Child. Rebel. Saint. Liar. Crazy. Kind. I’ve been a lot of things over the course of my life. Each part makes up the sum of who I am today. Though I strive for self-acceptance because I feel like that’s a huge chunk of self love, I don’t always like who I’ve become. It just seems like I’ve gotten so far away from who I was.
Most days are sunny and bright and so obviously full of love and beautiful moments and divine synchronicities, but this isn’t about most days… There are days I have to try hard just to like myself and there are many moments that I don’t quite succeed. I keep wanting to be who I was when I was free and unfettered. I want to be who I was before I had to put together a shattered heart. I used to be fun. I used to be wide open. I used to be love embodied. But now I have these not-so-hidden scars and lingering ghosts and a suitcase full of detritus. I know intellectually that it’s that clinging that inhibits me from finding who I am now. It kind of seems like I’m a whole new person. But my heart wishes that silver linings were still crystal clear and the rose colored spectacles often call my name from the back of a drawer where I keep my forgotten things. I’m far from bitter, but not quite clean of life’s messy stains. On those struggling days it feels like a war between my anxious mind and optimistic heart; as if the idealism won’t quite be swept away, but obtrusive dank reality has moved right in and set up its shit everywhere.
I’m a true Leo through and through – definitely a maker. “They” tell me I need to share, to create, to be heard in order to be happy. But I don’t write the way I used to. Even the uplifting pieces all seem to have the gray pallor of a subtle sadness. And I don’t dance the way I used to. There’s no time. No time for fun. No time for freedom. Even surrounded by love and laughs I feel a not-so-distant yearning in every step and every move feels contrived and calculated. No creation = no exhale. Breathing is the root of thriving. Someone pretty smart said something like that once… clearly the lesson didn’t stick. That’s the trouble with epiphanies, sometimes they just don’t have the staying power of scars. In a perfect world all wisdom would be painlessly won through epiphanies, but we aren’t perfection and we as people have aligned world wisdom with painful lessons.
So what’s the fix? It’s much easier said than done to accept where you are in any given moment and to always treat yourself with compassion. I know that’s where the magic happens. I know doing isn’t the same as making. I know that transformation is a necessary and beautiful thing. But here I am, just trying to remember to breathe. Trying to learn how to move these old limbs in new, meaningful ways. Trying to learn how to arrange these old words in the new ways that stir my soul.
I’m not really one for resolutions, but if I had to make one it would be to stop doing an imitation of the girl I was and to fully discover and embrace the woman I am now.
There are be-ers; there are do-ers; and then there are the people that fall somewhere in between. I used to settle into that healthy in between – skilled at being in the present moment and clicking into git-r-done mode when things needed to be tackled.
I lost that balance and somehow exhaustion had become more of a constant state of being and less of a once in a while condition. I had been in fight and flight for so long that I was stuck on this “do” merry-go-round.
I don’t remember a time in my life where my heart crumbled so easily and my rage spit out so quickly. That should have been a dead giveaway that my body and spirit were spent.
The constant going finally netted me strep mid-summer. I tried relaxing, but sitting there trying to do nothing was literally driving me insane. It’s not the pretty parts of stillness that bother me, it’s that when I stopped doing I had to sit with myself. My self has a lot of thoughts sometimes dark and often erratic. That constant sense of doing successfully distracted me from dealing with heartbreak for about a year now. I spent so much time working and tending to the whims of others and steadily feeding into the numbed type of bliss of constant busy-ness – I’d forgotten how to simply be.
It’s just another form of evading a sense of powerlessness – each moment; each breath has a direct purpose that serves the head. If all of this “doing” serves the ego and “being” serves the spirit, I’d say our spirits are all begging to be fed. Maybe you find that sense of being and meditative bliss on a motorcycle; maybe it’s hiking; hell maybe it’s shooting at the range – it doesn’t have to be the cross-legged sitting Om Shanti Shanti that you hold in your head as the only way to meditate or hold a peaceful space. It’s not the things you do mindlessly, but the things that are so second-natured to you they become like breathing. After all, focus on breath is the easiest, most direct form of meditation.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that swings between doing and mindlessness. Do-ers, especially do-ers that are trying to move their feet so fast they don’t feel the pain, will slam into a wall before they realize that they are run down and empty. When you’re not being, you’re not breathing. Hell, it’s no wonder I was so exhausted – you need oxygen and I’d been holding my breath the whole time. And those that cling to mindless pursuits, never really live at all.
Then comes the question; What do I want my breathing to be? What do I want my my inhale, my exhale, to be? Do I really want my restorative time to be tuning in to Keeping Up with the Kardashians? Not that there is anything wrong with a little Trash TV, but when I think of how I want to restore my spirit that ain’t it.
How will you breathe today? How will you restore?
You are allowed to feel shitty.
You are allowed to feel sad and lonely and hurt and generally just not okay.
Those words shouldn’t be revolutionary. They shouldn’t feel like releasing a breath you didn’t realize you were holding – but they might, at least they do for me.
There are so many articles and books on how to feel better, but rarely do you see anything that says “You are allowed to feel shitty.” That should be the first step in any plan to dig yourself out of a hole. Not just acknowledgement, full embrace.
How do you feel about not feeling okay? Does it make you uncomfortable or vulnerable? Do you minimize it by casting out a tepid “I’m fine…” if someone acknowledges your muddiness? Why is it that we refuse to take an active role in the darker side of our emotional spectrum?
The pretense of perfection and complete balance is literally driving us further and further away from ourselves, each other, and greatness. Everything is masks and comparison of Facebook-happy lives and walls of pseudo-emotional protection. We praise those living in disenchanted malaise and call for the exaltation of mediocrity because it maintains the illusion that we can do and have everything – that life will be easy and uncomplicated if you just hit these ten easy milestones. Meanwhile we judge those that are authentic, off-kilter, extraordinary because their balancing act doesn’t resemble the evenly sliced pie sitting on a suburban sitcom windowsill.
In order to move on, fully live, and do amazing things you have to embrace the suck. You don’t conquer mountains by running around them; you do it by running straight up and over them.
This isn’t an excuse to wallow. No, you don’t want to settle here. This is a call for self-compassion. This is permission to have crappy hours and days; let that feeling come to fruition so we can stop shoving the negativity back inside until we are so full of crappiness we explode or binge or shutdown.
Acknowledge the suck, embrace it, and then use it as a catalyst or muse or lesson. Everything serves a purpose.
This is something a little different, a little dark.
Death is the only part of the life cycle that’s often spoken about in hushed tones. Mystified, revered, and feared – we sing about it, we write sonnets, but they are nearly always in the heart of the night spoken in metaphors with its essence only gleaned in the subtext.
But I don’t want hushed tones, aching, and tears at my death.
Instead sing from rooftops that I can finally find peace for my weary bones.
Shout that I lived and loved hard and died once the last ounce of passion left my body.
Tell them I used up everything.
Graffiti the walls with the words I spoke most often and may the lion’s share be the loveliest and most uplifting of things.
If I should die tomorrow, please don’t lay my body down.
Spread my ashes to the world.
Take me on one last trip.
Let me go in the wind.
Scatter me over seeds so that I may be part of the trees and it can be said that I began and ended with roots.
Place me at the center of all elements so that I may live eternity in perfect balance.
I have not lived quietly or apologetically so honor me by wearing red, dancing on a moonlit night in an open field of wildflowers, drinking good whiskey and great red wine, breathing slow in the morning, loving openly and unconditionally, and living your truth out loud every damn day.
Gather annually around a fire with good tunes – not to spend a weekend remembering me, but because I have found presence and connection to be the answer to nearly everything.
If I should die tomorrow, please don’t lay my body down.
May I still fly and swim and grow and burn,
may my words still rally,
may thoughts of me still inspire warmth,
and may my love still heal
long after the last of me is washed away to sea.
Not-so-jokingly, I’ve been known to quip “Patience just isn’t my virtue.” – often in regard to petty things I couldn’t be bothered to wait for. Contrary to my “petty times” mantra, if one were to ask my closest friends they would paint me as a patient woman; I just like to think I choose my battles well.
When I remember who I am (love child of the divine and rebellion) and what I am (miracle maker and earth rattler), I am in my “right” mind. There is no room for anxiety or worry because my hands are too busy building to wring them fitfully, my mind is too focused on the moment to future trip*, my heart is too full of faith to deflate with impatience.
Faith that divining forces are vying for you through blessings AND lessons can serve as an exercise in anxiety and futility without the other half of the equation. We can throw up all of the prayers and requests we desire, but without the same strength of faith in Divine Timing we quickly become a fussy ball of impatient chaos. This missing piece can take that feeling of begrudging the mysterious deity playing with us like a chess match to deep breaths and “All in good time” mantras.
“But when? When?!” we cry as we half-heartedly cleave to belief that the universe or God or whatever you’re holding holy is conspiring in our favor. That waiting begins to feel like being stuck; if idle hands are the devil’s playground, an idle mind can play host to an ego all too eager to run around an anxiety filled merry-go-round. The only antidote is full surrender. No asking when it’s coming, no nights lying awake wondering and begging for signs. The anxiety and restlessness should dissipate without much effort beyond this shift.
No matter how scientific or magical your formula for manifestation may be you must fully surrender to the process. Your job is to move your feet, pray, and hustle like hell – not fret over when it’s coming. You’ve been heard. Everything in due time.
Are you checking in every 5 minutes wondering where your miracle is? Have you been twiddling your anxious thumbs waiting for your blessing to arrive? Surrender and then surrender some more.
*Shout out to Gabby Bernstein