Long Division

•February 15, 2019 • Leave a Comment

How does one separate something that has taken years to build? It could have taken 2 years, or 20, but each day you added bricks and build a foundation, walls, windows… it develops into a fortress to protect you from the world. This fortress is supposed to be impenetrable. It shields all the inhabitants inside. So how, and where, does one even start to take it down? Do you burn the drawbridge? Trebuchet the shit out of the exterior? It’s hard to know, I guess. Circumstances often dictate the destruction of your fort.

But what do you do if you’re not mad, but have simply decided that this fort is shit, and you don’t want to live there anymore? Do you attempt to keep the status quo until arrangements change? Do you still burn the drawbridge and trebuchet the exterior? What about a volatile situation? What then? When inside the fortress is nothing but pure chaos, and there’s fires everywhere? How does one process getting everyone to safety? What does safety even look like, when you’re bed is in flames? Are there really any survivors? Nobody escapes totally unscathed, right?

long_division_8

And there’s the long division. Strangely enough, if you never unpack, it’s easier to move. But now, we must sift through every. single. thing. to determine what belongs to whom, or who gets it in the dividing process. Then, there’s the others in the fortress… what becomes of them? The friends? You know everyone chooses sides, whether or not they consciously chose a side. Even family chooses sides, despite best efforts. It’s like we drew a line, and everyone decides which side they’ll forever stand on.

What I’ve determined is the worst of all, is the feeling of sudden emptiness. Loneliness. You once had a sounding board to share in your trials and triumphs with. Now, there’s friends or family, but it’s not the same. I want to share my joys and sorrows with someone who is in the fortress WITH me. We are fighting on the same side, in the same battles. People outside the fort, they just can’t appreciate the inner workings of your brain and heart, without first having to explain yourself. That is fucking exhausting. Constantly going over the same stuff, all the time. I just want to have my heart safely in the hands of someone I don’t have to “preface” with. New is positively exciting. Electric. But old, it’s comforting, familiar. That’s not to say I want a damn thing to do with this decaying rubble, but there’s something to be said for the familiar.

My heart aches for what it doesn’t have. My mind longs for a simple life. My intuition knows that this has expired and that it’s no longer home for me. Now what do I do with myself?

 

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Landlocked

•January 31, 2019 • Leave a Comment

There’s a song by Death Cab for Cutie titled Brothers on a Hotel Bed, with a line “even landlocked lovers yearn for the sea like navy men”. As someone who has been living in landlocked states for the majority of my life, I understand this with great clarity.

Listen to it here

There’s some scientific evidence about the health benefits of living near the coast (Article) that are wide ranging and in many ways, primal. I’ve heard benefits include negative ions in the air is similar to being surrounded 24/7 by a salt lamp, improving mood, sleep patterns, and more. During the brief time I lived in Southern California, I was still about an hour (without traffic) from the ocean. I highly doubt the benefits stretched quite that far, but I was close enough to eek out some of it, I’m sure.

Back to the Death Cab lyrics.

It’s partly about growing older, but I feel as though it’s also a relationship that’s reaching its end as well. “You may tire of me, as our December sun is setting, because I’m not who I used to be.”

I know so much about this. It’s hard not to change, and one of the great tragedies of life is that you’re not guaranteed to grow in the same direction, at the same pace, or even remotely in the same fashion as your romantic partners, friends, or family. It’s hard to have a lasting connection with someone who has grown to live on another planet.

But it’s with any relationship with another fallible human, you run the risk of being on different planes. It’s hard to find people who share the same wavelength, let alone for any amount of time. “Because now we say goodnight, from our own separate sides, like brothers on a hotel bed”

Sleeping in a bed with someone with whom you don’t connect, is weird and hard. I had a partner years ago, that didn’t like to be touched at night. I wasn’t able to rest my head or hands on him, let alone embrace. It was like there was a vast divide between us, lacking intimacy completely. I wasn’t allowed to even sleep close enough to feel his body heat. Previous to him, my first husband, near the end of our relationship we slept like burritos on opposite edges of a king size bed, in our own separate blankets. You easily could have snuck another full person and none of us would have touched.

It’s been like that more recently too, progressively getting further away. We slept in separate beds after a while, partly because we had a small child in ours with me who was still nursing, and partly because of good old fashioned stubbornness from us both. I had, for a long time, been wedged between him and her, scarcely occupying space at all. Just enough to slide in and out at bedtime or waking. But that’s what I’ve been conditioned to do.

Scarcely occupy space.

Not just in my romantic partnerships, but even as a child. I was watched by my grandfather, and he was old school. Rigid. Children are to be quiet, keep themselves busy without making a mess, or noise, or anything. We weren’t allowed outside, unless we were all outside. He couldn’t watch us, if he couldn’t see us. So for many many many hours growing up, I sat silent, not touching anything or anyone. That probably explains why I’m so outgoing now, and a hugger. Man, am I a hugger. My kid loves it (for now), but many adults think it’s weird, especially those in which I’m not particularly close or familiar.

I think physical connection makes people uncomfortable these days, in general. We are so accustomed to being totally isolated from physical contact, save for the strangely obligatory handshake. We often live in cubicles, our cars, small parts of large houses. Scarcely occupying space.

For me, this notion that we need to be isolated is totally nuts. I think it’s by and large a good chunk of why we are so miserable as a society. We simply aren’t wired to be separate. Granted, I dislike greatly strangers I do not invite to, touching me, I’ll shake hands with virtually anyone, and dish out shittons of hugs.

It just makes me truly sad that when we are disconnecting with someone, that one of the first, quiet signs, is that the gap between your physical space widens. I understand that you can’t spoon every night for decades, but we can be near, can’t we? I read somewhere that when relationships are near implosion, sex is still something that regularly happens, because as I’ve heard, needs. But KISSING stops long before the sex. It’s that intimate, face to face contact that falls away. “Like brothers on a hotel bed.”

Thanks for reading.

Love is a choice

•January 30, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Life, like love, is messy and complicated, difficult and flat out hard. We want it to be fun and exciting, but things bog us down, make us heavy. The trick to love, is to fight through that hard and find the things that are beautiful.

There have been times where I’m at my heaviest, and I see something so simple, a glimmer in time, and it makes me feel weightless for just a moment. It’s the breadcrumb that keeps me going. The trail leading me to the next bend in the pathway.

My life has been particularly heavy as of late, and it’s got no chance of lifting in the near future. I’ve been seething with anger at people who could have chosen love. I’ve been shattered by words and deeds, crushed by apathy and indifference. Everything has been flipped upside down.

However, just like love, hate is a choice. I can choose to be angry, sad, and destructive toward myself and others. But what good would come of it? My child would see a mother who is consumed by loathing and frustration. A mother set on destruction- destroying the ones who hurt her, and all the bonds for both sides.

I choose love. Through the fear and anger, the betrayal and malice. I choose love. Letting the anger consume me isn’t doing anyone any favors, especially my kid. I need to be a whole person, one who models the life I want to teach. I need to find the grace in what is otherwise a heartbreaking situation. For me, for my daughter.

Am I still hurt? Sure. Pissed off? Yup. But am I going to waste another moment of my life hating someone? Nobody got time for for that.

Ironically, the year of forced growth has put some important things into perspective for me. The last several years have been a bizarre re-enactment of a previous chapter in my life, but instead of playing the “me” role, I’m the other person. I see now, with glaring clarity what I did to completely derail and sabotage my own life back then. It’s taken much longer than I’d like to admit for me to come to that conclusion, but I got here.

Not only do I now recognize my shortcomings in great detail, but I perfectly understand how they felt during that time. I’ve been beating myself up for more than a decade, because I didn’t completely understand both sides of the equation. But here we are. Lesson learned. Because life is messy and complicated, it couldn’t be quite so easy to extricate from as the first time, since, it took me so fucking long to learn it. However, I’m here now in the right place. It feels terrible in every way. Lesson learned. And through it all, I choose love. It’s all I’ve got left.

Thanks for reading.

Photo credit: wordporn

Forced Growth

•January 26, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Recently I was reading about what’s in store for 2019, according to astrologers. Apparently, it’s not going to be “my year”, but rather a year of forced growth. When I read this, I laughed.

For many years I’ve said that the Universe, when you’re too thick skulled to learn certain lessons, despite repeated “opportunities” to learn, will in fact force your hand. The Universe is funny like that. You only get so many tries before it’s like, “ok, dummy, we are doing this my way”. I’m notoriously thick skulled sometimes.

I want to think the best of people. I want to think we are all on the same team, that our goals align, and that nobody is selfish. However, repeatedly, I’m proven wrong and forced to reevaluate. When I don’t figure out the lesson after GLARING examples, the Universe forces my hand. Forced. Growth.

I was searching the internet yesterday for a photo to use on this, and another blog. I knew that I wanted a lotus. Nothing says “forced growth” better than a flower that cannot grow, but from the murky waters below. No mud, no lotus.

Pretty much all plants are amazing in this way. They’re buried underground, and from the dirt, beauty and abundance take form. They face uncertainty, predators, adverse growing conditions, flooding, drought… everything should be against these tiny seeds, and yet, many of them survive and thrive. There are boat loads of casualties, but the standard is growth.

Nature WANTS plants to make it. So does the Universe. Just as in nature, the Universe WANTS us to be fruitful. Just as seeds, we are hardwired for survival.

So what lessons am I being forced to learn this year? Notafreakingclue. But I can say for sure, that if this year is anything like the last, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Truthfully, I’m still licking my wounds from 2018. The sting is still very real. But this train is full steam ahead. There’s no stopping it. How many metaphors can I mix? The world may never know.

It’s hard to grow. They say adversity “builds character”, but I’m kind of over this “build, burn, rebuild” cycle. I just want things to be easy for a change. Smooth. But as I keep trying to assure myself, the best is yet to come. However, the realist in me knows, as the Buddha described “life is suffering”. So to be without suffering, we are without life.

Thanks for reading.

No more answers, only more questions

•January 18, 2019 • Leave a Comment

A friend asked me the other day how long it’s been since I’ve written anything. I casually tell her I write copy for social media posts and 100 million emails all the time. She gently laughed and asked when I wrote for myself.

Obviously, if you’re a reader of this blog, you know that answer. I’ve not been writing for myself, if we can even call it that, for more than a year. What happened, you say? I started a business, quit my day job, moved, and so many more things. But why haven’t I written, through all of those things? I don’t know. Anxiety and stress and depression can be shitty sometimes, I guess. Life gets hard, and it’s harder to post to a blog called A Year of Lasting Happiness, when you feel like pitching yourself off a bridge.

But it’s not without saying, that I miss it. I miss these moments of outpouring: my thoughts and feels on a page. I don’t “have time”… read: I don’t MAKE time. I don’t make the time to put words to page when I feel like a mess. And life, it’s been messy, and complicated, and simply… hard.

There’s been these moments, breadcrumbs I call them, that keep me going. That keep me fighting the good fight. It’s been too long without writing, and the longer I wait, the harder it is to do the thing, and the easier it gets to put off the feeling of longing in my chest, for the words.

The words, you say? Yes. The words. Words, words, words. Those things floating around my head like leaves on a pond. Barely touching the surface, but still connecting. Sometimes my brain swallows up the words, and other times, they’re bursting out my mouth, rapid fire, like a machine gun. I speak so fast sometimes I have to repeat myself, because the listener didn’t even catch them all.

Catching. Them. All.

I have more questions now, than answers. Like, what have I done, and for crying out loud, WHY. But the answers escape me like a child chasing a feather. I reach- wind catches it- floats away gracefully on a breeze.

It’s funny, this life. And by funny, I mean, I don’t know. This seems like the perfect place to say something coy, like, “life is what happens when you’re waiting for life to happen” or some such thing. But, all I can say with certainty is that life is funny. So hard, but equally funny.

I heard on a recent podcast that drinking to take the edge off, takes off the edges at both ends. It took me a few days of kicking that around my head, but it resonated for some reason. I don’t think me having a beer or whatever, after a long or particularly difficult day is “taking my edges off”, but rather, the burdens of daily life have worn my edges smooth, like a rock in a mighty river. This is what happens as we age. All our edges, worn smooth by the hands of time, and gently molding us into everyone else. Slowly eroding our jagged parts, the parts that have seen some shit. The parts that are unique. Revealing nothing but supple roundness, eventually, slowly, wearing us away into oblivion. In a way, that’s a tragic end for the rock. But it happens so slowly, that nobody really even notices, the rock just gradually shrinks into nothingness.

I don’t want to shrink into nothingness. I want to be jagged sometimes, to be sharp. Fierce. But who has the energy? Who isn’t a sack of exhaustion anymore? With jobs, partners, children, parents, houses, cars, any manner of obligations. Who has the time to be SHARP? Who has the energy to be JAGGED?

There’s a Japanese saying “The nail that sticks up, gets hammered down”. It’s basically a lesson in homogenous conformity, which is why their society is so uniform, in a way. But this is also from the culture where it’s totally acceptable to sleep under your desk at work overnight, to work 90 hours a week, and sadly, to work oneself literally to death. Are these people the rocks getting worn down?

There are other homogenous societies that value LESS working, but are somehow “just” as productive. The entirety of Scandinavia is the hallmark of how awesome it can be to live in a relatively wealthy country, with socialized medicine, that also values chilling. They get something like a month or more PAID vacation. I’ve not been on vacation in years. Even before I quit my job, I still didn’t get much, if any, paid time off. It’s crazy.

I still have more questions, than answers. I don’t feel any closer to finding what’s real, besides the fact I have to get up and do it all over again tomorrow, and the next day. And also my capacity to love a small human more than anything else on this planet.

My wish for 2019 is that I can set the groundwork for more balance. I need to stop juggling everydamnthing, while carrying the weight of the world on my back. That started today. We’ve made tough choices, but it will give me something closer to a life, in this life.

Life goals

•March 7, 2018 • Leave a Comment

There are numerous scientific studies about stress, happiness, and the role that self-imposed stress plays on our psyche. In general, it’s said that if we are under extreme stress by our own doing, it’s somehow easier to manage, or at least we are more willing to manage it, than if we are not the designers of our own fates. For instance, I’m far more likely to put in 14 hour days for the same salary, since I’m furthering my own means and interests. However, at my former job, 8 hours seemed like eternity and getting me to stay even a minute longer was simply non-negotiable.

Meanwhile in research land, they’ve discovered that not all stress is bad, and it can often lead to tremendous growth and discovery about oneself. It’s the focus and dedication to a thing that strengthens the mental state and physical body. Without the added pressure, we’d never grow stronger, as weightlifting has shown us with muscle definition. But I believe there’s a defined line between too little stress and too much. Once we cross that line, it becomes a detriment to our health and mental capacity. We have a harder time focusing, remembering things, and doing multiple tasks.

So how do stress (but not too much) and pressure relate to happiness? Obviously when the periods of stress are over, there’s a sense of relief, but more than that it’s about self mastery. It may be unconscious, but you feel good having overcome obstacles, completing a challenging task, or learning what you’re really made of. More to the point, focus and dedication also spur happiness, especially if you’re doing something you love, or that brings future possibilities.

Our bodies and minds are meant to stay sharp and fit. By throwing ourselves through the wringer a little bit, we are better adapted to life’s challenges as well.

But in the flip side of this, the modern world has created an environment packed with stressors and it’s actually proving to be harmful. Our primitive brains simply cannot keep up with high speed internet and 24 hour news cycles. So instead of causing us to flex our physical and proverbial muscles, it’s wearing us down. We are showing the greatest amounts of depression, anxiety, and loneliness that we’ve ever known in human (testing) history. We are showing greater incidences of sicknesses and diseases, despite having the most advanced medical technology ever seen on this planet.

As with weightlifting, after a period of tearing the muscles, to heal, we must also have a period of rest. If we do not let the muscles heal, we will not build muscle, but rather, we destroy the gains we could have made, and break down those fibers completely. And this is basically my point today. We have to find ways of resting and self-care in this uncertain world of stress we live in. As an American, I’m well aware that a ‘vacation’ in the traditional sense isn’t in the cards very often (unlike most of Europe with generous holiday leave), but even so, it’s entirely possible to rest and recharge in ways that are helpful to us.

For example, I attended a meditation class on my birthday with a friend. I could have gone out and whatever, but I chose to look inward, to provide myself with something that has proven to be the most helpful thing I’ve done in ages for myself, and essentially by myself (in a room full of people). Obviously, this isn’t everyone’s jam, but I encourage you to find what works for you.

It’ll recharge your mind, body, spirit, and allow you to focus better in everyday life, whatever it is that you choose. And maybe you have to try a few things on for size, because too often we have no idea what self-care looks like, or we’ve not been ‘ourselves’ in so long, we’ve forgotten who we are and what we’re about. I can attest that it’s a serious challenge for me too, taking care of myself once in a while, but it’s worth it. You are worth it.

2017

•December 31, 2017 • 2 Comments

As I sit here enjoying my coffee on the eve of the new year, I’m compelled as many are, to reflect and imagine.

2017 was a challenging year for many of us in a variety of ways: politically, socially, and more. I’ve experienced this year as a roller coaster, for sure. However, roller coasters are usually much more enjoyable.

I have created the framework for my employment future, lost longtime friends in the process. I’ve struggled in many ways, but also experienced such joy that my heart felt like it could explode. I’ve never been so focused, while simultaneously distracted.

For a lot of people, this seems to have been the year of dichotomy, opposition, and imbalance. My sincere wish is that 2018 bears no resemblance to this year, and only provides opportunity for growth, prosperity, and success for everyone.

I do not have a concrete plan for 2018, as I have in years past. Instead, I’m going to continue to strive for positivity, love, and prosperity. I wish all of my readers and beyond the happiest of New Years. Hopefully next year, I’ll be able to write more regularly, but that is an ongoing battle, as we all know. Thank you for your continued support. 💜