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DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been looking for inspiration because I feel a bit lost right now. I realize that my role models from before have not been good examples for me, and I ended up modeling behavior that was not beneficial. I have been looking for new sources of inspiration on social media and in newspapers, but those have been unsuccessful and disheartening. I do not know where to look anymore, nor do my friends have suggestions for me or role models of their own. Where do you find your inspiration? Is it in people, ideas or rituals? Who inspires you the most, and what values do they hold? — Inspirations
DEAR INSPIRATIONS: I find inspiration in stillness and reconnecting to spirit. I have been practicing meditation for many years. Establishing a meditation practice can be extremely beneficial, and it doesn’t have to be a huge investment of time. Consider getting up 30 minutes earlier each day, sitting quietly, possibly with soothing music playing. Then just breathe deeply for three cleansing breaths. As you breathe in, invite light and love into your being. As you breathe out, exhale any discomfort that may be lodged in your body or your spirit. Continue to breathe gently. Hold an affirming thought in your mind. You can focus on welcoming light into your life with each breath. You can repeat an affirmation that speaks to the goodness within you: I am content. I am peaceful. I love life. Try that.
I will add that looking to social media for role models is a dangerous way of attempting to fill your cup. There is so much grandstanding out there, and, as you experienced, role models can be fake. Other sources of inspiration can be nature, a family member or friend who is living a life you admire, an author whose work you read or a professor at school or someone further ahead of you in your career who may be able to serve as a mentor.
After anchoring yourself to your heart, look around for extracurricular activities that may pique your interest and lead you to new friendships.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been in the same relationship since I was 16; I am now 22, and I realize that I no longer want to be in it. My boyfriend is an amazing man and we get along great and have talked about marriage, but he has been my only boyfriend, and I want to take some time to figure out who I am becoming and what interests me. I feel that in this relationship, everything is about us together. Please help! — 6-Year Relationship
DEAR 6-YEAR RELATIONSHIP: Rather than breaking up, why not talk about what’s going on with you? Your boyfriend may be having similar feelings of loving you but wanting some freedom. Talk it out and see if there’s a way for you both to enjoy some space from each other without closing the door. Couples design all kinds of ways of living their lives. If you think there’s a chance for the two of you to have longevity even as you want a break, talk about that and see if you can come to an agreement on how to move forward.