I cannot hold someone in my present responsible for the actions of someone in my past. I need to take each person, each day and each situation on its own merits
and deal with them accordingly. I need to release the knee-jerk reaction
and take life as it comes.
Personal Responsibility: Owning everything single thing about your life, your actions or inaction, your choices, beliefs and history. Stepping up to the plate of life and saying loudly; "I take full responsibility!" Then, actually following through. It is taking control of everything you touch, do, say or feel and honoring it. It is owning your mistakes, wrong choices, bad decisions and either making them right or doing better going forward.
It is the moment when you stop blaming and start accepting.
It is in the moment when you let the excuse die upon your lips.
It is in the moment when you stop lying and start telling the truth.
It is in the moment you look deep within and realize - it is you who needs to change.
It is in all of these moments when your life becomes your own.
There was a woman with whom I was very close and for years I watched as she placed the blame for everything wrong in her life firmly on the shoulders of those around her. Never once taking personal responsibility for any facet of her life. She would blame her children for robbing her of her youth, her husband for her unhappiness and various friends for never being there for her. She saw herself as taken advantage of and always felt let down by those she loved. She was a lost soul for so many different reasons - none of which being the people in her life.
She would blame the past for her present. She would blame her father, her mother, her sister and so on, for all that was wrong. She would cry and lament about the injustice of it all. Then, she would place the task of making her feel better onto her children. Expecting them to heal all which was broken and make life better going forward for her. She would place the responsibility for her happiness on their shoulders and then blame them for her tears. She failed to realize it was she who needed to take full responsibility for her life and happiness; not her husband, children or friends.
She never took personal responsibility for her life and she eventually broke because of it. Until the day she died, she blamed everyone else for her decisions, her unhappiness and the life she never felt she had. She found scapegoats and excuses far easier to handle than taking the long and arduous journey of self-discovery. She never took control of herself long enough to understand the importance of standing on her own two feet and facing life head on. She never felt the pride of confronting her past and making peace with it. She never felt the feeling of accomplishment when she corrected a mistake or a bad decision. She never released the need to blame others for all that was wrong and thus - never took initiative to make things right on her own.
She was simply a bystander in her own life.
She never realized she had the power all along.
We all have things inside of ourselves we wish were different. We all have stories we wish we could go back and change or fix. Hindsight kicks our collective butt every chance it gets and we feel powerless. We feel the need to play the blame game because blaming someone else for all that is wrong is far easier than looking at ourselves.
I am no different. A sudden epiphany for me the other day revealed I was reacting to a situation badly and instead of stopping and understanding why I was reacting the way I was, I placed the blame firmly where I felt it belonged - on my mother. Because of growing up with a bi-polar mother I have found certain situations trigger a emotional response which has nothing to do with present day and everything to do with my feelings toward my childhood. I realized with sudden clarity - I needed to release it. I cannot hold today responsible for yesterday. I cannot hold someone in my present responsible for the actions of someone in my past. I need to take each person, each day and each situation on its own merits and deal with them accordingly. I need to release the knee-jerk reaction and take life as it comes.
You can't blame anyone else for how you handle any given situation.
We all draw from a wealth of experiences. From lessons we have learned, mistakes we have made and directions we chose to take. Ultimately, we made decisions, wrong or right, based on what we felt we needed to do at the time. We need to own them. We are not made of Teflon, the blame does not slide right off from us and on to the person we feel should own it. In essence, when we do so, we are handing all of our personal power to another person. Think about that for a minute. When you place the blame on someone else - you are negating all of your personal power and giving it to them. You are saying to yourself - they have more power over my life, my thoughts and my decisions than I do. I have no control over anything and they have total control.
Why would you want to do that?
When I make a bad decision, handle a situation poorly or allow my past to dictate my future - I can't blame anyone for it BUT myself and while it may be uncomfortable saying I am sorry or taking steps to correct a wrong, I have to face it because I was the one who did it. If I go out and over indulge at dinner and get a tummy ache - who am I going to blame? The waiter? The chef? Well, unless they were at my table force feeding me, no. I am going to blame my lack of will power. I am going to blame my hand for continually rising the fork to my mouth. Of course, at first, I may blame the fork - I am human after all.
Stop holding today hostage for yesterday. Stop blaming everyone else for things you have control over. If you need to be a better person - be a better person. If you need to change your lifestyle - change it. If you need to do some work on your life or situation in order to get where you want to be - do it. Stop blaming someone else and start taking responsibility for your life. If you don't like what you see when you take an honest look at yourself - own it. Own it then work on making changes.
You had the power the whole time. Use it.
I have faced demons and I have conquered. I have entertained the emotional wraiths that have plunged my soul into the darkness, only to learn to dance with the angels back to the light.
I am not the same woman I as three years ago, seven years ago, fifteen years ago, I have changed and evolved only to change and evolve again, finding with each chapter in my life, a little more about myself that I never knew before. I have broken. I have conquered. I have stumbled. I have found my stride. I have made mistakes - so many mistakes. I have loved and lost. I have watched the flame of life go out when loved ones passed and have seen it rekindled with new life. I have faced demons and I have conquered. I have entertained the emotional wraiths that have plunged my soul into the darkness, only to learn to dance with the angels back to the light.
I have learned that there is good and there is bad. I understand now, one of the biggest challenges in life - is learning to accept that. I have learned it is a balance and when that balance is out-of-whack, I must do everything to correct it. I have learned avoiding is not the same as healing. I have also learned holding on instead of letting go - can force your soul to be chained to a rock deep inside yourself.
I have learned with healing comes change and change can hurt, I have learned throughout the hurt and I have evolved, and throughout all of these experiences - I have been becoming. I have learned evolving and becoming requires acceptance and that I get hung up on this step way more than I should. I am currently learning one will not flourish if one keeps acceptance at bay. I have also learned exactly how stubborn I can be. (I blame my grandmother for the stubbornness.)
I have also discovered you can do the above stages for any number of things in your life at the same time and sometimes not even realize it. I have learned problems can be a lot like nesting boxes. You focus on the big looming one and decide it is time to work it out of your life - so you rip the top off, only to realize, so many other problems of varying degrees of difficulty, lay nestled inside and the big looming one is actually comprised of all the others. It can be overwhelming. You are tempted to put the damn lid back on and bury it in the back of the nearest closet. But, you listen to that little voice that guides you, and you leave the cover off - knowing it is time to begin your journey.
Release & Heal
At various times throughout life when I was feeling strong I would pull things from the past that I had sequestered to some remote part of my mind and bring it out to the light. I would spend some time holding it in my mind and in my heart, examining it almost like I would a piece of sea glass, turning it over-and-over, holding it up to the light and just letting my emotions flow unchecked. Then, after a while, I would say my peace to it and bid it adieu. I would sweep away any remnants of sadness, anger or feelings of loss, and just like sweeping the floor of my kitchen, I would do a soul cleaning and be done with it. Occasionally, I would pull something forth I was convinced I was almost done making my peace with or making sense of, only to realize I still had some work to do with it, so back in the recesses of my mind I would put it, knowing while this was acceptable for the moment, I must force myself to make an honest assessment of my feelings toward it and be firm with myself not to let it fester too much longer.
I also discovered, with certain things in life, I needed a bit more powerful and cleansing way to find release. One day, when working through something, I wrote out on a piece of paper everything I could about this particular subject, then when I had it all out of me and onto the paper, I went outside to my fire pit and lit the paper on fire. I watched as all of the words which conveyed what I was holding onto - went up in flames. The release I felt was stunning and felt like cauterization of a wound, which could now heal on its own. Over the years, I have burned photos, letters, and some mementos, and I have to say after each instance - I felt lighter
I am a huge believer in visualization. Sometimes, I will hold the image of a huge group of balloons in my mind - I visualize what I need to release - an emotion, a thought pattern, a memory, and then - I attach it to a balloon and release it to the sky. Releasing whatever it was I was holding onto and feeling the peace as I watched it gently float up-up-and-away towards the sky. Another way I have discovered that works to dispel anger - is to visualize blowing up a balloon (actually blowing one up works awesome too.) Close your eyes and imagine yourself blowing up a balloon by forcing all the anger out of you with deep, cleansing breaths, once it is all out of your, (sometimes you need more than one balloon,) tie it off and only when you can feel your muscles relax -POP IT!
Whatever you find works best for you, be it tangible or visual, releasing your emotions, releasing yourself from a bad situation, releasing yourself from the power of the past and its hold over you - is the first giant step towards healing. Holding on to something that hurts you, makes you sad or chains you in the past - does not serve you, your heart, soul or mental health, in anyway. Releasing and healing will part the dark storm clouds and allow the light back in - preparing you for changing and evolving and moving on to next chapter of your life.
Change & Evolve
Change is scary. It opens doors to things in life we have yet to discover. Change forces us to look into the depths of our soul and find what needs to come to light and then actually bringing it out to the light. Change means facing fears and conquering them. Change means taking risks and opening ourselves up to hurt and possible failure. We can't wrap life in bubble wrap, and we can’t expect to never get dings and cracks in our souls, because well - life is going to ding you up once in a while. Some people in your life may react differently to the changes you make, they may not understand or accept them. So what? They are not living your life - you are. They are not your responsibility. Changing and evolving your way of life, way of thinking, way of handling or dealing with situations and you will be changing your entire world for the better. The further you evolve, the more you allow yourself to heal, and the more you change - the happier and more content you become. Add it all together and you find a strength you never realized you possessed and an optimism for a future you once thought was impossible.
Become & Accept
With release comes healing. With change comes evolving. All leads to becoming and accepting your authentic self. Honoring exactly who you are and being free to pursue who you want to become. Those who chose to release the bindings of the past, freeing themselves from the shadows of their life and allowing the light and happiness to come back in - become an honor to themselves. When we honor all we have accomplished, all the roads we have walked and mountains we have climbed, we begin to understand in our very soul - all of the lessons, the dings and the heartaches, have given us the very foundation we need in which to become exactly who we want to be. We all have our starting points to become exactly who we were meant to be.
You just have to release the shackles holding you into place.
Everything in life has led you to this moment. Feel the power inside your soul to become whoever you want to be and feel the freedom to live authentically. Understand you do not need the world's acceptance of the changes you have made. However, and this is a big one - you have to accept yourself. All of yourself. The parts that still need some work. The parts you are still healing and evolving. None of this will happen over-night. It is a journey. However, during your journey through life and amid all of the changes, learn to accept every single new discovery you make about yourself, hold them close and feel the growing strength radiate from your very core.
Begin an adventure to discover more of your gifts and start to set goals of where you want to be.
The more you release and heal, the more you change and evolve and the more you change and evolve - the more you become. You become happy, content, challenged, and hopeful. You become filled with radiating light and the shadows in your eyes become a distant memory. You become grounded and strong. Self-confident and sure. The powerlessness of yesterday has become the power of today. You become more trusting of yourself and excited about all you know you are capable of becoming.
You accept life will be different from here on out. It will be different, amazing, terrifying and exciting.
Then - You flourish.
I will not apologize for being confident. I wasn't always. But, once I stopped
worrying about being liked and worried more about being me - life changed.
I won't apologize for discovering my inner power.
I won't apologize for learning, for growing or for finding my true calling in life.
I will never apologize for flaming the spark within until it roared.
I will never apologize for being me. I will never apologize for being strong, smart or motivated. I will never apologize for living in accordance with the morals, ethics and standards that I have for myself. I will never apologize for attaining goals I have set. I will never apologize for not making the same mistakes as others. I sure as hell will never apologize for having my life together and for being happy.
I won't apologize because I don't have to.
I have made mistakes. I have had many-many missteps and direction changes. I have had broken hearts and shattered dreams. I have had my life reduced to rubble more times than I can count and yet somehow - always found a way to piece it back together.
I will not apologize for that either.
I will not apologize for my dreams or my dedication to making them come true. I will not apologize for my inner fire or my presence. I will not apologize for the material things I have acquired - I have worked hard for everything I have and am not ashamed of it. I will not apologize for being dedicated and will not apologize for any successes this brings forth. I will not apologize for my personal failures - I will however own every single one of them and find ways to do better.
I will not apologize for my decisions - if they were wrong I will admit it and move on. I will not apologize for keeping my stride when times are tough and will not apologize if I stumble either. I won't apologize for being outspoken. I won't apologize for standing up for something I think is right. I won't apologize for changing my mind when presented with new evidence or ideas. I will not apologize for having an open mind. I will not apologize for taking every person who walks into my life as they are.
I will not dull who I am because someone has a problem with it. I will not allow my actions to be dictated by another. I will offer no explanations, excuses or justifications to anyone that judges me and my life. Especially if they know nothing about me.
If I want to live my life out loud - then that is exactly what I am going to do.
Because I can.
Because I want to - have to -deserve to.
I will not apologize for being confident. I wasn't always. But, once I stopped worrying about being liked and worried more about being me - my life changed. I won't apologize for discovering my inner power. I won't apologize for learning, for growing or for finding my true calling in life. I will never apologize for flaming the spark within until it roared.
All of these things I refuse to apologize for... You shouldn't either.
If you allow the opinions and proclamations of others to determine your worth - you are doing nothing more than selling yourself out. If you listen to the naysayers, the disbelievers, the jealous ones and not to yourself - how will you ever reach your dreams? How will you fan your inner flame to a mighty roar if you let others continually blow it out? Stop apologizing for being you.
Never say you’re sorry when you have done nothing more than honor your authentic self.
However, living this way does in fact come with a price tag. The more you shine, the more your inner flame roars - the harder some try to blow it out. Instead of owning their personal responsibility and focusing on ways to better themselves - they instead focus on ways to make themselves appear better by trying to make you look bad. Forget them. In school, at the office, within your family and friends or simply someone unhappy and miserable in their own lives - when someone is threatened by your life, by your successes, achievements, happiness and contentment - this is their problem - not yours. NOT YOURS. Stop letting this poison into your life and get back to being all you want to be, dream to be and will be.
Forget the naysayers.
I think the turtles have it figured out. Soft on the inside, hard shell on the outside and willing to stick their necks out to get anywhere they want to go. So dream big. Live-out-loud. Never apologize for your triumphs or your failures. Never listen to those whose own unhappiness forces them to lash out at you. Forget their words. Forget their accusations. Forget the need to prove yourself to them. They will never listen because in truth – it is not you they are mad at. They are mad at themselves for never following through on their own dreams. For not living authentically. For not having the strength to take that same hard look within that you did. They will forever hate your shine – That’s ok. Let them. When you live an authentic, honest and brilliant life – you will light your own way and the ways of everyone who believes in you.
Never – Ever – Ever - Dull your shine.
Fan those inner flames and ROAR!!!!
You have to learn to trust in yourself. You have to believe in yourself. Screw the rest of the world and what it wants from you. What do YOU want from you?
Once you figure that out... Do IT!
Everything else will fall into place.
We sat upon a huge rock letting our legs dangle just above the surging tide, watching as puffs of sea foam fluttered around our shoes. For the moment, hearing nothing more than the crash of the waves and haunting cries from the passing gulls, I let the world slip away and simply focused on the rise and fall of the waves as they came ashore. It felt like stolen peace. Call me a thief but I needed it. The woman sitting next to me did too.
After a few moments she peered at me from the corner of her startling green eyes and sighed, turning her gaze back to the ocean she said, "Why do I keep making the same mistakes?" I could feel the weight of each word as it left her mouth. Each word spoken heavy with defeat, wrought with self-loathing, and laced with a sadness that went straight to my heart. "If it is not abusive men then it is my drinking and if it is not my drinking then it is spending all the money I have saved and not being able to pay my bills," she forced these words out of her mouth, biting each one of them off as she said them. Her jaw clenched tight as she fought the barrage of emotions threatening to overwhelm her, looking me straight in the eyes she said, "Why do I sabotage everything good, why do I keep making the same mistakes over-and-over again?"
"Why can't I get it right?"
I looked at her sitting there, a strong and intelligent woman, a woman who had faced some serious adversities in life and yet- was still standing. A woman who couldn't be broken for she always found ways to put the pieces back together. She was strong. She was smart. However, what she wasn't - was trusting. She didn't trust happy. She didn't trust content. For whenever happiness descended upon her life, one eye was always on the look-out for the bad that had to come eventually. That was the way her life went. Though she didn't trust the good times - she most definitely trusted in the bad. She trusted it to always come. So instead of allowing herself to be blindsided by it - she brought it in herself. I think on some level thinking that if she brought the bad in then she must be in control of it. Never works that way but it is amazing what we can convince ourselves of when needed.
I know exactly how she is feeling as I am there myself with a situation I find myself in. A repeat of a life lesson that I was sure I had fully mastered but apparently didn't. Took me awhile to realize that I was repeating some old habits and when I did - holy epiphany batman! I was shocked and furious at myself. How could I find myself in a situation so close to one I had already been through? How could I have not seen it sooner? How could I have let myself so easily slip back into a pattern that I swore never to find myself in again?
Apparently life decided that it needed to test my resolve. A sudden pop-quiz to see if I had fully embraced the life lesson. Did I make it a part of my soul? Did I fully absorb the knowledge? Could I put what I had learned to use? Well, it appears maybe I didn't. My friend hadn't either. Because if we had - we wouldn't be facing the same things over-and-over again and still not getting it right.
Life lessons teach us. Life lessons change us. We came. We fought. We conquered. Right? But, what happens down the road when something comes up that you should be completely prepared to handle - you've learned the lessons, you’ve earned your knowledge and are armed with a been-there-done-that attitude and yet, still make the same mistake as you did in the past? By falling into the same habits, reacting or overreacting the same way, allowing yourself to be blind to the truth until it was too late, falling in love with the same type of unhealthy partner or whatever behavior it is that felt like it was what you were supposed to be doing - but in truth isn't even remotely close to applying the hard-earned lessons of the past or trusting in your knowledge of all the ways NOT to do something?
Why are we sabotaging ourselves and setting ourselves up to always fail?
We don't trust in ourselves. We don't trust in our instincts or our guts and for some - we do not believe we deserve to be happy or content for any myriad of bullshit reasons. We convince ourselves that we deserve it. We go in circles because it is a pattern that we are comfortable with – unhealthy or bad doesn’t seem to matter. Why should things be any different? Why should I be happy? We ignore the warning signs and jump right in because at least we know what is coming and we won’t be surprised. We got this because we had it in the past. It is a viscous cycle.
We need to stop.
Look for that which repeats again-and again in your life. Certain situations that you find yourself in, lovers you choose, your coping mechanisms be they drinking, bouts of depression, or moments of undeniable rage. Look to that which repeats for this is the lesson you most need to absorb into your soul once and for all. It keeps happening because it is what you are bringing into your life by not getting it all the times before.
For my friend and for me too - the repeating circumstances are ones that we have faced more than once. Each time falling into old habits and pulling the shield of old fears around ourselves like a cloak. We handle it over-and-over again because we know that we can - we did before right? It is a bad that is known. It is a bad that we beat before. It is kind of like stacking a deck of cards - if you always know what is coming next, you will always know how to play them but in doing so you limit yourself to doing better. You limit the highest possible levels in life that you could reach.
Look for that which repeats in your life. Ask yourself why. Why do you resort to destructive behaviors? Why do you allow your depression to control you? Why do you take toxic lovers? Why do you constantly let a certain type of person always have an emotional hold over you? Do not be afraid to ask these questions and be less afraid of the answers. Be truthful with yourself even if the answers are painful and honestly, often times they are. However, the answers will highlight your weakest points and while no one ever wants to see them you need to see them. You need to address them. You are only as strong as YOUR weakest point and identifying it and working on making it stronger will only make YOU stronger.
Trust that the lessons of the past will prepare you for whatever the future holds and when faced with someone you know isn't right for you or when something you have faced before and conquered comes around again - do not sell yourself out because you feel like you deserve it. You don't.
"When will I get it right?" she asked.
When you weave the lessons you have learned into your very being and trust in yourself. When you trust in the happy and when you release the comfort of the bad. I replied. When you stop making the same mistakes over-and-over again because you do not feel like you deserve better. When you learn to take care of yourself. When you learn that it is better to be alone and sure of your heart then it is to be with someone who hurts you. When you see that your destructive behavior is only caused by one thing, the one lesson you still haven't gotten yet, and that is this...
You have to learn to trust in yourself. You have to believe in yourself. Screw the rest of the world and what it wants from you. What do YOU want from you? Once you figure that out... Do IT!
Everything else will fall into place.
Will you make mistakes? Of course. Some of the biggest breakthroughs I have ever had came from a mistake. Learn from them. Don't be afraid of them.
Mistakes mean that you are trying. Mistakes mean that you are living again
"Life just sucks," one of my best friends proclaimed to me in a moment of
Yes, indeed at times, it does in fact - suck. I know this. You know this. Sometimes life resembles an evil merry-go-round and you simply go in circles of despair, frustration and hopelessness, over-and-over again for what feels like an eternity. You feel stuck. You feel lost.
You feel hopeless.
Your sleep becomes elusive at night, yet your exhaustion threatens to overwhelm you during the day. You stress eat or your appetite flees with your sleep and you find nothing tastes good or satisfies you. You make yourself constantly busy but seem to get absolutely nothing done. Anything to keep your mind off the simple fact that - life sucks. You dread the night. You dread those moments of free time with nothing to occupy your thoughts, for it is then that your mind focuses on all that is wrong, but yet, never seems to come up with any way to make it better.
The evil merry-go-round continues. Round and round you go - where it stops nobody knows. Your shoulders begin to sag from the weight of it all. Your eyes become shadowed and downcast. You worry that people will see failure in your gaze. You wear defeat like a cloak and become a shadow of who you were - who you want to be. You become a functioning robot. Locking your feelings down tight and letting go of hope. Over time you become to think that this is what your life will be like forever.
"Life sucks," he said. "Life is what you make of it," was my reply. He glared at me, thinking I was making light of his despair, I wasn't and so I continued on...
Life sucks you say. Yes, at times, it in fact does suck. Sucks bad. People hurt you. Circumstances that are beyond your control invade your life whether you want them to or not. Stress happens. Bad days happen. Hell, bad years happen. All sorts of bad happens. All sorts of good does too, but if you are so blinded by all that is bad, you will never see it. If life was constantly one perfect day after another, you would become complacent. Life would become boring and meaningless because you would stop trying to make it better. How would you appreciate all the good, being happy and amazing circumstances, if you had nothing to compare them too? You wouldn't. Your life is defined by what you do when the dark moments come. Your life is defined by breaking the cycle and finding your way out of the darkness. Your life is defined by YOU.
Yes life can suck. But, will you let that define you?
Honestly, in my opinion, the "life sucks" phrase is the biggest cop out I have ever heard. "I can't be happy - life sucks." I can't move on - life sucks." "I can't find my way - life sucks." “This person is doing this and making my life suck.”
You can't find your way IF you don't get out of your own way first. You have to WANT to break the circle of the evil merry-go-round. Stop thinking and start doing. If sitting there in the darkness and letting your mind go to all that is wrong is getting you nowhere, then maybe it is time to stop. Don't think about changing. Actually change something. You can’t move on because you keep stopping yourself. Figure out why and you will figure out a way to make it happen. Understand that you can only control one thing in this world – yourself. Focus on that. Let go of trying to control others. Either change the way you think about a situation, change the way you handle it or just remove yourself completely. Forget trying to change anyone else. It never works and you will drive yourself crazy in the process. Learn to let go that which you cannot change and focus on what you can.
Life is what you make of it.
But it's so hard. But I don't know where to start. But I don't have the money. But no one understands... But-But-But. But nothing. People do not need to understand and you do not need to convince anyone of anything. Yes it's hard, nothing worthwhile in life is ever easy. You don't know where to start? Try the beginning, I find that is as good as any place, and if you don't know where the beginning is - it is where you plant your foot, stop going in circles and change directions all on your own - that is the beginning. Where you go from there is totally up to you. Will you make mistakes? Of course. Some of the biggest breakthroughs I have ever had came from a mistake. Learn from them. Don't be afraid of them. Mistakes mean that you are trying. Mistakes mean that you are living again. No money? Well, guess what? Money does in fact not make you automatically happy and content. Money can bring another slew of problems and does not solve everything. Does if help? Of course. Do you need it to change your life? Not necessarily.
What you need is the drive to change your life. You need to want to change your life. You need to release the fear of what could happen and just learn to roll with it. If something needs changing - change it. If something needs doing - do it. If you don't know what that "something" is - keep trying things until you find it. There is always something you can do to start to break the cycle. Even if that something is allowing yourself to have hope - hope that someday, maybe not tomorrow or the day after that, but someday, you will find what makes you come alive again.
Learn to think outside of the box. Try something new. Investigate life and spend the time you would have dedicated to thinking about why life sucks, to finding ways to make it suck a little less. Ask for help - it is not a sign of weakness to. Ask for ideas. Google it for crying out loud. Do something. Become the super hero of your life instead of the damn villain. Don't stop before you start - just start. Somewhere. Anywhere.
All it takes is a single step to break the cycle. Feel the fire burn in your belly. Feel it travel up and ignite you to find your happy. Reach further than you ever have before because you deserve it. You and you alone are responsible for your happiness.
Life may indeed suck. It happens.
Now, what are you going to do about it?
Each and every one of us who find ourselves in need of recalculating and adjusting to a new way of living, will one day break out of our protective cocoon and just as the butterfly – we will not only be changed, we will also be free
I was wandering through a quaint little store the other day when I chanced upon a beautiful dragonfly wall hanging, that quite literally, stopped me in my tracks. Instantly I thought of my mom and her almost childlike love of the dragonfly. I was transported back to a dust covered memory - of her sitting on the front porch giggling as what appeared to be a drunk dragonfly flew around haphazardly. With so many bad memories I cling to the good ones when they come. I felt my eyes tearing up while I stood there mesmerized by the wall hanging. Sometimes the loss of her feels like a gut punch when I least expect it. There had been so much bad but sometimes - there had been good too.
I chastised myself, as I walked out of the store, about allowing my emotions to get the better of me. It has been almost two years since she died, actually, the anniversary is fast approaching, and I should have found some closure by now. Well, at least that is what people tell me - that I need closure. I need to move on. Ok, fine - to be honest, I tell myself this all the time too. Everyone always needs the ever elusive closure. People are looking for it at the end of failed relationships, after death, after loss, and well, after anything really that comes to an end.
Honestly, I can't stand the word. The definition of closure is: the act or process of closing something. Closing something like a door or a road and not some huge part of one's life that is suddenly empty, hollow and shattered. You find closure when you leave a job and start a new one. You find closure when you pay off bills.
It was running into a road closure that got me thinking about life and finding the elusive closure.
Picture this; you are driving your normal route to work, you go to make the same right hand turn that you have made every day for ten years, and you are greeted by a ginormous sign that reads "Closed." You wail. You get angry. It throws a wrench into your entire morning. Then, you accept it as fact, recalculate your route, and you continue on. Know what? Same basic premises applies in life too.
There are so many circumstances in life when you will never find closure. How could you really? Closure means that you are no longer affected by something. Closure means you have forgotten the pain, the heartache and have healed completely. Maybe some people can. Maybe some people can cauterize a broken heart, can cement in a hole in their life left by someone they loved. Maybe they can - doesn't mean that you have too.
After finding that detour and having to figure out a new way to get to work - it dawned on me. You don't suffer a big loss, an ended relationship or death of a loved one and POOF! One day find that you are over it. You just don't. It doesn't work that way. Regardless of what people tell you need to do or how you just need to find some closure and move on.
Forget finding closure. Instead, focus on recalculating.
Recalculating. When a sudden loss occurs - so does a shift in your reality. Whether you wanted it or not - your world changed the second it happened. Be it the moment your divorce was final, the last breath of a loved one or whatever the life event, when it happened - your reality changed. You must give yourself time to grieve. You must allow the tears to flow, the anger to rise and the full gamut of emotions to run their course. You will feel totally out-of-control and helpless. You will feel lost and insecure. You will want the pain to end, the sadness to depart and you will want to feel the joy of life again. But, because closure is so incomprehensible, you stall out. Stop thinking about closure. You may never be ready to let go of some of the sadness, you may never fill the empty hole someone left behind. You don't have to. Recalculate your life to acclimate to your new reality and go from there. This is now your starting point. Your go forward point. Make the needed adjustments and give yourself permission to move on. By acclimating to your new reality, by embracing your loss and making some form of peace with it, you allow yourself the first steps of moving on.
As I write this I find that I am visualizing a caterpillar.
The caterpillar is who I was before losing my mom. Actually, in the past few years I have lost a lot and my reality has sifted, re-shifted and shifted again every time. I realize that I have pulled myself, like the caterpillar, into a cocoon of sorts. A protective shield. I know now that after a period of time - I, like the caterpillar, will decide when I am ready to break free. However, it won't be because I have embraced closure. It will be because I allowed myself time to acclimate to my new reality. That while I may still feel sadness, I will feel the pull of life even more.
Each and every one of us who find ourselves in need of recalculating and adjusting to a new way of living, will one day break out of our protective cocoon and just as the butterfly – we will not only be changed, we will also be free.
When old age sets in and I am nearing the end of my time on this earth, I know I will have regrets. I am human. But, I will also know that I tried as best I could to lead an honest life. To touch the lives of both stranger and friend. That those I loved - knew it with all their heart and those I had lost along the way would always
know that I had a special place in my heart reserved just for them.
I had loved. I had lost. But in the end - I won't regret one single second of it.
We are told to never miss opportunity. To never miss a chance, a possibility or leap of faith. That we must live our lives to the fullest so that when we reach the end we have no regrets. We must live and love. We must reach out and touch others. We must go on adventures and try things that scare us. We must open new doors when one closes and reach for the moon - so that if we miss we shall land among the stars. We must do good whenever the need is there and never miss the chance do to more. The fear of not getting to everything we want, not seeing-doing-feeling every single possible thing life has in store for us, the fuel to keep us going. When our time comes to leave this world - we must do it free of regret. Photo Credit: Happiness In Your Life
I know that I have done a lot of things right in life. I also know that I have done a lot of things wrong. I have missed opportunities. I have missed chances. I already have regrets. Some I can do something about and others - I can't. I regret not going to college right out of high school. I regret not being able to help everyone I have wanted to. I regret not trying harder in certain situations. I regret not letting go sooner in others. I regret not following my instincts at some very key points in life. However, one thing I regret the most is all the times my words failed. Words spoken for sure, but more so, those I let die upon my tongue.
I regret words left unspoken.
As a writer you would think I would have always held a solid grasp of the power of my words and honestly, I do, but yet when I look back over the course of my life - I see many times when my words failed. Sure, words spoken in anger are always what come to mind first and foremost. Words, which the second they leave your mouth, you regret. I may have a few of these moments. Or words you spoke that were not completely the truth but were what you thought you needed to say at the time. Like the time I told my grandmother how amazing her green bean casserole was - it wasn't. However, she cooked it a bunch of times after that first time because she thought I loved it. In hindsight, I should have been more honest. Nicely of course, but truthful nonetheless.
Words hold so much power.
The power to leave your mind through your mouth and enter the ears of someone who so desperately needs to hear them. The power to right a wrong. The power to heal. The power of all that is you- within them as they touch the heart of another. It is these words that I regret not uttering sometimes. When instead of telling someone I cared about how much I loved them, how much I needed them, I let the words wither and die on my tongue. The times when I should have said the words they needed to hear and put my own fear aside. Times when the power of my word was the only thing I had to offer and yet, never did. I regret the moments when I have allowed my words to stay trapped, repeating them to myself only, over-and-over again, instead of standing on the closest soapbox and making a sweeping declaration for all to hear.
I regret those times when my words were needed to stand up for something I believed in but I didn't believe in myself enough to say them. Those times when instead of using courage to bolster my words, I let fear quell them. Times when I let people walk away without ever knowing how I felt or when I walked away leaving my words trapped in my throat. All the things I should have said but never did. All the times I should have fought harder or spoke with my heart but didn't. I regret those.
What I don't regret is learning to see the beauty of always speaking my heart. I don't regret telling my friends how much I love them or my younger sister how proud I am of her. I don't regret learning to say things that need saying without fear of being vulnerable. I may regret all the times in the past but I will not have the same regrets in the future.
Life is simply too short. Stop holding on to words that need to be spoken. Stop allowing yourself to let them stay trapped in your mind. If you have the chance - take it. Be honest with those you care about. Good or bad. Speak the words of your soul. Those words are the spark of your very existence. Speak them now or forever hold your peace. Though in my experience - that peace is elusive and the regret of not opening your mouth - holds strong.
When old age sets in and I am nearing the end of my time on this earth, I know I will have regrets. I am human. But, I will also know that I tried as best I could to lead an honest life. To touch the lives of both stranger and friend. That those I loved - knew it with all their heart and those I had lost along the way would always know that I had a special place in my heart reserved just for them. I had loved. I had lost. But in the end - I won't regret one single second of it.
That is the one regret I shall never have - living this amazing life.
Does someone need to hear your words?
After one fights the tide and sees themselves through the storm, they will notice that even the ocean plummets and crashes - but it always leaps back up again, retreats in on itself, gathers its strength and tries again.
As I make my way down the narrow path that leads to the sea, walking gingerly in my bare feet, I can taste the saltiness of the air on my tongue. Tall dune grass whips in the breeze against my legs and I feel my heart start to race as my ears pick up the roar of the ocean. Fragile fragments of washed up shells litter the ground and I feel them break apart under my feet. Coming to the end of the path and the beginning of the beach, I stop and close my eyes against the bright sun. Tipping my head back so that I can feel the warmth on my face. Breathing in deeply, filling my lungs with the air of the sea. Only when I feel my shoulders start to loosen, do I open my eyes and take in the cove. Sea gulls shriek as they fly by, swooping down to kiss the ocean and then blazing upwards over rocky cliffs that form the sides of the sheltered cove. I envy the gulls their freedom. My shoes fall from my fingertips to the sand as my feet guide me into the waiting ocean.
Tide is coming in.
Off in the distance, storm clouds gather; dark, fierce and menacing in their approach. The increasing power of the tide, a clear indication of what is to come. Though the sun warms my face now, it is clear that it will be short lived. I am fine with that. I have weathered worse storms. Walking further into the ocean I stop when it reaches my knees; my skin prickles at the sudden plunge into the cold water. My feet sink down in the sandy bottom as the ocean comes forward and pulls away from me. Each wave that flows around my legs seems to have a bit more power than the one before. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the waves grow bigger and bigger, until they reach the cuff of my shorts. Still I stand, simply allowing the power of the ocean to surround me. A shift in the breeze whips my hair off my head and suddenly the metallic smell of the approaching storm mixes with the briny smell of the ocean and the waves grow even more powerful. I square my shoulders and walk further into the sea until the waves reach my waist. The force of the ocean keeps trying to push me back towards the shore.
This isn't the first time I went against something powerful that tried to force what direction I went in. Wasn't the first time I didn't go with the flow and take the easy route to shore either. In fact, most of my life has been spent swimming against the tide, facing storms, and refusing to change who I was in order to have an easier life. Sure, it would be easier to let the power of the tide dictate what direction I must go. But I wouldn't be who I am if I allowed it. It may batter me. It may knock me down to murky depths. I may float for a while to gather strength. I may just swim parallel along the shore line until I figure out what I want to do. The salt may hurl insults into my wounds causing them to sting and my eyes may burn with tears. But, I will still refuse to back down. Today, I almost dare the ocean to try and force me to shore. Walking further out until I feel that spark of life in my soul ignite. The ocean and life interwoven in my mind - both often leave you battered and breathless. Hopeless and cast away. But never doubt for a minute that while you can't control either the ocean or life, you can choose the direction that you will go.
So, I go against the tide.
Hurts like hell sometimes and can be so lonely too. But as I grew older I realized something - it had made me stronger and had taught me that being my own person, regardless of what others may think of me, is in fact, while hard at times, the most amazing accomplishment one can make.
It made me free.
When you stand strong in the face of adversity, when you face life head on and instead of hiding from it you confront it, you have no other choice but to become stronger. More sure of yourself in a world that is doing it’s very best to make you follow along instead of doing your own thing. A world that is filled with people who will belittle you, mock you and shame you, for no other reason than because you are you. You will question yourself and begin to feel the world, like the power of the tide coming in, is simply trying to force you to conform and change against your will or drown you.
There will be days when allowing power of the tide to push you in the direction it wants you to go would simply just be easier. Why fight it? Why not just give in and let it all go? Why not just take the easy way? You tell yourself that you are too tired to go on, too broken, and too lost. The whole world seems to be against you and there is nowhere left to turn. Everything seems so hopeless that you just want to give up, your very being crying out to just-let-go. There is a moment, when you are at your very lowest, that you must make a crucial decision - do you harness the power of the tide or do you let it carry you away?
Standing there in the ocean in the face of the coming storm- I realize something. That with every wave I went through, every time I was knocked down and forced to swim back up to the surface with all my might and gasping for air, every time my eyes began to burn and my legs turned to jelly - I had made it because I fought the tide. The tide of loss, the tide of sadness, the tide of anger and the tide of hopelessness. It made me stronger than I ever thought possible and made me appreciate all the good so much more.
I learned a valuable lesson from the ocean...
There is an ebb and flow to life that is closer to the waves of the ocean than anything else. There are beautiful moments. Moments when the sun warms our face and the cry of the gulls warm our heart. Moments when all is right with the world. Then there will be moments of stormy and violent weather that threaten to destroy the very fabric of our hearts and minds. But after one fights the tide and sees themselves through the storm, they will notice that even the ocean plummets and crashes - but it always leaps back up again, retreats in on itself, gathers its strength and tries again. Over and over without fail.
All is not lost. Indeed, more is to gain when you learn to go inside of yourself to gather the strength you need to leap back up. It was there the whole time, you just needed the gentle reminder from the sea to remember.
I shall write a letter. I will address it to my younger self, because when you boil it down - the basic principles of life haven't changed. Everyone wants to matter. Everyone wants to fit in. From the children of today to the
children of yesterday who still live inside each and every one of us.
Have you ever tried to fit a square peg into a round hole? Figure out pretty quick that no matter how hard you push, turn, and threaten - it just won't fit in? Welcome to my world. I am the square peg and the world, well, the world is a big round hole that I will never force myself to fit into. There are a lot of us you know - though not all are square. A plethora of different shapes and not a single one of them will ever fit into that perfectly round hole. Though, I think there are many who wish they could.
You can't force something to fit in when it was born to stand out.
Well, at least that is what I tell myself every day when reality rears its head and again shows me just how different I am from others. I celebrate this now. I didn't always. Especially through parts of my scholastic career- mainly middle and high school. Though I can say, looking back now, I feel proud of the way I handled those tumultuous times. I didn't realize then how much I was shaping my world of today - not by anything I actually studied in books - but what I learned from handling situations that should have put me into therapy for years. The lesson that took me seventeen years to fully appreciate.
It is a lesson that I wish I could travel to every single school and announce loudly over the PA system or better yet into the ear-buds of every single school age child. It is a lesson with many facets. Intricate, yet simple. So, seeing that I can't figure out a way to take-over all the ear-buds in the world, I shall write a letter. I will address it to my younger self, because when you boil it down - the basic principles of life haven't changed. Everyone wants to matter. Everyone wants to fit in. From the children of today to the children of yesterday who still live inside each and every one of us.
A lesson I wish someone had told me back then.
Dear Younger Self,
I saw you walking home from the bus stop after school with downcast eyes and sagging shoulders. They teased you again today. Though you held your head up at the time, refusing to show the pain their words inflicted, I know you were breaking inside. I know you were taking their taunts and weaving them into your own, which always run on repeat inside your head.
I saw you this morning looking into the mirror, echoes of the insults and comments ringing in your mind. The tears that you refuse to shed now glistening in your eyes, as you see yourself, not as you really are, but as they say you are - in your reflection. Still you repeat the words over-and-over again. Knowing that they must be true. You begin to torment yourself, harsher words than even the kids at school said. They can't hurt you any worse than you hurt yourself every single day.
Stop starring into that mirror and only seeing what they say is there. Just stop. Look into the mirror and see the fierceness in your eyes - that spark. For it is that spark that they are afraid of. The spark that money can't buy. They fear it and will do their damnedest to blow it out. You must never let that happen.
Younger self, though no one will confirm it, well some may try to, but you won't believe them, you do in fact matter. Even if right now you feel as if you have no say, no control or no power, you do. In fact, you have more than most. You must understand this first piece of knowledge I hand down to you - You do matter. A lot. You matter to the most important person in the whole world - You matter to you. I know the words and actions of others hurt. I know that no one supports you. Not at home and not out in the world. I know that you feel that you are on your own and in reality - you are. Instead of being ashamed of that, see how strong this makes you. I know all you want to do is fit in. But, you never will. You were never supposed to. You are supposed to stand out.
Understand younger self, that people in this world fear things that are different. They will try to destroy things that they perceive as better, smarter or prettier than they are. They will shatter things that they cannot understand or comprehend. Because to them it highlights their weaknesses. They will try to break you down - You must NEVER allow it. You must never resort to violence to solve things. Learn to defend yourself, yes - but never instigate or hurt another person if you can help it.Your words and your intelligence are your weapon of choice. Use them in all situations if possible. You must stand firm - even when you are shaking inside. This will get easier as time goes on. I promise.
Always stand your ground against people who mock you, question you and always meet their gaze. Never drop your eyes to the floor again. It is not in you to play small. Even when you do not feel confident. Even as they tease and torment you. Look them square in the eye and refuse to break. Do not give their words any weight. Do not give their words any power, for they are not YOUR words. Your words, your thoughts - are what matter.
Over-and-over you must do this. You must always live by the code you set for yourself. Your principles, ethics, behavior and character are what will define you in life. Not your home-life, clothing, hair or body. Trust in that. The world may define a person by the clothes that they wear - but you must never accept that. You are going to make mistakes. Mistakes are awesome – because they are one step closer to getting it right. Learn from your mistakes. Own them and move on from them. Some you may make a couple of times before you get it right. This is ok. This is how you learn. You must never fail to see the lesson. Lessons from your mistakes will make you a better person.
I will not lie to you and tell you living this way is easy - it isn't. I will not tell you that loneliness will not consume you at times - it will. I will not tell you that it gets better when you are older either. There will be times when you wonder if life would be easier if you just followed the crowd. Your strength however will be gained in building your road in life. You are smart enough. You are capable. You can handle anything life throws at you. Trust in this.
Younger self, you have a voice. Learn early on to use it. Do not remain silent when you see another being hurt. Always protect those who cannot protect themselves. Use your voice for others who cannot find their own. Never stand idle when others are being taunted - just because it isn't you, does not mean you tolerate it. Doesn't matter if it is not the cool thing to do. Doesn't matter if the "in-crowd" doesn't approve. You must use that fire inside of your soul for others. Be brave.
Young one, learn to be friends with anyone, just as long as they are good. Do not listen just to the words coming out of their mouth - study their actions as well. Look beyond the bravado and see what is in their eyes. People will lie to you. People will spread rumors and gossip. Some will try to discredit you. Learn to let it go. Learn to trust that your work, character and integrity will always shine through. Those who choose to believe the lies do not deserve a place in your life - let them go. Learn the lesson this teaches you and use it going forward through life.
Learn to deal with the bullies. Learn to control your fear and use your intelligence. Bullies do not disappear when you graduate, there are many out in the real world too. Learn to stand your ground. Learn to never dull your shine. For every one person that doesn't like you there will be dozens who do. Trust me on that.
The world will constantly try and get you to sell out. To conform. People will try and change you to fit into the acceptable mold. Never let anyone define who you are. Define yourself. It is a rough road to follow but trust in your later years you will have built the character and confidence to see you through anything. You must keep going. Always keep going. The world needs you.
I need you.
Though you may feel alone and like the world would be better off without you in it - it will not always be like this. You have the power to create a world you want. Fill it with friends who love you. There will be dark days for sure, but that spark that you never allowed to go out - will always burn brightly helping you to find your way.
Trust that you will always find your way. Believe in your power. Believe in better days. Believe in yourself. Doesn't matter if the world doesn't seem to. Doesn't matter what others say. There are more out there just like you. Promise.
Trust in your journey. It's worth it.
Your Future Self
I am afraid to shrug my shoulders see, for the weight of the world rests there and I am afraid of causing another catastrophe.
Do you ever feel like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and that one wrong move will tip the balancing act causing it to all come crashing down? Do you sometimes wish you could set the burden down and rest a bit or let someone else carry it for a while? You continue on each and every day hoping that with each step your load will lessen some. In reality though, it never really seems to. In fact, more and more seems to get added to it until you are not sure if you can even stand, let alone walk with it any more. But, somehow you do and you find the strength you need, from some part of you that even you didn't know existed. It amazes me the strength that one can find. Even when exhaustion, stress and the burdens of life make it feel impossible to continue on. But continue on you do. Day in and day out. What other option is there really? Give up? Not in my world.
Life can be exhausting. Stress builds up. More responsibilities are added to your already sagging shoulders. Things do not go as planned. Something breaks. Someone gets sick. So many things seem to come at once and we are forced to shoulder it. Shoulder it, work through it and try not to collapse. Sometimes our load gets so heavy and without an end in sight, feels like it will crush us with each passing moment. Thinking to ourselves that at some point, enough has to be enough. Right? There has to be a stretch of time where everything magically goes right. A moment when everything fits into place and the world revolves without us having to do anything.
As I sit here writing this in a few stolen moments in my day, I sigh. Just the thought of a stretch of time, with no stress or drama, nothing to handle, deal with or get through - makes me smile. Well smile and shake my head knowing a day dream when I see it. Or maybe not. Maybe there is a way, to once in a while set your load down, catch your breath and just be. A way to get life to leave you alone for a while. Allowing you to decompress and put your own head and thoughts in order. If you allow yourself to be drained, emotionally exhausted, and stressed to the max all the time, and you keep putting aside your need for a break, day-after-day to handle everything for everyone else, you will eventually collapse. Do it for months on end, even years, until that one day suddenly arrives when you just can't shoulder that load anymore and you know what will happen? You will begin to resent everything. You will feel taken advantage of, burdened and hopeless. Do not focus on your needs and no one but you will suffer the consequences.
You have to put it down for a while or else it will crush you. Setting down your burdens, releasing your stress for a moment is not a sign of weakness. It is the epitome of true strength.
We all have to realize - we are human.
We cannot be expected to handle everything all of the time without some break. We have to learn and teach ourselves to set the load down once and a while. Allowing us time to turn our attention inward and focus on our needs. We have to hold our hand up and say stop. Stop the drama. Stop the stress. Stop going around in circles. Life is too short. If we don't look up once in a while - we will miss it. We will miss it while we are fixing everything and anything but ourselves.
I swear I can hear some of you right now, sighing and saying to yourself – never going to happen. Just not possible. There are things to do. Kids to feed. A sick loved one that needs care. Bills to be paid. Houses to clean. Work to get to. If I stop and take some time for myself – the world will end. So what if I am exhausted? So what if I am unhappy? Just because I am stressed, doesn’t give me license to be selfish. I have responsibilities. Things I have no choice but to take on and place on my shoulders with everything else. No one else will do it. No one ever does. It is all up to me.
Stop being a damn martyr.
I want you, right now, to do something. I want you to honestly examine all the stress, responsibilities and “life” you have currently piled on your shoulders. Really look at it. Take the blinders off and actually see it all clearly. Now, answer me this… How much of this is actually your burden? How much of it belongs to someone else who should be the one taking care of it?
The older I get the more I realize - I tend to pick up a lot that is not mine. Be it at home, work or when it comes to family and friends. I will see something that needs doing, handling or figuring out and not see anyone claiming it. So I do. I think because growing up everything was always my responsibility. Well, in hindsight it really wasn’t, but that is what I was conditioned to accept. Everyone else’s happiness was on me. If that meant taking care of things they should have been taking care of, then that is what I did. So much so, that I have incorporated it into my adult self. Instead of leaving things that were never mine to begin with, or doing things that someone else should be doing – I take care of it. I add it to the growing pile on my shoulders, even when I am almost to my knees by the sheer weight of the burden.
I have learned though a few lessons over the past couple of years.
The first lesson – The world will not end if I take a mental health day. A day where the only thing I focus on is, me. Ok, maybe not a whole day but at least part of a day. The second lesson – Breaking down the burden into manageable bits helps tremendously. I can multi task with the best of them but in doing so, overwhelm myself more often than not. So, I tackle the bigger things one at a time. If it is something I can take care of and be done with it, I do. If it is something that requires more attention, I give it the attention is requires and then be done with it. The third lesson – Holding others accountable for things they should be dealing with. You can’t expect someone to face something, deal with something or accept responsibility for something if you are always taking care of it for them. Allow them to be responsible. And understand that it is their choice to do it or not. Not yours. Let it go. The fourth lesson – Finish each day and be done with it. Set it down and know that you did your best for the day. Give yourself a break. Release it for the night. Light a candle and pretend that all of your burdens live in the flame. Say your peace for what happened today – then blow the candle out. You can rekindle your flame and pick it all back up tomorrow. But for the night time moment – let it go.
I wish for you strength to continue on and the knowledge that while it is hard now, over time you will lose that weight on your shoulders and be free. Just remember, you are strong enough, smart enough, and tough enough. And know that setting that load down for a while, to catch your breath, is not weakness. It is a sign that you value yourself enough to rest for a while. It is a sign of true strength. The world will not shift off its axis, the sky will not come falling down - I promise. It will all be there to pick back up when you are ready, but, only when you are ready. One foot in front of the other. One day at a time. Pieces will eventually fall into place and your hard work; your perseverance will pay off. You will be free and you will be ready to take on the world.
Deep Breath, you got this.
Credit: Queen of Your Own Life