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Walking away from the darkness

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Five and a half years ago on a warm, spring night in Tampa, Florida my eyes met those of a stranger. The beautiful, bright, yet deep blue looked beyond my first layers; soul-piercing. We stared at each other, saying nothing, each other’s names unknown; the kiss that followed was natural and uninhibited. Our connection and chemistry was unquestionable and immediate; yet, quickly suspended by circumstance. Distance and time would create a separation that most anyone would deem too much to overcome. 

Over the coming years, our friendship blossomed over text. Though thousands of miles apart and with nothing to gain, we remained in contact, getting to know one another with no strings attached. We never seemed to run out of things to talk about. Only a few days of contact in Florida, and we managed to maintain conversation for years without seeing one another in person again. We dreamed of eventually meeting up someday, but it never seemed to be a realistic possibility.

As I got back together with my ex-boyfriend, I abruptly stopped communication with my Florida friend. I did not purposely drop off the face of the planet, although that is basically what happened. For a year and a half he did not know my whereabouts and only speculated as to what had become of me. Oopsies.

After the trauma of the relapse (And sometimes life breaks your heart.), I eventually reestablished contact with my Florida friend. I had greatly missed our conversations. He and I have a unique connection, and at the time I did not know if anything would come of it, but I knew I missed interacting with him, simple as it may have been. I had always been honest with him about everything, and he with me, as we had no reason not to be! We discussed relationships, hook-ups, lifestyle, and pretty much everything else one could think of. This shattered-time-of-my-life was no different. I told him the good, the bad, and the ugly of the situation; bearing my wounded soul to him. He offered his consistent, yet firm and objective support. After having an addict for a boyfriend for a year and a half who would take the path of least resistance even when it meant lying to my face, it was refreshing to have someone be honest with me; even if it was something I did not want to hear.

My Florida friend had always offered support, friendship, advice, and companionship. This seems impossible considering we have never lived in the same place at the same time. Yet, the distance forced us to actually get to know each other. When the only option for communication is talking and you have a connection like ours, you talk.

After moving to Los Angeles, my Florida friend, who now lives abroad, came to visit me. He was the first person to visit me in my new LA life. It felt SO GOOD to have a person around me who I cared so much for, and he reciprocated. Those days were pure bliss and our connection was confirmed more than ever. It was so natural and comfortable to be together; the 5 years apart felt as only moments in time. My heart swelled with affection and I soaked up our time together.

Then he had to leave.

My head spun as the comfort, stability, and warmth from his presence was removed from my physical existence. My mind tried to rationalize this occurrence, my heart tried to deal with the pain. We each had our way of dealing with this difficult separation. Our question had been answered. We now knew that we really had the chance of something amazing together. And we now realized, that in a way, the ignorance was bliss, as our current circumstance would not allow us to be together. He went back to life in the country he lived in, much better at dealing with the emotional toll than I. I cried, and then rationalized, and then cried, and tried to get over it. The few days of bliss in Los Angeles quickly felt like fiction. He carried on in his life, as a healthy independent person would, still in contact with me, but carrying on as a single, young man with a career. I, on the other hand, recently traumatized by betrayal, could not trust, and cycled through disbelief, hope, doubt, faith, until numbness took over… rinse and repeat.

I had no idea where we stood. He was confident in the feelings and intimate moments we shared, trusting and believing in us, while I, independently questioned every piece of our experience, both past and present; my injured psyche unable to fathom pure intentions.

We then took another trip together, this one quieting all of my doubts. When we are together, there is no question in my mind of the true connection we share, it is nothing short of love. And then distance cuts in, separating our bodies, but not our hearts. Prolonged time apart is accompanied by problematic doubt.

They say a woman’s intuition is rarely wrong. Might I add that my intuition has rarely failed me. While my ex was in the midst of relapse, I had asked him directly about various odd happenings. Things had stood out to me, not because they were especially alarming, but just because they were unusual, like spending more time in the bathroom. This is not something a normal person would immediately assume is linked to drug use, but it was unusual and I asked him about it, even barging in on him a few times. As he sat naked on the toilet, I felt like quite the fool. He always had a legitimate response for my questions. A few weeks later, he was fired from his job (which now of course makes sense). Leading up to this day he had told me horror stories of his terrible boss. I have my own experience with horrible boss’ and took this opportunity to be the most supportive, non-judging girlfriend I could be. I remember being so happy to be able to support him as he seemed so put out from this loss. His pride was damaged and I wanted nothing but to lift him up. Time went on and I began having nightmares that he had relapsed. I would wake up out of a dead sleep, sobbing to the point of hyperventilation, waking him up to tell him of the terror of the nightmare. He would reassure me that it wasn’t real and it wasn’t happening, comforting me back to sleep. I had this nightmare three times.

Then the day happened and I was not asleep. I was wide awake and the world felt like it was closing in on me. My worst nightmare was reality and I was devastated. My intuition had been spot on, even to the point that my dreams were warning me of the betrayal and deceit.

Risking trust again is the most difficult thing I have ever done. I feel like I am swimming in a deep sea and I don’t know which way is up. I am terrified of being betrayed again. That pain was worse than any physical injury I’ve ever experienced. My self-preservation instincts are on high alert, on the look out for lies, betrayal and deception. The problem with this overprotective mode of living is my spot-on intuition is now clouded with hyper-paranoia. Cognitively I know that my Florida friend has nothing but the best intentions for me, and for us. And then there are moments that one small miscommunication leads me down a rabbit hole of confusion, suspicion, and questioning of what to believe; desperately trying to determine whether or not this is a valid red flag. This minor miscommunication sets off alarms inside my being, fight or flight kicks into gear; my chest muscles tighten, my gut feels sour, and my heart races. My instinct is to hurry and identify the deceit…. ‘Don’t let this happen again’ my subconscious screams (my pride doesn’t help either). My last relationship exemplified that illogical things that should never happen CAN happen. The person who says they love you more than anything may be lying to your face on a daily basis. You can be living together and think you know everything about one another and find out that you’ve been repeatedly deceived. This sucks big time. Unfortunately, I know I’m not the only one who has had this experience.

And yet, I want to love again. I want to trust again. I believe in good. I believe in honesty. I know that this one experience should not define me. It is maddening to deal with me I’m sure, and it is even more maddening to be inside my own head because I don’t know what to believe! I know that there are good people in the world who understand the true value of honest partnership. I know that there are healthy men who want what I want and bring to the table great attributes that I expect and admire. I want to truly and fully believe that my partner will never hurt me like this. I realize that misunderstandings and mistakes will come about, but anyone with self-discipline, self-control and love for the other would never purposely deceive.

I have come a long way since the moment of realizing my worst fear had come true. I continue to pursue healing, to become even healthier than I was before this experience. Now I desire to get my instincts and panic responses under control.This process is so frustrating as I often take out this insecurity on my love. It is unfair for him to deal with the pain from my past relationship, yet he has continued to be patient with me as I sort through the madness. I am so grateful for his patience and look forward to the day in which these reflexes of distrust will be a distant memory.

“Part of the healing process is sharing with other people who care” – Jerry Cantrell

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Climb on!

Heavy.

The gravity is heavy.

The importance of a decision I will likely make in the next few years weighs heavy on my heart. Awe and humility overcome me as I ponder the ripple affect that will occur. This decision will affect my personal life, forever. It will affect my mom, my dad, my brother, my extended family, teachers, strangers, and future humans who don’t even exist yet.

People make this decision everyday… Sometimes on purpose and often without any foresight at all. I look around at so many, each with their own story; some hurting because of the way the decision was made that created them. The way it was planned so perfectly and then blew up, surprising everyone when nothing turned out the way it was supposed to. And others were the result of complete irresponsibility and carelessness, somehow ending up well-adjusted, with awareness to do it better for their own. As I observe, there does not appear to be a replicable formula to guarantee a positive outcome. A well-off, intelligent, educated person may seem like the ideal partner and then turn to drugs. A person perceived as unintelligent, or with a bad past may use creativity and moxie to rise to the top, loving loyally along the way.

Choosing a life partner will be the single most important decision I make, especially if I choose to have children. This person will set the example of how to love a spouse. This person will mold their hearts and speak to their souls. This person will be one of the first to communicate to them how they should feel about themselves…. answering life’s questions: Am I enough? How do I deal with hardship? What is my value? How shall I love others? This person will have a choice to leave or to stay, everyday. This person will have the choice of participating in society or not. This person will have the choice to love me, or not.

So while I see all of my friends on the app they compare to “hot or not”, picking dates based on photos alone, I realize why I’m the last to know. If I could pick a partner based on looks, I would have done that by now! I dont want a partner selected on only physical attraction. Rather, I want a partner that I’m attracted to spiritually, intellectually, physically, and emotionally. So while there are no guaranteed instructions on how to select a life partner who will show up each and everyday, I will cast my desires out into the Universe, praying that God will honor my humble heart.

I pray for my partner, a partner who exhibits and provides stability. A partner who values my whole being, far and above his physical desire for me. A partner who understands the gravity of what lifelong love means, and what an even bigger responsibility parenting is. I pray for a partner who is proud of loyalty and faithfulness. A partner who loves God and is in awe of the power that is bigger than we can fathom. A partner who can accept help and admit when he’s wrong. I pray for a partner who brings out the best in me; someone I respect and trust, who’s advice I will heed. I pray for a partner who will understand that his daughter’s sensitive soul is more valuable than a letter grade, who will offer affirmation more often than criticism. A partner who will love and nurture his son, while teaching him how to be an honorable man. I pray for a man that will be my very best friend, my partner in crime, who will never stop adventuring with me and our family. A partner who acknowledges my needs and allows me to acknowledge his.

Thank you God for preparing us for each other.

What you’re looking for.

“I hope you find what you’re looking for” was inscribed inside one of my goodbye cards from a very good friend a few years my senior. I was 19 years old moving from the great Northwest to sunny Florida. At the time this note left a bad taste in my mouth. Someone who had ‘gone looking for themselves’ I perceived as flawed from my upbringing. I don’t know if my perception was accurate or not, but either way, I was now offended. I’m not looking for anything! I thought to myself, as if exploring this world was in any way something to be ashamed of. I told my family that all I was looking for was an adventure. Little did I know I would find so much more…

I found a land without hills or mountains; with tropical flowers, sea breezes and dolphins swimming in the sea.

I found that my dog is an excellent road-tripper and my very best friend.

I found that I equally love snowboarding the Tahoe mountaintops, and swimming the warm Gulf of Mexico.

I found that I am interested in becoming a pilot.

I found that my interests outweigh my current resources… and this spurs me to continue living and loving with abundance.

I found that the gray, overcast sky makes me sleepy, and the sun helps me to thrive.

I found that I LOVE rich coffee, good wine, and fresh healthy food.

I found that if I had to choose, I choose to live in the city. The energy is vibrant and contagious.

I found new eyes with which to see my hometown and the way life is lived there.

I found that kindness can take you far.

I found that when the chips are down, good people will come through for me and I will rise to the occasion, no matter what.

I found that humans are humans. All of us have some good and some bad. Having boundaries is equally important to loving others well.

I found I am able to put myself out there and reap the benefits of vulnerability.

I found that love endures, and living unafraid is the way for me.

I found that I am unashamed.

So, go!

Go and find all of the things you’re not looking for.

What I would tell my twenty-year-old self:

1. Beware of the many young boys disguising themselves as grown men. Their disguise may be extravagant; fancy cars, expensive homes, smooth words. These boys will be experts in many things, but sacrifice, selflessness and perseverance will likely not be in their repertoire.

2. Many will desire you. Some will value you. Your positive spirit is attractive. It is your responsibility to discern between the people who are infatuated with the idea of you, and the ones who treasure your soul. Many will want you for what you can offer them. A select few will value your being as a whole. Guard your heart.

3. Listen to your intuition when it does not trust a person or situation. Be selective in who you choose to surround yourself with. Their norms will eventually become yours and before you know it, this is what your soul will identify as familiar and you will be self-sabotaging your life with the very people you chose to see on the daily.

4. Rise above the pack mentality. Seek advice from trusted sources. You do not need to be in the company of others to be fulfilled. Choose wellness. Choose activities that cultivate joy and peace. Honor the lessons you’ve learned by doing it differently next time.

5. You are responsible for your own happiness. You are the creator of your baseline. In triumph and defeat, no one else has the ability to control your response. Choose a partner who supports you in success and failure and who will not abandon you, or worse yet, destroy what you are building. But should this happen, choose the path of love and healing. Rebuild as many times as necessary. Grow. Love. Endure. Love yourself well and you will set the bar for how your lover will love you.

6. Ask for discernment and wisdom, and selectively choose your path. Ultimately, you must live with the consequences of your decisions. Do not choose based on rebellion or conformity according to external influence. Let go of shame. We are all doing the best we can, based on our own experiences. Many will claim to know the answers one way or another and you will come to find that we are all just humans, doing our best to interpret the information we’ve gathered through our own experience in a specific context. Do not burden yourself with the wisdom of a single person. No matter how wise, it is just a single person. Communication is often troublesome. Seek wellness and wisdom and do not leave a wake of destruction for others to clean up after you.

7. Don’t take yourself too seriously. While you strive to grow and learn, remember that you are one blink in the vast span of time. All of humanity is experiencing their own trials, rising and falling. Do the best you can while maintaining a joyful disposition.

Defiance

defiance

noun

  1. open or bold resistance to or disregard for authority or to any opposing force
  2. a challenging attitude or behavior

 

I have been harboring a spirit of defiance for quite sometime. The realization of its existence and intensity in my life recently came to light. It was a quiet, gentle unveiling. I attribute the peaceful discovery to space created by silent meditation. The irony was after meditating I felt slightly unsettled, as my mind did not seem to ever reach a point of stillness. Then the following morning, a peaceful clarity of honest self-awareness appeared, accompanied by a decision to put the spirit of unrighteous defiance to rest.

This spirit in me has been manifesting itself through personal relationships and other general social interactions. Like that of many wires coming from a computer tower connecting to the power source, I began following this spirit back through time, attempting to locate the source to identify where this began and when exactly it became so out of hand.

I have always been strong, and bold in terms of standing up for what is right. I did not care if others agreed or if it was “popular” to hold my perspective. At some point, (likely in my teenage years), I began using this strength to my personal advantage, to fight, for not only things that were righteous, but also for anything I wanted, felt, or thought at the present moment.

Intelligence combined with stubborn boldness allowed me to plow through any conversation with anyone. I was not compelled to keep a relationship/job position if I didn’t want to because I know how to also be kind, joyful, and hard working. Defiance is the shadow-side of my bold personality. While there are moments that stand out clearly as my strong personality blessing others; doing or saying something on behalf of another person who cannot do or say it for his or herself; there are also moments that I have used this attribute for my own selfish desires, or rebellion.

Part of my defiance began when I realized that religion was at times being misused to oppress, control and instill fear in people. I disagree with this fear-based method of compelling people to conform so I began questioning many things, out loud, and eventually got to the point where I trusted very few and disregarded most insight offered by another. I take responsibility for surrounding myself with people who were untrustworthy. I have reached a crossroads in that regard.

Rebellion also flourished in me when authority figures tried to exert power “because they said so”. This highly offended my intelligence and I felt quite insulted as I believed I deserved the respect of some involvement of certain decisions that directly affected me.

Defiance naturally flourished considering the nature of my, outgoing personality attracting many types of people to “befriend” me. I can join a room and get along with just about anyone. This was a blessing and a curse. Many people enjoy me for who I am, and many more enjoy me for who I can be for them. By not distinguishing this difference earlier in life, I exposed myself to the users and abusers, manipulators and danger. Defiance became a survival mechanism; a coping skill.

As I heal from the bumps and bruises life has brought along the way, I realize that I am in a safe place that I have worked very hard to come to. I am not forced to hang out with unhealthy people. With maturity comes self-control, respect for others, and connectedness with healthy, valuable habits. I no longer need to rebel against ‘the other’ because I am becoming more of myself. My genuine, authentic self; the ‘me’ God had in mind. As I continue to grow into my best self, I see miracles everyday and appreciate wonder in all things. I fill my time with the things and relationships that make me better and the striving ceases. Good night rebellious defiance. I am safe, your work here is done.

Operation Allergy-Meds

So as you know by now, I have a very loving pit bull who has been my baby her whole life. I found her litter in a newspaper ad (yes, like a real newspaper – olden-days style) and bought her for $100! Best $100 I’ve ever spent. And I would gladly pay ten times more to keep her; well, actually, I pretty much have! She was 7 weeks old when I brought her home and will be turning 9 years old in May. For the past 8+ years it has been an unending guessing game of trying to keep her away from allergens. She is allergic to so many things, and if she isn’t now, you better believe she will be later…. yep, she develops allergies to things, including her food. I am constantly trying to stay ahead of the curve by selecting foods with few by-products and rotating the main ingredients in her food. So far Lamb and Rice is what we end back at quite often and it seems to suit her system.

A few weeks ago we went hiking in Malibu and after returning home I noticed my pup scratching a lot. So I took a closer look, sure enough, fleas! Ew!! I can’t even remember the last time she had fleas. So I immediately gave her a bath and flea treatment. A week later I gave her another bath to make sure they were all gone and to help soothe her skin. It has now been another full week and she is STILL itching! There are no fleas, I cleaned my house completely, and I cannot figure out what the problem is. Who knows, she could be allergic to her shampoo, the flea medication, or maybe her skin is just still inflamed and is taking forever to heal. Either way – it was time to try and get the girl some relief! We walked to the local pharmacy to find some anti-itch/allergy meds. I got home only to realize I got children’s benadryl SYRUP. I’ve tried this one before (the last time I mistakenly bought syrup for her allergic reaction to something ELSE) and she will not eat ANYTHING with that nasty syrup. So we went back to the pharmacy early this morning before work and I correctly purchased the capsules. Now to figure out what to put them in so she’ll eat them. I stared at my bare pantry, and realized I had no bread or processed food that would be safe for her. I am lactose intolerant, so I was hoping my roommate had some cheese I could steal – nope. So I made a batch of scrambled eggs and a pot of quinoa. 2 trips to the store plus a cooked meal later, I stirred the ingredients together and added fake-butter hoping she would take this medication for her own good! She hesitated when seeing the quinoa, and then, in for the rescue came my roommates dog – crowding mine as she ate – so she hurried, scarfing down the food to be sure her dog-roomie doesn’t get any. Mission accomplished! Hopefully this helps my little miserable pup.

Love vs. fear

My philosophy summed up: do not live in fear. I have come to pay attention when making daily decisions… is this decision being made from a place of fear or a place of faith/empowerment? Transitioning to LA, I have been able to practice this often as I make many important (and some less important) decisions for my life. Am I accepting this position because I am afraid of not having money? Or not having another opportunity? Am I afraid of exploring new areas? There are countless reasons one could be afraid and make a decision based upon that fear. I attempt to be intentional about not giving fear power over my life. I choose to believe in Love, and what is good. I believe that I am His beloved, and upon me His favor rests. I choose to work hard and have faith in the right things coming along for me in the right timing. Why do I believe this? Good question. I suppose because I believe that I am loved and I have seen lives changed when others believe in love and learn to love themselves. I also believe that there is only one Truth. So if Love is truth, anything other than that is an illusion cast by doubt and fear.

As I have been getting really good at empowered decision making in many areas of my life, I realized today that I still am operating out of fear when it comes to one major aspect of life.

Love.

Ironic isn’t it? I am this champion of the power of love, preaching high and low about the power of love and loving oneself and yet, I still am afraid of romantic love. Granted, if you’ve been following my blog, you will know that I went through an intense breach of trust recently, so I do keep that in mind and I believe time is still bringing me healing from that. So overall I am not too hard on myself when it comes to this. Regardless of past experience, I believe in the beauty of true love. And to me that doesn’t fall in a box of “marriage” or a “life long relationship”. I don’t know the timespan or title, or that there is just one. Love can be a few seconds in one’s day to a lifelong commitment, from childhood til death.

Ultimately, love is a decision. It’s a decision each person makes many times per day, everyday, for the entire relationship. It’s a decision to not abandon your partner by committing an act that will sabotage the life you are working to build together. It is a mutual respect and adoration for the person; you give 100% of your energy and resources to help them be fulfilled in their purpose, and they do the same for you – not out of obligation, but because when you truly love someone sacrificing doesn’t feel like a loss, and even if it does, it is worth it because you are so sold out for that person and have their best interest at heart. The key to this is it is mutual, and each person is each bringing their very best to the table. Balance is key. Maintaing balance over a lifetime is what brings about the adventure. :)