Chasing After Happiness.

“Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will evade you, but if you notice the other things around you, it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.”― Henry David Thoreau

 

We’ve all been on the journey of chasing happiness in one way or another. Some of us think we will find it in our careers, our family or by becoming famous. We are constantly searching for that missing piece, the thing that will make us truly happy.

However, the more we search for it the further away it seems. It’s a never-ending game of catch-me-if-you-can. While we’re going after that “happiness” we so desperately seek we often forget to appreciate the present, the very moments we’re given.

We forget to be thankful that we have a job, a family, a home, a warm bed and food on the table. We take so many of life’s blessings for granted because we’re always looking for the next best thing.

I, myself, am guilty of this. It seems that most of my adult life has been overshadowed by this daunting task of finding happiness, of achieving perfection. That’s no way to live.

Even if we achieve our dreams, the joy of that moment is fleeting, and before long we’re looking for the next thing that will fill the void.

What if instead of searching for happiness we focused on our blessings? What if we used all that time and energy to improve ourselves and to live our lives?

The funny thing I’ve learned about happiness is that we could search for a lifetime and not find it because happiness is not out there in the world. True happiness comes from within.

 

Chasing after happiness
Trying to find some peace
Trying to find something
To put my mind at ease
I’ve searched and wandered far and wide
Tracking every lead
But by the time I get there
Joy’s eluded me
I crawl back to the darkness
And make another plan
I really need to find it
For this dark I cannot stand
I try again, I search for light
But all that I can find
Is disappointing misery
That fills my wounded mind
As days go by and time drags on
I continue on my quest
The never-ending, daunting task
Of finding happiness
I’m weak and worn and at my end
I’ve got no more to give
I guess this dark and sadness
Is how I’m meant to live
But as I lay my head to rest
I slip into a dream
I find what I’ve been looking for
The light it starts to beam
And suddenly I see…
It was always inside of me.

 

I wrote this poem thinking about my own journey chasing happiness. I hope you all know that no matter what’s going on in your life, we are all in charge of our own happiness. We just have to find it within ourselves and let it shine.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋

I Didn’t Think It Would Be This Way.

“One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in life. And with that, she realized the only control she had was how she chose to handle them. So, she made the decision to survive using courage, humor and grace. She was the Queen of her own life and the choice was hers.” – Kathy Kinney

 

I didn’t think it’d be this way. I never thought life could get so messy, so confusing, so out of control. I’d done everything in my power to live the “perfect” life. I’d gone to school, gotten straight A’s, participated in activities, went to church and tried to be a good human.

Yet it never felt like enough.

I thought all of my good deeds and careful choices would spare me of the heartache and pain that seemed to fill this ugly world. I thought my kind heart and gentle soul could keep me from sorrow, but I was wrong.

I didn’t think it’d be this way. I never thought I’d lose my best friend at such a tender age or experience a gut wrenching break up with an ex that would leave me feeling paralyzed. However, I intimately learned the saying “love hurts.”

I never thought I’d hang out with the wrong crowd or do things behind my parents’ backs like some typical rebellious teen. I thought I was better than that. Yet I partied and made bad decisions sometimes for no good reason at all.

I never thought I’d struggle so heavily with anxiety and depression as a teenager. I didn’t think I’d battle with self confidence or self love either. On the outside I appeared so confident, so in control, but on the inside I was drowning.

I could’ve never imagined the struggles I’d face in college. The sleepless nights, the drunken disagreements and feeling like I might not make it through nursing school. I remember asking myself what the hell I was doing putting myself in these risky predicaments…

Yet I could never bear to hear the truthful answer to those questions.

I never thought I’d be so cruel to myself. I truly was my own worst enemy. I never thought I’d look in the mirror and be hateful to the reflection staring back at me. Despite all the good things I’d done in the world, I was never good enough in my own mind.

I never knew I’d be single into my latter 20’s. I figured I’d follow the pattern of my hometown and be married with children by 24 years old. I thought I’d grow old in my tiny Texas town and never leave. I thought that was the only life I could live.

I never knew I’d be given such opportunities by simply moving away from home. I didn’t know I would find so much happiness in recreating myself…new town, new me. I had never realized just how claustrophobic I felt in that place.

I never realized realize how much I missed out on by giving in to my fears. I was terrified to start over away from my family, and with this fear came tons of missed opportunities. I’d never comprehended how much my wings were bound until I broke away and flew.

I didn’t think life would be this way. I never thought I’d have moments of complete emptiness, moments when breathing seemed like an unimaginable task. I didn’t know that anxiety would be something I’d deal with my entire life, a problem that I could never permanently fix.

I didn’t think it would be this way. I thought I could get through life without ever losing a family member. I thought they’d all meet my future spouse, attend my wedding, and hold my future children while we shared stories around the table…and then my Grandpa passed away.

Yet another dream crushed.

I never thought I’d experience the rollercoaster effect of feeling so lonely while also feeling happiness. I never thought it was possible to find joy in the pain and light in the sorrow. I never thought I’d be one to feel weak and alone.

While I didn’t think life would be this way, I’m extremely pleased and grateful at how my life has played out. While I didn’t understand the struggles and grief in the past, I’m beginning to understand them now.

I now see that through pain and heartache comes growth. I realize that losing someone makes you hold onto others a little tighter. It forces you to realize the amazing people you have in your life and reminds you to never take them for granted.

Through heartache we learn to love again. We find that our heart can repair itself and become even stronger than before. We may put up a wall, but it allows us to see who is willing to break it down to be in our lives. It teaches us that our hearts are indestructible.

While I didn’t think life would be this way, each and every experience has made me who I am today. Each trail and tribulation has shaped me into the kind yet wise soul that I am now. While I still try to find the best in others, I’m no longer naive to those who try to hurt me.

I’m stronger than ever before, full of scars but also full of wisdom.

Life really does have a funny way of working out. While things that try to break us may hurt like hell in the moment, their meaning ultimately comes full circle in God’s timing. We don’t understand the pain we initially feel, but later on we often see its purpose.

And while I didn’t think life would be this way, I’m forever grateful for this crazy life I’ve been given. I’m truly thankful for every high and every low, every victory and every defeat. Now I know that although life’s struggles might knock me down, they will not keep me there.

Our lives are our own, and the choice is always ours. Will you choose to dwell on your shortcomings and grieve what you thought life would be, or will you choose to rise each morning with a grateful heart and a fierce perseverance? The choice is ultimately yours…

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

The Unfortunate Ones.

“It’s time to distance yourself from the people who let you down, the inconsistent ones. it’s time to start loving yourself.” – Billy Chapata

 
I hate to tell you this, but you are the unfortunate ones. If you play any part in my life, I must apologize in advance. I apologize for the person you will be dealing with, the person who has changed so much over the last few years.

I apologize because you will no longer see the weak and innocent soul that once consumed this body, the girl who would do anything for anyone without a second thought.

Now, I’m not saying this generosity has been permanently removed from my DNA. I’m merely no longer naive to the ulterior motives that now seem to drive the human race. I no longer turn a blind eye to the harshness and cruelty in the world.

There was a point in my life where I would turn away from things that broke my soul…child abuse, animal torture, violence, broken hearts, etc. Yet, I discovered that those terrible things happen whether I like it or not.

Leaning to accept this uncomfortable fact allowed me to accept many things about myself as well. I learned to stop making excuses for people who hurt me time and time again. I learned to cut people out of my life that wanted to use me for what I had to offer.

Ultimately, I learned to accept the fact that the world is a cruel place filled with a human population that is overrun with sin, abuse, manipulation and negativity. I hated giving in to this reality, but as I looked back on my life I realized it too was full of unpleasant moments and memories.

Upon this realization I decided to make multiple changes in my life. I started cutting out those who had done me wrong (on numerous occasions). I started separating myself from things that didn’t bring me joy or positivity. I ran from people and things that caused me heartache.

Now, I am by no means a perfect person (I’m far from it to be honest), but I try to live a positive life by being the best person I can be. I pride myself on being a Nurse and Humanitarian, giving back to those who need it most. I try my hardest to make a positive impact in the world.

Yet, I’ve found too often that many people seem to only be looking out for themselves. Their selfish nature not only feeds their ego, but it causes them to hurt others emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically.

I’m grateful to have never experienced the latter, but mental and emotional trauma can sometimes be just as damaging.

Going back to the beginning, I must say “sorry” to everyone in my life. Unfortunately from now on you will have the realistic me, the one who doesn’t fantasize about fairytale happy endings and white picket fences.

You no longer have the girl who is willing to give and give and give with nothing in return, to be trampled on without saying a word. There is no longer a quiet soul who finds an excuse for every bad thing that happens in life. Screw that.

There will always be good and bad people in this world. There will always be heartbreak, cruelty, disappointments and sadness. I’m completely aware of this. However, in this day and age we are able to decide what kind of life we want to live.

We are in control of our own destinies, living in a world full of endless possibility. We have the freedom to move to a new city, start a new job, create our own company and include people who truly matter to us in our lives. We are no longer pinned down by our pasts or backgrounds.

In 2017, we are able to be whoever we want to be, to create a fulfilling life full of love and happiness. We are able to choose our friends, our spouse and ultimately our futures. Unfortunately, so many people will never take advantage of this fact.

I, however, will take full advantage of my choices from now on. I will be extremely selective about who is allowed in my inner circle. I will keep the thick walls up around my heart until I find the right one who is willing to patiently break them down.

I will look for people who have similar goals and aspirations, who long to make the world a better place. I will cut people out of my life without remorse if they continue to do me wrong. I’m not playing games anymore, and neither should you.

This world is full of people (7,500,000,000 to be exact) so why let a mere few take away your joy? Why let one pesky person bring you down? If someone doesn’t love you for who you are then let them go. If someone can’t understand or accept your anxiety or issues then say goodbye.

Gone are the days of compromising ourselves for those who don’t care and the times of giving ourselves to others who won’t do the same in return. We all deserve love, understanding, happiness and a fulfilling life so why let others hold us back from that?

So again, I say “sorry” to the unfortunate ones, the ones who have recently come into my life or those who have stuck by me since day one. My core values remain unchanged, but my mind has a whole new outlook.

There is heartache from the past, but the future seems so bright. I’ll no longer simply allow things to happen to me. I understand that we cannot predict the future, but I’ll now control the impact I allow those events to have in my life…and I hope you’ll do the same.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

Always Remember.

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” – Cesare Pavese

 

Some days you’re going to feel like giving up, like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. You’ll feel like that weight is crushing you and that you no longer have the strength to stand tall.

You’ll have moments where you doubt every single decision you make, constantly wondering if you made the right choice. You’ll doubt your self-worth, abilities and who you are as a person.

No matter how great life is going there will always be moments of darkness, moments when the storm seems like it’ll never pass. The winds will howl, the rain will beat down and you’ll begin to wonder, “Why me?”

You’ll have days when you view the world as a blank canvas full of opportunities. You’ll set out for adventures and begin to learn that this enormous planet is full of more beauty than you ever imagined.

You’ll find a refreshing sense of peace while escaping the every day routine of life. You’ll explore places you’ve only read about in books, and while you’re gone you’ll feel on top of the world. Yet, when you return you may feel a sense of sadness, for the joy of adventure has faded and the mundane routine has returned.

You may fall in love, a love that turns your world into rainbows and sunshine. Eventually, however, you may find that love can quickly turn to heartbreak, and that pain may flip your world upside down.

You may start to once again doubt yourself. You may question why you were even put on this Earth if only to experience heartache and pain. You may question your relationship with God, wondering why He chose you to walk such a tough path.

You may lose a friend or loved one tragically and begin to question life itself. You may feel like you’ll never be able to overcome the grief and pain you feel. Death is such a permanent thing, and you’ll never know why they had to leave.

In this life, you’ll undoubtably experience heartache and happiness. You’ll have moments of debilitating weakness and tremendous strength. At moments, you’ll question the purpose of life, but other times you’ll admire its unfailing beauty.

There will be times when you may cry yourself to sleep, unsure of what the future holds and anxious about the times ahead. There will be moments of unexplainable joy, happiness and accomplishments. Life may start to feel like a rollercoaster of emotions with alternating highs and lows.

Yet in those moments of doubt, fear and pain I hope you always remember this…

Always remember that your mistakes do not define you, and your past does not dictate your future. Remember that in times of struggle you are never alone and that the pain won’t last forever.

When you’re feeling broken, wounded and unsure remember to reach out to those around you. Look for guidance and reassurance from those who love you most. Never stop relying on your friends and family because they will help you through even the toughest of times.

Remember to cherish your time with loved ones because nothing is guaranteed. Tell them and show them how much you love them. We never realize how much someone means until they’re gone, and regret is a horrible thing to live with.

Always remember that this life is what you make it. If you don’t like how your life is you ALWAYS have the capability to change it. Change is scary but so is living an unfulfilled life. Don’t wait until it’s too late to live the life you deserve.

Always remember to give love another chance. Our hearts have this amazing way of healing themselves even after they’ve been torn to shreds. Don’t let the wrong person from your past defer you from the right person in your present. Give love a second chance.

Remember to guard your heart, for from it everything flows. Be willing to allow someone to break down the walls you built from previous heartache, but don’t give your love too freely. The right person will be patient and willing to remove the bricks one by one.

Always remember to learn from your mistakes and to take a leap of faith. Nothing good comes from playing it safe. Even if you fail, you tried…and in the end that’s what matters. If you fall, always get back up. Nothing in this world can keep us down unless we let it.

Always remember to put yourself first. It may seem selfish, but you should always be your first priority. You deserve the love and attention you so freely give. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others. You can’t pour from an empty glass.

When anxiety begins to consume you and the darkness closes in, always remember to fight. You deserve to be here, to take up space on this Earth. If you have trouble staying strong for yourself, remember those who love you. They need you more than you know.

Always remember to allow room for change. You may not see the purpose in it right away, but God has a much bigger plan for our lives than we can even imagine. Sometimes change leads us to the things we always wanted but were too afraid to try.

Always remember to chase your dreams. Nothing in this world is impossible, it’s all about mind over matter. If you really want something you will make it happen. Even if it takes a while, continue to fight for your goals. With fierce determination comes success.

Remember to do what you can to help others because you never know when the roles may be reversed. This world is full of people seeking love, acceptance and support…be the person willing to freely give those things. The small act of giving goes such a long way.

Lastly, always remember to be yourself. There is only one of you in the world, and that is your super power. We were each put on this Earth for a reason so never stop searching for your purpose. Make your mark on the world, and it may just leave an everlasting impression on others.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

Residual Feelings. 

“I plant roots so deeply in the people I love that I always lose a piece of myself when they go.” – Beau Taplin

Residual feelings…those pesky little pieces of the ones we loved that are left inside of us after they break our hearts. You’d think someone completely ripping your heart out and stomping on it would be enough to get rid of any feelings you once felt for them, but unfortunately that’s not how we humans operate.

No matter what kind of messy breakup we go through or how hurt we’ve been, we’ll always have that tiny, microscopic part of us that cares…even though we probably won’t admit it.

We like to pretend that once a relationship is over we can just move on without a second thought. We go out with our friends, throw ourselves on a dating app and search for the next one, all the while pretending that we no longer care.

Sure we may think we’re fooling our family or friends with the masks we put on each morning, the ones that make the world think we’re totally fine, but we’re so wrong. People, especially those close to us, recognize this behavior and know that it’s all just an act.

Why do we try to pretend like we’re indestructible, like our feelings are made of stone? We put all this pressure on ourselves to immediately get over the gut-wrenching pain we feel. We punish ourselves for having emotions, for feeling the loss of someone we thought we had a future with. Why?

What we often don’t tell ourselves is that it is okay to cry, to lash out, to feel pain. It’s okay to scream into our pillows or burn pictures of memories we once cherished. It’s okay to to be vulnerable, lost and sad.

Some days we may lay on the bedroom floor, unable to move or think. We may live on auto-pilot for a while or even cut ourselves off from the world. We may wallow in self-pity and overanalyze the situation, wondering what went wrong and how we failed.

However, eventually the days begin to turn into weeks, and it starts getting a little more tolerable to wake up each morning. It get’s a little easier to climb out of bed and face the world, if only for a few hours. We start to remember how we were before our world came tumbling down, before our lives were completely shaken.

After a while, the weeks become months, and we turn off our auto-pilot mode. We start to reach out to family and friends, the ones we cut off during that devastating time. We begin to genuinely smile and venture out of our cave that we kept ourselves in.

We begin to see that the sun still shines and that, while time seemed to be standing still the past few months, the world has kept on moving. We start to feel hopeful and optimistic about life, and we realize that we now have a chance to start brand new.

At some point, maybe months or even years, we find the walls around our heart starting to slowly come down. We feel the ice start to melt from our wounded soul, and we notice the pieces have magically been put back together. We find that our heartbreak was only temporary, and the pain we once felt so deeply has slowly faded.

In this process we learn to heal, we learn that not even the toughest heartaches can break us. We feel empowered, invincible and ready to take on the world. If we can get through this, nothing can stand in our way.

And then one day we meet someone new. We start to have feelings we weren’t sure we’d ever experience again. Those butterflies that were dead and gone have suddenly reappeared. After years of being dormant, our cheeks become flushed and our hearts begin to race.

We start the process of falling in love all over again, but this time is different. This time we know the signs to look for, we know what we deserve and what we will and will not tolerate. We know our worth and that our happiness is a priority. No more putting our needs on the back burner for someone else. This is our chance to get it right.

Throughout the process of exploring new love, we think about the heartache we encountered last time. We think about that person that once made us so happy yet broke us at the same time. We begin to feel things that we’d buried deep inside, things that we thought we were over.

We once again start to punish ourselves for having residual feelings, but the truth is those feelings are completely normal. When we truly love someone, a piece of them stays with us forever. At some point in our lives we’d put our hearts and souls into another. Love that deep never fully goes away.

Honestly, residual feelings can be a good thing. Through all the tears and hurt and devastation, we learned a lesson. We learned that we can fully love another. We learned our self worth and how resilient we truly are. We learned that we’re human and that even the strongest people break down.

This is all part of the process, even the lingering feelings. We must first grieve before we can ever even think of moving on, and even after moving on we can’t expect ourselves to act like it never happened. It did happen. The smiles, the tears, the happiness, the pain…it was all real.

As time goes by, the memories and pain fade into the distance. They become a mere blur of the past, and we learn to move forward in life. We learn to love again. We learn to forgive ourselves and others for the pain we’ve endured. We start to accept that those leftover feelings are okay, that we’re allowed to have them.

And in this moment of acceptance, we are truly freed from the pain and heartache of the past. Our residual feelings blend into our souls, and with our new love by our side we learn that this is the new us…the capable, loving, strong, deserving person we were always meant to be.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

 

Finding Balance In An Unbalanced World. 

“Balance is key. In everything you do. Embrace all sides of who you are and live your authentic truth! Be brave and bold and spontaneous and loud and let that complement your abilities to find silence and patience and modesty and peace. Aim for balance. Make your own rules and don’t let anybody tell you how to live according to theirs.”Rachel Brathen

 

For most of my life I felt like I was constantly walking on a tightrope, always scared to lean too far to the left or right. I was always afraid to fall, afraid I would be unable to pick myself back up. Let’s just say balance has never been my forte.

Growing up I always jumped from one thing to another whether it was sports, academics, friends or hobbies. I’ve always had a gypsy soul that never let me focus too hard on one thing for too long.

I used to think that was just the way life was suppose to be, a never-ending cycle of things to keep my mind busy. Sure, I’d find myself completely exhausted each day, but it was so much better than sitting in silence with my thoughts. All these years later I realize that was the unwelcome work of my anxiety.

Three years ago I felt like something was just off in my life. I couldn’t explain the feeling, but it was definitely real. I felt like I would achieve a milestone I’d worked so hard for (like getting my first apartment, achieving a Bachelors in Nursing, having a real relationship, etc) but it was never enough. I was constantly searching for the next goal to check off my list.

One of the biggest ways I used my anxious energy was by giving back. I’d become a Registered Nurse because I absolutely loved helping people. I loved volunteering with various groups and doing what I could to help others. I also loved putting my all into my relationship. These things filled my soul and gave me purpose.

One day as I spoke to my Therapist about my constant need to pour myself into others, she said something that stuck with me. She told me, “you can’t fill the cups of others when your own cup is empty.” I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant at the time, but one day the lesson just clicked.

I’d been trying to do things for everyone else without ever taking care of myself. I’d never focused on my physical, mental or emotional needs and eventually my cup ran dry. I learned in that moment that my life had been completely unbalanced for far too long.

Once I experienced this epiphany, I set out on a journey to find balance in my life. However, I realized quickly the road would be tough because our world is so unbalanced. Sadly, our society is filled with enormous negativity which made it really difficult to try to make positive changes in my life.

Although the journey was tough, I stuck it out. I began searching out ways to find peace and balance in my life. I started practicing meditation, started exercising more and started making more time for God. I started doing things that I thought would bring me instant stability, yet something was still off.

I continued to speak to my Therapist about the tiny progress I was making and how frustrated I was that I still had this uneasy feeling. I still felt like I had pieces of my puzzle missing, but I couldn’t figure out what they were. I thought I was doing everything right, so what was the problem?

At that time she encouraged me to get back to things that made me happy, things that I possessed a unique gift for. She encouraged me to write about my feelings and to start doing things for myself, things that made me truly happy. Honestly, I wasn’t sure where to begin.

I’d had my own band for years, but once I moved to a new city our concert schedule had become somewhat  non-existent. I loved music, but it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind at that time. I’d just moved to a new city with a new job, and that was all I could handle with my anxiety.

After thinking about my conversation with my dear Therapist, I decided to dust off the mic and start writing/recording music again. The mere joy I felt by simply picking up my guitar and playing a song was incredible.

I started booking gigs at different venues along with making connections with some people in the industry. A spark had been rekindled the moment I brought music back into my life, and I felt like I’d found one of my missing puzzle pieces.

I started integrating music back into my everyday life. I began to learn how to balance my professional job as an RN with my fun, expressive musical career. It was a small step, but it was a step in the right direction.

After a few months of playing music, I began to have that dreaded, uneasy feeling. I started feeling the aches of my other absent piece. I couldn’t understand why this feeling wouldn’t just go away. I gave in and started exploring what else was missing in my life.

One day as I sat at my computer, I began thinking about my past struggles and my long time battle with anxiety. I’d always loved to write, and suddenly a thought came to my mind. It was in that moment that I started this blog to help myself, along with others, know that they are not alone in their hardships.

My blog took off and before I knew it, it had become a huge part of my life. I got so much joy from hearing the comments about my writings. I was able to work through my own issues while also helping others. It was a win-win that I could’ve never dreamed of. I’d finally found my last puzzle piece.

Ultimately I learned this important lesson, that we have to put in the work to find balance in our unbalanced world. With balance comes happiness, peace and tranquility. Balance allows us to find our purpose in life and live it out full force.

Some people may have that one special thing that fills their cup, and others (like me) may have several diverse pieces that make them whole. Each one of us is unique and original. There is no one in the world like you except for you.

Although the journey is never easy in achieving such tranquility, it’s never impossible. In order for us to find our harmony, we have to find the things that make us happy and use those in our everyday lives. We have to locate those missing puzzle pieces that make us whole.

Balance is something I fear our world will never completely find. There will always be tragedy, always be suffering and always be sadness. There will be negative stories and heinous crime. However, we can’t allow the world to dictate the type of life we live.

Someday you will find all of those things that make you into the complete, unique individual you were meant to be. My happiness comes from balancing my life as a Nurse, a Singer/Songwriter and a Blogger. It comes from expressing myself and helping others.

I finally learned how to fill my cup, and now I’m able to fill the cup of others around me who are struggling. I’m able to give back and encourage those who need it most, and all of this is possible because I found my balance.

So don’t be afraid to take the leap. Find the things that set your soul on fire and give you purpose. Discover the things that allow you to refill your cup over and over again…and someday you’ll be walking on the tightrope without fear of falling.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

 

How My Pain Brought Me Closer To God.

“Many times when God isn’t changing your circumstances it’s because He’s mostly concerned with changing YOU within the circumstance. Your character, your inner strength, your integrity matter to Him because they are everlasting qualities. The wisdom, the strength and the maturity that grows within you are all things you’re going to need to sustain the calling God has on your life. Know that there is purpose in your pain.” – Brittney Moses

 

I’d like to think that I possess a lot of good qualities, but one of my biggest flaws is patience. I’m probably the least patient person you’ll ever meet thanks to my anxious mind and never ending search for perfection. While I completely love this amazing journey I get to call my life, I’m always looking for the next milestone to occur (a mindset I work to fix every day).

One of the many downfalls of having anxiety is that it always causes you to look to the future instead of enjoying the present. Anxiety tells us that we must plan for things to come and never focus on what’s right in front of us. As annoying as this is, it’s a really hard habit to break.

Something I’ve yearned for in life is to get married and start a family. As I look back on my life, I’m incredibly grateful that God didn’t allow that to happen with my previous relationships because I would’ve been completely miserable (I guess He does know what He’s doing after all). So many times I questioned Him and wanted to know when my turn would come.

After a few heartbreaks (especially the last one) I started to doubt God’s plan. I thought I’d finally found “the one,” but my heart was merely shattered yet again. My doubts started to turn into frustration, and before I knew it I began to resent God. All I could feel was pain and defeat.

After that breakup I began acting like a toddler, thinking that God owed me a happily ever after. I stopped reading my Bible, stopped attending church and quit praying. I felt like if God wasn’t going to give me my happy ending then He didn’t deserve my time or praise. Looking back now I see how ridiculous I was being, but in the moment my heart was shattered.

I tried the whole “I-can-do-it-on-my-own” thing for a few months, thinking that nothing would ever change and that I was doomed in the love department. I started to live life on auto pilot, merely going through the motions to get me to the next day. I figured that maybe I just wasn’t meant to find that immense love I’d always wanted so much.

During this time of rebellion, I was extremely conflicted. I’ve always felt like God has a big plan for my life, a plan that I can’t even fathom. While I wanted to believe that, even during this rough time, I wouldn’t allow myself to. I began to question if I had fabricated that feeling of a big purpose in my childhood, and needless to say I was seriously confused.

A few weeks went by after my Earth shattering breakup, and I decided I wanted to do something I’d never done before. I wanted to go out on a limb and surprise my own damn self but wondered what I could do.

One random night as I was sitting in bed, I opened my computer and started looking for nursing jobs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I’d always told myself I’d never move away from Wichita Falls because it was home, and I told myself I wouldn’t be able to make it on my own.

However, despite my doubts, I started searching the website. One of the first things I found was a listing for a hospital I’d wanted to work at my entire life. Although I felt completely under qualified, I decided to apply (what’s the worst that could happen, right?). At that point in my life, I was just throwing out a line to see if there was even a sliver of hope at happiness.

Long story short, a few days later I received a phone call to come in for an interview. My mind was blown! I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. A week later I was in Fort Worth, TX interviewing for my dream job, and I got hired on the spot! Two weeks later, I packed my bags and left behind the only home I’d ever known.

Once I got settled in Fort Worth, I began to reevaluate my prior suspicions. I felt like everything that happened in those few weeks were only made possible by God. Although I was still full of pain, I began to realize that I’d been blaming the wrong person. God has always and will always only want the best for me.

I used to tell myself all the time that it’s all part of God’s plan, but I don’t think I ever truly meant it. Words are only words until we give them significance. The icy shell I’d put around my heart started to melt, and I began to realize just how big of a fool I’d been. God had been with me all along, even while my back was turned to him.

Over the next year, the pain I’d been holding on to started to turn into gratitude. I was so thankful God had put me through all of those hard times because it pushed me to take the leap of faith that I would’ve never taken on my own. I was thankful that God hadn’t allowed things to work out with my ex because I never would’ve known true happiness.

As I look back on my journey of the past two years, I’m simply amazed at all of the personal, spiritual and emotional growth I’ve experienced. I thought I was a good person back then, but I never took the time to work on myself or to find my self worth. I’d been naive to the fact that God’s plan was bigger than staying in my hometown.

While I’ve made quite a bit of progress, I still have a lot of work to do. Now, each and every day I’m striving to be the best Nurse, Daughter, Friend, Sister, Human and Christian that I can be. Sometimes that means being uncomfortable and feeling pain. Sometimes it means enduring losses and going through things that I don’t quite understand.

I’ve learned that instead of getting angry about not understanding, it’s my job to trust that God has it under control. Instead of letting pain take over, I simply pray for patience and peace. Instead of being upset about not having a husband or family, I understand that it’s only because I haven’t met the right one yet.

I now have no doubt that God has a big plan for my life, and although I don’t know that plan quite yet I have full faith that it will be magnificent. They say that God’s plan is bigger than our imaginations can even fathom. So instead of trying to figure out what that plan may be, I’m sitting back and enjoying the journey…God’s got this under control.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

5 Struggles That Accompany Self-Evolution. 

“Evolution of the self is not meant to be validated by others. There is no need for validation at all. You are here full and complete. You being your soul. Not necessarily you in the physical world. Nobody and nothing external needs to say yes in order for you to be who you are. You have your own yes to believe, trust and live by. So, live. So, be. Alive.” – Nora Boghossian

Just as the never-ending clock of time continues to tick, we as humans continue to evolve. It’s written from the very beginning of our history. We evolved from monkeys to cavemen to…you get the picture.

Each year we’re presented with new technology, new advances in modern medicine, new and increasingly efficient ways to do things. So as the world around us evolves, it seems natural that we should too.

Now for some, self-evolution is a wonderful and magical thing. Some of us love to know we will forever be changing into our best selves. We know that the older we get, the more life lessons we learn. We figure out ways to adapt to our surroundings, to the demands of our current lives.

For others, this concept can be extremely stressful.

I like to think that everyone fears change to a certain extent. Most people (I presume) would rather have at least a little bit of knowledge of what’s to come. However, there are those who want absolutely nothing to do with this whole “evolution” thing.

There’s nothing wrong with not being 100% thrilled about changing of the self. I understand that some people may really love who/how they are now, and that’s great. However, evolution is in our DNA. Our environments constantly change, so we too must adapt.

With such adaptations and changes, it’s expected that we would face certain fears. Change can bring about a lot of anxiety and questions. We start to doubt ourselves, doubt the process and doubt our abilities. Yet, self-evolution doesn’t have to be scary.

If you experience fear, anxiety or stress with becoming your best self, hop on the train. You are NOT alone in your struggle. Five of the biggest struggles I’ve noticed with my own transition, as well as my friends, are:

1. Fear of Others’ Opinions

“Will I be accepted?” For some reason even the most confident human beings are constantly looking for acceptance. No one wants to be a loner with no friends. No one wants to be misunderstood or rejected by their peers. However, evolving doesn’t mean your peers will change their opinion of you. If they truly love you, they will stick by you no matter what. Don’t let others’ opinions dictate who you really are.

2. Self-Doubt

“What if I don’t like the new me?” With change comes self-doubt. We become so terrified of the unknown that we make up scenarios in our heads. We list all of these unrealistic reasons of why change is bad, and we believe we won’t like who we’ve become. There’s nothing wrong with a little revamping every now and then. We must never let self-doubt consume us. Be confident in who you are, and everything else will fall into place.

3. Fear of Change

“What if I continue changing?” Listen, change is going to happen whether we like it or not. I always say that change can be a wonderful or terrible experience. The more we fight it, the more painful it can be. Yet when we embrace change, we find that it can be a beautiful experience. We change, we evolve, and ultimately we become the best version of ourselves…just like the caterpillar and butterfly.

4. Lack of Confidence

“What if I can’t embrace the new me?” This topic goes back to self-doubt. If you don’t believe in yourself, how is anyone else suppose to believe in you? Lack of confidence severely affects anxiety and depression. We get down on ourselves because we believe we’re unworthy. We think that we don’t deserve happiness, and we feel like we’re not meant to be a standout. All of these thoughts are untrue. We all deserve to be rockstars in our own right. Get out there, show the world your talents and shine bright like the diamond you are.

5. Negative Outlook

“Will this negatively affect my life?” Positive minds create positive vibes. This is seriously my mantra in life. Within the last year I realized just how important positivity can be. When we have a negative outlook on our evolution, it can hinder the process. If we worry about the opinions of others or doubt ourselves, we are ultimately creating an incredibly negative environment. Nothing can properly grow if not given the right surroundings. Therefore, we have to create a positive space to allow ourselves to transform.

 

While change and self-evolution bring about questions, concerns and fears, we must remember the light at the end of the rainbow. The journey may not be comfortable, it may not be perfect, but ultimately we’ll be grateful that we transitioned.

There’s nothing more rewarding than realizing you’ve become the person you always wanted to be. As children, we dream of who we’ll be when we grow up. There’s no reason to let your inner child down. Be the person your inner child would be proud of.

If there’s anything I’ve learned on my journey, it’s that we’re only guaranteed today. In life, it’s so easy to say “oh I’ll do that tomorrow,”  but tomorrow may never come. Just remember that as tough as the journey may be, you’re never alone. Evolve into your best self, and let your rockstar soul shine.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

Until You’ve Seen the Darkness. 

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

 

As children we grew up afraid of the dark. We heard stories of the Boogie Man, ghosts and monsters hiding in our closets. We slept with a nightlight and blanket for extra security, just in case something was lurking under our beds.

I can recall many nights of sleeping in my parents’ bed or making a pallet on the floor beside them. Some nights I was just too terrified to sleep alone. Darkness is a scary thing.

We put a face to the dark as children, like the monsters we saw in scary movies. Yet, little did we know that there were much scarier things than beasts. Our emotions, our minds, our feelings…those are scarier than any movie I watched growing up.

While my days primarily consist of sunshine now, there were a few points in my life that I thought I wouldn’t survive. I experienced some hard times that I honestly thought I may not make it through.

While I’ve been extremely blessed in my life (great family, friends and accomplishments), my biggest struggles were within. There’s a saying that “a smile can hide so much,” and I found out just how true that was.

My inner critic has always been somewhat of a bitch. No one ever had to get on to me for anything because I would already be beating myself up for not being perfect. Ever since I can remember I strived for perfection. I had to be the best, or I was nothing at all.

That’s really tough to deal with when you’re a kid. Society and peers both put a ton of pressure on children, and putting stress on myself only made me feel 10 times worse. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn this lesson until 20 years later.

Losing competitions or games in middle school would throw me into brief periods of darkness. I’d be pissed, then sad, and eventually I would get over it. The process probably took me a little longer than my friends, but I managed to figure it out.

Fast forward a few years, and my best friend, Jacob, died in a tragic accident. That was the first time I’d ever experienced debilitating grief. I couldn’t move, couldn’t talk, couldn’t function. The following weeks were a total blur, and after 11 years I still haven’t fully healed.

The darkness I felt when I lost Jacob was something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It was a feeling that I never want to feel again and (knock on wood) I haven’t. While that moment taught me many valuable lessons it also took away a piece of me.

A few months after Jacob’s passing, I started High School. During those years, sports were my life. I lived and breathed the two-a-days, practices and games. Sports were a great outlet for me and my aggression but while the highs were high, the lows were very low. Again, I started to experience deep dark mental moments.

Once I’d graduated High School, I went through a period of transition. No longer was I a star athlete or Valedictorian, I was merely another college student. I still tried really hard to stand out in nursing school, but it just wasn’t the same.

My 4 years of college were full of academics and good grades, but they also consisted of a lot of parties and drunken nights. I had a lot of trouble adjusting to my new life as an adult. I’d never felt so lost in the crowd, and I really didn’t like it.

My late teens/early 20’s really tested my mental strength. I found myself very unhappy with my relationship, lost and confused about my purpose in life and just sad. My anxiety was at an all time high, and at that time I didn’t know how to control it.

After a while I settled in to my job as a Registered Nurse at the hospital. I was getting to work with babies (which I absolutely loved), and I started making friends that were a positive influence on my life. I felt accomplished, I felt happy. However, there was still this inner battle of discovering my true purpose.

Even though I was accomplishing all of the things I’d ever wanted to do, I faced a daily mental struggle. My mind wouldn’t just let me be happy in the present. I was constantly searching for the next best thing, the next life event I could check off my list.

I battled with my brain constantly and somehow found a way to keep the darkness out. I started focusing on my future with my boyfriend (at the time) and making plans for a wedding and kids. I thought I’d finally met my soulmate, but yet again I was wrong.

After almost 2 years of dating and living together, my boyfriend broke up with me. He told me he wasn’t ready for this life I’d been planning, and he left. That day was the single darkest day of my life.

I’d never felt that low, and I promised myself I would never go back to that level of devastation again. I didn’t eat for days. I laid on the floor and cried for a week before I could even semi function. I remember screaming at God, asking Him why he did this to me.

It was that point in my life, that level of darkness, that caused me to seek help from a therapist. I had no motivation for life, but I knew the only way I would return to the light was to let someone help me. Little did I know that finding my therapist was one of the best things to happen to me.

It’s been 2 years since I’ve began working with Megan, and my life has completely turned around. I’ve started this incredible journey of self discovery, and I’ve learned so many lessons about life.

Taking that huge leap to reach out for help benefited me in ways that I never even imagined. It showed me that I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t crazy for feeling this way. It taught me that although no one’s darkness is the same, we all experience it at some point.

After 2 years of intense inner work and dedication, I’ve figured out how to stay in the light. I’ve learned how to embrace my little moments of darkness and then leave them to the night where they belong. I still have some shadows, but now I’m basking in the sunshine.

Working through the darkness is no easy task. It takes courage, dedication and strength. It’s a very uncomfortable process at first, but the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. If you’re struggling with darkness just know you aren’t alone. Even the happiest people you know have dealt with tough times.

No matter what you go through in life, you can survive. You can be broken down, lost, confused and still come out stronger than before. The light is a beautiful thing, but it takes work to bask in its glory. Keep on fighting and remember…until you’ve seen the darkness, you’ll never appreciate the light.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell💋

Learning to Just Be.

“Beware of Destination Addiction: a preoccupation with the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job or person. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are.” – Robert Holden

The last few weeks have been full of anxiety for me. I’ve been planning trips, working out details of upcoming events, furthering my nursing education and keeping extremely busy to say the least.

I found it really hard to just take a moment to relax, and it started catching up with me physically and emotionally.

I’m a do-er, and I hate to sit around and wait for things to happen. I want to get out there and put my thoughts into actions. In some cases this is a good thing, but recently I was pushing my limits.

Since I was a child I’ve always found it difficult to just be happy in the present, to just be happy where I was. Every moment had to be filled with action, or my anxiety would reach an extreme level. Being in the moment is simply not in my DNA.

When I started this year of transition, I decided I wanted to look into some new practices. I wanted to do things I’d never done before.

Ultimately I wanted to create a routine that allowed me to manage my anxiety better. So I looked around a bit, and after countless hours of research I began my journey of new age spirituality.

One of the main components of new age spirituality is meditation. Honestly, I always thought it was stupid and pointless. I’d watch people meditating and think “what a bunch of crap.” However, this was a time of exploration so I thought, “what the heck, what’s it going to hurt?”

Fast forward almost a year later, and I absolutely love my meditation time. I meditate each morning for at least 10 minutes (it took me a while to be able to sit still that long), and during that time I’m able to reflect on my life.

Through meditation and other practices I’ve slowly began to realize just how important being happy in the present moment is.

Being a Pediatric Oncology Nurse I find myself constantly surrounded by grief and sadness, and sometimes it’s hard to embrace hope. Yet there is also something inspiring about watching how tough the human body can be.

We have so many blessings to be grateful for, but we consistently look for happiness in the future.

If we can’t be happy in the here and now then what’s the point? Today is all we’re guaranteed, and it’s a shame that we waste so many wonderful moments.

I look at the world we live in, and it saddens me. The world has turned to violence instead of love and understanding. While my empathetic nature forces me to feel all of the sad emotions of the world, my hopeful side has taught me to embrace the present.

Each day that we live is a precious gift that we so often take for granted. We are always looking for the next best thing, the next moment for happiness, the next opportunity to live. However, we fail to realize that now is that time.

We will never be younger than we are now. We will never be in as good of health as we are now. Our lives will always be busy, and there will always be things we can use as excuses. It’s time we start living. It’s time we start learning to just be.

So many people would be amazed at how long 5 minutes can feel when you are sitting in complete silence with yourself. I say this because I know from experience. When I first started taking time to reflect, my body sat still but my mind ran a 100 miles a minute.

It takes time and true effort to teach ourselves to stop forging ahead and see all of the blessings our lives currently hold.

There is so much beauty and wonder to be found every day. There are small miracles that are overlooked because we are too busy. Take time to embrace the magic, embrace the wonder. Take the time and learn to just be.
XOXO,
Myka Shantell