Moving in general can be a life-changing experience, but moving clear across the country, across time zones, can be somewhat surreal. The after effects can leave you in a constant state of “where am I?”. Your soul will feel unsettled, much like those dreams where your spirit is floating above everything, as you watch the world going on without you below. You want to participate in it all, but somehow, you can never insert yourself into the scene. Everything you know is different, from the scent of your new home, to your ride to work, to even the water you drink. No matter how excited you are for the newness, it can be frightening. So, how can you stay sane?
Tag Archives: life
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
In light of the most recent episode of “why having a badge is equal to having a Purge-like murder pass” as well as, “why justice doesn’t really exist”, I was compelled to post a wonderfully written comment-turned-article by an awesome friend of mine. I urge you to pay attention, understand, and hopefully internalize her words, possibly awakening yourselves to a different point of view that doesn’t seem to be oft held by the majority of the people like her. It is because of rarely challenged potential (and actual) racist social behaviors that we are able to be desensitized to its effects when the crimes occur. There will never be any chance of change or progression if we fail to recognize and accept that there is indeed a problem. If you are still not angry, if you still do not believe that there is privilege and prejudice at play, if you are still blind to the effects of both “soft” and “hard” systematic oppression, then you too are part of the issue. Please feel free to share your thoughts and reactions in the comments.
“To My White Friends…” – C.G. Heilmann
When I attended Tulane (2000 – 2004), the Kappa Alpha fraternity held something called “Old South” every year, which was a Confederate-themed celebration and ball. Men in the fraternity rented Confederate uniforms and their dates were expected to rent antebellum dresses. The kick-off event for this day was a march from Tulane’s campus down St. Charles Avenue to Robert E. Lee Circle. This part, I refused to attend. Later in the evening, a black-tie formal dinner and dance was held, which I did attend.
When I was at P.S. 9 in NYC (2008 – 2010), the 5th grade taught a Civil War unit that assigned the students – including children of color – to be Union soldiers and Confederate soldiers. They learned about the “facts” of the Civil War through a reenactment game.
I am ashamed and embarrassed of my participation in upholding white normative traditions, rather than teaching children and ourselves to look at our history and current socio-economic order through a critical lens – asking my white friends to look critically and humbly at ourselves, asking the “why”. Why do we need to control a history, a narrative and a system that continues to hurt and oppress others? Why do we need to hoard all the opportunities, the wealth, and sit in all the places of institutional “gate-keeping?”
This weekend I learned that achieving “whiteness” in the United States is about giving up your ethnic culture, language, spirituality, community, and humanity in exchange for power and privilege, because the melanin in your skin – and the laws of our country – allowed you and your ancestors to do so. In order to right these wrongs, white people can stand up and say that we are ready to give that power and privilege up. That we are ready to stand aside while people of color build their own power and liberation. That we say “black lives matter.”
“Make America Great Again” is about maintaining the racist social order on which this country was founded, in the face of attempts to break that apart, analyze it, and build something else. To my white friends and family, it is ugly, it is embarrassing, it is shameful. It doesn’t feel good and it is easy to get defensive, to say “but I try to do and be right, but I like who I am, but I – and my ancestors – work hard.” But remember, “whiteness” isn’t who you are and it isn’t something you worked for, it is what has been given to you. And as I learned this weekend too, you can’t “do right in a do-wrong system.” That icky feeling in your gut is nothing compared to the violence people of color feel and suffer under every day in our country, and have for generations and generations. And so I am willing to stay in that uncomfortable, icky place…and I hope you’ll join me there.
“Great people do things before they’re ready”. Simple quote, but yesterday morning, during my daily wake-up ritual of opening up social media (don’t judge me), it was the first one I saw, and it hit me hard. It ended up shaping not only the course of my day, but it also impacted my interactions. Maybe there was something in the air, but a lot of my friends and colleagues seemed to have awakened with a restless motivation. You see, the status quo didn’t, and doesn’t seem to working anymore, and being just to be is no longer good enough. So many people expressed that they were living, but aren’t actually alive. The realization that there is more to life hit them just like that quote did for me. Are you feeling it too? Because here’s the thing: that restlessness is a clear sign that you are ready and in need of a change, and that change is imminent.
Maybe you work in corporate America, and you spend the majority of your days attending mindless meetings. You know, those meetings that aren’t held out of necessity, but more so because you had an empty spot in your calendar? And you end up spending those meetings daydreaming, unfulfilled, disenchanted, disillusioned, and disengaged. You find yourself starting to wonder what the point is, and whether there is truly more than what you wake up and do, day in and day out. You have ideas, you have dreams, but you don’t feel like it’s the right time to go after them. So instead, you sit in your meetings and push the daydreams out of your mind, because you know, security and responsibility and all of that. But of course, when you’re ready, then you’ll make the right move. However, at which point do you decide you’re ready?
That’s the issue many struggle with. Everything has to be done at the “right time”. I’ve realized though, that the right time doesn’t really exist. Tomorrow isn’t promised, yet we constantly push everything to that day. Recently, a friend of mine who was jaded in her corporate role, decided to take a chance and follow her passion. She was afraid, even terrified at times, and she needed somewhat of a push. She definitely wasn’t ready, but she decided that not being ready wasn’t a good enough reason anymore. Don’t get me wrong; she does admit it can be difficult at times, but the most important part is that she’s happy, fulfilled, and feeling as if she’s being true to herself and her heart.
If it scares you, yet thrills you…if it makes you want to curl up and hide away in a safe comfort zone, but the thought of NOT doing anything is more daunting, then chances are, it’s time for you to explore it. Maybe you can’t take the risk, maybe you’re afraid to jump, but if you take that approach, you’ll fail at it 100% of the time. Sometimes, the fear of trying is trumped by the fear of never knowing. Make today the day you try.
I grew up in a household with five other siblings, three being younger than me, and I can recall despising the concept of sharing. I would look at the adults and think, none of THEM are sharing – why do I have to? I would go to school and balk at the kids wanting to borrow my crayons, asking for my loose-leaf paper, eating my candy. I had to share my time, sometimes my bedroom, even my money when I was old enough to get a summer job. I relished in the times I had to myself, the moments I could open up a pack of Now and Laters without a hungry glance from a younger sibling, the moments when I could sit in a park and write uninterrupted (save for the attacking pigeons). I detested the concept so much that I carried my disdain over into adulthood, even in my friendships and unfortunately, in my marriage.
Now, don’t get wrong. I was a very giving person, and I still am. But that giving was always on my terms, under my control. I love nothing more than to help someone in need, to donate to a cause, to give my time and energy to something I believe in. However, when I was younger, if you told me you needed my sharing, my stubbornness and deep-rooted aversion to it would take hold. Even if I succumbed, it would probably be half-heartedly or with resentment. The more I was faced with compromise, the more I stood my ground, feeling that if I bended and shared, it would be akin to weakness. Nothing exemplified this rigidness more than my marriage.
We were married as teenagers, a time where you are still trying to find your way in the world, when you’re still trying to understand who you are as a person. And no one (NO ONE ) is more selfish than a teenager. Without the guidance of those who had been on that ride before, we fumbled through the relationship, without a clear path in mind. If he wanted to go left, I would probably go right. If I wanted to criss, he would probably want to cross. Compromise (the biggest form of sharing in a relationship) was a constant battle, and one that neither of us seemed to ever win. Instead of actually sharing, we would find ways to ensure our independence was intact, behaving in ways that destroyed the purpose and beauty of marriage. Even when it was breaking, it still wasn’t enough for us to attempt to mend it, because you see, we were both still viewing ourselves and our relationship from a selfish teenaged point of view.
For me, it wasn’t until after I was far removed from the relationship that I could clearly see that the cracks were really breaks. Hindsight is always 20/20, and knowing that a lot of the issues could have been solved, had the intention to actually share and compromise been at the forefront, was eye-opening. Some say people never change, and I believe that to be true. You should never change who you are at your core, because your uniqueness is what makes you, and you should never compromise your moral standards. But experiences – those should push you to grow, to evolve, to elevate yourself to a higher standard. I’ve learned that sharing isn’t a bad thing, and when done correctly, and bring the most amazing people, experiences and most importantly – love – into your life. I realize now that maybe – just maybe – our kindergarten teachers had the right mindset.
(All photos courtesy of gratisography.com)
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.
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.
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?
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 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have an issue with control – I like having it. Wayyyy too much. Or maybe I should say, I had an issue. I needed to have complete and utter ownership and a say in everything that happened in my life, whether it was my decision or not. And when something happened that was ultimately out of my control, I tried to do everything in my power to take back the reins. I’ve discovered though, life doesn’t really work that way. Sometimes, bad things (and good things!) happen, and no amount of willpower and determination will give you the opportunity to bring yourself back to a time when you COULD have changed things. That’s called time travel, and we haven’t been able to master the technology to make that a possibility.
In my efforts to psycho-analyze myself, I sat down one day and really tried to figure out why I was so hell-bent on controlling all of my life situations. Like most things in our lives, we can track it back to our childhoods. Childhood is such an important belief-shaping time period for us. Our minds are malleable and formative, and if we’re not careful, we can absorb habits that will become a hindrance to us as adults. I can recall moving a lot as a child. By the time I was 18, we had lived in about 13 different apartments. It was all in the same town, but a few times, I had to change schools, depending on what side of town I lived on. There was a lot of lost friendships, as well as cherished items that were left behind because of all of the moving. I can remember feeling so lost and helpless as a little girl, forced to live a life based on the decisions of others. As a result, I started focusing on all of the things I was able to control – my schoolwork, my public image, my talents. I was a great student, and I made sure that everyone knew I was one. I put on the personality of a responsible, conscientious young person, and found myself having to live up to that ideal on a daily basis. Exhausting, really. But at least I could control it.
As I got older, some of those controlling habits started to trickle into my interpersonal relationships with others. When I didn’t get my way, I would shut down, or feel hurt, have an “attitude”, or work my magic to manipulate the situation to my advantage. But guess what happened when I did that? I still didn’t get my way. And the end result was a lot of mis-communication, hurt and pain, and the eradication of my relationships/friendships. I was starting to be seen as someone who always needed to have her way, no matter what. That type of mindset erodes trust, and if there is no trust in any relationship, then there is no true relationship at all. I learned that I had to stop blaming my past for my future, and start working on ME. I stopped putting my impossible expectations on others – instead of expecting, I started accepting.
This isn’t to say that you stop having control of yourself or the decisions you make. That is still important, and you need to do that for your own growth. What I am saying though, is that at some point, you need to evolve and become more emotionally mature. You can only control your actions – people aren’t dolls to play with, or robots to program to do your bidding. You may not control the ultimate outcome, but who cares? As long as you know that you’ve done everything you could to be authentic, and that you didn’t manipulate someone to get your way, then you’re on the right path. Because in reality, “It is our attitude toward events, not events themselves, which we can control.” (Epictetus). Focus on your attitude.
It is soooo absolutely easy to give out great advice. You listen to the other person so thoughtfully, you run the situation through in your head, you try to be objective and look at both sides of the story, and then you dole out equally thoughtful, objective guidance. You know what’s even easier though? To give out that advice, knowing full well you should be taking it yourself. We like to pretend we don’t have viable solutions to the issues that plague us on a daily basis, but when you give out that awesome advice to your close friends in similar dilemmas, it’s usually your subconscious telling you that you already know the answers to your problems. To kick it up another level, when you blog about your observations about other people, or instances in your life, there’s usually a grain of guidance lurking in between your words.
So I’ll let you in on a little secret: I love when I can write about something, and someone will comment, or message me, or text me, and tell me that they needed to read what I wrote – that my words somehow resonated deeply with them. But at the end of the day, I write more for me than anyone else. I honestly don’t ever know if anyone is going to take the time to read my rants, to appreciate my thoughts. So in essence, it is pretty much therapeutic and cleansing for me. I’d even argue that it’s NECESSARY. So much so, that when I go a few weeks without writing or posting (I’m sorry!), the little negative cynic that hides in the recesses of my psyche starts to rear its ugly head. It throws temper tantrums, demanding I set it free so I can shift energy and add more negativity to the vibe. And when that starts to happen, I know I have to sit down and take time to talk to you all, so I can stuff him back where he belongs.
We all have that negative cynic hiding within us. For some people, the company they keep makes it more apparent. Others stay in unhappy situations, relationships, jobs, and absorb all of the negative energy from others, and then pass it on to those who are trying to remain positive and have a hopeful outlook on life. I’m not saying you need to stay away from those people (although, if you’re a HSP like me, you’ll let people’s energy, whether bad or good, screw with your spirit, so I do try to steer clear). Rather, if you can handle it, you have to be the positive ball of energy so they can feed into you. What they really need more than ever is not someone who will add misery, but someone who can be a beacon, and perhaps urge them to think of creative ways to stifle their cynic. For me, it’s writing. Others may sing, or paint, or be physically active. The key though, is to do something that will cause an imbalance of energy, with the abundance tipping on the positive side of the scale. Who wouldn’t want an abundance of positivity? I know for me, after writing this soliloquy, I can already feel Cynic Sam (I literally just made a name up for him) retreating back into his cave. Find a way to make your inner cynic do the same.