Me After Him

You were my healer, my teacher, my best friend, my soul mate. I couldn’t fathom my life without you, let alone survive it without you. You were my world, my everything, nothing was ever too scary with you in my life. Then, in what seemed like a moment of torrential misery I watched you turn into my nightmare. How could this be happening?? Everything was great. Who are you?? Where’s my friend?? Gone. My friend was gone, lost in fear, denial and anger, never to return as the man I knew. 

Alone. Alone with my internal storm of emotions, bubbling with toxic sea creatures encouraging me to give up, let the pain sink in. Let it become me. Drowning in pain. So much pain. Give in. “No one is here to save you anymore”, they whisper while their tentacles try to take me over. “It was only a matter of time, he finally knew there was someone better out there than you” the creatures snarled confidently. My limbs are limp, my resolve to keep treading water is diminishing and letting go is starting to sound peaceful. “He was your everything, now that he is gone, you have nothing. You ARE nothing.”  They seem almost gleeful in their insults, but I know they’re right. I’m powerless against all of this, there’s too many of them and they seem to keep stinging my abdomen, weakening my core every way they can. I give up and I start to sink with all their weight hanging on me. 

My feet hit the sandy bottom. “That wasn’t far” I think to myself. Then I notice the creatures are swimming away. Was this a game to them?? It almost seems like they were feeding off of my pain. I’m running out of breath, I have to get to the surface. I push off from the bottom and voraciously breathe in the crisp morning air. 

I awake to find the sun is rising with a breathtaking orange and blue glow. The night is drifting away taking some dark emotion with it to make way for a brand new day. I feel relief. Another day down. My eyes are too swollen to see anyone today, but that’s what sunglasses are for. And ice packs. I can do this, I quietly think to myself. People don’t actually die from heartbreak. Maybe they do. I have to do something else. Something I wouldn’t have done when we were together. A personal growth institute, I need to go and start a new journey.

You were my healer, my teacher, my best friend, my soul mate. I couldn’t fathom my life without you, let alone survive it without you. You were my world, my everything, nothing was ever too scary with you in my life. Then, in one swift motion, our time was up and you were gone. I loved every moment, every memory, every argument and every laugh. For a while, I thought I might actually die. I didn’t know who I was without you. But I do now. Every now and then your calm advice helps me power through something, but mostly it’s me. My own voice. Iam my own guide now. My own hero. My own goddess. My own warrior. Thank you for teaching me how to live without you. Now I can experience the love I want and not the love I need. I have all I need as Iam, and I couldn’t have found that without you moving out of the way. ūüíúūüíĖ

Personal Growth or Just “A Growth”?

IMG_3288

So I’ve been fixated lately on “understanding it all”. There are boatloads of benefits that come with this tenacious curiosity…mixed with a lack of adequate sleep, poor prioritization and being late to work. I’m so very grateful that my boss enjoys this personal journey as much as I do. She’s quite forgiving that I have been late all this week because I’ve been obsessed with processing my emotions and my life while still needing to work my second job and follow through on my homework assignments for school.

The Burning Questions

Something upsetting happens and you begin to ask, “what does it mean? Where am I meant to be? What’s the right path? Have you gone from feeling out-of-sync to “in-tune” with your soul so much that things keep happening to validate your own curiosity? A friend reads you something random that you end up randomly reading the next day. A conversation with one person primes you to handle a conversation with someone else shortly thereafter? A burning question that is seemingly unanswerable gets answered through someone else’s scenario which¬†is exactly the same? Everything seems to be tying into everything else? Am I making any sense?

Unexpected Answers

I’ve been meditating often lately, asking questions, searching for answers and letting go of expectations. The other day a friend insisted reading me a page out of A Return to Love,¬†a book about compassion and love unburdened by the ego (as much as thats possible anyway). It resonated with me so much that I immediately bought it. I felt a bit guilty that I didn’t finish another book, recommended by a different friend, so hurriedly completed that one while I waited for this one to arrive. When I received it, I opened a random page just to see what I picked. As I began reading I realized…I was reading exactly the same page my friend felt the urge to share with me. The one page that made me want to buy it! I was hooked. Feeling accomplished that I finished the other book recommended to me, I called that friend and told her about the new one. As I was backpedaling a bit, due to her silence, and thinking I sounded like a crazy hippie lunatic, she reassured me that it was a bizarre coincidence. She asked “did you look into the page numbers and see if they mean anything?”. GASP! She was still with me! And curious! Ok, this never seems to happen! So, the natural next step was to thoroughly engulf myself in Numerology…mind you I do have a TON of homework to do with an exam coming up. Which means I’m interested in anything BUT math right now. None of these recent scenarios are really answers and yet I feel like I’m be guided smoothly towards them, well, except for the homework part.

Doubt & Validation

I though to myself, maybe I’m going too far. Maybe I’m questioning things too much. Maybe this is unhealthy because it’s distracting me from my laundry, my homework, my clock…Then someone else brought up a conversation about spirituality and another person spoke of¬†“higher vibrations” and our “higher selves”. I feel things shifting. I feel a power beyond myself, validating my thoughts and allowing me to let go of old stories and limiting beliefs. I’m bathing in hope, inspiration, creativity, beauty and connectedness. Examining my own nature no longer feels like a growth inside me that makes me overanalyze everything but personal growth that is allowing me to bask in this journey of self exploration with others that find it just as valuable and essential. I am so eternally grateful.

Revel in the beauty that is uniquely you

Enjoy every conversation and every interaction

Listen with eagerness and engage with enthusiasm

Let your inner light guide you without judgement or expectations

Trust your intuition

Live passionately

The Island of Utopia

IMG_2606.JPG

We all live on a Mainland, filled with typical jobs,¬†responsibilities, consumerism and shallow emotion. The Mainland is where newspapers need to be written at the 6th grade level, $800 iPhones are purchased regularly and people talk about the newest Star Wars movie or celebrities as if they’re gods. In typical hierarchy, the higher classes judge your value in whether or not you have MA or PhD at the end of your name and¬†many others are constantly competing to “keep up with the Jones'”. That’s the Mainland. We all have lived here or currently live here. There are all walks of life on the Mainland, but the Critic, the Optimist and the Warrior are more common than others.

Some of us walk out to the Cliffs of the Mainland to appreciate the ocean because we know the Island is out there. We’ve heard of its beauty. According to legend, it’s a snowglobe of perfection filled with¬†happiness, hopes, dreams and transcendence. Elders make¬†it appear like a¬†mystical utopia where¬†enlightenment comes naturally. Here’s the thing though…the waters can be choppy, you can’t fly there, there are no hotels and its innocent beauty has been preserved. The worlds deepest trench is between the Mainland and the Island, new species are discovered all the time and its particularly dangerous because many predators breed there.

The Island tests our courage.

Some people rarely¬†go to the Cliffs because the edge terrifies them, they can dream on occasion but it never goes beyond that. They are susceptible to gossip, conspiracies and fear mongering. Complaining is their way of life, dreaming is¬†not acceptance of reality, that’s for the hippies and the rich.¬†Their relationships are typically toxic, non-existent, superficial or co-dependent. A staggering percentage of the population on the Mainland are these types. These are the Critics.

Others are so fascinated by the island that they charter a small boat and go to a smaller, closer island. Although it’s not really an island but more like a big rock similar to Alcatraz, only, there’s no prison. They find it beautiful and intriguing so they return to the Mainland with¬†stories of hope and¬†gratitude, convincing themselves they have experienced enlightenment of the Island, even though its not the actual Island. These are our Optimists, always giving advice, always trying to help. But they, too, were fearful of the turbulent waters in the journey to the Island. So they settled for one with a shorter path, less risk and faster gratification. These people are happy and content, they lift us up, light up a room and make us feel connected.

Then there are those of us that build up the courage to journey to the Island. We are more curious than fearful and feel like we have to see this Island that our culture so highly regards. Starry eyed and fueled by determination, we begin. We encounter storms and sharks, fear of death and gratitude for life. Every day survived in these conditions we feel more blessed and more surprised at our own resolve. It’s terrifying and we wonder why the hell we thought this was ever a good idea. There’s a reason no one you know has ever actually been there, we think to ourselves. This really sucks. We get stung by jellyfish but learn that the pain eventually goes away. A shark bites off a finger and we learn to write with the other hand. We¬†run out of food but learn to fish with dolphins. Every “bad” thing, teaches us something else.¬†It’s long and arduous. When we finally¬†arrive¬†bruised, beaten and exhausted, we find the Island is nothing the stories spoke of. It’s no more of a utopia than the tiny Alcatraz-like rock. But that’s ok, we think. ¬†This is beautiful BECAUSE of what it took to get here. We arrive different, changed, grateful. These¬†are the Warriors.

When we return to the Mainland, we share our story. The Critics judge us and make fun of our missing finger, the Optimists think you learned what they did, but the still have all their digits¬†and no idea how to fish. But the Warriors, they see you immediately. They see the waves of the journey in your eyes. They can relate with their missing toe and tales of near death. They don’t speak of the¬†Island as a utopia, because like you, they have been there, and ¬†know the utopia resides in you, every second of every day. They know that some lessons can only be learned when you need to learn them for your very survival.

 

 

Contempt marries creativity?

 
Credit: I have no earthly idea but if you do, let me know.

We have ALL felt this way before. I will to to keep this short but you know how I LOVE to write when I have other things to do. I have shared with you all lately the things I have been going through, including my post “This is the part where I start taking over”. (Which I removed, then put back up because it tells a story and I’m trying not to feel ashamed) A friend recently read it and said, “whew, it’s good, but I hope he never reads that or he’ll feel really small.” When I felt pleased that she thought it would make him feel small or hurt him, I knew…

CRAP. I must be really pissed at myself

I sent my pain out into the universe, knowing that maybe one day he would come across it, or feel the anger I was sending to him intuitively. I was hurt and blaming him for my pain. That’s not the person I aspire to be. The truth is, I’m not perfect either. Our relationship moved at lighting speed and we should have taken things slower before I jumped in the deep end with an already established family. I felt like I failed, AGAIN. I already felt like a failure for my marriage falling apart. In the previous post I spoke about my ex-husband like he was a saint, and for much of our relationship he was. But at the end, he metaphorically lit everything on fire. He was spiteful and cruel, using every possible insecurity he could. That wasn’t my friend. My friend had left our relationship months before it ended and I hadn’t even realized.

My current/past/complicated relationship is highly emotional and confusing. I’ve never dealt with that level of connection in a relationship before and felt very unprepared. At the same time, neither one of us seemed able to live with each other. I feel less trapped now and back in control of my life and my surroundings. I meant

This is definitely the part where I start taking over

The post I wrote before was driven by my own temper, which in my mind, clouds your judgement and dampens creativity since it only tells part of the story. I felt empowered by contempt at the time, but I realize now that it’s not my only emotion and I have no absolutes or total clarity yet. I personally felt, in that instance, it was not a good thing. I don’t want to cast stones, even if I was hurting. So readers, please, accept my apologies, I’m not hurting like I was. Maybe there will be a redefined future for us, and maybe not. Either way, I will be ok and stand for what’s important to me. It took a friend to say what she said for me to realize how intense it really was.

Anyone who has an emotional reaction to one of my paintings, knows how I felt when I painted it.” Painter, Mark Rothko

Maybe some of you were able to relate to how I was feeling in that post, if so, thank you for understanding. However, my goal of this blog is not to be angry or blame anyone for my own emotions. Sometimes I will bring you with me as I process things. The original intention was not to be condescending towards him but open about my own pain. I had simply wanted to empower myself to feel confident in my choice to move out because I was heartbroken. Well, it worked. I did what I need to, propelled by anger, determination and self preservation. Has there been a time recently where you allowed your temper to guide your creativity and wished you had given it a little time to develop first?

Razors edge

Sometimes when you set a goal with enough passion to light the world on fire you have moments when you wonder if you yourself can withstand the heat. Here’s my New Years resolution, which I proudly stole from Brene Brown:

I want more courage, more happiness, and more connection in 2016 and I‚Äôm willing to invest the time and effort to make that happen. I‚Äôm ready to DO THE WORK ‚Äď to LEARN SOMETHING NEW ‚Äď to CHALLENGE OLD STORIES. And, I‚Äôm going to do it with a group of people who are also choosing to be brave with their lives. 

Armed with this strong intention, my purpose is to build authentic connections with the people I care about. It’s difficult to be the bigger person. To rise above things. To let people walk away because they aren’t okay with your boundaries or what’s important to you. It’s difficult to build strong connections because it means being vulnerable, having boundaries, not being a doormat, being authentic and holding people accountable. It means holding yourself accountable for your behavior and owning your mistakes. It means knowing what beliefs enable you to be a better person and which ones limit your growth. Even more difficult is redefining what friendship and family truly mean to you. 

It’s challenging to stand by what you believe in, to keep moving forward when you’re climbing a mountain and the altitude is causing the air to become thinner. It gets harder to breathe and you wish for the ground to level out for a while. People will walk away, people that you love. Others will stay firmly by your side and choose to grow with you. Many times I have felt alone in my quest to be authentic because friends and family have found vulnerablity and accountability far too uncomfortable.

In typical life, we may take a wrong path, lose our sense of direction and feel beaten down by dissapointment or unmet expectations. But when we rise up, stand tall, beat back the evil inner gremlins and still show compassion, respect and vulnerability THAT is when we draw true connection into our lives. I love with my whole heart, it means things feel alive, all the time, for me. This year my focus is to accept what happens as part of my experience towards choosing courage more often, and hopefully, encourage others to do the same. I do that by releasing blame, accepting myself as I am, sharing my story and reaching out to like-minded people. I’m looking at the hard moments as stops on my journey, always finding my way back to the main trail towards authentic human connection.

My life has been difficult the last 4 years. I married my best friend of 7.5yrs, then divorced him a little over a year and a half later. I lost our baby. I fell in love with a man and his 4 children. I moved in. Then, moved out a year and a half later. A coupl close family members battle addiction and mental illness while making a series of poor choices that have left them homeless. After enough time, I sadly realized my help was only enabling them. My grandfather, who was my mentor and friend, lost his battle with cancer. I’m about to move for the 4th time and I’ve gone through countless jobs trying to find my voice, my place. I have since, found my place, for now. I’ve made new friends, lost old ones and even volunteered at a personal growth institute to understand the pain. My mentors have been my cheerleaders. All in the last 4 years. It’s been tough. I’ve cried a lot. I’ve loved with more passion than I ever thought I was capable of.  I chose to stand up, with my head held high and walk the razors edge. It can be sharp and cutting, but it’s rewarding and so incredibly worth all the pain I have endured to build meaningful connection. I’m a warrior on a mission. With blazing passion, fierce determination and unyielding  authenticity I will challenge old beliefs, face my inner gremlins and be the change I want to bask in for the rest of my life. I choose the razors edge, in all its glory.

Failure is like a mentor teaching you to succeed

I showed a video in my music class today (because I kind of fell into this class and can’t, for the life of me, play an instrument) so the class ends up essentially becoming ¬†critical thinking. At the school we are practicing failure with our students and this¬†tied in pretty well with¬†our class meeting material.¬†I went to class intending to teach about the power of¬†music. How it can¬†be more moving, cathartic and therapeutic than the spoken word. My classes never turn out how I expect. What it turned into was a lesson about failure. Whether or not they are allowed to fail when learning something new at home and whether or not it affects their retention.¬†The students that had overbearing parents or were judged harshly for failing didn’t¬†take as many risks at our school to try new things as students that had more freedom to fail. It was illuminating. Another student recognized that he was allowed to fail at school but not home, so after 7 years in our tiny magical school, he has learned a different code: he can fail, and that’s not just ok it’s encouraged and celebrated.

As adults we can be brutally harsh on ourselves. We have high expectations and some hold themselves to a level of perfectionism that I find exhausting. When we try to lose weight, try to keep our New Years resolutions or maybe try to learn a new language we can be so critical about not following through. Or, it takes longer to learn, so we judge how we should have tried when we were younger and it’s just too late. Maybe we take a big leap on something, like start a business, fall in love or write a book…and it fails. That can be heartbreaking. But it’s totally okay.¬†

When I asked our students at class meeting today, “what does failure mean to you?”, one of them said “failure is like a mentor teaching you how to succeed.”

Wow!! He was 1-trillion percent correct! This 9yr old just schooled me!

There’s this great improv group I occasionally attend where the moderators always open the class with a short speech about how this is simply a place to play, free of judgement. They prefer we fail than get things right, because things can be way funnier when you screw it up. The first time I went I was terribly nervous but was on-point with my one liners. The second time I was much more confident and got a whole lot of tumbleweeds.¬†I wasn’t very funny¬†and it was totally okay.¬†

–Right here my post, that creativity¬†so inspired me to write, was secretly given to the abyss of the universe, never to be seen again. Soooooooo, hey there failure, let’s dance¬†—

When I was growing up my mom would over-sympathize the smallest things. and make it seem way more intense.¬†I began questioning if I was under-estimating the severity, which would¬†spiral quickly into “I’m worthless, why do I bother”. I¬†believed that I just¬†overanalyzed everything and my reaction was supposed to be victimhood and self-pity. I really didn’t know any better.

“When we know better, we do better.” ¬† ¬† ¬†~Maya Angelou

When we learn to fail, we grow. When we judge ourselves less negatively for failing, we grow. But it doesn’t stop there. You MUST deconstruct it. Here’s an outline:

STEP 1. Yup, you screwed that up. It’s okay. Personally, I enjoy making fun of the mistake. It’s a great coping skill. Celebrate and realize this is an opportunity to learn. If you stop with step 1,¬†it sounds like: “I messed that up but that’s because x,y,z. Accept it, that’s who I am”

STEP 2: What happened and why was it a failure? Was it because you didn’t get an outcome you anticipated or another reason? What was your expectation?

STEP 3: Do I need to change my expectation or the strategy I’m using for my desired outcome? Learn from it

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.       ~Albert Einstein

A friend of mine liken’s¬†this process to the scientific method. You form a hypothesis and test it out until you get the¬†desired outcome.¬†It may seem dry and scientific but this particular friend is anything but that. She has taught me that I was never wrong to want to wade through uncomfortable failures while examining the species that survive in the swamps. She has taught me that it can be funny if your layered¬†in moss covered leaches,¬†because “hey look! You’re still alive, even the leeches want to suck your¬†blood!” That’s how failure can feel. You’re not alone and that is simply the messy middle of any story. To get to the endings you have to fail a lot. Allow failure to mentor you, to show you¬†that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you promise to learn from them. Go fail brilliantly!

Don’t let one bad apple ruin the bunch

I was walking out of a grocery store recently and saw a gentleman in a wheelchair getting in his van. He was trouble getting his chair to go up the ramp…I walked right by him and thought, “what the hell am I doing?! This is so unlike me!” I ran back once he was settled in his van and peeked in his window. ” I’m so sorry, I was going to offer to help! It looked like you’ve been doing this a while and I didn’t want to offend you by offering. I’ve offered help to people before only to be yelled at, so I’m sorry I didn’t offer.” With his calm, genuine smile he said “no worries, don’t ever let a few bad apples spoil the bunch. I appreciate the offer, don’t ever be worried to offer help.” Still smiling, he thanked me for the offer, even though it was late, and drove off. 

I could have felt awful. I could have not gone back. I could have judged myself for telling him “I meant to offer”. But I didn’t, neither did he, and I was grateful. Next time I will offer to help right when I feel the urge and not take it personal if I “offend” anyone for offering a helping hand.