Thankful Thursday: Losing Hope That Life Would Have Been Different

IMG_8397Sunday was my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting I’ve ever attended. I felt honored when a good friend asked me to accompany him to a meeting celebrating his six month milestone. I expected to sit back and be a fly on the wall, supporting my friend, instead I was brought to tears by one woman’s story.

The topic of the meeting, forgiveness. The young woman helping to run the meeting was one of the last to share, but what she shared resonated with me long after I left the meeting.She said a patient she worked with at a recovery house (the patient now deceased) had created a painting for her with the words:
“Forgiveness is losing the hope that your life would have been different.”
That quote hit me like a punch to the gut. I teared up because it was exactly what I needed to hear.

For too long I’ve been wondering how my life would have been different without the difficulties of my childhood. What if my parents didn’t get divorced, what if my dad wasn’t affected by a mental illness, what if I didn’t go through a crippling stint of depression. I’ve expended extensive amounts of my mental energy supporting the what if’s, the dreams that my life could have and should have been different.

Losing the hope that life would have been different -It’s detaching yourself from the what if’s, from the blame, from the judgement, from the shame, guilt, and ultimate hurt that’s been a heavy burden to carry for 20+ years.

Losing the hope that life would have been different- it’s the acceptance that I’m exactly where I need to be and couldn’t have ended up here without experiencing all that I had, the good, the bad and the down right gut-wrenching.

I can say without a doubt my experiences have allowed me to develop and employ empathy. I can now look into the eyes of another soul and acknowledge their suffering, saying with a just look “I’ve been there too.” It allows me to acknowledge but more importantly, validate feelings. I’m able to sit with someone in their most uncomfortable moments, because I too have been forced to make peace with my darkest shadows.

Losing the hope that life would have been different – it’s offering forgiveness, not just to my parents but to myself. Truly understanding I did the best I could, given the circumstances and my cumulative knowledge at the time.

Losing the hope that life would have been different – It’s living life with an unburdened soul- the ultimate freedom.

I’m grateful to have been asked to attend that meeting. My friend, conspiring and working in conjunction with the universe, lead me to the medicine that I needed to taste.

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Thankful Thursday: Remember When You Prayed To Get Where You Are?

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Today I read a post on IG that said “remember when you prayed to get to where you are now?” 
WOAH! When I had a moment to myself, (let’s be honest, in the bathroom), I stopped to reflect, remembering exactly where I was the multiple times I had dreamt of living in Colorado.

I knew at 15 I wanted to move to Colorado after visiting family friends in Breckinridge. I wanted to move for the outdoor, active lifestyle, and to be in the presence of majestic mountains.

After college I was living in my parents’ basement. One day, I took a moment to think about moving to Colorado. I bawled, ugly cried, thinking that I could never make that move. How could I afford it? Fuck affording it! Could I even muster the courage to move? 

Three years into my professional career, I was feeling stuck. One day I decided to read “The Alchemist” and three pages in, I again bawled uncontrollably. The next day I decided to quit my job, back pack Australia then head out to Colorado, to start a new life. Was I scared?? I was fucking terrified! But I knew that the hardships of leaving was going to be less than the pain of staying.

Fast forward to my first night in Colorado, I told myself I’d give it a year and then buy a house. Buy a house!? For a pickup and go when ever where ever commitment-phobe it was a huge decision. But almost a year later, I signed papers and bought my house. Was I scared?? I was terrified! (See a theme?) What if I couldn’t afford it!? (See another theme!?) Point is, where I am now, I dreamt about years ago, and here I am. What I am currently pipe dreaming about, well, I can make it happen too. I Just need a bit of persistence, hard work and the undying belief in myself and my abilities.

This past year I’ve forgotten how far I’ve come. It was great to look back today, to help motivate me for my future!

#awoke #consciousliving #trusttheuniverse #trusttheprocess #awakening#mountains #getoutside
#livelife #livefully #consciousness #vibehigher #highervibes #thankful#grateful #thanks #awaken #adventure #the_adventuress #sheexplores#adventures #travel #travelblogger #sheadventures #wanderlust

Real Talk Tuesday: Fear of Intimacy

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Photo By Ryan Lundbohm, @the_bearded_kite

 

“So Why Are You Afraid of Intimate Relationships?”
Those were the words a friend asked on Sunday that have still stuck with me since spoken. The question hit me like a punch to the gut. I broke down immediately.
It was a topic my therapist had also sneakily asked when I was separating my fears, a visualization exercise to help me separate my own fears and my mother’s fears that she instilled in me growing up. I was taking stock of my fears and packing up ones that no longer served their purpose.
“Fear of intimacy?” She asked. It took a second for me process, as it wasn’t a fear I had identified on my own prior to the sorting exercise.
“Keep,” I responded, my therapist glancing at me with a smile, both of us knowing it was a short term protective measure I’d be revisiting soon.
Why the fear of intimacy? Intimacy requires a high degree of vulnerability and trust. It requires Opening myself up, all of myself, the light and the dark, to be seen and deeply understood.
Maybe my fear stems from opening up and being hurt in the past. Maybe I’m afraid because my models for intimate relationships were completely dysfunctional, whereas instead of equating intimacy to trust, compassion and respect, I equate it to abandonment, loss and rejection. Maybe I’ve felt safest keeping those I love at a distance. Maybe in order to be intimate with another I must first love and illuminate the darkest parts within me, to make peace with them.
Since Sunday I’ve been ruminating on this. Since Sunday I’ve known this is the next fear I need to tackle. Since Sunday I’ve been an emotional wreck, waiting with anticipation to unpack and process this fear in therapy.

 

Flipping the Script on Rejection

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Photo by Chris Parish

The first time I redefined my personal definition regarding rejection was during a panelist discussion at a BDSM seminar in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood. My friend, who was interested in learning more about the lifestyle, asked me to attend for moral support. I happily obliged to satisfy my own curiosities, but ended up coming away with much more than just a new understanding of the lifestyle.

 

One of the panelists provided insight into sex contracts, a measure to ensure all parties involved in the experience felt emotionally and physically safe. Her profound words on rejection came when she explained that it was okay to walk away from a contract or to have your requests denied. She recognized that most people view rejection as a negative thing. Once rejected, most become defensive because they view it as a reflection of their self-worth. But she challenged that by saying, “If my contract is rejected I think, ‘thank you for not wasting my time!’ ”

Upon hearing those words my friend and I both faced each other with amazement in our eyes. We both confirmed that we were guilty of spiraling into the shameful frenzy of the “I’m not good enough” rabbit hole. Instead, that panelist framed rejection as an acknowledgement that neither participant would benefit if the contract didn’t feel authentic to one or both parties.  It’s a quote my friend and I have revisited multiple times (sending loving text reminders) since that day. We’ve even combined it with the no-bullshit wisdom that her father gave to me in high school after meeting my then boyfriend:  “NEXT!”

Years later, I revisited my definition of rejection after reading a book by Pema Chodron, a very popular Buddhist teacher and author, who also provided clarity on the subject. She explained that rejection is the Universe’s way of saying “that’s not your path.” That phrase is still inscribed on my bedroom wall to this day.

Rejection is more poignant for me now, since rekindling my passion for writing. I’ve long suppressed my desire to publish my creative works because I was afraid of rejection and criticism. Much of what I write stems from my own personal stories and any negative critique of my writing was previously viewed as an attack on my experience, and my truth.

As I’ve been doing the hard work, going to therapy, truly knowing my self worth, my voice and validating both, I too have internalized a new perspective on rejection. It came to me as I was sitting at my desk attempting to overcome my “impostor syndrome” to write a piece for this blog. My internal dialogue immediately went to:

“I’m a terrible writer.”

“What makes your story valid?”

“Why would anyone want to read it?”

“I’m not good enough.”

The emotional toll from my inner critic was enough to prevent me from sitting and writing altogether that night. By chance, I saw the quote from Maya Angelou I taped to the base of my computer, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

In that moment, I realized I had to rewrite my internal script on rejection. I imagined receiving a rejection letter for an article or book proposal. What would I say to that editor? What would I say to myself to lessen the sting?? Pausing for clarity, I thought “Thank you for your opinion, but I won’t let it invalidate my truth!”

That too is now inscribed on my bathroom mirror, where I can see it every morning, so I can embody it and manifest it, to live and write my truth.

 

How do you handle rejection? Which saying resonates with you? Would love to read your comments!

 

 

 

Self-Love Sunday: Slow Down (You’re Movin’ Too Fast)

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Lavender Latte from Garden of the Gods Cafe

Self-Love Sunday:

Slow Down (You’re Movin’ Too Fast)

Ever since the New Moon in Aires (4/5/19) I’ve been in go-mode riding the burst of energy to start new projects, ones I’ve had on the back burner for way too long. Being surrounded by creatives and Intuits has inspired me to progress on my projects, yet I still felt distracted and disoriented, unsure of the steps to accomplish my goals.

Friday, with the Full Moon in Libra, brought a lesson I couldn’t ignore. That morning I woke up and still with lots of confusion about certain aspects of my path, I was rushing to go to work and fell down the stairs. I hit my head, my back and my butt. I didn’t have time to process the fall and went to work as if nothing was wrong. Getting home from work, I broke down and cried.

Hitting my head triggered emotions from a traumatic brain injury I had in high school. Reflecting on the numerous times I’ve hit my head since that TBI (too many I’ve stopped counting) the universe was telling me to slow down, to get out of my head – stop overthinking- and trust the process. .

I can see the big picture and where I want to end up, but I need to break my vision down into small action items to accomplish them, one by one. Slowing down and enjoying the process is essential to future success and living my true life’s purpose. .

“Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feeling groovy”

-Simon and Garfunkel

Has the universe given you signs to slow down? Comment below 👇🏼

Captain Marvel: Female Empowerment on the Big Screen

*Spoiler Alert! This article reveals key plot descriptions. Nobody enjoys a premature climax. Am I right?

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I am not a comic book super fan, but when Captain Marvel, the much anticipated superhero movie of the new year, hit theaters on March 8th, cleverly coinciding with International Women’s Day, I knew I couldn’t miss out. In addition to featuring  a dominant cast of women, and throwbacks to popular 90’s vocals from female groups like TLC,  and female fronted bands like Hole, Garbage and No Doubt, the final fight scene plays out to Just a Girl, (insert teenage girl’s squeal here) there were metaphoric themes that accurately depicted the female experience throughout the film. After leaving the theater and reflecting, I excitedly bought a second ticket to conduct more “research” into the themes that the film brought to light. (Yes, I sat in the theater with a pen and legal pad scribbling notes throughout the movie. Yes, it’s as hard as you think it is to take notes in a movie theater.)  Here’s a list of themes that stood out to me (or that was able to make it legibly onto my legal pad):

Social Conditioning

The movie starts with a reoccurring nightmare Vers (Brie Larson) has had since her unexplained appearance on Hala, the Kree Empire’s capital planet, where she sees an older woman (Dr. Lawson) being fatally shot by a Skrull soldier. Waking up, she meets up with her commander and mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) for training and he instantly starts conditioning her with his rhetoric.

As they spar, he lectures: “You have to let go of the past and how it makes you vulnerable…Emotion, nothing is more dangerous to a warrior. Control your impulses.”

After sparring, en route to see the Supreme Intelligence, Yon-Rogg states to Vers, “Stop using this (points to her heart) and use this (points to her head).”

Any other woman relate to being told to control your emotions? Or maybe you’ve heard the phrase “You’re too emotional!” from a colleague or partner? I can guarantee I’m not the only woman who’s experienced this type of social conditioning. Point is, some men fear women’s emotions and vulnerability. Emotional responses from women trigger emotionally inept men because it forces them to see a part of themselves that they’ve tried to suppress, cut off or deny. Most men subscribe to the popular belief that expressing vulnerability demonstrates “weakness”, the opposite of how they themselves have been conditioned to appear. To prevent their own unwanted emotional responses, they quell the emotional responses of women by shaming us, or making us feel crazy, thus preventing women from freely expressing their true selves.

 

Manipulation/Negging/Gas lighting

Later on in the movie, we come to find out that Vers’ reoccurring nightmares are actual memories of her previous life on earth (as Carol Danvers) that have been manipulated by Yon-Rogg. The Kree implant, which Danvers was made to believe was the source of her power, had been, in fact, limiting her powers all along. After learning about her true origin, Danvers is captured trying to help the Skrulls escape Yon-Rogg’s Starforce. She then sat against her will before the Supreme Intelligence who again tried to convince her that she was weak without Kree help.

A montage of Danvers’ memories displays her weakest moments from her life on earth while the Supreme Intelligence states “Your powers come from us…… without us you are weak, you’re flawed, you’re helpless.”

We find that even Yon-Rogg secretly knows Danvers true powers when he says to his fellow Starforce teammates, “she’s stronger than you think.”

Throughout the movie Vers is manipulated into thinking that she is inferior to Yon-Rogg, even powerless without him. He uses social conditioning and manipulation to control her and her powers until finally Vers realizes (after discovering her identity) that she is more powerful than she was led to believe. She fights the mental manipulation while under the influence of the Supreme Intelligence, discovering her inner strength and true powers, thus becoming the unstoppable Captain Marvel.

Mind games, negging and gas lighting have long been the traditional tactics for power hungry men to manipulate women in order to gain control over the relationship. Has a man ever given you a backhanded compliment while on a date? That’s called negging, when a man makes negative or slightly insulting comments in order for you (their date) to seek his approval. Ever had a man try to tell you “you’re crazy” or “you’re making a bigger deal than it actually is” when your gut is telling you your instincts are correct.  That’s called gas lighting, when a man presents false information, making you doubt your own memory, perception and quite often, your sanity.

Thankfully these strategies to mentally manipulate can be negated when women start listening to their intuitive “gut instincts” and being our authentic selves.

 

True Power Lies Within (The Authentic Self)

While on Earth, Vers discovers her real identity is Carol Danvers, and that she was an Airforce Pilot who crashed during an unauthorized mission with her mentor Dr. Lawson.

At first, Danvers has a hard time accepting this new reality as evidence of her life on Earth is unfolded, but the pictures, the audio of the crash and personal accounts from her best friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and her daughter Monica are too real to discredit.

Once Danvers’ past is uncovered and her authentic self is revealed, she realizes her true power, the product of the explosion of an experimental energy core in which she absorbed the energy, was never at the hands of the Kree but was deep within her since the blast.

Danvers had to fight the social conditioning and mental manipulation from Yon-Rogg and the Kree in order to discover her true identity and limitless power. Metaphorically, this resembles what women have to do to in order to connect with their authentic self, and divine power.

Realizing this theme sent shivers down my spine because it is true for all of us women. Dismiss the social conditioning. Forget all of the times you’ve been told you’re unworthy or not enough! No, you aren’t too emotional. No, you aren’t crazy. Your reactions are valid.  Your emotions, your intuitive power, your voice is revealing your true authentic self. Don’t let anyone invalidate your experience, your story, your authenticity. Your authentic self is where your true power lies!

 

Sacrificing Dreams after Having Children

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) first rejects helping Danvers because the mission to defeat Yon-Rogg and the Kree is “too dangerous”. She questions her purpose in order to protect her daughter Monica. But Monica immediately interjects.  “You’re giving up your dreams of being a fighter pilot…..what kind of role model are you being for me!?”

Yes Monica! I felt compelled to stand up and cheer mid-movie in the theater! Listen up men, (especially spouses and bosses) having children does not and should not prevent women from pursuing their personal/professional dreams. Ladies, this is for you too! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE stop using kids and family life as an excuse to give up your ambitions. We raise strong women by being the empowered example for impressionable little girls. Teach them that women don’t have to make a choice between family and ambition. Teach them they can follow their purpose and still be amazing mothers. Teach them to live their purpose!

The Pussy Holds the Power

Dr. Lawson’s cat Goose find himself as a stowaway with Vers, Fury and Maria on their mission to defeat the Kree.  Goose, is a Flerken, an alien in cat form that can sprout powerful tentacles and whose insides are a pocket dimension where the Tesseract (the power source which will help the Skrulls travel safely to realms outside of Kree control) is placed. Therefor, the pussy literally holds the most powerful object in the universe. No explanation needed!

 

I am interested to hear others perspectives on the movie, the themes, the plot, especially those who ARE hardcore comic fans. What was your favorite theme? Do you agree or disagree with my analysis? Did I miss something? Please leave a comment below. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Life, After Death

FC6EB7EF-58D3-47B2-8989-AADDB0A1C755.jpeg* Author’s note: I wholeheartedly believe that everyone processes grief and death differently. I write this in hopes to help others better deal with their own grief and to provide a better understanding of the grief process. This is my story.

 

 

When I get the phone call, I will feel pangs in the pit of stomach that radiate to my deepest core. “Dad… he didn’t make it,” my mother will say, choking back tears. That call– those words– will change my life forever.

I will come to realize that the tragic event of my father’s passing will be the catalyst for a major course correction — a personal path toward healing. To those on the outside though, that healing will be presented in the form of isolation, mood swings, behavior changes, and a major shift in ideals. In reality, I will be processing some heavy emotions, and dealing with an existential dilemma which requires lots of time, introspection, self-compassion and rest.

Yes, I will be depressed the months following my father’s death, but I’ll come to realize that my body recognizes the need to take the time and space to heal. I will have to overcome the shame and guilt and burdensome thoughts as I battle with society’s stigmatized views of depression. I’ll quit my job, and I’ll move home with my mom.  I will lie to myself and pretend I don’t feel like a failure for the inability to continue the life I had previously built. I’ll appear strong when in reality I’ll be doing my damnedest not to implode.

After my father’s death, I will endure an existential dilemma. I’ll question the meaning of life. I’ll examine and doubt my existence. I will feel empty. “What is the point?” I’ll ask. Slowly, I’ll begin to reevaluate what is most important.

I’ll analyze my time, and how I spend it. I’ll look at the value of each experience. If it isn’t enriching my life, it’s no longer worth my time. I’ll stop filling my time with meaningless distractions, and I’ll structure my time with purpose. If you waste my time, I’ll become resentful. If you value it, I’ll be greatly appreciative and acknowledge it. I’ll begin to realize my time is now my most valuable, non-renewable resource. Once it’s spent, I’ll never ever get it back.

I’ll acknowledge the overwhelming support and love that I felt at my father’s funeral which will kick-start an evaluative process of my personal relationships. I’ll assess the value of each relationship. I’ll make an effort to reach out to friends and family, to express my gratitude, to contact them on birthdays and holidays and create soul-soothing interactions.

I will determine that my self-care, self-worth and self-love are my highest priority. I’ll recognize the emphasis I once placed on productivity in spite of my health, happiness and my relationships. I’ll confess to my previous drive for external validation– recognition at work, admiration from professors, respect from fellow colleagues/peers, likes on social media platforms, affection from lovers– success as determined by external sources. I will determine none of that is important. I’ll discover what truly matters is my internal validation– do I love myself, do I treat myself with compassion, do I promote self-healing?

For the first time, I’ll put my own damn self into therapy. I’ll begin to own my experience. I will begin to develop my voice, my boundaries, and express them openly. I will discover that how I treat myself is how others will treat me. I will begin to heal.

It will be the call that will cause a disruption in my life and it’s trajectory. Subsequently, I’ll be forced to look into the abyss and contemplate my “new normal” — a world in which I exist but my dad doesn’t.