We survived, but now what?

•February 17, 2020 • Leave a Comment

If 2019 was the year of forced growth, what the hell, exactly is 2020. According to a random astrology article that I cannot recall the link to, it’s time to bear down through some painful times, to create the world that’s coming next. The article referenced a lot of ‘childbearing’ imagery, which I’m sure is lost on some. Personally, I know exactly what they’re talking about, but I’ll spare the details here. The synopsis is this: we are at a pivotal time in history, in human existence, and for the earth. We are shifting from one ‘age’ to another, metaphysically, and things are getting weird. There’s going to be a whole lot of changes, especially because last year basically kicked our asses out of our ruts and into the unknown.

So, we survived the ass kicking. Now what? We, as humans, and as celestial beings have the distinct privilege of shaping the world around us every day. We put energy out, we receive energy, we take actions, lather, rinse, repeat. This year, like none other in my personal lifetime, we are faced with a lot of energy, emotions, and polarized factions all around us. Yes, there’s been turmoil, fueled by aggression, war, famine, etc. I’m not saying that we aren’t living in arguably the safest time of human history (because we are, and it’s well documented), but now, the issue is that we as a society have become apathetic, due largely to the fact that we are tired. We’re distracted by our lives, our responsibilities, and technology. We’re focused on staying above water in uncertain tides with politics, our jobs, and more.

I feel like it’s worth mentioning that 1) I’m in this same boat, and 2) it’s by no means a judgement on anyone. It’s just absolute fact that we are all tired and distracted. Plus, like never before, it’s all being captured by the media and individuals, then edited and spit back at us in record time. the 24 hour news cycle had no clue that it was going to go this far, this fast. But I digress. We made it here, now what? If I, a simple writer, had any clue, I’d never have to worry about anything ever again. However, I can say this: things are rapidly shifting, and if society doesn’t snap out of it, those loud, shit-stirrers of the world, will be the ones shaping every aspect of the planet (and beyond). Do we, as individuals, want the loudest and most annoying voices on any side of any conflict whatsoever, to be the guideposts? Or do we want those of us falling somewhere in the middle area, where 99% of the populace live, to have a hand in the world we create for our children and grandchildren? I’m leaning toward the latter. I want my kid to have clean air, a chance at an education, safe food, healthcare when she needs it, opportunities I didn’t have, valuable and exciting work, relative physical safety, and maybe even some money stashed for when she gets old.

Nobody can have these things if we are divided up, and fighting each other. Nobody but the wealthiest of the wealthy, that is, who hoard resources from the public, and tell us its for our own good. What’s good for us, ALL OF US, are systems and institutions that work for all of us. Those of us in the United States, we have the opportunity this year to decide the direction of our political establishment. Beyond that, because this is by no means a “political” post or blog, we have to decide every single day what world we are creating. Is it one of fear and lack, or is it one of harmony and abundance. I choose love, personally, and gratitude. I radiate love, gratefulness, and light into the dark places. It’s only by shining light that darkness can be changed.

Sending love and light to everyone reading this. Thank you.

Wrap up this mess

•December 11, 2019 • 4 Comments

As most of my readers know, I do a wrap up at the end of the year. This year, is no different in that regard. What is different this year, is that this has been one of the most challenging of the last decade. I wish it was tough for just myself, but it seems that everyone around me has experienced the year of forced growth.

While this year has been a dumpster fire personally, professionally, mentally, emotionally, and all of the other ways for the majority of us, I’m feeling more optimistic than I have been in a very long time. It’s not the saccharine bullshit fake-it-til-you-make-it kind of optimism either. I feel good, like there’s a chance for better.

Yes, a whole lot of really stupid, super awful crap has happened to me. I’ve lost everything, and managed to scrape together a beautiful life, despite it all. I know that the universe is working in all our favor, even if we can’t see it in the moment. I have faith that shit will work out, even if it’s not the way I hope/wish/expect it to. It has taken a mountain of incredible loss and soul searching for me to come to this place.

I genuinely hope that everyone reading this comes to the same realizations and that you too understand that we can all win. Life is messy and complicated and sometimes downright terrible, but there’s always hope for better, even if it just starts from within yourself.

Thanks for reading.

Breaking old patterns

•November 28, 2019 • Leave a Comment

***TRIGGER WARNING*** brief reference to trauma survival.

Humans are hardwired to learn from and maintain patterns, especially those required for survival. Since we typically don’t have many predators in our modern lives, except for other, deranged and damaged humans. Through these learned behaviors, we develop almost a muscle memory to situations that strike us as familiar, so we don’t do something potentially dangerous or harmful to ourselves. Not until we are self aware enough or emotionally mature enough, do we realize many of these patterns are not self preservation mechanisms at all, but unhealthy coping mechanisms to protect our most fragile elements, most often – the ego.

Of course some people have protection fail safes, and these folks are generally those with histories of trauma. These individuals have created real patters to protect themselves, and in no way is this meant to disparage them. Trauma survivors are fucking warriors, in my opinion. To come out of troubling situations alive is a testament to the human survival mechanism, and I commend every single survivor.

The people I’m talking about, with unhealthy coping mechanisms, are those that grew up not getting everything they want, while feeling entitled to these desires. The ones who feel like they deserve the great job, the girl or boy of their dreams, the house, the car, the whatever… but doing nothing to achieve them. The people I’m talking about are the ones who had their hearts broken and now EVERYONE is exactly like their ex. The ones who are afraid of commitment of any kind, for fear of loss or failure. The ones who “fail to launch” for those same reasons. The ones who feel like they can’t ever catch a break, so they keep doing the same things, while expecting a different result. These are the people who need to take a deep hard look at themselves, and come up with a better behavior or coping strategy.

Rewiring your brain (which is quite literally what you’re doing when breaking a pattern) is vastly easier said than done. Depending on how strong that neuropathway is, it can take a lifetime to change the hardware. However, with constant reinforcement and attention, it’s absolutely possible.

Gather around kids, it’s story time about what I mean:

I come from a family of people who hide and stuff their feelings. Sorry family who might be reading this, but we do. Then, when the timing couldn’t be worse, we explode and have a total emotional eruption that then levels everyone around, whether or not they’re actually the cause of our discomfort. This is especially problematic with romantic partnerships, because communication is choppy at best, nonexistent at its worst. We don’t talk, then our feelings get hurt, we stuff it because we don’t know how to communicate, we eventually explode, everyone is hurt and angry, we retreat to our corners, lather, rinse, repeat. It super sucks.

Personally, I’ve spent the entirety of my adult life and many of my teen years in therapy and reading self-help books to combat many of the learned behaviors I’ve picked up. The above description being just one of them. My least favorite coping mechanism I’ve been seeking to eradicate is the following: running away.

By running away, I mean, generally speaking, emotionally. However, I’ve been known to run away from jobs where I no longer feel valued, houses in which I no longer feel comfortable, and relationships in which I no longer feel loved. That last one, is especially problematic, since I was married for 10 out of the last 16 years, and in a long term relationship for an additional 3.

When I first got married, at the tender age of 22, to my first husband, when he and I would argue, he would isolate himself (much in part to unresolved anxiety and being an only child), so I would react by emotionally and sometimes physically retreating. After years of this game and feeling completely unable to communicate with him in a meaningful way, I strayed. We agreed to work on things and stay together. Because we could not effectively communicate, to genuinely believed that things were moving forward.

However, once we began working together for the same company, I quickly realized I couldn’t have been more wrong. I met his manager, and knew there was something there. I told him that she wanted to sleep with him, he seemed surprised, but a couple weeks later, he begun staying out late at happy hour, getting rides home from her (she lived 60+ minutes in the opposite direction from where we lived), and simply started behaving erratically. I told him I was leaving. He wanted me to stay, but I just couldn’t live like that anymore.

We spent months in counseling, and set a date for when I would move back home. During that time, he’d begun dating his boss, who was married with a young child, and I began dating a longtime friend. All the while, still trying to salvage this codependent mess we’d created. I stopped dating my friend quickly, as I wanted to give my marriage a real chance, and I thought my ex would have done the same. His boss continued to drive by our house, call him in the middle of the night, and more.

At the set date, I did move back home. It was tense, awkward, and emotionally decimating. After about two weeks, we were getting ready to go to bed, and had an uncomfortable interaction. I was kneeling on the bed, hands in my lap, head down… and in a voice barely above a whisper, I asked plainly “do you even want to try anymore?” His reply was what sealed it “I don’t know”. I replied, “Ok” and got up from the bed and went to my office. I called my grandmother to tell her I would be arriving at her house about 1,000 miles away in two weeks, then I called my best friend to come pick me up.

I put in my notice at work, bought a car, packed up my things and pets, and drove away two weeks later. We spent the next 6 months in a complicated divorce, and I eventually moved back to my home state.

My point in sharing this very personal and still quite uncomfortable story about my life is that, he and I fell into our same stupid patterns as a couple, which didn’t mesh well together. We didn’t work on our communication hardly at all, and we isolated from one another at the first sign of trouble or disagreement. We never worked on the root problems between us and we never had a shot after that. Looking back, I see so many things that I did wrong. I see where I could have done things better, and how we should have gone to counseling long before the beginning of the end. This is in part to the fact that I’ve spent over a decade mulling over this colossal failure and how the relationship might have been saved.

I’m also aware enough to know that it possibly couldn’t have been saved, regardless. My point is that I’ve spent almost my entire adult life trying to overcome this tragedy of my life, because I fell into old patterns. Since then, I’ve worked on things, and some stuff has gotten better, but my good old standby is to retreat when I feel slighted. It’s just my wiring.

When I feel the impulse to run away from a situation, I quite literally force myself to do the exact opposite- to connect. When my current partner and I disagree, I force myself to communicate, when I would feel much more comfortable hiding in my corner. My thoughts still race, coming up with plan A, B, and C for what I’m going to do with myself, but instead of catastrophizing for a long period of time, I do the exact opposite, I get closer to him. I don’t want this relationship to suffer the same fate as my first marriage. I’m older and wiser now, I see the similarities and differences between the partners, and also myself.

Changing our patterns is really hard and most assuredly uncomfortable. I hate the feelings it brings to the surface. I hate reliving painful experiences in the hopes that the outcome will be different. I hate feeling sad, inadequate, and uncomfortable, but these are all signs that I’m doing something different. We could easily just be mad and ignore each other until we feel better, but why? Is it worth it? I don’t think it is. Changing the patterns makes us better in the future, helps each of us grow, and makes the relationship stronger in the long run. It forces me to own my shit, and correct it going forward. One day, one interaction at a time.

Thanks for reading.

Loneliness is a public health crisis in the making

•November 22, 2019 • Leave a Comment

In an ever-connected, ever-monitored, ever-watchful world, people have never been so lonely.

There’s been some emerging bodies of research around isolation and loneliness, a stark reminder that we are social animals. This article summarizes some of the research being conducted, stating that the physical and mental effects of being chronically lonely can be devastating. I’ve been reading articles from various angles fairly recently, and the science is becoming quite clear, having a consistent support network of people that value you, is really important to not just our emotional health, but mental and physical health as well.

What’s more difficult, is that our physical support systems are shrinking, creating situations where our kids, partners, and few others are becoming our ONLY social circle outside of our jobs. Even a lot of employment situations are allowing more remote work, decreasing the number of other humans throughout the day, that we come into physical proximity of. I bring this up because having situations where your only social outlet is your partner, is not only unhealthy, but unsustainable.

It’s not uncommon to see couples as their only sources of human interaction, which means you spouse is now your best friend, your counselor, your housemate, your coparent, your accountant, and also your romantic partner. I know from experience that this is even more common if you have kids. My partner and I go to work, come home, parent, and then go to bed to start over tomorrow most days. Throw in a sick kiddo, shittons of homework, and after a couple weeks, you’re all fraying around the edges.

Last week I came home one day from work, only to realize that one of the kids was the second human I’d spoken to since I started my workday ten hours earlier. I was stressed out, frazzled, and having a hard time focusing. She caught on, because kids are incredibly intuitive, and asked if I was ok. I took pause and really thought about my day. I had a very demanding day at work, where I was quite focused and accomplishing several tasks, but I hadn’t talked to anyone save for a coworker I ran into in the break room.

Thankfully, given the nature of my work, these are rare days in which I speak to no one, but even after just a single day, I was experiencing the effects. Imagine not talking to anyone for several days in a row? No thank you.

The moral of this story is that we need people. We need support from our tribes, whomever they may be. Don’t think that you have to have a huge network of people, but rather a few quality individuals that are in your circle who CARE ABOUT YOU. Be that person for someone else, too. We all need it. Our physical and mental health will thank us later.

Thanks for reading.

Writing is hard, mmmmmkay?

•November 7, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Ok, the writing itself isn’t hard. Really, it’s carving out the time to do it. Yes, I make time to do other things, such as watching tv with my partner, read stories to my preschooler, stare off into blank space, and of course, the ultimate time suck: scroll through social media. But lately, we’ve been falling into the rhythm of the change in season (and daylight savings, since I’ve not had to do that in many years. Hats off to Arizona for not succumbing to such silliness). The days are getting shorter, the air getting significantly colder, and motivation getting harder to muster.

Instead of writing, I’ve been doing my best to get into a gym schedule that works with my every-pressing work obligations. My ability to keep healthy during the long Midwest winters is something I’ve been striving for the last few months. I do not want to get into a rut of laziness, certainly not before my sunny mid-winter vacation we’ve got planned. I want to look and feel strong and healthy alongside my family while taking in the sea air and ocean views.

Moreover, I’ve been looking into winterizing my car, and looking for ways to keep myself happy when “outside” isn’t on my radar. We are investing in full spectrum light bulbs to ward off the SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), of which I definitely struggle, and also fun things to do indoors for a houseful of people who are busybodies. Interactive games and toys that span a wide range of ages are easier said than done. We have a preschooler and teenagers, in addition to adults with short attention spans.

As I have done many times in my recent past, I’ve made a decision about this new season (read: goddamn it’s cold), and that is to embrace it. Despite the fact that everyone in my house has fallen ill in the last few weeks, I’ve maintained my immune system’s fortitude. I do not plan on being anything but healthy throughout this winter (and beyond). I will continue to boost my immunity with elderberry, zinc, vitamin C, and my standard multi-vitamins, but more to the point, I have made the mental and emotional choice to remain mentally healthy too. SAD is a real, and sometimes serious condition, especially in this part of the US.

I’m not saying I won’t have down days, because that’s a distinct possibility as the grey wears on for weeks. The winter here is just starting, and I’ve got a long time before we see much of the sun again. However, the decision I’ve made is this: I am going to embrace this part of my life here. Not just for me, but for my partner and the kiddos in our lives. They all look to me, consciously or not, to be a constant grounding force in our home. I owe it to myself to accept and love the life I’ve chosen, even if this climate is exactly the opposite of my desire. But I also owe it to my family to be happy, present, and connective as much as possible.

The cold sucks, the snow sucks, the winter that drags on for what seems like eons, sucks. But, I have the power to smile through it. To see my daughter see snow for the first time, to build forts, and throw snowballs, and go sledding, and throw herself into snow banks, just as I did so many years ago. I have the opportunity to experience my youth again, and all the excitement I once had, with fresh eyes and wonder, with her and through her. I also get to do it with the family I’ve chosen, to create new memories with them, to share experiences with them. I’m so grateful and I cannot wait.

Wake Up

•October 22, 2019 • Leave a Comment

When I typed in “bed”, to search for a photo to go at the top of this entry, there were quite a few clocks similar to the one I chose above. It’s very strange that searching for a bed, I get a clock. However, it’s rather fitting, given the title.

Waking up, is quite literally the very first thing we do each day. Not “being awake”, as to many of us “awake” is a much different state than “waking up”. For a large portion of us, the thing letting us know that IT IS TIME, is often a loud thing in our ears. Whether it’s an alarm clock, a child, pet, or partner, something jolted us from asleep, to awake.

I, personally, take issue with this jolting part. I’m sure many others do too. However, unlike many people, at least in my life, I do not like snoozing. I typically, if left to my own devices, just get up when I wake up. Recently, my partner has been quite persuasive in encouraging me to remain in our warm, comfy bed a few minutes longer than I would otherwise. I silently think he’s using it to feel better about himself snoozing a bit extra, but don’t tell him I said that. 😉

In reality though, I tend to oversleep and wind up rushing, rather than allowing myself a few extra moments of relaxation before stepping out the front door. When you have a small child, spare minutes are really helpful. Especially since my kiddo is a sleeper. She will sleep 10 hours or more if I let her. Unfortunately, like her father, she’s also a night owl. I’m an early bird, so her bedtime is early, because she has school and I have work. Also, she takes forever to wake up more days than not. It’s annoying trying to coax a preschooler out of bed at 6am, without a major fight.

I know there are some kids like me, and you are all my people. I’ve never been a sleeper, not even during my partiest of party years. I was always on time for work, even after virtually or actually zero sleep the night(s) before. I wasn’t even a sleepy child. But I think the reasons for that are more anxiety related, and maybe they still are.

Which leads me to discuss the real topic of today’s blog. The sleeping habits of my family was merely a segue.

There’s a new culture about that’s gained popularity and a name. Woke. I’m by no means an expert on popular culture in any fashion, but I pay attention to things. Woke culture seems to be heavily intersecting with Call-out culture which has shone a light on a number of really great things, but I also think that they can be really damaging in certain contexts.

Trust me when I say that I’m an absolute advocate for human, animal, and environmental rights. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life as an activist, but part of me wonders, what happened exactly to letting others do their own thing, as long as they’re not hurting anyone else? I had a teacher in high school say that my rights as a person end at the tip of my nose, or that my rights do not extend to a place where yours are being infringed upon. So, who are people that are telling me that I’m wrong for doing X,Y, or Z, if it’s not affecting them in any way? I’m just over here, doing my thing.

If I’m over here being an asshole, I fully deserve to be called out, but if I have purple hair (which I do at 38 yrs old), who cares? If my partner and I have tattoos and have the nerve to swim in a public pool, who gives a shit? Why do people suddenly feel entitled to give me or him or anyone else flack for that?

The short answer: you don’t. Knock it off. End of discussion. Pretty simple. Stop it. The end.

But meanwhile there’s politicians trying to legislate women’s bodies, the rights of trans people, and profiteering from war and gun violence. There’s something seriously wrong with this. If you want to call anyone out, let’s call out our legislators. Call your congressmen and women. Get woke to real shit and let’s be working toward equality and rights for us all. Instead, there’s a bunch of infighting, bickering, and worse. Knock it off. Your rights end at the end of your nose. You don’t get to be in charge of anyone else’s body, mind, rights, etc. Stop it. End of discussion.

Manifesting Destiny

•September 22, 2019 • Leave a Comment

background balance beach boulder

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

While listening to a book by Wayne Dyer, he said something to the effect of “There is nothing humans can dream, that they can’t conceive”.

Anyone who has taken 9th grade U.S. history knows that the United States was colonized based on a term coined “Manifest Destiny”. Simply put, god told some guys that they had to do it. They had to colonize from coast to coast, because it was their destiny.

Do I think that the universal creator (whomever that might be) gave the impetus to drive Westward, pillaging and destroying everything in their path, losing countless lives on all sides of the mandate? Not a chance. Do I think a pack of dudes got together and said, “out there is the great unknown and we think that it should be ours, no matter the costs”? Absolutely.

Now, what do these things have in common, since Wayne Dyer is the last person I’d think of when I consider forcible anything? Humans thought of a thing and made it happen. They created their destiny and created what they saw before them. These colonizers had zero idea of what they could expect to find, they had no clue how far away it was, or even IF the other coast really existed. They basically just went for it, sight unseen.

Manifestation is the same thing, at its core. We think of a thing, and work towards it, with nothing more than the picture we see in our heads of what it might be like. Then we create something to that effect, in our own reality.

I know there are infinite people out there preaching the gospel of “The Law of Attraction” and “Manifesting“. There are countless gurus for one to choose from, should you be interested in any of these kinds of things. I’m certainly not claiming to be one. But what I can say, is that I’ve moved mountains in my own life by believing that it’s possible, and busting ass toward whatever it was that I was looking to achieve. The key is to have faith that you can do a thing, that the thing is in your grasp, and that you’re laser focused on making that thing a reality in your life. Simple, right?

Not always. Manifesting requires a singular focus on a thing you want. Everything that you do, say, and think has to be toward that end. I’ve tried a whole bunch of techniques to hone my focus, and depending on the thing I’m working towards, sometimes the technique can change. Sometimes I meditate on the thing or use a gratitude list/journal. Other times, I post affirmations that remind me of the path I’m trying to stay on. Regardless of HOW you focus, the point is THAT you focus on the end goal, that you’re unwavering in the fact that it is already yours (it’s just not in your hands yet), and HOW you get there is not even remotely important. I know from my own experience, the path to attaining a goal is NEVER what I imagined it would be. It’s virtually never a straight line. There are course deviations, detours, and roadblocks along the way. Potholes abound. However, the trick, is never giving up and staying the course until the goals are realized in your life.

I’m still new to positive focus and “manifesting”, for lack of a better term. But I can say that looking back, I’ve had some really wonderful successes that I may not have realized were exactly the same as the techniques I’m learning along the journey. Is that to say I’m independently wealthy? Nope. Working my dream job? Uh uh. Have the 6-pack abs I’ve always dreamed of? Hardly. However, I am stronger, healthier, happier, and wealthier than I was six months ago. I’m also armed with the knowledge that I can be self-employed, that I can create something beautiful out of positively nothing, and I have the universe on my side with everything that I do.

By no means does that mean I’m on cloud 9. I still have real life to deal with. Not everything is roses. I have a lot of struggles, debt up to my eyeballs from a closed business, and all the daily bullshit of life (like traffic and preschool meltdowns). But HOW I SEE THEM, has changed drastically. I see all these things as lessons and methods of guiding me toward the path I’m seeking. I feel less stressed, more patient (though, I lose my patience often. I’m working on it), and generally more optimistic than I was previously. It’s good. And most importantly, I FEEL good. That’s what really matters, right? I feel good. Hopeful. Generous. Grateful. Challenged. And most of all, I feel love, all around me and within me, radiating out. Now, THAT, is what really matters.

Thanks for reading.