I was born with my heart on my sleeve.
As a kid, I was a bit strange. I cried a lot. Sometimes I spent recess alone walking to the end of the playing fields with tears streaming down my face. They weren’t always tears of purpose that reflected sadness or happiness. More often they were just me figuring out the world and the only way I understood how to do that was by feeling my way through it. Adults and children a like were confused by my behavior, but it didn’t stop me. Their encouragements to be stronger fell on deaf ears. I was the little girl with a very sentimental heart and I didn’t know any different.
I continued to run heart forward through adolescence and into adulthood. My first love, I fell—like from the empire state building kind of fall. I read books like the Hunger Games and I’d ball my eyes out at the end because of the real people living unspeakably oppressed lives, how can that be? Drinking a cup of coffee solo in a cafe could be almost a transformative experience.
Then the walls came up. Slowly and quietly. I didn’t even know I was raising them. All this feeling had also equaled a great deal of hurt. I trusted too easily. Expected too much. Wanted too much. Loved too much. This is growing up and some might argue getting smart. I disagree. The moment I started to shelter my heart is also the moment I began to live less and give in to fear. Making decisions out of fear of what might happen is a slippery slope. I was miserable and exhausted but I didn’t understand why. I was oblivious to the walls I had put up and the inauthentic life I was leading.
About a year ago, my mentor, Jeff Jochum, told me I had walls. No way, I thought. I’ve got everything out in the open. My heart is on my sleeve. I’m an open book. That’s who I am through and through. Looking deeper at the life I’d built for myself, I knew that something was missing. Maybe he was right. Finally, I too saw the walls.
I have been working hard to break down my walls and live fully ME again. Celebrating my sentimentality is a huge part of that journey. It hasn’t been easy because being sentimental and being vulnerable go hand in hand. Vulnerability is one of the hardest things I’ve had to embrace in the last year. It is tough tough work. But also the most worthwhile. When I’m vulnerable I can fully tap into my sentimental core and live the life I’m meant to. Be the friend, daughter, teacher, photographer, woman, lover that I’m meant to.
All of us have at least one sentimental bone in our bodies. It is my hope that you will lean in when sentimentality shows it’s face and take the emotional roller coaster it offers. Sentimental is strength. It is empathy, it is compassion, it is understanding, it is feeling, it is trusting, it is keeping your guard down, it is crying at the humane society commercials, it’s thinking a cup of coffee at your favorite cafe is the best damn activity in the world, it is the way your husband holds your hand. Sentimental is a big beautiful thing not easily confined to a Webster’s Dictionary definition. When sentimental creeps in, run towards it. Trust me, it is so worth it.
To celebrate Sentimentality, myself and group of talented creatives across the country are starting a sentimental revolution. Today, we’re launching a new Instagram campaign called #sentimentallife. We want all of you to celebrate your sentimental side however you may experience it in your life. Use the hash tag whenever you see or feel something that is sentimental to you. Let’s together remind everyone the strength in sentimental living. All are welcome to join.
P.S. A huge thank you to all the people who have encouraged me to embrace my sentimental core and finally write this post. You know who you are and I am so thankful for each and everyone of you! And the above photo of me by my gal, Carina Skrobecki.
For my first post, a favorite photo of my mom, my grandmother and I laughing. This one makes me tear up.