I have experienced things, and felt them so profoundly, that they have completely changed the way I show up in the world. And how I deal with life's struggles. I am not a damsel in distress. I am a powerful, loving, nurturing, strong woman. I have weathered storms, and come out stronger and more compassionate. I am a beautiful soul.

I give permission to myself to be imperfect. To not have it all figured out. To not really know what comes next. And not know how to be in each moment, but to show up for them anyways. To try. I might not be for some people. And they may not be for me. And that's ok. Keep trying. Keep showing up. Do not dim your light or self love based on where other people are on their journey. We all have a journey to complete, and we're not all at the same place! You won't know unless you try.

Be yourself. Be genuine. Be love, be acceptance. Check your expectations. Show up and try over and over again. Do not let other people take away from what you have to offer, to the right person. Do not stay jaded. Do not stay angry. Do not be spiteful. Take your time, and reflect often to see what you really want and where you really are, and go from there.

Do not stay busy. Take the time to own your feelings. Check them. Honour them. Anchor yourself, to yourself. You need you first, everything else is a bonus.

Do you like yourself? Are you proud of who you've become? Do you know your worth? Show up as her! The woman who knows her worth. The woman who is at ease in her body. The woman who cares and accepts herself and those around her. Be the woman you admire!

And forgive yourself when you show up short.

“You didn’t come this far, to only come this far”

I haven’t been able to find an Upside the last few weeks. Hence, no new articles.

There have been some dark moments. I’ve questioned my ability to make it through all these feelings that I’m coming face to face with. I’ve had thoughts that everything is just too much. I’ve stayed in bed for days. There was always this rational voice trying to come through though, breaking up the grief, reminding me that life will go on. It made things very confusing for me, because I couldn’t understand the feelings I was feeling, triggered by my divorce. 

It was a Sunday, a very very tough Sunday, and I finally pulled myself out of bed after 5 days (briefly) to sit on my patio. I’m on the top floor of an apartment building, and there are mature maple trees that line the property line, so close to my patio that it makes it feel like a little tree house. It was hot and humid, but there was a breeze rustling all the leaves. I could get lost in watching all the individual leaves dancing on the trees. I was zoned out, watching the leaves, but still feeling very dark and later realized in despair, wondering how the hell I was going to pull myself through this. Then there was the rational voice that broke through, asking the question “why so much grief over one person. It’s just one person. There will be more people. Life will go on. Why so much grief over this person?”, and I couldn’t answer that question, sitting there in the trees. I went back to bed, with my black out curtains drawn.

I think a lot while I’m in bed. Most of my feelings are worked through in there, too. Hours later, I kind of had this thought that the grief maybe didn’t have anything to do with my husband/divorce, but maybe it was a lot deeper. I realized the grief was for myself as a little girl. As an adult, I could leave when too much was too much in my life, but as a girl I had to endure, and nobody “saved me”. This overwhelming realization that I’ve been acting out of that feeling, of not being chosen (or saved). Every relationship, every decision, all rooted in wanting to be chosen. Even leaving my husband, I realized I wanted him to take it as a cue to be better and choose me. He didn’t. I’ve been desperately trying to heal that wound, all this time, and that wound was bleeding something fierce on that Sunday.

I met with my therapist the next day. In that hour, I realized I chose myself when I left. I chose my daughter. I can keep choosing myself and build from here a life that is me taking care of myself. The challenge in that is that I don’t know what that looks like yet, so each day is a forced thought process of “what does it look like to take care of myself?”. Sounds ridiculous as I’m writing it, should be elementary stuff, but I have always taken care of everyone around me (co-dependency). My needs were never the priority. 

I have no distractions in my life at this moment. My daughter just turned 18 and is building a life for herself, I’m coaching but rightfully so I’ve taken a step back so she can build confidence, and accountability, for herself. I’m no longer a wife throwin all my energy into making sure my husband is ok (another article for another time), my step-sons are with their Mom, and I am not busy, i.e. feeling stuff I don’t want to feel. I know I have to though, to move forward, which I am commited to doing. I have lived somewhat unconsciously up until now. I am consciously deciding I want to evolve and live the next part of my life differently. I’m in the transition part, and it’s messy and heavy and hard, but the alternative is to decide that all I’ve ever known is all I’ll ever know, if I don’t see this through. I want to know more, be more, see more, feel more; I just need to get through this first, address it, validate it, grieve I guess, and step forward in whatever direction emerges. It’s just not clear yet, and that’s uncomfortable for me. Patience is not my strong suit - I panic - I get desperate - and just want things to be settled, now. That needs to change too. Lots of changes. Lots of feelings around that. Lots to get through, but I am not willing to go backwards. That quote about “you didn’t come this far, to only come this far” resonates with me now. 

I want to be good to myself, and to others.

The sun is shining this morning. I had my coffee on the deck, and just let the sun shine on my face. There isn't a cloud in the sky, the air is crisp, but the sun is hot.

At different points in my life, mostly the lows, life has given me exactly what I need. Either in the form of a shake up, or offering me some new piece of information. The times I've recognized the shot at being better, have been life changing. For me, it's usually in the form of a book; in my 20's it was A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, early 30's Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, late 30's seem to be a crash prep course for my 40's because there have been a few.

I always have a couple of books laying around that are started, but not finished. I seem to gravitate toward a certain book at a certain time, and come back to it when what it has to offer I can absorb fully. Every time I come back to a book, it's eerie how directly it has to do with what I am going through in my life at that moment. If I really think about it, it's almost as if the universe is offering me a gift.

It took me two years to read (process) Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, because it was everything I needed to know at that point in my life, just like every other book. It was very healing for me, and powerful. I just finished Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, and it's another book that touches everything I'm trying to navigate right now.

I think we're all trying to figure out what our life is about. We spend parts being kids, other parts being students, hard workers, spouses, parents, grandparents. Those are all important phases of our lives. They're not who we are, though. My daughter will be 18 tomorrow. I am recently separated. I will turn 40 in six months. All of my 'phases' have been stripped of me. I fell into a huge depression at first, and am still battling the pull to isolate. I realize that being has more to do with what's inside of me, than what I am doing. 

I am a creative. I draw, I write, I take pictures. It soothes my mind and my soul. There was an artist who was told how amazing he was (I'm paraphrasing here), he was a sculptor I think, and he replied that "it was already there, I just uncovered it". I believe we are all sculptors. We come into the world as a block of clay. Our parents mold us the best they can. As we age, we chip away more and more clay until it starts to look more like us than our parents. And, like each artist, we have the choice to say when it's done. 

Frankl's book, A Man's Search For Meaning, puts an emphasis on how much choice we have in who we are and who we become. He is a Psychiatrist, who survived Auschwitz. Having seen the worst of human kind, and the resilience of people, he suggests that we all have a choice in who we are at the core. It's worth the read, but he explores why some people were capable of such atrocity and others such compassion in the face of horror.

For anybody who feels powerless, and I've gone through phases of this at different time in my life, the feeling is crushing. You feel like you're stuck, with no control over anything happening around you. And that might be true. I've forgotten to focus on what is happening inside of me, and when I have turned my focus from outside to inside, there is where I find my choice. My choice on what to think, how to behave, how to speak to myself. The choice to look for the good or the opportunity even in the most heart breaking situations. That's where my strength then comes from, that there is good everywhere, if I choose to find it. I can find meaning in almost anything, if I want to.

That's the scary part, too. I have to accept that sometimes I don't want to find meaning. I want to be angry, frustrated, bitter. I don't want to look for the good, because this fucking sucks! This is hard! It's too much! That's when I "happen" to pick up a book that I've started, but not finished. That's when the book has exactly what I need to get through that moment. That's when I turn the corner and start to see things differently. That's when I start to choose to push through and not get stuck with the angry stuff, the bitter stuff, because that not who I choose to be and I have a choice. I choose to continue the artwork. I choose to be a better person, inside. I choose compassion for myself, I choose self love, I choose to be a better person for my experiences and not let the bad stuff change my heart. I want to be good to myself, and to others.   


Tell Me What To Do Please

Ever feel alone? Like, REALLY alone? Not single. Not lonely. ALONE, in the sense that you are on your own - completely. Nobody to decide for you, nobody to share responsibility for decisions with, nobody to give you a hand if you happen to make a wrong decision. That 100% of the outcome relies on you, alone. 

Maybe it’s fear I’m feeling? I’m not sure. I’m alone in figuring it out, so the process is slower.

At the exact same time as feeling “alone”, I feel energized by the chance to make decisions alone, but I my feeling of alone is greater for now. I don’t want to be told what to do or think or decide. I want to hurry up the process of being comfortable making decisions and thinking alone. I’m in the uncomfortable transition part of having been in a couple, sharing everything, to now being on my own and having no one to share with. It’s uncomfortable. And confusing. And messy. And I don’t like it.

I’ve somehow gone from the “stubborn girl” who couldn’t accept anybody’s help, to the “compliant woman” who just accomodated everyone. And now I am a woman on her own trying to figure out what I think, what I want, what I need - where do I go from here? At this point it would be really nice if somebody did the thinking for me and just told me what to do, but I would hate it at the same time because apparently I know what I want, and this I know only because when I hear something I don’t like, I can be like, “nope, I don’t want that”. What a weird place to be at in life, “Tell me what to do!” and “No, I can think for myself” all intertwined in one.

My closest people in life are being very generous in just giving me time and space and not telling me how to handle my life. I’m smarter now, so I can see it as a gift. The not so smart part of me, the part that is scared to take accountability for my decisions, was annoyed with them. I felt judged. None of us know what we’re doing though! We are just trying to be good to one another, and that’s a really beautiful thing to realize.

Alone is just a feeling. Sometimes it’s absolutely correct, and sometimes it’s a guise for fear, or insecurity, or not wanting to take responsibility for my own life decisions (at least if somebody else tells me to do it, and it fails, I can blame them!). Ultimately, my life is my life. And I want my life to be better, I want to be better, so I have to do better. In this moment it’s hard to do better, and not fall back into old ways of doing. That’s part of it I guess though, not falling back. Choosing to be better, especially when it’s hard, is when it counts most I think. 

Work work work work work....

(Did you hear Rhianna?)

I want to connect with people that won’t use what they learn as a way to “work me”.

I want mutual respect, and honesty. I don’t want to be manipulated or controlled, and I don’t want to manipulate or control either. I want to heal with my wounds and meet my own needs so that I’m not searching for that from somebody else. I want to be whole.

I want to feel what I need to feel, face what I need to face, be comfortable with what and who I am, and live life that way. I want to level up, to be a better person, so I can be a better mom and a better friend. I want to see what is actually unfolding, and not only what I want to see. I want to see and live life as it actually is, and be seen and heard for who I actually am; I don’t know who she is yet, but I like her so far.