am and writing it down and sending it to them across the country means something even if it’s slower.

Pausing for joy in the moments and not always posting that joy in the moment. 

Connecting more with humans in real life without documenting I am. Taking the connections I’ve had through this amazing platform and taking them to real life and to coffee shops to have continued conversations.  Looking them in their eyes. Deeper. More intention. Mindfulness. Awareness. Getting back to basics. To feeling without it always having to happen through my screen. To scribbling messy, handwritten notes in my beautiful journal that turn into posts like this one. 🧡

 

 

 

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Sarah Polite
THIS IS A BEACH BODY.

The subject of the email read “GET BEACH BODY READY” and the body of the email guaranteed us a bikini bod by summer if we signed up for a membership. Well, summer is here and so is my response to them: THIS is a bikini bod. EVERYBODY in EVERY BODY already has a beach body. Just. As. We. Are. 👙💜

 

 

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Sarah Polite
L E T G O

 

A lot of things come up for me on my mat in yoga but this mantra has been a daily one.

LET GO.

Let go of what no longer serves you. Take what you need, release the rest.  It’s so easy to hold onto it ALL. The good, the bad and everything in between. A hoarder of emotions. A heavy, cluttered heart that needs a spring cleaning AND a garage sale. I’ve been there. I needed that garage sale. Badly. But then I started cleaning out and releasing what brought me shame, sadness and made me feel less than. What no longer served me and my happiness even though it was easier to carry weight than to let it go. Emotional eating was that for me. And over the last few months I did, I let it go. It didn’t bring me the good I deserved. In the moment it brought comfort but then it brought shame. It still creeps up occasionally like an itch that needs to be scratched, but I don’t scratch it. I resist the temptation to rekindle my relationship with the habit that met me nightly, but the release and letting go created a void. It was a part of me for so long it left a spot open. Wide. And I noticed wanting to fill it with other things. So every time I’m reminded to LET GO I ask “what no longer serves me?” These are 2 things that I’m releasing for the month of June to see what comes from it as they currently don’t. 1)Alcohol: I’m a social drinker. Casual & fun. A round of shots for everyone! So much fun in the moment so much shame the next day. The texts to friends asking for reassurance on my behavior and beating myself up for not stopping at a point where I don’t feel out of control. Not wanting to lose control and be present in my life. So- this month I release it. 2)Mindless shopping: Buying extra stuff, just because. Strolling the aisles and not thinking as I put things in my cart. Excess. Quantity over quality. Retail therapy. The shame I feel at the register at the total amount that I may not always have. The continued shame as I head home and realize I don’t need the things I purchased. I have all I need. This month- I release it. 

Here’s to what serves us. What brings us joy and roots us in happiness, mindfulness and gratitude. May we find more of that by letting go.

 

 

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Sarah Polite
Stand in your truth

 

 

{Stand in your truth even though you’re scared. Speak your truth even if your voice shakes. Live your truth no matter what anyone else thinks.}

A year ago I quit my job in TV- the one I’d been at for 9 years in a career I’d been in for 14 because of a dream that I’d had for as long as I can remember. I didn’t leave for another show, promotion or raise. I left to come here. For change. In search of a better quality of life. Hoping for health, happiness and simply because I felt like I needed to be here. And so I came. Without my next big career move in place or even a paycheck. The hustle and grind suddenly stopped after hustling and grinding for so long. To do that-to walk away without the next thing lined up maybe didn’t make sense to most, but it felt right to me. Reckless to some, rewarding to me. For so long I made decisions out of fear, and after some hard work I stopped. It was exhausting- the fear. I started listening to my feelings instead. It was freeing-to feel. To do what was right for my heart and soul not what I thought others needed or what looked good. To do what I deserved. Not making decisions for worry of disappointment.

Truth is always there. Even when fear wants to cover it up, and we forget about it, truth remains, asking to be set free even if it’s quiet at first. And so I did. I set it free. When the day came to speak the words that had been there for some time - they flowed. You know those conversations you think of all the ways they could play out?  The ones that scare you? This was one of those. But as I said the words “I’m leaving” I actually smiled as I said them. It was effortless and easy - Just like me in that moment. Should it have been harder? No. Because - it was my truth and I was just speaking it.

Once the words came out and I started digging them out from the dirt and fear that were covering it, smothering it for so long, it got easier to continue. At first my voice was a whisper and then it shook. I continued speaking. My truth started to grow from deep below. And as I continued to share it and speak it, the stronger and stronger, louder and louder my voice got, my truth got until it became the only thing I’ve spoken since.

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Sarah Polite
A lesson on loneliness

Q: What is the lesson of a lonely heart?

 A question I’ve asked myself a lot lately and had trouble finding the answer. June was a lonely month. June was also an amazing, inspired month full of so many moments of joy. So many. But now that it’s July and the cloud that occasionally hovered above me the month before has lifted I’ve been reflecting on what made it appear in the first place. As I did I had a major realization. At first I just thought- I’m single so that’s why I’m lonely. Makes total sense. Still does, except that wasn’t it.

The last few months I removed a really good friend from my life. Emotional eating was pretty much my BFF. Sure, this friend wasn’t good for me, sometimes we have friends that aren’t. But they were always there in the moments I needed them. For as long as I can remember. They made me feel better. Until they didn’t. And then I needed to say goodbye. Once I parted ways with emotional eating I noticed I wanted to fill the void it left with other things, new “friends”. But I was aware and decided I’m not filling voids with things or people. So I took a break and removed them as well. Gone. That quickly left a lot of wide open spaces wide open that I used to pack in and fill up. And I felt it, deeply. Cracked open. Feeling. Lonely. Missing the ways I used to feel better instead of feel deeper. 

As I was thinking about all that I’ve removed the last couple months I started thinking about all that I’ve added. Why do I have to fill the void with things that hurt me. That numb me. Why can’t I fill the open spaces with LOVE AND ABUNDANCE. More love and abundance than what’s already there. So much that I’m overflowing with it. So I decided to let it in. As much as would fit and then add a little more. As that gray cloud lifted I found my answer to the question I was seeking. 

A: I AM ENOUGH. Without the emotional eating. Just as I am, where I am. With all my feelings, baggage, messy stuff that makes me me. With all the beautiful stuff too. The love and abundance I’m choosing. Without distractions. Without another person. ENOUGH. Just me, wide open, all of me.

🦋 That was the lesson.

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Sarah Polite