Author Archives: Marissa Pownall

Just a Little Spice

Wake up. Eat. Gym. Shower. Work. Eat. Read. Sleep.

Repeat.

Throughout the week life can become monotonous and predictable. Routine. Days blend into one another as each day is filled with the same activities. Within this routine, we’ve created for ourselves a sense of comfort and control. We’ve become creatures of habit, where we no longer have to think about what we do. We’ve done the same thing for so long that it has become ingrained in our system, coming naturally to us. This security we cling to could be partially due to our fear of the unknown or it could be attributed to a lack of creativity, even laziness. Are we stuck in our routine by default? Unable or unwilling to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone?

Unexpected

Routine does make sense though, especially when it comes to managing our limited time productively and efficiently. However, routine and planning have their time and place. Born the oldest child, I have always been the practical one, the responsible one, the planner. Always taught to be prepared and to anticipate needs in order to avoid awkward situations. Yet more often than not, I find that I take life too seriously. Through this routine I adhere to, I have created limitations for myself without even realizing it. But life is too short to live the same day over again every time I wake up. Naturally I will fulfill my obligations, but I want to stop thinking so much and do something crazy. I want to break the mold that I have created for myself of who I think I’m supposed to be.

I want to be spontaneous.

bring your camera

I want to put aside my logical serious side and say, “Why not?” To experience that moment when, instead of brushing aside that crazy notion, I actually do it. To have the audacity to drop my planner for a day and go wherever my feet take me. To travel on a whim and experience life outside of my carefully planned box. To break down my fear of the unknown and wanting to control everything.

I don’t want to merely exist, I want to truly live.

Spontaneity adds that spice back into life, flavoring our most average days with zest. Sparking our creativity, spontaneity inspires us to break report in turn fueling our adventurous side. This freedom is exhilarating and tends to defy both social norms as well as the norms we’ve created for ourselves.

By no means does spontaneity have to be grand, but by adding that random inspiration to a relatively predictable day can be the highlight of your day. Maybe by adding spontaneity inducing practices into your life, you will be able to experience things you never would’ve experienced had you been doing your regular routine. Like anything, the key is to start small. At your favorite restaurant, order something other than your usual. Drive a different way to work. Take a walk without a destination. Try cooking a new recipe. Wear something completely ridiculous. Hang out with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile. Sign up for a random class.

Take chances

Don’t let yourself get stuck in a routine that limits your potential for creativity and adventure. When was the last time you did anything truly spontaneous?  Spice up your life! Be spontaneous 🙂

 

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I AM IRON MAN

You know that moment when you get that idea. You know it’s crazy; it’s nothing but a pipe dream. But then you think to yourself, why not? Why not me?

So you push yourself. Physically, mentally, and emotionally to achieve this dream you have within your heart. You research all the ins and outs to determine your actions steps to get you to where you want to be. You try things you’ve never done before all to prepare for that day.

Today. That day you’ve been planning for months and months. It’s not just a dream anymore; it’s within your grasp and you want it.

Nervous energy courses through your veins, dulled by the spark of confidence radiating from your eyes. That glimmer of hope shining through, small, yet palpable. You’re a dreamer and today your dreams will come true.

You look in the mirror and feel beautiful, ready to take on the world. So you go, you perform, and you give it all you’ve got. Your smile lights the room as you do what you’ve prepared months to do.

And then you wait for the results… did you make the team? Did you get the part? Your beating heart creates the back beat for the song that is your thoughts. The results go up and with bated breath you look. You’re sure you made it, but your number isn’t there. You look again, maybe you just didn’t see it the first time… but you didn’t make it.

After all those months of planning, all that time and energy practicing, and the hope you held in those bright blue eyes.

At first it doesn’t seem real, but as reality sinks in the tears begin to fall. You tried so hard! What went wrong? Did you not have the right “look” or was it your performance that was lacking? Maybe it was just tough competition.

Even so, your world feels as if it’s crashing in on itself. All those who supported you try to be comforting, “At least you tried” or “There’s always next year,” but you just want to be alone…

And that’s where I sit now… alone, yet surrounded by people. Just a face in the crowd. I close my eyes and let the sound of the waves calm me, the sun warm my face, and the wind to dry my tears as I reflect on my past and look to the future.

Despite my failure and disappointment, this journey pushed me out of my comfort zone. I defied the box people put me in, I choreographed my own dance routine, and I met some amazing and beautiful women along the way.

Failure is hard though. I’ve failed so many times, but I get back up and that is where true strength lies. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.” (Romans 5:3-5a). In spite of my suffering and failure, I know that it shapes me into a stronger person and with that in mind, hope spurs me on.

2 Corinthians 12_9

Someone I really respect once shared a story with me that, though simple, is quite powerful. After a major disappointment, he was sitting in the back of a movie theater watching Iron Man 3. At the very end of the film Iron Man says, “You can take away my suits, you can take away my home, but there’s one thing you can never take away from me: I am Iron Man.” This resonated strongly with him and with me in turn, becoming my new mantra. They can take everything away, but I will keep on dancing, I will continue dreaming big. I am Iron Man!

iron-man

So as I sit by the waterfront and when the cloud covers the sun, I won’t let my failure determine my future. I will continue to dream bigger and push myself. I am my greatest asset. I am Iron Man.

 


The Definition of Beauty

When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up to be a ballerina, because to me, ballerinas were the epitome of beauty. With their elegant grace and elaborate tutus sparkling in the stage light. So when the opportunity to take ballet presented itself, I literally leaped at the chance. Through ballet I learned a lot of valuable life lessons about everything from dedication and prioritization, to friendship and beauty.

Ballerina

Even so, growing up in a dance culture creates a hyper awareness of your figure, which is emphasized by the form fitting leotard and tights you wear each day. As you dance, you watch yourself in the mirror analyzing every move to make sure you are flawless. With such a focus on how your body looks, it’s surprising that you don’t have an eating disorder, like so many girls who struggle with their appearance.

Mirror and Ballerina

Every girl longs to be seen as beautiful. Yet in our culture, we are constantly bombarded with messages hinting that somehow, we in and of ourselves, aren’t beautiful enough. That somehow we are missing something to make us truly beautiful… But if you wear this outfit you will be gorgeous or if you get this new mascara you’ll be noticed for sure. Sadly, due to our insecurities we buy into these lies, which have shaped our view of what beauty is for far too long. Yet without this distorted view of beauty, what does true beauty even look like?

Beauty cannot be confined to a single age, race, or ethnicity. For beauty is found in that mischievous sparkle in someone’s eye when they look at you. In that smile that lights up their entire face, and the joy springing from their footsteps as they walk by. All of which emanates from the inside.

Audrey

I ran across a quote the other day that I found to be very thought-provoking. “Imagine a mirror that could reveal your personality. Would you dare look?” Honestly, this is a scary idea, because what it insinuates is that we would be completely exposed and vulnerable, unable to hide behind the facades we create. We would be seen as we truly are.

Coffee Time

Inner beauty takes time to see, but is revealed through our actions. On the other hand, outer beauty is more obvious, yet reveals no depth of character. According to Glamour magazine, it takes the average woman 1 hour and 10 minutes to get ready each morning. Crazy! This includes showering, make-up, hair, and trying on different outfit combinations to be ready to take on the day. Of course it’s important to try to look our best, but I would encourage you to start investing more time and energy on inner beauty, which will not fade. Imagine the impact you could have on those around you…

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4

 


Valentine’s Day

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or Single Awareness Day, February 14th means something different to everyone. Some people celebrate with their loved one, whether it’s a candle lite dinner at home or a night on the town. Some people refuse to acknowledge it as a holiday or write it off as a way for stores to sell more chocolate and flowers. But it strikes a cord in everyone’s heart, whether it produces bitterness or love.

Fear not my friend! Valentine’s Day is one day a year, and if you think about it, you will most likely spend more Valentine’s Day’s with someone than without, theoretically speaking. Yet with its focus on love, or lack thereof, our self-esteem is targeted, creating an awareness of our singleness in a couple dominated culture. But don’t let it get to you.

The key to “surviving” this holiday, but also a good rule of thumb for life in general, is to have an outward focus. Instead of looking at your life and moping about not having someone to share that one day with, focus on how you can better love others. What can you do to brighten someone else’s day? If you wish that someone would buy you flowers for Valentine’s Day, then buy someone else flowers and make their day. In doing so, you will not only make them feel special, but will also get that warm fuzzy feeling that you made some kind of difference, even if it was small.

Act of Kindness

Despite my single status, I’ve always enjoyed Valentine’s Day because it gives me a reason to do something different. To me it means celebrating by wearing as much red and pink as possible, maybe even wearing my crazy heart socks my mom got me. Dancing around my kitchen listening to R&B love songs in my pink apron making sugar cookies with…you guessed it, pink frosting! Watching sappy romances with a friend all cuddled up in a warm blanket thinking “Someday…”

Someday...

Of course sometimes I wish my life could look like that romance movie, where they randomly meet in a coffee shop and live happily ever after. But life isn’t like that and I know that although waiting is hard, it will be worth the wait.

Willingness to Wait

In the meantime, don’t let Valentine’s Day discourage you or your past disappointments cloud your vision of what your future will look like. Focus outward and look to find ways to be a blessing to others. And when the evening of February  14th comes around and you’re all alone, grab a friend. Curl up on the couch and watch your favorite romantic comedy, eat heart shaped pizza, and enjoy all the chocolate you want. You deserve it 😉


No Regrets

In your 20’s, each decision you make feels as if it has more weight than decisions you’ve had to make in the past. For with each decision, you are taken on a path that becomes a determining factor in what your life will look like in the future. Where you go to school can determine where you decide to live. What you major in can determine where you’re career starts. Who you hang out with can shape who you become. Every decision, no matter how insignificant, seems to be shaping you into who you are.

Do you ever wonder what life would have been like if you’d taken a different path? If you’d continued dating that person who, in hindsight, was so wrong for you or decided to accept the job offer that would have moved you across the country? Have you ever thought, if the factors were different, who would you be? It’s crazy to think about…

Two Roads Diverged

Looking at my life and all the decisions I’ve made, I’d have to say I’m happy with who I’ve become. Yet to say that I have no regrets wouldn’t be entirely true. People say to live with no regrets and it’s a lovely notion. Yet, everyone make mistakes and to say that I don’t regret some of those mistakes would be wrong. I don’t regret the mistakes I’ve made because I learned from them and they made me a stronger person, but what I do regret is the hurt my mistakes may have caused along the way.

But maybe by no regrets we don’t necessarily mean that you don’t regret anything, but that you stop dwelling on the past and the mistakes you made, switching your focus to the present and the future. That you push yourself to try things you’ve never done before or do something that scares you. That you push aside the box you’ve created for yourself and dare to dream bigger. No regrets.

No regrets

To make this mentality a reality, I’m going to push myself this year to do something that has a very high rate of failure, but if I never take that risk, I will never know if I could have made it. So hears to a year of pushing limits, taking chances, and no regrets. Chances not taken

Live your life. Take chances. Be crazy. Don’t wait because right now is the oldest you’ve been and the youngest you’ll ever be again.


Wonder of a Child

I often miss this little girl...

Remember when you were a child and the world was your playground. Everything around you was magical, from the stuffed koala bear you carried around, to the doors that magically opened when you stepped in front of them. Every day was a new adventure, filled with excitement and new discoveries. You ran for the joy of it, you truly believed you could fly, and your favorite nights were movie nights.

Yet as you’ve grown older, somehow the magic dwindled off. You’ve become cynical. Life didn’t turn out the way you expected; trust was broken, dreams seemed out of reach, and you had to take on more responsibility. Essentially you were told to grow up and make something of yourself. With your inner child pushed aside, you had to get a job, pay bills, and become an active member of society.

But who told us that we couldn’t be both serious and silly, both responsible and playful. At what point did we change?

Everything to nothing

I encourage you to go for a walk by yourself. Leave your phone at home; eliminate distraction. Breathe in the fresh air. Watch the butterfly as it dances in the wind. Soak up the sunlight. Dance in the rain. Enjoy the simplicity of the world around you.

In a world full of things to do and places to go, maintaining a sense of wonder and curiosity is imperative. Don’t let the disappointments of the world take away your sense of wonder. Never give up your childlike awe…

Girl at the beach


A Picture of Confidence

When you think of someone who is confident, what do you picture? I picture someone who knows how to dress and walks into the room like they own it. Their posture is great, their smile infectious, and they are unafraid to make eye contact. In no way are they flawless, but there’s something about them that makes you want to get to know them. And that something is confidence; they believe in themselves.

1. It is possible to be confident and still be afraid. Being confident doesn’t mean you have no fear, but that you are able to acknowledge your fear and constructively channel it.

                                1_Confidence_fear

2. “Fake it till you make it.” If you don’t feel confident, fake it. By faking it you will start to believe it and gradually you won’t be faking it anymore. You will be confident.

2_20 seconds of courage

3. You are your own worst enemy, but you are also your biggest fan. Build yourself up by being positive. Think of all your skills and talents. Positivity goes a long way when it comes to being confident. Love yourself!

3_Believe in yourself

4. Don’t let others opinion of you determine how you view yourself. It takes too much time and energy to care what people think of you. Live in such a way that you are happy with yourself.

4_Don't worry

5. Confidence doesn’t have to be loud. There is a quiet confidence held fast in those who know what they believe and chose not to be swayed by others.

5_Confidence is silent

6. Expect success. If you don’t think you will ever be confident, then you probably won’t be. Your expectations of yourself, whether positive or negative, creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. So expect greatness and you will achieve it.

6_Believe in yourself

7. Stop comparing yourself to others. We are all at different places in life and by comparing yourself to others you will only feel worse. As Jon Acuff says, “Don’t compare you’re beginning to someone else’s middle.” You were made unique and wonderful in every way.

7_Fish

8. Confidence is sexy. It attracts others to you. So be confident; you are sexy!

8_Confidence is sexy