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Erin Sullivan

BLOGGING INSPIRATION SOCIAL MEDIA

You Will Have Haters

And they’ll be loud sometimes. For real. They’ll get inside your head and make you think you should just be quiet.

I write personal development for adventurous people. I also write about things I believe in, including social & racial justice. This grinds a lot of gears for some folks. It’s political. Well, whoop dee doo– I’m over posting neutral content. I’m over seeing it. I’m over the idea that we should try to appeal to a wide audience. Over. It.

Having an opinion based on your values is way more important than trying to get people to like you.

There was a time when I took everything personally. I can’t anymore.

When you exist on the internet, the one negative comment you get (out of however many) will be the one that sticks, I promise. It’ll be the one you zero in on– the one you let define you. But you can’t let it stick. It’s not personal.

Haters come with the territory when you say anything at all that takes a side. Giving enough of a fuck to take a stand is worth it. It’s not really about you, it’s about a bigger picture, so release yourself from having to take everything as a personal attack. Choosing to stand up for anything says far more about the strength of your character than a few (or even a few hundred) negative comments.

I wear my values boldly because I believe that’s how you get shit done. Anyone can tell me that my values or beliefs are wrong, but that doesn’t mean they are right in their accusations.

You do not exist to make other people feel comfortable. Your actions speak to your priorities. What do you care about, and are you speaking up about it? Standing up? Showing up? When you decide to do so, I’m on your team.

I have been called many names on the internet– some that I am not even comfortable repeating. But it’s the internet. Is anyone surprised?

Getting hated on means I had something provocative to say in the first place. Many agree, some will not. It is hard to have a peaceful conversation with someone who is determined to bring you down. So if that isn’t going to happen, let it go.

When you live in your truth, people will disagree with you loudly and rudely, online and in person. You cannot let this dampen your spirit or dim your light. More people need your ideas, your vision, and your love more than you will ever know.

We have to give a fuck about things that matter, and we’re always going to get hate for it from someone, somewhere.

And I guarantee that amidst any negativity, there will be a day when you will get an email or comment that simply says, “Thank you for speaking up.”

It will be the only reminder you need that now is not the time to be silent.

 


 

Photo snapped by Adaeze Azubuike.

INSPIRATION

Are You Paying Attention?

I can think of a handful of people I have met in my life who I just knew were important. I met them and I felt something– like static shock from the carpet, like a pink sky in the early morning– an unmistakeable pang of feeling. Of something out of the ordinary. It wasn’t love at first sight, but it was a kind of knowing at first sight.

It isn’t just people, but places, stretches of time.

I can think of moments that struck me down to my knees. That shook me to my core. The first time I felt small– standing under a full moon in snowy mountains, just me and my long shadow. The first time I knew, without a doubt, what my next move was. The moments I simply trusted, and surrendered to a feeling of guidance.

And maybe this is science or God, or both, or that they are the same thing in the first place, but it’d be hard to believe that our brains are wired this way without reason.

I am sure you have experienced this– knowing that these places and people in time were important; knowing that they were a part of your path for a reason. That your meeting was not a coincidence or a mistake, or something to brush off or call accidental.

You won’t always be right. We are really good at misplacing reason, or giving fate a name it didn’t ask for. Sometimes we just need to learn a lesson, and that’s it. It is always just fine to be wrong, especially in the name of vulnerability and risk.

The main point is this. When you feel a spark of importance– the curious pull of significance and meaning as it relates to relationships or milestones– listen hard. Follow it. There is never any promise that you’ll be right when you assume anything, and indeed logic might get a say, but magic does not happen on accident.

This is about guidance. It’s about putting your ear to the ground and paying attention. It’s about trust in your path.

It’s in the excitement you feel when someone you admire says hello. It’s the tornado of glitter that starts up in your soul when you hear of a new job opportunity. It’s trying to justify an idea when all you really want to say is, it just feels right. Simple things, maybe, but these are signs even a cynic can admit to seeing.

We have to train our ears to hear the right music. We have to get on a level of humility where we can pay the most attention to what is working, and what is not. There isn’t a guide built by logic or reason, it’s just about working off of a hunch– off something we can’t see– and trusting that it’s there.

Ultimately, it is on us to listen. Are you paying attention?

INSPIRATION JOURNAL

Love is Like That

I know so many people who are heartbroken right now. What’s the deal?! It’s my friends texting me about the ache. It’s the emails from readers I’ve never met. It’s the echo from a post I wrote about love on Instagram.

We are all hungry for feeling. For meaning.

Love is so damn complicated. Trust that I’m screaming this from my soul to my fingertips.

It’s messy. It’s clear and muddy at the same time. It’s the biggest paradox we’ll ever know. And it’s almost a guarantee that at some point in our lives, we’ll have a crazy run-in with love. A head-on collision. We’ll feel like we’ve had 4 strong margaritas and ran around in circles for an hour blindfolded.

Love is like that.

I am addicted to love, and to loving the moments that didn’t even feel good– because we don’t get to choose the ones that stick. I first realized this in a scene I’ve mentioned before– I was 21 and had moved to Porto, Portugal without knowing anyone. I would lay lonely on the roof of my apartment and stare at the sky, knowing that I would eventually miss that moment.

That feeling comes and goes in waves that take me over.

It was the feeling I had dancing to bad pop music with a tall freckled Australian guy in Budapest. It was a comical scene, but I knew I’d miss it as soon as it was over. Because you can love a moment, even a moment like that one. Especially a moment like that one. And maybe it doesn’t entirely make sense which ones our hearts choose, but those are the moments we remember.

It feels like we don’t choose the people we love either. But magic doesn’t happen on accident.

It’s loud, right? So loud sometimes it’s all we can hear. It brings us to our highest highs and our lowest lows, and it doesn’t really care what it does to us. It’ll teach us about the depths of our hearts if we allow it to. If instead of turning up the volume even more, we just got quiet, and listened.

You will read this and connect it to whatever your experience is with love, and whatever it means right now. It can be the way we love wild places, the way we love the way our coffee smells, the wonder of this whole life in general. It can be absolute heartbreak, heartache. It can just be heart, and that’s enough. It shifts and changes and it always will.

We know this: when it shows up, it refuses to be ignored. Love is like that.

JOURNAL

Deep Thoughts from 2016

When I started this blog two years ago, it was hard for me to imagine what it would become. I just set out to share– and as it turns out, that was worth something. Because I’m here, still writing, and still sharing it.

I’ve done these Deep Thoughts posts for the past two years (here’s 2014 and 2015), so in keeping with that tradition, here are my personal reflections from 2016.

1. SET FIRM, LOVING BOUNDARIES

This year, I thought a lot on what I really require– in jobs, in relationships, in what I really need in order to live comfortably. I saw that I often over-compromise. I want to be the best at everything: the best employee, the most supportive friend, the person who wakes up the earliest and stays up the latest to work on their passion project.

For me, a lot of that isn’t healthy. In order to bring out the best in myself, I actually have to set firm boundaries instead of being a pushover. I have to be a bit more thoughtful about what I say yes to and when I say yes to it.

Having boundaries does have to mean that you are closed off– it can mean that you know yourself well enough to identify what works for you, and to stand for those things.

2. IT’S ON YOU TO SHOW UP

My followthrough record in 2016 isn’t as good as it could have been. I said I’d do things that I simply did not have time or energy for. Showing up for me means being vulnerable– in being honest and humble to bring out the best in myself and in others. It also means asking myself if I could have done better, and committing to that goal.

I am proud of how I have showed up in some arenas. But there were failures, too, and they were on me. It’s on me how I show up in my friendships, it’s on me how I show up for my clients, it’s on me how I show up for myself. These are decisions I have the power to make, and that I must make, in order to be effective and bring 100%.

3. YOU CAN’T BE EVERYTHING FOR EVERYONE

I tried to do a lot of things this year– and I still am doing a lot of different things. And I wish I had another lifetime to pursue all these passions I have found, but I can’t do everything and I can’t be everything for everyone. I also can’t please everyone with my writing, my beliefs, or the things that I create both on and off the internet.

In pursuing my greatest dreams, I know I will turn people off. I have to be fine with that. And in this pursuit, I also have to be fine with quitting jobs that I love. I have to be fine with saying no to coffee dates that I’d love to go on. Because I can’t be everything for everyone, and if I tried to do that, I’d be ineffective at the things that matter most.

4. FOLLOW YOUR OWN RULES & TAKE YOUR OWN ADVICE

I gave a lot of advice online this year. And I didn’t always listen to myself.

We are fucking wise, y’all. You are fucking wise! Listen to yourself. So often, we undervalue our own rules of life, and for some reason we think they only apply to others but could never fit into our own situation. Many things I dealt with this year could have been dealt with sooner and better had I listened to my own advice and given myself enough credit to do so.

5. BIG DREAMS ALSO REQUIRE DETAILS

I’m a big, big dreamer, and my head is in the clouds constantly. But I need to remember that while I’m enjoying the view up there, my feet are also on the ground. Big dreams require little details in order to thrive. They require steps, planning and logistics. If done right, none of those things take away the magic of the dream. But still, they must be done.

 


 

Thank you for being a part of my story. Feature photo by BC Serna.

INSPIRATION JOURNAL TRAVEL

The Places You Meet Yourself

As a result of seeking an adventurous life through travel, I have met many people.

Amazing people. People who have changed me and the maze of my life forever.

But the really interesting thing– perhaps a simple idea– is that I also met myself.

Being alone in the unknown is never comfortable, and discomfort does things to us that ease and routine cannot. It pushes our buttons, forces us to confront ugly things we’d rather ignore, and teaches us about beauty and truth.

When I replay the montage of all the random and hard and gorgeous fleeting moments of my life, I see all the ways in which I got to know myself. All the scenes where I looked into my heart, and proclaimed that I’d see it for what it was.

I see the loneliness standing on the roof of my apartment in Portugal, my anxiety loud as sirens. And I remember doubting very much, at 21, that I had any idea of who I was.

I see meeting one of the loves of my life at a campsite in Belgium, and knowing he was important. And I see us two years later in Christchurch, crying in our hotel room, not knowing if we would ever hold each other that way again.

I see myself in the eyes of every ex-lover, the ones I knew for a night in cities I did not know well. The ones I never even touched physically, but who shared a conversation through broken English or Spanish, and in doing that, shared a part of themselves.

I see myself under a beat up old red barn, covered in hay, shoveling bags of sheep shit.

I see myself walking through caves of glow worms and thinking they looked like the whole universe.

I see dusty motorcycle rides and boats that made me seasick. I see the faces of all the people who were and are all on their own grand adventure, and it’s beautiful to me to know that I shared a brief moment in time with them. Just knowing that is so powerful. And it’s naïve. But it’s enough.

I have never been able to afford nice hotels or nice restaurants, and sometimes I think it might be nice to travel that way, but for me it’s never been about the comfort, and it might never be.

It’s about the deep brown in the eyes of the woman you met on the streets of Budapest; the way her hair smelled like jasmine and dust.

It’s about the whiskey you did not need to drink, the moon bright on the jagged peaks and pine trees, the wobble in your steps on the walk back to your cabin on icy roads.

It’s about the loneliness, the beauty, the glow worms– all the places you meet yourself over and over again, deeply, profoundly.

The depth and variety within the flip book of your life is easy to forget about. We get sucked in to our daily mundane. We forget about all of these moments we have lived.

When you remember all the places you met yourself– the places you can put on a map and the places you could never even name– you remember that it is all so, so worth watching. And worth experiencing in the first place.

INSPIRATION

You Are Not for Everyone

You are great.

I mean it. I don’t care what your thing is, I believe that you are great at something. And you can be great at a lot of different things.

But no matter how great you are at however many amazing, impressive or important things, no amount of expertise, experience, or passion will mean that everyone will like you.

Let yourself off the hook. Great news: you don’t have to be for everyone, because no matter how hard you could possibly try, you never will be.

It’s easy to feel like the ultimate goal is to be well-liked.

I remember in middle school wanting desperately to be one of the popular kids– to wear certain clothes and act a certain way. But I could never contort myself enough to fit into that mold.

In a way, we never actually graduated from middle school. Society and culture teach us how we should be or what we should do in order to please people, and never ourselves. The mold still exists, the shape changes, and still, we try to stretch into things that we just weren’t made for.

To start writing on the internet, I had to embrace my own shape and get over being well-liked. I am not a passive person. I don’t really “do” subtle, and I’ve never tried to be objective here. But disagreement still hurts. I had to get over the friction that comes with it, and I had to take things much less personally.

What was the other option? Staying quiet? Nah. I’ll pass.

The real goal is not, and was never, to be well liked. The real goal is to live so deeply in our truths that we simply know that the people around us love us for who we are, and never for what we do. What you do becomes simplistic when you compare it to the much bigger picture of who you are.

Doing anything at all that you believe in– doing anything with conviction– means that someone will disagree. Your work and your words won’t resonate with everyone.

But it’s not our job or our responsibility to be for everyone. It’s not possible to be for everyone. When everyone agrees with us, we may be neutral. We may be lukewarm. Neutral for the sake of an unrealistic mold is just not a place to live.

When we dilute ourselves in the name of being well-liked, it may satiate our ego temporarily, but it does so at the expense of the impact that could have been made if we had lived in the strongest sense of ourselves.

So rest easy. You don’t have to be for everyone. When you find the people who really get you, they will be in it for the right reasons. They will be in it for you– who you really are, unfiltered.


 

Feature photo by BC Serna.

GEAR REVIEWS OUTDOORS TRAVEL

2016 Gift Guide

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I wanted to put together a list of stuff I use and love, not because it’s sponsored by anyone, but because I thought you’d like it. I describe my style as refined grit– and so, this list is for the sophisticated explorer in your life. Someone who gets after it outdoors but enjoys little luxuries too.

This list includes stuff from companies that I work with and companies I have nothing to do with. Whatever you choose to buy this holiday season, remember that you are voting with your dollars.

$25 OR LESS

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Burt’s Bees Lip Balm / $9.01 for two at Amazon
Burt’s Bees has been my go-to chapstick for a while now. Lately I’ve been digging the tinted lip balms, but the original is still great too. A solid choice for a stocking stuffer.

Bananagrams / $12 at REI
Bananagrams is like Scrabble but better and you can play it anywhere. A great game to have and bring on trips!

Topo Designs Accessory Bags / $13-17 at Topo Designs
Full disclosure: I modeled for Topo a year ago and got a bunch of swag. My favorite things from them? These bags. I have one for makeup, one for stationary supplies, and one for memory cards & tech. They are also super durable and Colorado made.

Moleskine XLarge Soft Cover Cahier Journals / $14.69-$19.95 for three on Amazon
The only journals I use. I have been writing and sketching in these for ten years– they are durable and slim so they can go anywhere.

SugarSky Bandana / $22 at SugarSky
A few months ago, SugarSky sent me a couple of headbands, and I haven’t come across any bandanas that I like more! Their patterns are awesome– you are sure to find something for every style.

$50 OR LESS

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Tarteguard 30 Sunscreen Lotion / $32 at Sephora
Give the gift of SPF! I have been wearing this for months as my daily moisturizer and really dig it– I was surprised to see that it only has 4 stars on Sephora! The packaging is annoying for travel since it’s in a pump bottle, but I have been really happy with the formula. I only buy cruelty-free cosmetics and this product is vegan.

Goal Zero Switch 10 Portable Recharger / $39.95 at REI
I don’t actually own this, but I really want one. I’m always running out of juice. There are plenty of portable rechargers out there, but Goal Zero makes durable stuff so I trust that this is no exception.

BioLite Powerlight Mini Light / $44.95 at REI or Amazon
BioLite gave me one of these to try over the summer, and it’s pretty darn handy. It keeps me visible on the trail and it’s a great light to have for reading or hanging out inside a tent. It has multiple modes and is super slim so you can pack it anywhere.

Ethnotek Chiburi Travel Organizer / $50 at Ethnotek
My friend Tiffiny works for Ethnotek and gave me this to try. I have never been one for travel organizers– they just always seemed uncool and over-the-top. I was shocked that I not only continued to use this, but I liked it a lot! This is like a bigass wallet that fits your phone, passport, cards and money. Plus it has a zip pouch for coins.

$80+

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America The Beautiful National Parks Pass / $80 at REI
Access to every National Park in the USA for a year. Pretty sweet.

Ubuntu Made Canvas Shopper / $149.99 at Ubuntu Made
I first found out about Ubuntu Made at a Kammok event this fall. I love their product line– canvas and leather is a combination I will always rock, and this bag is classic. Ubuntu Made celebrates the artisan work of makers in the Maai Mahiu community in Kenya. They have recently partnered with (RED), the global fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

Blundstone Boots / $169.95 on Amazon
I got these boots as part of a collaboration with Zappos and fell in love. These are comfortable, durable, and stylish and I wear them every day. Adventure ready for sure.

Cotopaxi Kusa Bomber Jacket / $189.95 at Cotopaxi
So that “refined grit” style I was talking about above? This is that. It’s made from sustainably sourced llama fiber insulation and I could not make that up if I tried. I love that this jacket looks seriously good but also works. Fashion meeting function: yes please. For 15% off, use discount code “ERINOUTDOORS15”.

ANY AMOUNT

Donate to an organization that can use the funds for something you believe in. Here’s where I am giving:

I hope this post gave you some ideas! What is on your list?

 


 

This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something using the a link above, I may receive a commission at no cost to you. That’s not the point of the post. Just wanted to let you know.