The Dragonfly Effect

This morning was not, by many standards, a good day. I woke up exhausted, having spent the night tossing and turning, uncomfortable and restless. I snoozed for a bit, then woke up with a start, because now I was running late. Traffic was awful, making my commute last almost an hour. I got to the Whole Foods-esque grocery store, only to find that, due to a water main break, I not only couldn’t have my coffee, but a smoothie was out of the question too. Begrudgingly, I stopped at a local restaurant, whose high prices on their subpar food is pretty much insulting. By the time I got to the office, any semblance of a happy mood had vanished. I got into a silly disagreement via text, got flustered on a call I was presenting on, and lamented having even gotten out of bed this morning. All in all, a pretty shitty a.m.

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

I decided that maybe I should go shopping during lunch because you know, that makes people feel better. (Side note: that NEVER makes me feel better. The frugalness within me brings on a huge wave of guilt as soon as I swipe my card for anything costing more than $19.99). Instead, I went to my favorite smoothie place, and complained that they somehow lost my smoothie points (they didn’t), and then sat ashamed at my first world problems grievance. As I sat and wallowed in my self-importance, I thought of things that could cheer me up. You know, count your blessings and all of that. Instead, I just felt sadder.

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

I brought my acai bowl back to my car, and instead of driving away, I sat in my car and just thought. Thought about life, thought about decisions I’ve made, thought about my life purpose, etc. etc. I stared out at the people walking by, and a little lonely dragonfly alighted the window shield of my car. I watched in fascination as it continued to fly around, landing, hovering, and then staring at me (I PROMISE it was staring at me). I’m a big believer in signs, so, I looked up the potential meaning of a dragonfly sighting.

Photo courtesy of dragonfly-site.com

“In almost every part of the world, [the dragonfly] symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life” (dragonfly-site.com). Whether this description is true or not, it did result in making me feel somewhat convicted, but in a way that brought upon an epiphany. When we feel as if we’re struggling, and we can’t quite pinpoint the source of our struggle, it is most likely that we are battling internally with what was and what will be. We are stuck in this purgatory of sorts, and it not only confuses our minds, but it conflicts our souls. We are in a process of change; a process that requires stretching, pulling, and pushing. This change is bringing us to a place we should be, but even change with the greatest of promise and intentions can be painful.

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

That little dragonfly came at the right moment today, because it brought me a message of hope, and promise. It reminded me that nothing worth having is ever easy, and in order for you to experience growth, you have to endure the change that comes with it. As you go through the rest of your day, stay cognizant of the little reminders to keep pushing, even when it hurts. It won’t always be easy, but it will almost always be worth it.

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When One Moment Ends, Another Begins

2016. The “awful” year that seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye. I don’t mean this in the same depressing memes and posts I’ve seen, in which everyone is lamenting about 2016 being the year of pain and suffering, about it being the worst year ever. It wasn’t a horrible year. A trying one, yes. One that engulfed many in heartache, most definitely. But I’ve been viewing it mostly as the year that the wool was lifted from the eyes of many, where the reality of life and the world finally seeped into the forefront of the social media circus, permeating the shallowness of so many with a hard dose of truth. The idealism that we may have felt on 12/31/15 has been chipped at a little, but it doesn’t mean that the year was lived in vain. Some of us attained knowledge of self and others, in ways that made us question everything around us. It was a year of growth – uncomfortable growth – that served the purpose of revealing our strengths, and our weaknesses.

chicago

As I reflect on all of my experiences throughout the year, I feel accomplished, and at peace with everything I’ve gone through, good and bad. I traveled a lot – including my first trip to Europe. I met my favorite hip-hop artist/activist, David Banner. I saw Beyoncé give an amazing concert in my favorite city of all time, NYC. I took a chance with my writing, and although the dream hasn’t come to fruition yet, I am a step closer to realizing it. I rekindled precious friendships that I believed were all but lost, and I came to terms with the fact that some are sadly lost forever. I learned patience, and loving even when the love isn’t returned in the way I desired. I realized that kindness should always be the first choice, and when it’s not an option, then silence is best. And most importantly, I learned that I am not for everyone, but it doesn’t make me any less unique and beautiful.

aer-lingus

Tonight, as you get closer to the countdown, I urge you to give a little reflection as well. Many of you will be out partying until your hearts’ content, but before you do, be thankful for all that you have gone through this year. If you were the same person you were this time last year – hell, if you’re the same person you were yesterday – then you have failed your goal of living and evolving.Be kind. Be loving. Be positive. You made it through, and if you made it through with scars, remember that they can still be healed. Make some real plans – not resolutions, but goals that you can etch away at each day. Look forward to everything that’s ahead of you, because it will be an amazing time. Every day is a gift just waiting to be unwrapped, so make sure you’re present for every moment of them.

at-the-ball

In Transition

There are moments in your life in which you’ll feel lost, unfocused, unmotivated, unambitious. It will seem like everything you want and dream of is always just out of reach. You will be filled with indescribable pain – pain that doesn’t radiate from a clear point, but is felt intensely just the same. Your appetite will begin to fail you, and every sunny day will have a permanent cloud floating within it, directly above your head. And in those moments, there will be nothing easier than for you to feel as if you have failed, and in effect, allow yourself to stop living. Not necessarily physically, but spiritually, emotionally, mentally.

Laundry

Every single disappointment that is felt – every failed career move, every failed relationship, every failed diet and health endeavor – every supposed failure will begin to take its toll on your soul. The heaviness will feel immovable, and you will feel immobile and stuck. Almost as if your feet are covered in cement blocks, and you’ve been thrown into a vat of quicksand. When you’re in quicksand, you’re told to refrain from fighting, because you’ll make it worse, and that’s true. But some fights don’t require physical strength. It seems counterintuitive, but in those moments, your focus should turn inward, and you should seek wisdom to help calm you. These are the moments that are most crucial, because those moments are called transition. 

Which Door

So many of us hate the thought and feeling of transition. It is uncomfortable, because it is stretching us, pushing us towards a life that is unfamiliar to the one we currently have. We want desperately to hold on to what we have now, even if it is not serving us well, because the thought of the unknown is far worse. As humans, we are creatures of habit, because habitual behaviors enable us to multitask and get through our everyday life rather seamlessly. Our habits are a gift and a curse, and they can pin us down into situations and experiences that should be changed. We settle for less than what we deserve and what we want, because we put in our minds that something is better than nothing, and something familiar is better than something new. If we continue to hold on to that mindset, we will never experience growth, and lack of growth is akin to death. Would you rather be dead inside than to try, just a little bit?

Strength

Our cycles of growth are cyclical, and we are given the opportunity to evolve every few months or so. If I want to keep it one hundred, I would even argue that those opportunities are provided to us every day, the moment we open our eyes. When you’re going through those transitional growth periods, your biggest tool is to be present, to pay attention to what is occurring within as well as around you. It is when we’re at our lowest points that our biggest seasons of change are revving up. I’m personally experiencing my own growth cycle, and damn, it doesn’t feel good at all. And I’ll be honest; I don’t want it – I don’t want to deal with this battle. But I know that I need it. Some of us walk into the storm, but others hunker down deep in the basement of their minds. If you’re feeling paralyzed, be introspective and figure out why it may be happening. Cut down on the distractions and begin the process of internal de-cluttering, but most importantly, don’t be complacent. There is something so much greater for you, but you have to be willing to go through the changes to get there.

(All photos courtesy of gratisography.com

 

 

 

It’s Better to Heal…Than to Hurt

It’s very easy to run away from and avoid the reality of our lives. It’s even easier to harbor hatred and feigned indifference, than it is to examine ourselves and determine the role we’ve played in the demise of something that was once deemed important and beautiful. Hatred is not a clear-cut emotion, but is typically a mask for something deeper, usually deep-seated pain and hurt. When people hate, it is because they are too emotionally immature to deal with the heartache they’re experiencing, the hurt they believe is caused by another person or situation. In actuality, no one can make you feel anything you don’t want to feel. Your emotions are your responsibility, and you ultimately have the control over how they are expressed. But how do we wade through our insecurities and elevate ourselves in a way that causes anger and hatred to be fleeting emotions, that aren’t allowed to take up residence in our souls?

Pinata Murderer

Practice self-love. This sounds so simple, yet so many people don’t know how to accomplish this. I sometimes blame it on our modern society and the new cultural expectations we seem to have. We are so dependent on the acceptance and love of others that when we don’t have it, we feel empty inside. We constantly seek the approval, the love…the admiration of others, and when it’s not reciprocated, we tumble down the rabbit hole of despair. You, and only you, have the power to create and manifest your own happiness. How much you love yourself should not be contingent upon how much someone loves you.

Self Love

Do NOT mirror emotions. This is a difficult one for me, personally, because I am an empath by nature – meaning I sense and feel the emotions of those around me quite easily. If I walk into a room and there are people being jovial and lighthearted, my first inclination is to do the same. On the flip side, if I’m sitting next to you, and you are angry, chances are, I will find myself slowly getting angry as well. My soul tends to be a little emotional sponge that wants to share in the experiences of others, even when those experiences are detrimental to my well-being and alter my mood. You have to be extremely cognizant of this in yourself, which I am still learning to be. It takes a LOT of extra work, but if I’m being attacked with negativity, I actively remind myself that I have control over my feelings and cannot allow infiltration by the hurt party. Count to ten if you have to, but do NOT match their emotional level. Your spirit will thank you.

Twin Horses

Be aware of your feelings. Pain can be a confusing place. Someone says or does something we perceive to be cruel, and the first thought an emotionally immature person has is to “get back” at them. Did you know that the more supposed revenge you seek, the more negative energy you bring on yourself, and the more horrible you feel (Unless of course, you are a completely narcissistic person who is incapable of taking responsibility for your actions and their resulting consequences)? There’s supposedly a very thin line between love and hate, but that’s because the line is a fallacy. Hatred does not exist without love, period. It is just the level that reveals itself when you are unable to cope with the pain that occurred within that love. Instead of dealing with the underlying feeling that is making you lash out, you instead blame any and everything in your life on the person you thought caused it, and you try to hurt them to match what YOU feel inside. Meanwhile, because they’ve matured and actively practice the art of self-love, they’re just deflecting all of your attacks with grace while continuously praying for your peace. Stop attacking and become aware of what you’re really feeling. If necessary, see a therapist.

Bloody Radishes

I realize that a lot of this may seem simpler than it is, because the level of passion behind the emotion you’re feeling may seem larger than life. Unfortunately, the truth is, you can’t run from your feelings, no matter how far you try to escape. Continuing to try to cause hurt to others, instead of focusing on your own healing, tends to hurt you more in the long run. Or, in some cases, you end up causing residual hurt to those around you, and those closes to your targets – and then they begin to build resentment within their hearts. Stop trying to actively breed a home of negativity – if you continue, you may wake up one day and find there’s no one left to lash out to.

 

Lowered Expectations

Something has been on my mind for the last couple of weeks. It’s been weighing very heavily…so heavily that I haven’t been able to shape my thoughts enough around the subject to begin writing. And it’s not something super serious, but it’s something super important. I get my inspiration for my posts in the most random moments, and if a word is swirling around in my head for more than a couple of days, I know that it’s something I have to get my thoughts down on. My word over the last few weeks? Disappointment.

Deflated Balloon

The older I get, and the more life experiences I have, the more I realize how much faith we need to STOP putting in people. Well, let me rephrase that: maybe not faith, but expectations. I think we have to stop expecting so much from people and their actions. This isn’t a bitter or contrite post; quite the contrary. It’s more so one of my epiphany moments. I realized that I was expecting so much from imperfect people – imperfect people like myself. Even when I didn’t know what I wanted or how I felt, I was still expecting others to know what they wanted and how they felt. And I understand now that those expectations are a heavy load for anyone to carry around.

Laundry

Just because you would behave a certain way in a given situation, doesn’t necessarily mean that someone else will do the same. We all have that inherent “me me me” complex of assuming that our way is always the right way, and we expect others to do things the way we want them to. We tend to have very limited tolerance of accepting anything less than what we want, especially when we’re emotionally immature. I have a secret though, one that I’ve learned throughout the years: it’s really not about you.

Bear Slippers

Once you really let that statement and mindset resonate with you, you’ll stop putting so much effort into trying to change others into your mini-clone. You’ll begin to learn to respect their thoughts and feelings and views, and you’ll start meeting them where they are, instead of where you think they should be. Most importantly, you won’t get hurt so easily, because you’re not creating unrealistic assumptions surrounding your interactions with them. It is such a freeing experience, to accept others for who they uniquely are. And the moment you begin lowering your expectations, that’s the moment you lower the chances of enduring heartbreak and disappointment.

The Heart of the Matter

Forgiveness. It’s a word that’s been on my mind for a couple of weeks now. I’d been contemplating whether or not I should write about it, and then Sunday morning, India Arie’s cover of the song “Heart of the Matter” rolled through on Pandora, and then her song “Wings of Forgiveness” came on. So yeah, the question in my mind was pretty much answered for me. And of course, with today being the observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, it seemed even more apropos.

Boxing

I’ve never considered myself to be a very forgiving person. In fact, traditionally, I’ve been the complete opposite, the grudge-holder, who contemplated all of the ways I could make you pay for hurting me, betraying me, no matter what the offense might be. I grew up around people who didn’t necessarily believe in the idea of letting things slide, of letting bygones be bygones. Because if you did, you were somehow weak, a pushover. And you know what all of that negative energy beget? A home filled with resentment. Pent-up anger. Anguish. Anxiety. All of the things that can lead to depression. I realized that it also hurt ME. If the other person was smart, they weren’t even thinking about me and my animosity towards them. I was only damaging my OWN soul.

Arm Wrestling

I’ve been dealt with some hurtful situations over the last year. Situations in which I would have had every right to lash out and act crazy. Initially, that was my first inclination. I wanted to do everything in my power to make those persons pay for what they had done to me, how they had made me feel. I sometimes even fantasized about how it would all go down. But for some reason, I made a different decision. I determined that it essentially wasn’t worth my energy. Yeah, I’d feel good in the moment, but that’s all it would be. Just a moment. Once it was done, my psyche would be wrought with the memories of my malicious impulsiveness. So, I did nothing. I meditated and prayed on it, and decided to just forgive.

Pancake Smiley

Let me tell you – that was quite literally the best decision I  could have made. Now, instead of being consumed with rage, I could focus on more important aspects of the situation’s aftermath – like healing from it. Anytime I had any thoughts on potentially going back on my decision to forgive, I just thought about how it would affect me. After a while, it stopped being in the forefront of my mind, and I’m pretty certain that I pushed my healing curve ahead tremendously. Yes, anger can be justified, but it’s also a choice. We can always choose to keep our minds and spirits there, and as a result, become breeding grounds for negativity. Or, we can choose forgiveness, and learn to be the person who moves on. Not because we’re weak, no. But BECAUSE we’re strong, and we love ourselves more.

What’s Your Vision?

What’s your vision for 2015 and beyond? A friend of mine purchased a book for another friend, entitled, “One Word That Will Change Your Life”, and, while I haven’t read it (I plan to!), the idea is a novel one. What better way to keep yourself and your goals in sight than to give yourself a theme for your year, and every year going forward? I know that for me personally, my last year was one wrought with many changes. It was a year of heartbreak, shattered dreams, and destroyed goals. But it was also one of self-actualization, acceptance, and perseverance. If I could sum up the last year in one word, it would have to be transition.

Pile of Junk

It’s New Year’s Eve, so of course, many people have created a laundry list of resolutions. For some, that may work, but for me, I’d probably lose the list by the second week of the year! I eliminated my desire to create resolutions long ago and instead resolved to be a better me every day of my life. Sometimes, I move two steps forward, and other times, I take six steps back. However, as long as that backward movement taught me something valuable for my growth, then the regression was inherently worth it.

Sterile Room

For the coming year, I’ve been trying to come up with my one word. I know that I’ll be focused on exploring all of the elements that make me so unique, becoming even more comfortable in my skin, embracing my talents and quirks alike. I want my days to be purposeful, meaningful, and filled with growth and love. For too long, I have allowed my spirit to be stifled. I’ve cared too much in the past about following some generic blueprint for life, being flexible to those who don’t deserve such accommodations. This year will be about me breaking through my oft self-inflicted barriers, about me becoming more organic and authentic, being more free. Hence, my focus for the year will be spent freeing myself of any thing that constrained me in the past. My word for 2015 will be freedom.


Freedom

Back Scrubs and Doggie Bags

Yeah, yeah, another post about being single. But this is a serious one. Soooo serious. You never realize how many things you take for granted when you’re a part of a couple, especially when it’s all you’ve known for ten or more years. Obviously, when you get that far, you just assume that it’s going to be that way forever. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out that way, and you end up dealing with some big adjustments when you transition to single life. For me, there are five pressing things that I’m just now understanding are super serious – that make my ousting from coupledom that much more evident.

1. There’s no one to wash my back in the shower. 

Have you ever realized, like, really realized, the necessity of having someone wash your back in a shared shower? The joy of not having to be extremely and unnaturally flexible, a contortionist of sorts, just to have a nice, clean back? Imagine my sadness, my utter despair, when, after months of near-death experiences and injuries in the shower, I discovered that they actually sell things to help you with that. You know, those long-handled brush thingamajigs, back scrubbers, I think they’re called? I’m convinced they were invented by a single person who was just over the stretching and sliding to get to that one spot in the middle of their back. Sad. Very, very sad.

Back Scrubber

2. You can’t race yourself to the bed so you don’t have to turn out the lights. 

What a friggin pain in the ass this was before I bought my home a few months ago. Back during the “Relationship Age”, I tried to always be the first one in the bed (so yes, former SO, I was taking that game seriously, and really did NOT want to turn off the lights), nice and comfy, so I wouldn’t have to get up, half-asleep, and flick the switch. Sure, that seems small, but it is oh so important when you find that snuggly spot in the bed, and you don’t want to get up again. My new place has a remote control for my bedroom lights (Bougie? Maybe. But an ingenious invention, really). Also, that praying mantis has nothing to do with this section at all. But I was desperate to use him. 

Praying Mantis

3. Who will eat all of my restaurant doggie-bag leftovers? 

I typically eat small portions of food (this is mostly due to the fact that I just want to get to the dessert, and like a good girl, I have to eat some of my dinner first to look as if I’m following the rules). Because of me eating two bites and feigning fullness, I just about always have something to bring home with me at the end of dinner. This wouldn’t be so bad if I actually ate the leftovers, but no. Like the wasteful American I am, I almost always forget that it’s even in the fridge, and by the time I remember, it’s too late. That cedar-plank salmon looks more like some sort of algae concoction. The irony of all of this? I despise wasting food, so I also give myself a guilt trip for a few days after the offense. Do you see the dilemma here??

Doggie

4. There’s no one to ditch parties and events with. 

You get invited somewhere, the day comes, and you’re kind of like, meh. And when you’re in a couple, that “meh” feeling is okay, because guess what? They’re going to agree with you! And if your former SO was a man, that statement becomes even more true! Especially when it comes to those situations where you feel it necessary to show up as a couple. But now? I get invited to places and events, and if I don’t feel like going, I stay home. Alone. And there’s no one to make me feel okay with the fact that I just ditched someone’s kids bar mitzvah/holiday party/movie night/whatever whatever or something. I am alone in my shame and guilt (okay, there probably isn’t much shame or guilt. I was tired. Get off my back!).

Loner

5. Running out of toilet paper is now just your fault. 

Before, you could get upset, cast the blame on your innocent SO, but now? You have no one to blame but yourself. It was your responsibility. You knew you used the last of it the night before, so don’t act so surprised when you wake up the next morning to the little unusable bit that’s stuck to the paper roll. You kept reminding yourself that you needed to get more, and you didn’t. This is YOUR FAILURE. In the grand scheme of things, it seems miniscule, but at 3:30 in the morning? It’s crucial.

Toilet Paper

All this to say, every event in your life brings you the chance to learn new things about yourself, good or bad. I’ve learned that, especially after listing out these five things, I’m apparently wasteful, lazy, forgetful, and a hermit. But on the bright side, I’ve learned resourcefulness. It’s that much more important to stock up on toilet paper before you need it.

 

Turn Pipe Dreams Into Reality

Every once in a while, we find ourselves lost, confused…feeling out of place. We look in the mirror, and all we feel is disdain and displeasure with the image reflected back at us. We feel insecure, unloved, depressed – every negative emotion and feeling available. And some days, it’s seemingly impossible. We’ll never find true love (for the first time or again), we won’t get that promotion, our dreams won’t ever come to fruition – or so it all seems. In short, we feel trapped and despondent, slaves to stagnancy.

Bunny Suit

It’s so easy to stay stuck in that place, believing that happiness and joy is just a pipe dream being sold by some shady dealer. Those feelings of despair lead to quiet discontent and complacency, making us almost immobile to change and progress. The key to moving past this is understanding that nothing is permanent, and realizing that the only thing keeping your situation the same is you.

Hockey Players

Have you ever gone into a restaurant, retail store, government agency – anywhere – and, instead of receiving a smile and good service, you were met with a negative attitude and annoyance? And, if you’re like me, the first thing you thought was, “Well, if you don’t like your job, why don’t you find a new one!”. Like, how could anyone be THAT unhappy, yet still hold on to something they hate? When you give in to the negative side of being at a standstill, you might as well be that disgruntled employee.

Pug

I know it’s not easy to just magically change a situation, and this is definitely not a “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” soliloquy. And maybe you can’t change your current situation immediately, or even the next week. However, what you can control is how you view it and handle it. You can give in to the “woe is me” mentality, or, you can start making a concerted effort to focus on the positive, and making those plans to propel yourself forward. Maybe that means loving yourself more; maybe it means getting more education, or putting yourself in a place outside of your comfort zone. Whatever it is though, you need to start it now. Not tomorrow, not next week, not for the new year, but NOW. Everyone deserves joy and purpose – start claiming yours.

I Build Walls, and Then I Tear Them Down

Every once in a while, we meet someone who seems to speak to our soul – perhaps even sing to it. And we try so hard to make that person fit into the vision of our future, ignoring the red flags, the doubts, the things we considered deal-breakers with others. For some reason, something in them caused us to let our guard down, to feel a little carefree, to be more ourselves. And then, out of the blue, something happens that causes all of that to come to a screeching halt, causes us to put our walls back up. We somehow find out that the person is actually human.

Spilt Milk

At first, it’s difficult to comprehend. We become confused, misled, maybe even sad. Our plans and goals have been altered, and we begin to feel as though we’ve been duped, deceived. It is at this point that our recovery becomes crucial, because it will tell us whether we’re going to rebuild our wall (this time a little sturdier and with better insulation), or, whether we’re going to put a door in that wall, one we can open at a later time, when we’re ready. Unfortunately, many of us are more apt to do the former, and prevent anyone else from getting in.

Brick Wall

I watched a documentary last night, entitled “Happy” (on Netflix!). One portion discussed the American pursuit of happiness, and how most of us look to money to aid us in achieving said happiness. The study found, though, that although there was a huge increase in happiness between those who made $5k a year and those that made $50k a year, there was no real difference in those who made $50k and those who made $500k (random fun fact!). However, the study discovered that a large indicator of happiness was actually the existence of close interpersonal relationships, which had a direct correlation with how happy people considered themselves to be. All of this to say, if you build that wall, will you potentially be limiting the amount of happiness that can flow into your life?

Closed Shop

I know this is hard to believe, but guess what? People will disappoint you. Over and over and over again. And there’s nothing you can do to prevent it, but there are ways to deal with it. You can take that disappointment, and let it chip away at your spirit, making you miserable and unlovable and unloving, shutting off the world. Or you can accept that disappointment, allowing yourself to wallow in it for an appropriate amount of time, and then…well, and then, you can open your door back up and let the fresh air in.

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