[peace & happy]
Life has thrown some upsets my way over the past few months…hell, it’s been coming my way for years now. But, as always, the undeserved blessings seem to always outweigh the (unavoidable?) bullshit, at least enough for me to recognize that someOne is looking out for me. Through a lot of thinking-reflection-prayer-conversations, recently /slash/ not so recently, I’ve gained some insight about things I need.
let’s (briefly) explore.
hugs, lots of hugs.
love and affection.
I need you…
to give me closure.
to acknowledge my successes, to recognize my struggles.
to explain why I wasn’t enough; it’s okay, I can take it.
to forgive me.
to tell me you love me one last time.
to tell me I’m beautiful.
to protect me; from what, I”m not exactly sure.
to need me, now, and not later.
I need You.
At the end of it all, I’ve learned that I need You. Nothing else really matters…and the rest of the stuff? well, it’ll come as it will, how it will. There is no greater peace than acknowledging this truth for myself.
“By Your Side” Tenth Avenue North
Why are you striving these days?
why are you trying to earn grace?
why are you crying?
let Me lift up your face
just don’t turn away
why are you looking for love?
why are you still searching as if I’m not enough?
to where will you go child?
tell me, where will you run?
I’ll be by your side wherever you fall
in the dead of night whenever you call
and please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you
’cause I love you
I want you to know that I’ll love you
I’ll never let you go…”
*Prompted by the weekly writing challenge, words of wisdom during bikram, and undoubtedly, the unavoidable event happening at the end of the week, this moment came near midnight.
[rethinking valentine's day & happy]
On the heals of facing some of my biggest challenges as my personal and professional
intersect collide, I had a moment. The past few weeks have been filled with a shit-ton of introspection that would have been better suited for a few therapy sessions…at least. But, instead, I’m on the opposite end, listening to stories of depression, alcoholism, eating disorders, and anxiety that at times hit too close to reality for me to be completely mindful. Most days/stories/moments/connections are easier than others, my desire to help heal others overriding the distracting thoughts. But some days, it takes concentrated effort to focus on the present moment that I have been granted undeservedly with another human being who is far more courageous than I. The moment happens, somehow, beyond my own power. but these moments results in those distracting thoughts sitting, waiting for me to acknowledge them at some point. I’ve been doing some of that through writing, draft sitting in my folder waiting for courage to be shares, to tell of the experiences of swimming against the current and clenched fists and history lessons. the courage will come. at its own time.
but this moment came first, spurred by restlessness. laying in bed, playlist on in attempts of lulling me to sleep given the 5am wake-up call awaiting me tomorrow. Instead, thoughts of the week began, of the weekly writing challenge and my want to write again, of Valentine’s days of previous years, of Valentine’s day this year. Counting Stars played as I sank further into the memories, negative/ridiculous/but unfortunately engrained thoughts of worth rushed back. self-blame. anger. hurt. so I began to pray. unsure of the words I would say but sure that they needed to be said. then these words interrupted my thoughts:
“In the moment of truth when your heart hits the floor and you’re on your knees
Love will hold us together
Make us a shelter to weather the storm
This is the first day of the rest of your life
‘Cause even in the dark you can still see the light
It’s gonna be alright…”
as I’ve shared before, tears don’t fall easily for me. but at this moment near midnight, as that song played, they did. sounds a tad dramatic but it wasn’t really. ignore the “this most likely-probably-definitely has been a scene in a few lifetime movies” and you’ve got yourself an experience many of us have had. just another one of those “life” moments. but the impact was felt. it was a moment of release. of surrender. of peace. of love.
So how’s this related in any way to Valentine’s day? well, love, duh! okay, the thing is is that during this moment, the idea of love, true love, was made clear. I won’t go on a soapbox about the commercialization of this day and how it’s lost meaning and how we should boycott the fruit arrangements made to look like bouquets of flowers which are actually quite delicious since chocolate is never wrong. Instead, I’ll highlight the amazing women that have redefined love for me. Relationships with men have left me with a skewed sense of what love is, or rather, through learning and moments of insight, what love isn’t. Over the past few weeks especially, women I have been privileged to connect with on a faith-filled, unconditional, limitless level are redefining that for me. That peace and surrender I felt during my moment near midnight was the release of the skewed memories I hoped would return and acceptance of the love I desire and deserve. For me, it’s His love. for others, it may be different. the funny thing is, it’s the same. at the end of the day, love, true love, is accepting. and unconditional. and allows you to be you, imperfections and all. not a word bound to action or mistakes or memories.
do not attach yourself to your memories. they are not you. attach yourself to your breath. your breath, that’s you. it’s visceral. it’s real. it’s now. ♡
also, I’ll leave you with this.
happy valentine’s day. and I love you. for real.
the last year of my life basically felt like a bad run-on sentence. it just kept going, and going, losing the intended focus. with no solid punctuations. and just bad instead of poetic as previously assumed.
[change & happy]
I feel like I’ve been complaining a lot lately. on it’s own, that’s fine. actually, no, i think that’s the problem. for me, on it’s own, complaining is not fine. here’s why: i write. uncover. complain. discover. do nothing. and 5 months later, write about it again. i keep doing the same shit. being drawn to the same individuals. relying on external sources for internal gratification. over and over. seriously, the same shit. the same. shit. (side note: read that sentence as if narrated by George Lopez; just feels right). aaanyway, i don’t know about you but I’m kinda tired of cycling through the cycles.
Never mistake activity for achievement. Bill Walton
Very true, Mr. Walton. very true. I’m not knocking working toward something, or aiming for improvement, or always attempting. trust. me. working toward better is what I’m all about. but activity does not equal achievement, as Mr. Walton so nicely and concisely put it. okay, so then what? well, i think one of those “under construction, in need of repair, come back later” signs is most appropriate.
I guess the actual next step is to figure out the how. I have a vague understanding of my why. the only way to actually achieve my goal of making the world a better place is to take steps toward that, not just grasp up at all the fluffy shit I’m putting out there. …slightly aggressive but I need that. I need to be passionate. I need to be angry about where I’m at. This is by no means meant to be thought of in a self-defeating way. It’s a good thing. I feel, at this very moment as the words fill my head more quickly than my fingers can keep up with, I am realizing that I am no longer in that helpless place. I recognize that I can make change and don’t have to sit on the sidelines waiting for validation of that. I have the ability to reach my goals, to positively impact others. You have that ability. It’s just a matter of doing it. So let’s do it.
Okay, here’s what I’m actually working on & how I’m actually going to work toward doing it:
i call myself a writer but it was recently brought to my attention that i’m actually not as good at it as i thought. ((more like, i never really questioned my abilities but the wake-up call was refreshing and taken in stride)). i’m not saying i’m a horrible writer. or that i should give up on my dream of eventually writing a book. or that i should quit. no, none of that. i’m also not saying that i thought i was an amazing author, ready to publish, great at an art i’ve never truly studied. (seriously, grammar and syntax aren’t my strong suit; just ask all the red squigglys that fill my page before I publish my posts). what i am saying is that if i want to be
good better at this (at anything really), i need to actually work at it. with as much as i do, i feel like this has never been the case (the whole jack of all trades, master of none thing). So i’ll go to places like this–> http://www.macalester.edu/academics/writewell/ and write and edit and read and edit and write….then write some more.
i really do strive to live a minimalist life. books and sales get in the way of that a bit. but again, if i want it, i gotta work at it. shelves will be cleared this weekend. pile of papers are ready to be shredded after 3 years (don’t judge me). and shed is organized and very ready for the garage sale of your dreams once the weather warms up (fo’ reals. i got what you’re looking for…in a strictly-garage-sale-items sorta way). going here will help with this goal too.
if i had more confidence and less stage fright, this would be my career choice. i love singing. i’m not the best at it but after being told a handful of times that i do it well, I’m starting to believe it. I don’t plan on making it a career (been working too long at the one I’ve got). Maybe a side gig someday. But regardless, I’ve gotta work at it. Choir practice helps. Sending recordings to a kind soul to critique does also. don’t get me wrong, this last thing was scary as hell but I found starting to make change with someone you trust helps make it easier…not any less frightening, but easier. another way is voice lessons. due to lack of extra income and limited time, things like this will do for now.
4. my faith
it needs work. I need work. this isn’t new. I’m just being more intentional about it now. After my weekend away that saved me last year, I knew I could only answer ‘yes’ when called to serve as part of the ACTS Team for an upcoming retreat. this will definitely require work, in the most amazing way possible.
5. my profession
I still haven’t perfected the whole “let’s actually believe I’m educated and trained and competent at what I do” thing with regards to my practice and training. probably partially because it sometimes feels like i’ve half-assed my way through a large part of my education. then only way to change (some of) that is to make up for that by learning. and reading. yes, folks, i’m actually reading! not having anymore coursework and avoiding my dissertation somehow opens up extra time. i (mostly) read an entire book last week, focused on codependency. and i learned! crazy how that happens! i think i’ll do more of that.
6. being a better friend.
anxiety, introvertedness, and childhood experiences all interact to create quite the
clusterfuck of traits set of unique characteristics and quirks that at times work against me in terms in this department. (two side notes: 1. do you like what I did there? positive reframe, homies. positive reframe. & 2. my dictionary does not want to recognize ‘clusterfuck’ as a legitimate word. it suggests i simply use ‘cluster’ and omit the ‘fuck’ part, but we both know that that just doesn’t capture it as well). Anyway, my point is that I haven’t been the type to reach out and chat it up with others or drop by. nor am I drawn to picking up the phone for an hour-long call (this does happen with the right person, it just probably won’t be me making the call). Instead, I pray. & I think. Positive thoughts for others and concerns for their well being happen often. I’m starting to think actual contact might help decrease concern and increase positive thought. I’m making it a habit to answer phone calls now. And attend gatherings. And just be there for others, asking “how are things.” crazy simple. yet kind of amazing.
there’s more. of course. but i’m tired. ((i’m also working on getting that whole get-enough-sleep thing…i’ll let you know how that one goes)). this is a good start.
so what does this all mean? i’m not sure yet. i want to be better by actually working at it, that much i do know. i’m not there yet. uncovering and discovering and working my way toward happy as much as words allow me to will undoubtedly continue to happen.
“There were people who went to sleep last night,
poor and rich and white and black,
but they will never wake again.
And those dead folks would give anything at all
for just five minutes of this weather
or ten minutes of plowing.
So you watch yourself about complaining.
What you’re supposed to do
when you don’t like a thing is change it.
If you can’t change it,
change the way you think about it.” ― Maya Angelou
[patience & happy]
i’m learning that i don’t have much of it.
probably because it feels like i’ve been practicing it and waiting for the past 10-, maybe 15 years of my life.
waiting to leave home (for college, for anywhere).
waiting to leave college (for graduate school, for “life”).
waiting to finish graduate school.
waiting to heal.
waiting for him (although, even though i still have no idea who he is or when he’s supposed to come, i’m still pretty sure he got lost somewhere along the road)
waiting to figure it out.
waiting to leave home…again.
i’m kinda tired of it. i didn’t use to be. guess all that waiting can catch up to a person.
i used to sit. and sip tea. and listen to classical music. (seriously. i’m pretty sure i was born in the wrong era).
well, i think what happened was that, gradually, over time, moments became checks on a list, in-between space became time to plan what came next, and time in the clouds became time to think about tomorrow’s worries.
well, i don’t like it.
instead of waiting for what’s to come (which doesn’t do me a whole lot of good given my “it’s not me, it’s You” belief of how life happens), actually enjoying the moment seems like a better, more-enjoyable-less-anxiety-provoking-or-depressing-you-get-my-point way of spending the limited days we have on this earth. or at least i think so. this doesn’t mean no more planning. or throwing caution to the wind for every decision. for me (and maybe for you), maybe it simply means allowing your heart to guide a few more of those moments than before. and trusting the journey as you move along it.
…and maybe listening to some classical music along the way.
[Chicago & Symphony No. 5. can't go wrong]
[rejection & happy]
no earth-shattering revelation there.
how we cope with it, however, makes a big difference.
i’m no stranger to rejection. it happens. most times, i get over it pretty easily. why? because i chalk it up to the notion that some things simply aren’t meant to be.
still, rejection sucks.
over the past few years, i’ve experienced rejection at it’s finest…or not so finest given that, again, it sucks.
there was the one job I got declined a position for and the couple of rejection letters received from graduate schools.
then there are the recent million
rejections no-interview notifications from the wonderful shitty necessary process that is the psychology internship match (still recovering from that bee-tea-dubbs).
then there was that one time with the breakup, which i somehow translated into “you’re not worth being in my life” in my head (kinda hard not to take that one personally).
then there were also the few wonderfully *sarcasm* chosen mates who rejected me during the week but seemingly changed their tune come Friday night. you know, the ones you expect to call you but don’t…until the weekend and vodka come around. but when you’re alone together, sober moments emphasize that feeling of lying next to a person you can feel is a million miles away, wishing you were too (this is the feeling i hate most. that gut-wrenching-pit-in-your-stomach-makes-you-question-your-worth feeling. it.sucks.big.ones. but it happens mostly when i open myself up to hope and possibility…which i hope to never stop doing given the infinite possibilities of happy that await.)
there’s also that time I was stood up. unexpected rejection doesn’t necessarily feel better or worse. maybe bc the shitty feeling is divided between yourself and the other person. having someone to call a douche somehow seems change the way the rejection is felt.
no, this post isn’t about the rejection i’ve experienced or a(nother) woe-is-me-moment. it’s about how you can still be happy despite it…or, rather, in its company.
the key, for me, is reliance on the notion of “it’s not me, it’s You” when something/someone doesn’t work the way you intended. “You” may be belief in a supreme being, God, gods, a supreme force, spirits, or noble truths. For me, it’s God and my faith. The outcome of putting this idea into action is that the rejection gets placed outside of yourself, outside of blame and flaws and shitty feelings. Given the physical pain rejection elicits (seriously. it’s kinda crazy. read this if you don’t believe me…and maybe always keep Tylenol handy), I think this is helpful in allowing us/you/me to move forward when rejection presents itself. Not only that, but to learn from it, grow, become better. that’s what life’s about after all, no?
So I recently figured out another of my ((many?)) problems: my comparison group consists of women over 50, on their second marriage, and with more life experience than a 20-something should pressure herself to have.
I also recently realized one truth: I am that 20-something.
“Happiness is not an absolute value. It is a state of comparison.” ― Zadie Smith
It didn’t happen on purpose. I didn’t go out looking to find amazing women who inspired me but in turn made me create unrealistic expectations for myself. It just sorta happened. Mostly because this was the population I found myself surrounded by for 2 to 4 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Bikram yoga, while it saved me and helped me go topless (sort of), is a definite luxury that requires having some dollas stored away under the mattress; I’m splurging fo sho because it definitely ain’t cheap (although, for me, at the moment, I find it a completely necessary part of my well-being). Aside from the price being a dead giveaway, I realized this as I began the privileged journey of entering into the lives of the women that are unknowingly helping me heal. They are professional women. Older women. With a full life behind them. And even more ahead as they settle into hobbies and volunteering and traveling and retirement.
And then there’s singing, which also saves me. I joined a church choir earlier this year. One filled with kindhearted, faith-filled men and women, in their 50s and 60s…and maybe even 70s (I can’t tell, some look like they’ve had work done; no judgment, nip and tuck as you please), their spouses also in the choir. Cute couples. Supportive couples. Happily married couples. Couples that can sing! (…mostly).
And so, logically (in the not-actually-logical-at-all sort of sense), I began comparing myself to these people. I began to question many aspects of life, criticizing myself for not being there, forgetting potential responses I now place in parenthesis:
`Why can’t I find a supportive husband who is kind and faith-filled and (can sing!) like these women had? (well maybe because they’re on their second marriage and it took trial and error and patience and time to find mr. wonderful (…honestly, these men are all pretty wonderful)).
`Why can’t I be disciplined enough to be extra fiscally responsible and plan a trip (or two) to a wonderful country abroad, like Italy or Greece, like they have? (well maybe because I’m a 20-something grad student with no disposable income at the moment, and no time for a full-time job considering 3 paid&unpaid part-time jobs take up my energy. So basically, saving that much is pretty impossible. Or maybe because also they have mr.wonderfuls who help pay for these things and they have been saving, together, for year and year…and years).
`Why can’t I dedicate more time for volunteering and serving others and praying like they do? (well maybe because I’m not retired like they are and have full days to spend doing those things. Some days I’m lucky if I find time for dinner and 7-hours of sleep!).
`Why can’t I have defined abdominal muscles, lean legs, toned arms, & flexibility like a gazelle (although I’m not actually sure gazelles are flexible, they just seem so dainty and elegant so I’m assuming completely on this one)? (well maybe because I don’t devote all of my time and energy to working out/training/yoga-ing etc. some of these women, admittedly, do this (yoga, workout, etc) as basically their profession, competing at it, devoting time and energy and money for their primary passion. Given that my primary passion is helping, I don’t see myself working out/training 6-8 hours a day, 5-7 days a week any time soon…or ever. I’ll stick with my 1-2 hrs, 4-6 days a week).
So, after all that wonderful musing, I think I’ve figured something else out (per uge):
maybe part of this whole happy thing is decreasing the unreasonable expectations piece while not necessarily eliminating the inspiring-people-who-fuel-you part, focusing your energy on what you can/will do rather than what you can’t (for perfectly valid reasons that don’t require explanation).
“The position of a hero is not for the comparison, it is a reference point.” ― Amit Kalantri
Quite the balance, I’d say. Difficult. But not impossible.
“Be cautious with what you feed your mind and soul. Fuel yourself with positivity and let that fuel propel you into positive action.” S. Maraboli
how are you fueling your mind and soul?