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  • How to Be a Mermaid

How to Be a Mermaid

*Important Note: I, Elizabeth No-Middle-Name Lyons, would not DREAM of taking credit for the brilliance of this post. It was written by the fabulously insightful Katie Marie Frank (who was, in so many ways, completely created to be my friend even if she does not yet know it), and originally posted on Elephant Journal. You can follow Katie's Instagram here or check out her unique Etsy shop here. Katie, if you read this, I must meet you. I must. <3

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What do you think of when you hear the word “mermaid”?

Oceans, mystery, beauty, blues, greens and purples, strength, songs and a bonus clamshell bra, right? They represent a sort of freedom and artistry we land-bound mortals ache for. A depth of perception and wonder we can’t help but dream of and long for.

I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.” – Anais Nin

Well, as my best friend (a rather remarkable human) has declared, this is the “Year of the Mermaid.

In other words this is the year to be brave, be honest, be the glorious, beautiful, incredible human we all know you are.

If someone says your life has to go a certain way, look them in the eye and ask “Why?” Then do whatever the f*** you want. Someone says that you have to be or do something in order to be successful? Laugh, take a shot of bourbon and do whatever the f*** you want.

This is the year to write your own story.

Paint your own walls with the colors that make your heart happy.

Make something beautiful every day—or every other day, whatever.

Sing—just sing, goddamn it. Just do it. It’s good for your health and nobody actually gives a f*** about how it sounds—as long as you mean it.

And most importantly, be honest—with everyone, especially yourself.

Something isn’t feeding you or making you happy? Be honest about why this is so and get rid of it.

Something won’t leave you alone? Get to the bottom of that sh**. Can’t get thoughts of someone out of your head? Tell them.

Peel away that fear inch by inch and keep moving forward.

Give “the man” a giant middle finger, scream into the wind off the ocean and live your goddamn life the way you see fit.

But then reality comes knocking: you need a job to pay the bills.

Okay, but why can’t that be doing something I love instead of something that sucks my soul out through my eyeballs and leaves me dripping ooze all over the carpet?

Okay, reality again: following your heart isn’t the best business plan.

We’re not all business people. I sure as hell am not. Yeah, I run an Etsy shop and can do my own taxes, but f***—the last thing I want to do is sit in a cubicle and do paperwork.

I’d rather shovel horse sh**.

Wait, I have shoveled horse shit.

It was one of the best jobs I ever had.

So do I look down on “real” work? Hell, no. I’ve waited tables, I’ve worked behind a desk, my mom and sister have cleaned houses, my dad worked construction between desk jobs and I am a better person when physical labor is involved in my work.

But joy should also be in your work. Yes, joy. Find it. If you can’t, find something else to do.

Here’s an idea! Sell the sh** you don’t need, it’s a start to making some money. It’s actually pretty amazing—all the crap you probably have in your closets and cabinets or on your shelves is just sitting there, collecting dust because these things are never getting used. Why on earth do you even own them in the first place?

Sell that sh**. Craigslist, Facebook, yard sales—use the money to pay off a credit card debt and get rid of that sh**, too.

Being held back by possessions or debt will never make you happy, nor will it further your life. It’s a literal weight, preventing you from being the amazing human you are supposed to be. Throw off the weight that’s dragging you down and swim freely in the ocean of your life.

Seriously, people, life is supposed to be beautiful and fulfilling and genuine and lovely. Use what you have, get rid of what you don’t need (that includes people and regrets, too) and live more freely, more honestly and full of joy.

Find your tribe. You hear that a lot, that surrounding yourself with people who have similar interests, loves and heartbeats will help you be the incredible mermaid you’re striving to be.

Guess what? It’s true.

My closest friends are scattered all across the country and all over the world, but there is a cord of steel connecting us together. The electric current that runs between us is amazing, it holds love and light and ideas and joy and encouragement and a certain brand of take-no-sh**-attitude that keeps us all honest with each other.

We’ve got each other’s backs. We also call each other’s bullshit. You can’t be a mermaid if you’re swimming around pretending to be a seahorse. Your tribe will keep you frank and forthright.

Get specific about what it is you want out of your life. “I want to be happy” just isn’t enough. What things make you happy? How can you do more of that?

"I want to be successful." Well, what the hell is this success you’re talking about? Define it. Get to the center of it. The nitty-gritty, salty details of what you want, what it looks like and how you can get there.

There’s a great big ocean out there, loves. You need a map to get across it. You’re going to have to dive deep into some dark waters without a flashlight and kind of feel your way for a bit.

But then there’s the the other side. Picture the Great Barrier Reef. That’s how f***ing gorgeous it’s going to be.

Finally, write a manifesto. Declare to the world the kind of life you want and the things you’re going to do. It doesn’t have to be all serious and all intellectual. Just let yourself know what will help you be the most unique, most genuinely you mermaid in the whole damn ocean.

Here’s mine:

I’m going to dye my hair blue. I’m going to make a short film. I’m going to write a f***ing book, called something like “Lioness Roar: The Ramblings of a Wild Heart“. It will have pictures I draw and poems and essays and dredges of heart song. It will be messy and beautiful—like my life. It won’t be entirely true, but it will be entirely real. My heart stains will be on each page, my paint-covered fingers and dirty nails will leave prints in the margins. It will be my life on paper. My tears and blood-splatters turned into words.

This is my goal. This is ultimately where I will end up: leather-bound but free. Flying. Just waiting for you to decide to open the cover.

Because I am a goddam mermaid with flowers in her hair, and I will do what makes my heart sing.
Keep swimming, my salty loves.

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Dear Katie,

THANK YOU for reminding us how much power we have. THANK YOU for teaching us how to be the mermaids we were born to be. When you decide to write that book of yours, it would be an absolute honor to answer any questions you might have about the process. :)

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    Elizabeth Lyons
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