Searching for purpose. Searching for meaning.




{Tips for survival when you’re not sure . . . about anything.}

{Self-Portrait circa 2009, Pescadero, CA}

{Self-Portrait circa 2009, Pescadero, CA}

For the last 3 years I’ve been on a search.
Actually, it’s been more like a hunt.
A wild goose chase.
To find myself.
And to find meaningful work.
To get my mojo back.

After my most recent business venture went way wrong, I set off on a new course.
To figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
To figure out why so many of my partnerships had gone bad.
To learn how to stop facilitating everyone else’s dreams and start creating my own.

Theoretically this adventure into the unknown could be exciting. Even thrilling.
But for someone who has known who she wanted to be since the age of 6, this level uncertainty was really uncomfortable, to say the least.

In fact, this whole process of searching and finding purpose is decidedly unglamorous.

I’ve battled depression.
Countless health-related concerns.
Emotional eating.
Severe levels of stress.
Financial woes.
Rough relationship patches.
Extreme self-doubt.
Zero motivation.
Lack of passion.

Sounds horrific when I write it out like that.
And it was.
It is.
‘Cause it’s still going on.
I haven’t overcome any of the issues above.
In fact, they touch my life at least once per day, in some way, shape or form.
It would seem that with a laundry list like that – I wouldn’t be able to function.
And sometimes, I don’t.
But more often than not, lately, I’m able to pull myself out of the funk. And into the world.

Here are a few of my tips for survival. When you’re just not sure {about anything}.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through all of this is that I can’t do it on my own. And I don’t have to. It’s not shameful to ask for help or to connect with others. Believe me, the people in your life who adore you will gladly offer their presence, support and love. Also know that sometimes it’s not your significant other, family members or best friends who make the best source of support. They can often be too close to you. I’ve found an incredibly supportive sister-hood of amazing women entrepreneurs who I know I can call on and count on for ANYTHING. That alone has made such a difference.

2. GO OUT.
Whenever I notice that I’m in a period of self-imposed isolation, the only thing that pulls me out is to get out of the house. Even if all I can do is sit on my front porch and watch cars go by. Or sit in the coffee shop and people watch. Getting outside is my ultimate panacea for those times when I can barely get outta bed. It helps me gain perspective. It opens up my five senses to the world. It reminds me that I am indeed lucky. To be alive. To be here. To be me.

It might not seem like a possibility or even like something you want to do – but indulging your senses in something beautiful is my favorite way to pull myself out of the abyss. Indulging for me can border on pacification. So I encourage you to do things that are simple, ideally that take little money and that allow you to have a sensory experience.
For me? I love to watch Tom Ford’s A Single Man. Have a chai latte from Intelligentsia. Read the latest issue of Anthology Magazine. Go to the ocean and take photos of the waves. Get my nails done. Put on a fancy-schmancy outfit and go to Whole Foods. Trust me, it works.

As much as going outside and smelling the roses {metaphorically or literally} is good for the soul, retreating is also key. Since isolating myself inside too much is often an issue for me, I have to be careful with this one. But it’s still a necessity. I like to retreat inside my home. Inside my own body + mind. There are so many ways to do this {and it’s all highly individual}. Personally, I adore candle lit baths with essential oils and sea salt. Slow-cooking comfort meals like gluten-free pasta with homemade Bolognese sauce. Cleaning the house {oddly therapeutic}. Writing with no agenda. Reading one of the dozen books sitting by my nightstand. Listening to Spotify while dancing ’round the house. Connecting with yourself is just as important as connecting with the outside world.

Sometimes I wonder if all of my angst doesn’t stem from a lack of creating. I’ve read that creative folks tend to suffer from a lot of ailments {physical and mental} as a result of stifled creativity {among other things}. I think there’s something to this idea. So whenever I’m feeling down and out, I like to create something. Anything. It could be a blog post. A poem. A photograph. A series of photographs. A meal. A letter to a friend. Dance moves. iPhone videos. Flower arrangements. Origami. You name it. I pick up something and create. Giving birth to something new gets me out of my head and into my body and my creative flow. Try it!

Here are some wise words, from a very wise man.

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
~Haruki Murakami

Though I’m nowhere near perfect, I have definitely learned a thing or two in my life about weathering the storm.
I’m still a messy, work-in-progress. I’ve got gnarly edges, dark places and lots of uncertainty. But I’m happy. Today, I’m happy.
And I’m grateful. For you. For being here and reading this. And for all the teachers who have been placed on my path so far.

What are your survival tips? Can you relate to feeling like you’re not sure of anything?
If you’re game, drop me a comment below. I’d love to hear your story and your tips.





P.S. I had to leave you with a little moving image inspiration. This one never fails to “pick me up”. ;-)


{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynn February 20, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Steph, this is beautiful. I can relate to absolutely everything you so bravely shared in this post…and I needed to hear it, as I’m sure others do, too. Thank you for your honesty, vulnerability and love. I feel like I’ve been on a similar search my whole life and it’s all too easy to see only failure in all my living, but reminders like this help me to know that I’m not alone. Something that’s helped for me is to decide that strength and fragility are two sides to the same coin, exactly like vulnerability is a measure of true courage. I see both in you and reading your words and witnessing your example are definitely on my list of survival skills. Thank you! <3


Stephanie Watanabe February 20, 2013 at 5:39 pm

I love what you said about strength + fragility. So, so true. And so important to remember! Thank you for everything you said. It deeply touches me to know that I’m lucky enough to have my words read by sweet souls like you. And of course, that I too am not alone. You’re the best Lynn! xoxo


Fel February 20, 2013 at 6:27 pm

i think everyone on the planet can relate to this :) and totally wonderful you put it out there.
have you ever read ‘Osho’? that man knows a thing or two about uncertainty, and he definitely shook me up. and totally lit the fire to set me on the path towards embracing it. If you haven’t already, you can check out his book at the libes for free “Courage: The Joy Of Living Dangerously”.
Changed my life!
love to you
xx Fel


Stephanie Watanabe February 21, 2013 at 10:41 am

I will definitely check out that book, thank you for the recommendation! And thank you for being here and for your support – lots of love back at ya! :)


Alessandra February 22, 2013 at 6:44 am

I really hear you sister. Thank you Stephanie, for every word. I share just about everyone of these experiences, so YES! – We´re alive, we have struggles. I love & practice everything on your “get-your-mojo-back-my-love” list.

My #6 is: MOVE SISTA MOVE! Movement creates change, gets energy flowing and moving your lovely body-temple will generate happy hormones. If you feel like it or not – go for a walk, run, jump up and down, dance, move things around your home, get movin´ everyday.

Love, love, love & self-love,


Stephanie Watanabe February 22, 2013 at 9:38 am

LOVE your addition Alessandra! And you’re so right. Movement is everything! It’s the one thing that I often forget to do {it’s too easy to just sit in front of the computer or a book}. Thanks for that reminder. And for being here and sharing with me! xo


jill February 22, 2013 at 10:10 am

when you are in the middle of the forest it is hard to take it all in…
working on it!
But thank you so mush for this post!
Also, agree with Alessandra!
Even if some days moving to a bubble bath seems like a lot!


Stephanie Watanabe February 22, 2013 at 10:17 am

So true Jill. It’s easier said than done when you’re in the thick of it. And yeah, I’ve had moments where moving to the bath was a “SCORE!” moment. Sometimes, it’s like that. ;)
Thanks for your presence here ~ hope you have a beautiful weekend!


Emily February 22, 2013 at 10:28 am

I loved this. Thank you for being so open and vulnerable, it was lovely to read. And the advice is wonderful as well, I’m definitely going to be re-reading this post ;)


Stephanie Watanabe February 22, 2013 at 10:39 am

Thank you Emily, so much! You being here means the world. I hope that my words will inspire you when you need it most. Have a great weekend! xo


Sally February 22, 2013 at 10:28 am

Thank you for sharing your Wild Heart.



Stephanie Watanabe February 22, 2013 at 10:41 am

Thank YOU Sally. For everything. For starting a Wildheart Revolution. And for igniting mine 3 years ago. xoxo


Kim February 22, 2013 at 11:49 am

I can relate, too. I had a very, very bad period in my life, and it took a lot of work to move past it. I especially relate to connecting and getting out. It is so easy to isolate yourself, but if you never get out and never talk to anyone it’s hard to get anything to change. Good luck at getting through this tough period.

And if my experience is any indication, when you get to the other side, your life will be better than ever before. This kind of work is incredibly hard but the payoff is huge.


Stephanie Watanabe February 22, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Thanks so much for your words of support Kim. It really helps all of us, to share our experiences going through not only the good stuff, but the struggles too. And you’re totally right, the work is brutal, but the payoff is so huge. I’ve experienced that in parts of my life already – and it definitely helps pull me through the rough spots.
Cheers! :)


sandra February 22, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Thank you Stephanie! That was really reconforting and full of good advices! I’ve saved your post so I can read it again as often as I need.
And good luck for finding what you’re looking for, good luck to your readers and good luck to me… :)


Stephanie Watanabe February 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Sending you lots of love Sandra! Thank you for being here. “It takes a village” to create the kind of life we dream of. I’m glad you’re part of mine. :)


Gemma February 22, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Thank you for being so honest. It can be so hard to admit struggles and yet in doing so through your words I believe you are really serving others. As a blogger it can be easy to only portray the good stuff, and yet it was your words in this post that I needed to hear. To know that I am not alone in how I feel.

So, thank you for sharing.

Gemma x


Stephanie Watanabe February 22, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Wow Gemma, thank you! Even though I wanted to delete this post right after publishing, I knew it was necessary. For it to be out in the world and hopefully inspire others. I know how much all of us want to feel like we’re not alone and like we’re apart of something meaningful. My heart is full knowing it served its’ purpose.
Thank you, for being a part of my world and doing the work you do. xo


Liz February 22, 2013 at 7:34 pm

This is perhaps one of the best posts I’ve ever read. Thanks for your honesty and great the quote from Murakami. Words to live by!

I’m glad I found your blog. Thank you Stephanie and God bless you.


Stephanie Watanabe February 22, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Wow Liz, thank you! I’m truly honored to have you here and so happy to hear these words touched you. Hugs to you!


~Christy @ wonderofallthings February 22, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Putting our hearts into the world is exactly what the world needs, whether it knows it or not…your honesty is a step in that direction. Thank you for doing your work and honestly sharing it with the rest of us. Priceless.

I love what you said about creatives needing to create. It’s so often those of us who need to feed our creative process in order to thrive get thrown off track when we lose touch with our passion and consequently our purpose. Creating in all forms — not just art — brings us back to the simple wonder of the mundane everyday lives we live, re-learning how to appreciate the little things when we can’t be single-handedly conquering the world. Which we can’t be every single moment. It’s part of the inherent ebb and flow of life.

For me, forgiving myself for not living up to my stringent expectations is part of the survival process. Three cheers for self-love!

The mojo magic will return. My best survival tactic…have hope. Always.

Go get ‘em, tiger! ;)


Stephanie Watanabe February 22, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Ahhh Christy, such great words of wisdom. Thank you x thank you! Too true, hope is where it’s at. Gotta remember that. :)


Darris February 24, 2013 at 10:05 pm

When my son was about three years-old we volunteered at a local rest home. Once a week we went to the rest home and visited residents. We committed to an hour but always stayed for two or more (depending on my son’s needs). We did this for over a year. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. One of the residents was a well dressed attractive woman with no obvious health issues. Every time we visited she was sharply dressed and sat primly on the edge of her bed. She observed my son playing from afar but never tried to interact with him. Although my son hugged every resident at the facility, somehow he understood this woman needed time.
One visit over three months later my son walked over to the woman’s bed, asked to get up and gave her a long, gentle hug. She embraced him with tears streaming down her face. When he got down to play she told me that that was the first time in nearly twenty years that she’d been hugged. Twenty years! Every visit from that day forward she stood up and waited for her hug from both of us. Her entire presence shifted. She smiled, interacted with other patients and staff. The staff said she’d been a resident for several years and had only had a couple visitors. They said they change in her was remarkable and attributed it all to my son breaking through the barrier no one else could. There are more stories like this one. My son is now on the cusp of seventeen. He doesn’t remember our weekly visits to the rest home or much else about his adventurous childhood . . . but our experience there had a profound effect on me and how I lived my life.
Love the video and the song and your boldness, thanks so much!


Stephanie Watanabe February 25, 2013 at 12:47 am

I love this story Darris! And I love that you helped give your son such a meaningful and memorable experience. He may not remember it consciously, but the effects have certainly shaped the man he is becoming. I love hearing stories like yours – of giving, of service and of loving others. A simple hug can change someone’s world. Thanks for sharing! :)


Liz February 26, 2013 at 8:50 am

Love this Stephanie! This is definitely a post I think everyone can relate to at some point in their lives. You beautifully express both your vulnerability and your strength in here. Lots of love!


Stephanie Watanabe February 26, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Thank you x thank you Liz! I love seeing your name here. Your kind words and encouragement are so appreciated. Sending love to you + your adorable family! xo


pooja April 8, 2013 at 11:53 pm

Sometimes it is so much rooted inside, that it becomes difficult to come out and you don’t even know whether you will be able to come out of it or not, at that time the only thing that probably I do is to have faith on God and eventually he will do something if that prayer is coming from deep inside that’s true soul. Very well written post. We are not alone, its not that easy to open up to others what you are thinking when everything seems like a big mesh and you are lost in that. But keep trying even a little effort will show the way out of that mesh.


Stephanie Watanabe April 9, 2013 at 8:44 am

Thank you for your comment Pooja. Your words ring very true. I appreciate you sharing your wisdom here!


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: