The Well Worn Path


I’ve been here before. Elena thought to herself.

She had planned for this one. She combed through all her previous miscalculations, judgements and choices – she knew where she had gone wrong. She devoured everything she could about the Carmengia Trail that led to the Truth Temple. From mentors to books, she voraciously took in everything she could. The Carmengia Trail was the fastest way to the top, but also the most dangerous. Much of it was uncharted and resembled the cliche of “the road less traveled”. Last time, she circled the bottom of the mountain for weeks, only following the well worn trail because she was alone and terrified to venture off course. The time before that she had a hiking partner but he decided to join another group part way up and she was unprepared to do it solo. Only a few dozen have reached the temple in the last century- which means the paths have become overgrown with dis-use. Last time, she literally couldn’t see the forest through the trees. A new path would have to be discovered as she went. Educated guesses would have to be made.

I know this feeling. I’ve felt it before.

Elena could feel here anxiety rising. It always starts as a tingle. Then a nudge. Then a low voice “this isn’t right and you know it“. Then a louder, slightly shrill voice, “stop! Listen to me!”, followed by an unexpected punch to the gut.

Is this fear or intuition?

Elena tries to calm the feeling by directly addressing it. Her thoughts seemed to oscillate between fear of the unknown, possible catastrophic events and a carnal urge to reach her destination. Fear then deep wisdom. Deep wisdom then fear.

” must keep moving. Just keep moving

The wise part of her tried to comfort the fear welling up inside her body. Gently she tries to work through the feeling, “I’m either running from a feeling or trying to lean into the unknown. Is this a sign that I’ve chosen the wrong path, an omen? Or is just that I have no guarantees? Is this a lack of control or a sixth sense to beware??”

Her steps become stronger, more deliberate, more determined, more focused. Her senses sharpen and everything starts to feel louder and brighter. Gratitude kicks in high gear as though a pharmacy in her brain needs to start dispensing high doses of seratonin, dopamine and oxytocin at an alarming rate. Her soul is preparing her for something. Something she’s missed and it wants her to see.

Fear slithers in the dark corners of her mind and hisses, “I think it’s a warning. BEWARE fool!”. Wisdom comes to the rescue, “A gift is coming. Magic and a blessing in the form of hesitation and trepidation for things unknown. Breathe my darling. Breathe, listen, walk. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be.” Elena inhales and exhales almost mechanically trying not to think of the worst case scenario and uses every bit of emotional strength to beat back the tears and tough it out. She feels the solid ground under her feet, her legs felt week earlier but they are becoming stronger, more accustomed to the terrain. Two squirrels whiz around a tree nearby, seemingly playing with one another. She grins at the simplicity of nature. Just being in the moment, free from the past or future. No worries, except, you know, constant survival mode. “Maybe they were running from something trying to eat them? No, they were simply playing”. Elena chuckles at her own thought process, momentarily forgetting about her anxiety.

Johnny interrupts her thoughts, he wants to stop for lunch. They find a few logs and rest while eating granola bars and some jerky. He shares his excitement to visit an old hunting cabin he heard about along the Carmengia Trail, maybe settle in for a few weeks. The anxiety pounds back into Elena’s chest like a snare drum. What is this feeling? she thinks to herself. “Calm down baby, you aren’t in danger” the wisdom speaks to her.

She puts down her pack and reorganized everything in order to inventory her supplies, resources and tools. She felt a strong urge to make she knew precisely where everything was.

“Everything I need is here.” she thought, confused.  “Of course it’s all there, I packed it and repacked  it and triple checked my lists. Why the hell am I anxious?? Why can’t I find the source of my fear? I trained for this. I’m still training.” And she had trained. Like a young Padawan becoming a Jedi. She was learning to trust the force within her and recognizing the ego beating it back. “I know I can improvise if I need to. What is this feeling? Why am I uneasy?” I need to keep moving”. The alternating thoughts begin to exhaust Elena so she puts her pack back on and asks Johnny to quickly finish. Johnny seemed annoyed that she didn’t acknowledge him talking about the old hunting cabin. She was distant and distracted by her own thoughts. She heard him, but the pounding in her chest at the forming of his sentence seemed to be steering her. Beyond containing herself she had no ability s in conversation with him at the moment.

One foot in front of the other. Just take steps.

A wisper of hope. It’s akin to when you can see hundreds or thousands of stars in your periferary vision and yet when you try to pinpoint them they seem to disappear; you subsequently question your reality, your own vision seems unreliable. But you know they’re there.

“Is it Johnny?” Elena asks herself. ” Yesssss!” fear hisses, “of course it is! He wants to go to the cabin and you don’t. He never really wanted to climb the mountain, he just wanted someone to go with to get there. If you want to make it to the top, you will have to go alone, or stay with him as long as you want and never complete your journey.” Her thoughts now consumed with fear of being alone again made her pace slow to a crawl. Johnny was almost out of sight, they had an agreement to keep on schedule and allow each other to hike at their own pace so he kept moving while she fell behind. In full panic attack at this point, tears streaming down her face, she tried to catch up before he was completely out of sight.

The first time Elena and Johnny hiked together they didn’t have the right gear, they were wildly unprepared for the unkept, overgrown trails and thought they could get through with sheer grit and resilience. They dreamed up stories of the temple at the top and the feelings they would experience once they got there. They were trekking on pure hope, passion and desire.

Elena planned as much as she could. “Had Johnny?” she thought to herself.  He seemed like he was more prepared. His equipment was new, he even had hiking poles to help with endurance. “Why didn’t I bring hiking poles?” Elena chastised herself. “Oh yeah, I wanted to carry more water instead. The stretch before the snow pack is long and I didn’t want to get dehydrated, that can be deadly. How did I miss that? Was I really so impressed with his brand new gear and hiking poles that I didn’t notice how much he hadn’t studied the trail? What about when we hit the razors edge higher up? Then what? What if we encounter the bears that are coming out of hibernation. What if I have to share my water? I didn’t want to do this alone and no one else was as excited about the trail like he was. I didn’t want to overload him with my concerns about what could go wrong. Should I have??This could be dangerous. What else is he not aware of? What will I have to make up for? Can I support the both of us when he runs out of resources? Oh my god. I foolishly picked a hiking buddy that could put my own survival at risk. Stupid. I thought he knew the risks.”

Elena now felt completely out of her body with fear. Johnny didn’t know the trail like she did. He was unprepared. He wanted to settle at the cabin for a bit, she didn’t. She had goals. She didn’t want to get to comfortable and accomplish nothing. She had been very good at starting things her whole life and not finishing them because she got scared or comfortable, or both.

Elena was now hyperventilating. Her breath felt constricted and shallow. “He’s not prepared. He has different goals. I don’t want to be alone. I’m going to have to do this alone. I don’t want to be alone!”

Elena now had her head on the ground and realized it was mainly red clay. That was only at the higher elevations that she had never reached before. “Shit. I’ve never gone this far before.”

She stumbled upon a cluster of stars in her mind she didn’t see before. The internal hurricane began to pass and the tears dried up. The light inside of her soul was lifting her up like fellow runners bringing a marathoner over the finish line. She stood to her feet, wiped the tears from her swollen eyes and began to walk. She saw Johnny coming towards her in the distance.

“There you are! I though you were behind me but I turned around and have been walking back for the last 10 minutes trying to find you. I thought maybe you fell and got hurt!” Johnny yelled, unable to hold back his panic and concern. Elena felt it to be comforting. “Are you ok? Have you been crying?” he asked when he got close enough to see her red nose and moist eyes. “I’m ok” Elena replied, “I stubbed my toe back there and it really hurt like a bitch, so I had to sit down and cry it out. It’s all good now but it was NOT 10 min ago”. Elena let out a heartfelt laugh as she finished her comedic response. She was genuinely relieved to see him.

Her wisdom was now in the driver seat “This is about my fear. This is about leaning in to what terrifies me the most. No one can do this mountain alone. It’s simply too risky and a persons morale could plummet without the presence and emotional support of another human being. The cabin he is talking about is further than I’ve ever made it before. Let’s get there and see how it is.”

She felt peaceful and warm.

“C’mon, I found a lake ahead.” Johnny said, seemingly relieved that Elena was ok. They hiked in calm, quiet unison to the lake with just the sound of their footsteps and afternoon birds chirping throughout the trees. When they reached it, Johnny pulled out a filter straw and drank right from the lake. “Oh my god” Elena though to herself, “he IS prepared, just in different ways than I am. Wow. I’m glad we are doing this together, however long it takes.” She was reinvigorated, relieved and filled with love all at once. Love for the present moment, love for her breakdown, love for the trail. But most of all, love for the opportunity of the journey.

 

Love and Compassion WINS. Fear and Hate LOSES.

 

Hate is a quick and easy, cheap shot. We see it in the news with incidents like Sandy Hook or the nightclub in Orlando. Do you think those shooters were happy? Do you think they felt whole and lived a balanced life? These events are symptoms of a deeper disease in our culture. How do we stop these kinds of atrocities from strangling the love and life out of our communities? Is it with gun control? Is it immigration?

No.

We see hate on a personal level when we lose a friend and never speak to them again. Maybe it’s our choice, maybe it’s theirs. We see hate when a partner cheats on us with no remorse. We see hate with murder, rape and lack of forgiveness. It comes in many forms. And it’s not just in America, it’s alive and well in plenty westernized countries.

MLK quote

If you go to the doctor with a painfully swollen lymph node…

Would it be better for the doctor to give you pain meds and tell you to not eat anything that may increase inflammation OR would it better if they run a bunch of tests to diagnose before they treat? After all, it may be cancer. One treats the symptom and one looks for a cure to the underlying problem.

Hate is our societies’ swollen lymph node while mental illness, disconnection, discontent, sorrow and resentment are our cancer. Fear is our cancer. Fear of what we don’t understand, fear of difference. As a society we are more disconnected, more intolerant, more competitive, more judgemental, more resentful, more angry, more divided and more medicated. Why? Maybe because there are more people, because greed has become accepted as “success” and everything is more expensive while wages haven’t changed. Maybe it’s healthcare. Maybe it’s gun control. There are a million reasons that we have become as we are. The truth is we have forgotten what LOVE is. Not romantic love but true love. The truest love is acceptance and forgiveness. It’s saying “hi” to your neighbor with a genuine smile on your face when they always seem annoyed. It’s understanding that the waiter who gave you bad service may be going through a really shitty day divorce. It may be offering to help someone when you have nothing to give but a hug and a listening ear.

Acceptance

When we accept someone for who they are, we fully see them. When we accept someone, rather than judge them, we are no longer victims of our own emotions. We are simply allowing ourselves to see what we see. It’s up to each of us to decide what we want and don’t want in our lives. Just because we accept who they are doesn’t mean we need to practice the same lifestyle. It simply means we aren’t judging theirs. When we practice acceptance, without judgement, we begin to accept more of ourselves. As we practice acceptance we become more tolerant of things we may disagree with, more authentic and honest about who we are and less hateful. It’s the foundation for forgiveness.

Forgiveness

You can only forgive when you have accepted something as it is. Forgiveness is acceptance and ownership of a judgement you’ve made. It’s acceptance of your own feelings about a specific event and choosing to let it go. It has nothing to do with telling someone else what they did was right or good. You can forgive without thinking something was right. It has to do with acknowledging your pain or hatred and setting it free. When you’re free from anger, resentment and hate you can be more open to LOVE.

Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. ~Buddha

Whole-hearted

If you look at whole-hearted families, communities, organizations and countries you will find genuine happiness and tolerance with different lifestyles and religions. They foster an environment of acceptance, authenticity, ownership, respect, connection with others and embrace love over hate. The cure for hate is love.

Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther Kind Jr, Mother Theresa are classic examples of change makers that chose love over hate. That faced criticism, violence, pain and suffering with an attitude of acceptance and forgiveness. These are some of the most notable examples of strength and bravery. Why? Because no matter what happened, they chose love over hate. Conquered fear is the birthplace of courage.

Today you can find this type of courage in researchers, authors, musicians and politicians. But hate is more popular, more prevalent, more accepted and easier. These people openly speak about fear and shame versus love and connection. Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, India Arie, Marianne Williamson, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Shonda Rhimes and Amanda Palmer. Are a few that speak up for love, they make connection, truth and authenticity a priority. They don’t say what people want to hear, that say what they feel is right, with love, gratitude, acceptance and forgiveness.

Change Makers

Our culture and society doesn’t shift because politicians change laws. Shift happens when we accept that the 15yr old girl feels more like a boy than a girl, so we call her Sam rather than Samantha and allow him to use whichever damn bathroom he wants. It happens when we say hello and smile to the woman wearing a hijab without assuming she’s a terrorist. Or we tell someone we love, that while we aren’t ok with something they did, we don’t think they are a bad person. Change happens when parents ask their teenage daughters about a breakup and listen, even though they worked all day and may think it pales in comparison to their day. It happens when a father tells his son that he’s sorry he yelled at him but he was worried he might get hurt. It happens when a mother explains to her child why being a bully creates shame rather than punishing her without teaching her what is right.

It starts in our small circles. It’s saying “thank you for being clear” to someone who respectfully asked you to do or NOT to do something. It’s asking “what do you mean by that?” when someone is being passive aggressive. It’s sending your mother flowers on mothers day even though you’re pissed at her. You can love people AND dislike their behavior. You can love people AND have boundaries. You can wholeheartedly and courageously LOVE with hopeless abandon rather than ignorantly and fearfully embrace hatred. Hatred is our disease. Courageous love is our cure.

We must BE the change we wish to see in the world. ~Ghandi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embracing Self-Love and Boundaries

I love all of me: My huge feet, my eclectic style, my writing, my playlists, my sometimes shitty artwork, the books I read, the books I keep saying I’ll read, my chapstick, my sometimes-too-often-ice cream, my current healthy eating, my coffee, my tea, my flu symptoms that encouraged me to write, my scarf I never wear accept when I’m playing dress up in front of the mirror, my lovely new daydream mug (score!) that I found for a $1 at Goodwill, and all my change that-is-oh-so-precious-because-I’m-oh-so-damn-broke. I almost through one of my cats in but he wouldn’t stay still and I don’t exactly love either of them right now…tolerate, that’s a much better word for them.

Self-love  vs  Self-absorbed 

Self-love is not the same as self-absorbed. Self-love changes the inner dialogue from “I’m such an idiot” to “ok, it would probably be wise not to do that again, but live and learn”. It’s about changing negative self talk to counseling yourself with the utmost care and respect. No one can ever be your best friend more than you are, no one will ever know your whole story better than you do and no one will ever pick you up like you can. So, loving yourself is not about me, me, me or degrading yourself to accomplish goals, it’s about treating yourself with compassion, and learning to love who you are so that you can give that love away to others. You cannot love anyone else wholeheartedly until you have mastered loving yourself, especially when you screw up.

How you motivate and counsel yourself will be how you motivate and counsel those you love.

Boundaries with yourself

Sometimes we need to light a fire under ourselves, like those of us are procrastinators. Ahem. Personally I need to Drill Sergeant myself sometimes. That is not a license to bully ourselves. It’s never good to tell ourselves we are bad people, unless you are, but even then the true bad ones-like sociopaths- don’t exactly have negative self talk, they’re pretty grandiose…So, where was I? Oh, boundaries… Set a boundary with yourself to begin recognizing negative self talk rather than allowing it to run amok. Most of our emotions, including an amygdala hijack, can be traced back to thoughts and beliefs we are telling ourselves so it’s healthy to become self aware.

Boundaries with co-workers or roomates

Everyone desperately needs boundaries and we do ourselves a disservice when we aren’t clear with other people about what’s okay and what isn’t. Let’s say you usually let a co-worker borrow just about anything on your desk but now they have stopped asking and go into your drawers whenever they need something. If it bothers you then this would be a moment to set a boundary. You could say “I’m usually fine with you using things but I would like you to ask and not go through my drawers” politely the first time you notice it happening. If you wait and say it weeks or months later you may end up saying it in a passive aggressive way because you feel walked on. This will take some time getting used to but the more you do it the more clear your boundaries will become. It will help you to not harbor any resentment and your co-workers will respect your honesty. But it will take time if you aren’t already doing this. Be prepared for them to begin setting their own boundaries as well.

The same goes for roommates, but because it’s also where you relax you may need to pick your battles more carefully. Maybe they took your clothes out of the washer to do a load of laundry and it really aggravated you. If you left it in there for a couple days, well then, that’s your bad. If, on the other hand, they did it the moment it finished it may be worth a conversation like this “I completely understand that sometimes we need to get laundry done right away, would it be helpful to have designated laundry times for each of us?”.

If you don’t typically set boundaries, expect pushback.

Some people will simply never take responsibility for their behavior. That’s ok. They don’t have to. Some people will challenge you just for the sake of challenging you. Sometimes they will think your boundary is “rude”. You always get to decide what behaviors and responses are ok with you. When you set boundaries for how you want to be treated you will be happier and have very little resentment.

It’s totally NOT easy

Boundaries are difficult to set, especially when people are not used to you setting them or when YOU aren’t used to setting them. Just remember, boundaries are very healthy.

Boundaries with family and partners

We build many, many, many you have unspoken contracts with the people we care about. The most common is between partners that you will be connected to someone no matter their behavior. When you voice what’s ok and what’s not ok, with LOVE and grounded confidence, you will begin to decipher who really belongs in our life. You will lose friends, you will become estranged from some family members.The ones that stay will help you grow. When you set appropriate boundaries with family and significant others your message will become clear “this is how I want to be treated, this is how I will treat you back. If that’s not okay with you then I wont make space for you in my life”. You will begin to hold one another to higher standards, love bigger and forgive more often. This is the area that will flourish the most when you marry self-love with firm boundaries. Your circle will likely change, maybe a little, maybe alot. When you set boundaries through the lens of love and compassion you realize it’s ok if some people go, because you may just need to let them go in order to grow.

My Response Matters: Love, Patience and Happiness Without Shaving My Head And Becoming a Buddhist


I might be going about this wrong…


The Moment

We all know those moments when it feels like our patience is being tested. Those moments when it seems like nothing good we’ve ever done has mattered and we are only being tested on that particular scenario. Time stands still and a crossroads unfolds before us. If we are evolved enough we will have multiple response options available in our minds within a hair of a second. We could choose the higher road of grace and peace. While other responses may be snarky, sarcastic, combative or defensive. Further still, we could walk away or not engage.

I’m not talking about the moments that you choose the road of grace, or you let it go and walk away. I’m talking about the moments when you really, really, REALLY feel like you want to snap back at someone. 

Don’t shrink or puff up, just stand your Sacred Ground – Brene Brown

My Response Matters

I’ve written a post about letting someone go, which was inspired by a post about fear and standing your sacred ground but that’s different. Those two are more about not shrinking and not running away. The flight of fight or flight. They were about standing up for your values, especially if someone is verbally attacking. 

This post is more about the fight part of fight or flight. That urge we have to hurl a bag of nickels at someone for a rude comment or passive aggressive statement. The more often you see them or the closer you are to them, the more likely a snarky, off-handed comment can immediately throw you in the ring. Sometimes walking away or taking a deep breathe can stop a knee jerk response, other times it can simple give you more time to calculate an equally disrespectful comment.

As an adult, in order to not launch into full attack mode, I trained myself to be less reactionary. That also meant I could harbor resentment or not set clear boundaries. So, I’ve become pretty versed in not shrinking and in standing my sacred ground. I’m not so good at resisting a well-flung-shit comment when someone else started it. Or atleast that’s my justification-they started it. I’m really good at squaring off and standing my ground. I’m really good at snarling back at someone or even holding a grudge (if it’s a setting where I can’t snap back) IF I felt they were wrong. That default served me well in my younger years, when I was surrounded by a different group of people. People that I had to puff up around, appearing bigger and badder than the predators. It was effective. But those were very very different people.

Now I’m around intellectuals, academics and emotionally intelligent individuals…that sometimes have a bad day, or a shitty moment. It’s very rare that I have a situation or interaction that pushes this button I forgot I had. In passing they can give me their shitty moment, which I’m usually pretty self aware enough to know has little to do with me. But sometimes they say just the right thing to hit the mother load. My old beliefs kick in-puff up to be safe, take no crap, don’t be walked on. But these people aren’t testing me, they aren’t doing it to get a response. It’s simply a shitty comment to reflect something going on inside their own head. This one I took personal but thought…

My Response Matters

This person doesn’t always have bad days

This isn’t about me

My Response will reflect who Iam becoming

My Response Matters

I repeated it to myself until I was no longer internally seething. I didn’t say anything I needed to apologize for and I didn’t bury it deep down as a resentful grudge. I examined it, listened to it and realized…Just because I strive to be my best authentic self with love, patience, and happiness it doesn’t mean I’m always happy and I damn sure don’t plan on shaving my fucking head to be a Buddhist. But I will talk about it. I will understand how I feel, explain it if I need to and know that Iam responsible for my beliefs, emotions and behavior. Sweet relief. No arguing ensued and I was still able to cross a big personal milestone. 💜😌


Totally not my picture. I have no idea who did it but this was how it felt to let go of the need to respond and engage. After looking at my strong response to the off handed comment I realized it had way more to do with leaving toxicity behind. Ready to move forward.  💜💖

The Metamorphosis of Bella and Kane

magenta-butterfly
Bella
Blue moth
Kane

“There’s no telling how it will affect you. Just know that it will.” ~unknown

An allegory about love, loss and transformation.

Bella

Bella was a beautiful young Kenna caterpillar . She was bright purple with teal spots, but beauty is subjective, and in the Kenna community, you were only beautiful if you were green. The brighter the green, the prettier. She was soft and kind, but not considered attractive.  She would see the beauty in everyone she met which made her vulnerable to hardship. She would be lied to, taken advantage of and remained naive to the games caterpillars played. Insecurities ran high with her. She wanted connection.

Kane

She found a dark, fuzzy Tomeo caterpillar that understood, for he was the same. Kane left the Tomeo’s because that’s what they all did, but he still yearned for connection. He was wiser to the world, being solitary he had to learn who to trust more carefully. A bird may try to lure you to its nest, a spider to its web, another caterpillar may be poisonous if you touch them. He knew the latter all too well because the tips of his hairs were poisonous to some species if he was startled. He became her best friend, her teacher, her mentor, her life partner. She didn’t know if she was immune to his poison but since Kane was always calm with her it didn’t seem to matter.

Their Shared Cocoon

They built a cocoon, ever so carefully. It took longer than others because they were building it for both of them. It was strong and flexible, safe and comforting. Through the building of both their cocoon and their friendship, she learned to be more careful, more selective. Both metaphorically with who she trusted and in the building materials, because it would need to hold both their weight. Kane’s coat was soft and he now had more control over the poison on it, being able to protect them both from predators. He learned to see more beauty and have more faith that good things could happen.

When it was finished, they crawled inside, excited to soon fly together. For the next two weeks, their bodies liquified in order to take on its new shape. They would still become what they were meant to be but they would take on parts of each other since they were transforming in the same cocoon. Typically, they would have done this independently, but Bella didn’t know how to build one and Kane was afraid of predators in order to gather supplies. They needed each other. They were connected.

The Transformation

They emerged a month later. It took longer since both of them transformed together. There was more for mother nature to sort through in order for everything to be as she planned. The correct wings had to be placed with Kane and correct coloring with Bella, for this, was pre-determined.

Bella became a beautiful magenta butterfly, built for basking on bright flowers in the sunshine. She felt confident in her new self and eagerly awaited Kane. Kane emerged dark and fuzzy with blue iridescence…but…he was moth, built to flutter through the darkness of nightfall. Their hearts sank. They knew it meant their lives were headed in different directions. They tried to learn to fly together anyway, but either way, one was left wanting. Kane began flying at night and Bella bathed in sunlight while mustering up the courage to practice more. She was afraid to practice without Kane. In the following days Kane found a female moth that could show him the ropes and Bella knew it was time to find other butterflies that could do the same for her. The sinking feeling was back and heavy like an anchor.

Mother Earth 

As Bella cried from the treetops for Kane she heard Mother Earth whisper gently from the willow tree “my sweet girl, all is right in your plan. I know you miss your friend, but you have different destinies. You will find another that enjoys the sun as much as you.”

For a moment, Bella felt the folds of Mother Earth’s great nurturing power soothe her pain. She breathed in the crisp mountain air. The relief was short lived.

“But Mother! Why couldn’t you make us the same! Since we took on parts of each other, why aren’t we both half moth and half butterfly??” she cried. “My dear, you were made as you were meant to be. Kane’s transformation gave you safety and healed your insecurities. Your transformation gave him optimism. Courage is now a part of your genetics. Only now can you truly fly.”

She cried instead. She didn’t want to fly without Kane. What if she fell and got hurt? What if no one accepted her, just like before? What if she was alone forever? The questions were endless. The tears were big. Then she slipped off a branch and had to flap her wings or come face to face with the forest floor.

So fly she did. On her own, because she had to. She felt the courage Mother Earth spoke of, traveling through her veins like the warmth of a mothers love. With the wind carrying her she began to enjoy the vantage points and everything she was able to see in the daylight. The more she flew, the less she thought of Kane and the more she was able to appreciate the lessons she had learned from him. Some days she missed his company more than other days. She missed him when she made a new friend or flew by a spot where they shared a good laugh. She knew he was always a part of her and she would always be a part of him, it was their genetics. She felt connection which gave her the confidence to be who she needed to be.

Sometimes connection to another person affects us in such a profound way that we are never the same again. There will be good and bad parts. Some stay and some are meant to move on. We experience it, we learn from it and we grow from it. When we allow our perception of the past to be balanced, accepting the good and bad memories, we give ourselves permission to move forward. It’s ok to be sad then happy, angry then sad, then happy again. When our connections to people shift it can be difficult to accept. Especially with love. It’s hard to let go of what was when everything seemed right. But things change. The world changes. People grow together and people grow apart. Connection is valuable. We learn many of life’s most important lessons through connection. Life is more emotionally charged because of it. Connection makes us feel alive. Connection makes us human.

Dirty. Silky. Internet

 

ostridge.jpg~c200

Meet Dick Tracy, our imaginative Ostridge , and future mascot. Maybe. One day.

I know you’re curious, right? Well, like most of our conversations, or workdays for that matter, it started with a perfectly normal mission of finding Silky Chickens. Err, maybe normal for us. We decided months ago we must have Silky Chickens or mini pigs or a mini cow, if those exist. Today, we began our research. NOTE: you must be careful the names of silky chickens you search for…

Co-worker: Now I know why that computer has viruses, because your searching “showgirl sizzle”.

Boss: It was a link on the page I was searching, it sounded real.

Co-worker: Right.

Boss: Do you think we could handle 5? What about an Ostridge?

Co-worker exits while shaking his head.

So there we were, deeply entrenched in our google search that nearly broke me. I lost it at petstouch.com, after everything I had exposed myself to in this mission to find our silky chickens, it was the name of that site. It just sounded … wrong. Like I would see a site filled with barn animals wearing silk stockings. It was not that. But I would continue to have my hysterical laughing fit for the next 30 minutes.

What I’ve learned:

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1.It’s hard to tell the sex of a chicken. Also expensive. Sexed chickens are $150 and up. Male chickens are free, as many as you want because their aggressive and loud, like an obnoxious drunk girl, no one wants them. So if you’re willing to make it a coin toss then it’s $5 each, with a 15 chick minimum. So many jokes. Fertilized hatching eggs around $30 for 6. This was quickly becoming a larger commitment and a breeding ground for inappropriate humor. So, naturally, we kept looking.

2. “Silkies” are one of the worlds cutest and most popular farm animal. Everywhere was sold out. So much for committing. That wasn’t the end of our search though, or our bad humor

3. Emu’s are cool and fertilized eggs are about $80- for a 3 pack…Hmm, moving on…

4. Fertilized Ostridge Eggs are $120…If we want 6…which we imagined through my boss’s circus mind would probably end badly. So I guess that’s out.

5. When crazily hunting for silky chickens page after page on google (because everyone is sold out) your searches can lead you very far from your original goal.

6. There is a whole chicken community, including chicken parties. We don’t know what that fully entails but when we found local small farms that sell silkies we noticed many conversations asking each other if they planned to go. I’m very curious but I think my imagination makes it sound more intriguing than it probably is. After all, these are serious chicken lovers.

I’m grateful for my job, my ridiculously hilarious boss and our ability to find ourself in countless awkward situations that had started with the best of intentions. It really is the little things.

Don’t judge 😉

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The Island of Utopia

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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.