Tag Archives: hope

Remembering

This morning I randomly decided to watch the music video for one of my favorite songs. Little did I know it would bring me to tears.

If you haven’t watched it, you may be surprised. Check it out:

It is so easy to forget. To compartmentalize in order to move on. To push your past into deep, dark corners of mental closets – safe from the light. It’s surprisingly easy, with time. Things you think you’ll never forget, never recover from, never erase from your memory… you simply do.

You would be surprised what time can do to erase your pain – this is both a blessing and a curse.

Coping requires some level of moving on. But learning, growing, changing, and channeling requires remembering.

This video shocked me back into memories I haven’t touched in forever. I held them in my mind and turned them over with fascinated repulsion as I watched it, felt it, relived it… a relentless montage in my head of the most devastating and debilitating experiences of my life.

I remember that animal-like fear. The absolute terror and pain and the mind-blowing disconnect between deeply loving someone and feeling and receiving what I did from them. I remember the intense physical effects of harsh words and threats and raised hands. I remember that indescribable feeling of being trapped, and alone. I remember the vivid nightmare of my days and the panic of restless nights. The deepest forms of betrayal. Confusion, terror, self-loathing, shame, hatred, insecurity, depression, and anger… all wrapped up into one shriveling life form that was ME. Me: deconstructed, devolving, destroyed. I was dying inside. Hidden from light and love and hope and community.

And I left. I left, I started over. I grew, I lived, I was reborn. I evolved. I strengthened. I stood up, hoped, smiled, connected, and was free. Am free. Am all of these things, and more.

In the midst of my freedom… in the midst of the intense joy I feel in living, loving, hoping, dreaming, connecting, thriving… I must not forget my pain. My pain is what brought me here. My pain is what deepened me, developed my soul, created my empathy for the world and for everyone who has been there, and who is still there.

I’m anxiously awaiting the day when I can get the IDECIDE program off the ground. When I can again connect with a community of oppressed souls and help walk them into the light of freedom – away from this pain and confusion and fear. When I can reach out and touch the abused and the destroyed and the defeated with everything I have to offer from the other side of pain. I cannot wait to begin this mission and to spend the rest of my life pursuing touching as many lives as I can. I cannot wait to give back – to find the balance between living free, and remembering pain.

I have so much to do. I do not want to forget.

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The Importance of Being Earnest

If you haven’t seen the iconic “Importance of Being Earnest” movie, it’s a fluffy, cute romantic comedy starring some fan favorites. You can check it out here. The movie is based on a book by Oscar Wilde, and stars two men pretending to be something they are not… and remembering this film sparked some thoughts for me today.

Our culture is increasingly driven by two powerful “I” words: Ignorance and Image. It feeds off of those who can pretend to be what they are not, and those who believe them. Problem? I think so.

This generation is more belabored by bull shit than any previous generation. We’re surrounded by photoshopping, inflation, exaggeration, comparison, greed, and lies. We’re inundated with it. We live and breathe it.. and most likely as a result, we think it.

When you’re constantly exposed to small amounts of toxic chemicals, they can kill you. In the same way, the constant barrage from a culture based on things that are FAKE (Image) can promote similar tendencies in our own behavior if we are not keen to ascertain them (Ignorance).

Some people are clearly and maliciously fake. They pretend (and pretend very well) to be something or someone they are not. To want things they don’t want, to be what they think you want them to be for whatever end they are serving. Others of us, like myself, may slip into these habits from ignorance – from a lack of alertness to this common cultural bias toward being fake.

I see this in how I present myself to people. I may cater my words, retract a perspective, suggest something that is slightly untrue but not entirely false in order to gain approval or commendation. I may not do this maliciously, or often, but I may still do it. When I do it – or when I catch myself doing it – I hate it. I hate everything about it.

I’m from the old-school society that things that your value depends heavily on how much Integrity you have – another “I” word that is a million times more powerful than Ignorance and Image. When you have integrity to what you believe, who you are, what you stand for – and additionally, to the good and respect of others… you can do amazing things, and you can live with yourself.

It’s so easy to cave to this culture, to forget that we so quickly cater to the people around us in small ways. It’s so easy to let your guard down and be what someone wants you to be because you love them or because you simply want them to like you. But it is so, so detrimental to your character, and your relationships.

This can play out in some odd ways you might not expect. Someone asked me once if I regretted anything from my relationship with my ex-husband. I had to think about it pretty heavily. I finally realized I did have one regret – I regretted lying to him for years. Sound appalling? It is, but it was more subtle than you think.

These were lies of omission – of omitting how I really felt and thought about things. How I felt about him yelling at me, about porn affecting our relationship. How I felt about never seeing him, never getting time together. About his hours and hours on the computer and me crawling into bed alone every night. About sexuality when he wanted it, but only when he did… and always when he did, and how he wanted it. I lied about who I was by not saying how I felt. By not standing up for myself. By not being honest when things hurt me. By the time I did, he was genuinely shocked that I remembered every single hurt, abuse, and neglect. Every single malicious word. Every put-down. Every time I paid for his bad days. I remembered Every. Single. One.

My dear friend Josh was the unfortunate beast of burden right after I left my ex and drove in the middle of the night many hours away. He had to listen as I poured my heart out, brokenly, about finally leaving. About fear and pain and loss and hurt. We talked about a lot of things and he called me out when I said that my ex forgetting every little thing about me every day – likes and dislikes and holidays and birthdays and anniversaries – never hurt me. He said “when did the romantic Jen die? You know, it is okay to be a woman.” I burst into tears.

Have you ever heard the phrase “We accept the love we believe we deserve?” Neither had I until this year. But that is so damn true.

The more you lie to yourself, the more you omit things in your relationships, the less you say when things hurt, when they break you down – the less you listen to your gut instincts, the less you are honest with others about who you are, what you want, and where you’re headed – the more you cater and cave and conform… the more you will find yourself playing right into a culture of Ignorance and Image.

You’re losing your Integrity.

The little things that bother you. The repeated hurtful words. The distance or the disregard. Those things will destroy you – they will destroy your relationships if you do not speak up.

Have the integrity to operate outside of a culture of lies. Be earnestly, completely, fully yourself. Fully honest with yourself, and with others. If you do love someone and you do care about them, be honest now. Speak up now. Be real – NOW. Before it is too late and one day you break, and you’re real and raw with them and everything falls apart because it was based on lies.

The truth will either make your relationship stronger, or it will break you apart – and if the truth breaks you apart, you never would have made it. Wouldn’t you rather know now?

Be honest with yourself. Be honest with others.

Be real, and true, and raw with the world.

Be you.

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The Low-Down on Living Life with Passion

Today is a rest day for me, so while my body woke me up at 5:02 a.m. to get my cardio in and I tried to tell it otherwise, I’m up and ready for the day with a few minutes to spare… and holy SHITTAKE MUSHROOMS that is a rarity these days!

Most of you can relate to the insane hustle and bustle of the race to simply survive these days. I work over 40 hour weeks, sometimes 13 hour days every day, have a two year old, am looking to move to the West Coast soon –  so applying for jobs and getting packed up – and am in school full time my senior year (at 26… hey, at least I’m finishing my degree!). I’m always burnt out. Add to this the stress and specificity of competition training for a national show next year, and you have one tired, decrepit, worn out, burnt out, dragging-my-ass-everywhere momma.

EVERYONE has stressors in their life and EVERYONE feels, at some point, “like butter scraped over too much bread” (thank you Jeeves and Wooster for that one).

Despite all of that, people constantly ask me “How do you live so passionately”?

Part of the reason, without a doubt, is that I spent almost a decade of my life chronically ill and fighting to simply function. Add moderate health and remission to that, and you certainly have a “joi de vivre”, because you know what life is like without normalcy.

HOWEVER, almost two years into remission now, that feeling is easy to forget. So what sustains my zest for life amidst the daily grind, the rat race, the draining hamster wheel of life?

A few, specific things keep me going. Check ’em out:

1. Keep Learning

I firmly believe you are never too old to find something new that interests you. Shop around! Try stumbleupon.com, or luminosity.com, or play a game of freerice.com and trip your brain cells into a little fresh action.

2. Stay Curious

My grandfather once told me “the moment you lose your curiosity for life, you stop living”. This man was learning new things in his seventies: he mastered cooking and french at an old age, because he had an insatiable curiosity for the unknown. Pique your curiosity in new ways, daily. Never stop asking “why?”.

3. Explore

The older we get, the more we risk living in a bubble. Hell, I did this at 18! Don’t get stuck. Find ways to get out of your comfort zone, off your cushion, and explore the world.

4. Make New Friends

This sounds the cheesiest, most gossip-girls-y point of them all, but the truth is, when we stagnate in relationships, we begin to lose our joy for life. Much of what you love and how you fuel passion is through relationships with people who are different from you. Find people you DON’T agree with, but can respect, and nurture those relationships.

5. Don’t Let Experience Rob you of Joy

The most important point of them all, in my opinion. I’ve long found that experience is the greatest teacher, but also the most embittering and disillusioning part of life if you let it be so. If, however, you take your experiences, and you recognize that true character and passion come from within, you will fight to stay strong in your uniqueness, learning, exploration, curiosity, friendships, and you will keep your passion. The more you fight to know yourself, and what you are capable of, the more you will fuel that fire.

“Do not let the world make you hard.

Do not let the pain make you hate.

Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.

Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree,

You still believe it to be a beautiful place”.

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Evolution of Self

Evolution of Self

I woke up today, and I went to brush my teeth… and as melodramatic as it may seem, I stopped, and I looked in the mirror. And I saw myself, for the first time in a long, long time.

I saw a woman who is a fucking fighter, who never gives up and who champions her own dreams when no one else will.

I saw a mother who has scraped together a living for her and her son, who refuses to live in fear and torment of tomorrow’s worries by delighting in today and working her ass off without complaining.

I saw a daughter and sister who revels in the beauty of her family’s unconditional love and support.

I saw a friend who is honest, straightforward, no bull shit, true to herself, and puts others first on the reg.

I saw a girl, who was so lost, so hopeless, so empty, so without self-awareness, or knowledge of her own beauty and inner strength and potential… I thought I saw her, and then she was gone. She is gone. I don’t see her anymore.

Now I see me. I see resilience, tenacity, faith, courage, relentless confidence in the promises that tomorrow brings.

This is not boasting. This is beautiful, powerful self-awareness that has come through MUCH pain, trial, hardship, counseling, and a never-ever-ever-give-up mentality. It has come through acknowledging aloud every struggle and downfall and steep climb. Through empowering others and learning wisdom and deriving strength from coming alongside them.

I see beauty. I am beautiful. I don’t know why, and I am not full of myself, but I am. I am beautiful. I genuinely see it.

I see strength. I have an emotional strength that is unbeknownst to many, but that everyone is capable of achieving. I am so. Strong. I have survived SO much. I am a champion.

I see love. I love others selflessly, without looking for what I can get from them. I treat others well even when I am mistreated. That is real love.

I see intuition. A woman who FINALLY goes with her gut and listens to herself and does not apologize for it. Those gut decisions have never steered me wrong.

I see faith. Tested faith. Confidence in the promise that I will never walk alone, no matter how alone I feel.

I see integrity. Someone who is true to who they are when the world thrives on duplicity and secrecy. Someone who is straight up and confident but open-minded.

I see potential. So. Much. Potential. Mentally, emotionally, and physically. Who I am today I was not, or did not see, a few months ago, or over 9 months ago when I walked out that door and drove, sobbing, begging strangers for money for gas, to West Chester, PA, where I stayed in my old boss’ attic for 2 days with my son before I moved home to my parents’ house. I did not know then, what I was capable of, who I am.

I have so far to go. So much to learn. So much to do, so many people to help and inspire and lift up, so many to be inspired BY.

But I see ME. I see her. That WOMAN. In the mirror… and I love who she is, and all she is becoming.

What an incredibly powerful feeling. I have to share this quote again:

“You can be the most beautiful person in the world and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but if you yourself don’t know it, all of that doesn’t even matter. Every second that you spend on doubting your worth, every moment that you use to criticize yourself; is a second of your life wasted, is a moment of your life thrown away. It’s not like you have forever, so don’t waste any of your seconds, don’t throw even one of your moments away.”
― C. JoyBell C.

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Beauty

Beauty

I shed tears tonight for the first time in a while.

Not for anything recent, but for the self-revelation of these last eight months or more; the deep, abasing knowledge that I gave so much of myself to someone who debilitated my heart over the course of many harsh words, criticisms, and pain, like acid, dripping on a ruby red stone.

When I left, I was still in a daze. For about a month I rode the high of freedom and the conceptual reality that I could spread my wings. Shortly after, I realized I was still chained to the ground, emotionally and mentally and in some ways physically; a prisoner of the past and of enabled allowances for degradation of self.

I began to realize that I had allowed my integrity to myself to be swallowed up in the all-consuming desire to make someone else happy; to conform to their reality, their opinion, their ever-changing versions of temporal happiness and pleasure. I lost myself, in being someone else, for someone I never asked to change for me.

The damages of this extend through to today. I am growing in confidence, there is a smile in my eyes. There is a person – and actually many persons – in my life who show me what it means to be seen, trusted, respected, acknowledged, affirmed, valued, and I am daily more aware of the deep worth I bring to the world, and to others.

Yet amidst this there is a conflict of self-analysis: a fear of acknowledging beauty or desirability, a constant, nagging thought that nothing good will last, that I deserve nothing so good as what is being given to me: that joy is only transient. There is a deep war between wisdom, learned from pain and struggle, and fear, also learned from the same.

Daily, I attempt to sacrifice fear on the alter of hope. Sometimes I win, sometimes I do not.

One very screwed-up way that fear manifests itself in my mind right now is an unwillingness to admit to any physical beauty – I think because I gave myself so completely to someone who informed me that I was no longer desirable or noticeable to them, I downgraded my self-perspective so that I could make sense of that type of pain.

People may tell me all they like, but I go in and out of seeing what others seem to see so clearly. This is no attempt to fish for compliments, because they are regularly given, but until I acknowledge it myself, accept it myself, understand it myself, remember myself that I am beautiful, it will not truly resonate.

I often wonder how to get there.

Grief is a journey, and a journey you cannot rush. I grieve the loss of my innocence, of my integrity for several years, of my stability in some ways emotional and mental. I am determined to reacquire all I had, and beyond, but fear sidelines courage on a regular basis.

I have learned to surrender to the ebb and tide of emotion. These days, it is far less violent and the waters of my tempestuous thoughts are regularly more still as glass. Slowly, surely, daily, the chaos of my life is unmatched on a mental level: I find myself retreating from the insanity into the peace and self-awareness I find in my own heart, rather than fleeing to the busy chaos of my world to escape the upheaval of my mind.

Much progress has been made, but much more is to come.

Say what you may, time is the truest healer. There is no band aid for what has been done to me, for what I accepted and endured. No quick fix, no easy button. Time will heal my wounds if I simply keep pressing on. Time will help me to learn, believe, and accept that I am beautiful, inside and out. Time will show me value beyond what I even knew I had before all of this pain.

I don’t believe in regrets, because we choose to learn from our experiences. There is much value in my life I would not recognize were it not for the pain I went through. However, if I could speak one thing to my younger self, or to anyone in a jealous, controlling, fear-dominated, volatile relationship where they are conforming to someone else’s desires for them, someone else’s picture of what they should be, it would be this:

let go. Now. Don’t do it. Stop. Run, flee, turn, escape. Never, ever, ever, change who you know yourself to be; never sacrifice your integrity on the alter of false emotion, great sex, a desire for companionship, fear of being alone. Never, ever, ever back down from your sense of who you are to make someone happy. Stand your ground, or pay the price. Compromise of character is a surrender of everything that will truly sustain you in the long run.

Do you know who you are? Find it. Acknowledge it. Refine it. Accept it.

Do not change it.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
― Mary Oliver

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Time

Toss a pebble of sorrow

Into an ocean of memories

Salty with tears

Ripples of unfulfilled promise

Waves of emotion
Crashing on the shores

Of bitter sand; grains of beautiful shells

Once homes to cherished jewels
Laughter, friendship, and hope.

Gaze on the shoreline
A mellow moment of history’s introspection
Reflection of shimmering sun’s rays of joy
Darkened by clouds of shattered dreams
Tempests of self destruction
Helpless at the helm.

Listen to the wind whisper stories past
Vivid imprints of the footprints of a soul
Ghostly shadows of haunted dreams
Frustrations brightened by threads of past beauty
Clipped, snipped, broken, a tapestry undone
A landscape unpainted
A story, with no final chapter
A neverending storm with an eerie final calm.
 
Sink into sands of time
Memories slipping through fingers
Coarse, real, tangible, present
Shifting, falling, moving, passing
Eroded dunes of opportunity
Withheld but barely by thin roots of seagrass
Clinging desperately to a past heavy with companionship.
 
Hear the albatross cry hope
Over the siren’s song of the past
Horizons bright with promise
After blood red setting sun
Captain’s pride
Destiny’s wake
Strong oars
Weathered hands
Bright sails
Steady wind

Tomorrow’s promise.

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Redemption

Life has been a wild ride

Of broken, faltering merry go round
Horses, wooden

Up and down;
Splinters of bygone pain,

Blistering skin,
Callouses, rainy

Storms and tempests wearing thin

Faith in the real

Truest forms of friendship:

The relationships which seal

Longevity with integrity and slip

A thread of hope

Through walls constructed for safety

Guarding hearts; rope
And steel, woven thick

From time and hurt

To keep out tricks,
Lies, false promises, the worst

Betrayals of love and truth.

That tendril curl, a vine
Twisting green, alive, promising
Thriving, growing, twining
From roots deep, shining
Sun’s rays from souls
Tenacious, unfaltering, beautiful
Made stronger with time and full
Knowledge of self;
Of value, of needs, of the world.

Dreams once shelved,
Dusted, cracked open, unfurling
Promises; tomes of wisdom,
Beauty, amidst unforgotten pain,
The surest confidence of future to come
Bright with honest gain,
Seen largely from contrast:

Diamonds of present company

More brilliant against mistakes of the past.

 

 

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The Classic Cop-out: “Everything Happens for a Reason”

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Recently I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with someone who is not only intelligent and funny, but also takes the time to think deeply on things and to challenge me (another way of saying “call me on my bull shit”). I was quite surprised to find myself challenged by this person the other day on a phrase I regularly toss around: “Everything Happens for a Reason”.

In my arrogance, I’ve always considered this altruistic phrase to be a by-product of my character development from circumstances I’ve been through. To me, it was a way of saying that good can come from the worst situations; it’s all about how you use it, what you take from it.

However, just because that is the nuance I cling to does not mean that it carries that weight and inference with others. As my friend pointed out, it’s really a dumbass saying: “Everything Happens for a Reason” is honestly stating the obvious.

No shit, Sherlock. Everything happens for a reason… even science alone tells us that. Chain reaction theory, causal events…

like, duh.

This was one of those slapped-in-the-face-with-a-wet-noodle-step-back-catch-your-breath moments for me. (You’ve never had those?)

I use this phrase with EVERYONE and didn’t realize how condescending and stupid it sounded until I was called on it.

Here’s how this phrase effectively holds ZERO water, and since I like a full, honest, deep life vs. fluff and bull shit, it’s worth looking into:

1. “Everything Happens for a Reason” implies a lack of control over our actions, choices, words, and thoughts.

“It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll;

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my   soul.”

-William Ernest Henley

No matter your view on God or fate (I believe in free will), there has to be some acknowledgement of the weight of influence over your own future by the choices you make today. The truth is, we have the ability to choose, always. It is perhaps the most powerful thing about humankind: our ability to reason, and to choose. I tell this to clients all the time: today is all about choices. Every day is about choices. Who will you be today? What will you do? In the end, it’s not me that will motivate someone to get in shape or to take ownership over their eating habits: they are 100% in control. They. Choose.

In the same way, the choices you make every day influence your character, your future, and what you take from your past. Even your thoughts are choices. When we abdicate control over our thoughts, we may find ourselves shipwrecked on the rocks of the demons of our past.

2. “Everything Happens for a Reason” robs our future of its joys.

If you adopt a fatalistic stance toward your choices and the power you actually possess to make something of yourself, your relationships, and the world around you, you rob your future of joy. You drift through life as a byproduct of fatalistic and inconsequential reality, another puppet on the stage of a broken drama. In this instance, the concept of “Everything Happens for a Reason” becomes a cage. You are trapped by your inability to influence your present and your future.

As we just saw in the previous point, this is not so. Therefore, rather than abdicate responsibility over our choices and the influence we have in a very powerful way, we must consciously both accept and acknowledge and act upon the power we possess over our future.

Doing this brings a heavy weight of responsibility, yes, but it also brings a carefree confidence if our character is sound. We acknowledge the power we have, we choose to use it to make sound choices, and we reap the consequences of doing so. We can CHOOSE happiness, joy, faith, beauty, nature, holistic thought patterns, and we benefit from doing so.

(Note: one of the most powerful ways to choose joy in the present is to remove the influence of others who bring only negativity and pain to your life. THIS IS NOT SELFISH. This is wise, and it’s something I’ve learned to do.)

3. “Everything Happens for a Reason” is an asshole thing to say to anyone.

Yea, I went pretty informal on that one^^. But it’s true! I feel absolutely terrible for every time I said that to someone. In every instance, someone had hopes, dreams, beliefs, something that was totally destroyed in some way. I hate preachy people, and by saying that, I became one of them. Was it my intent? No. But I said it, and I sounded like a jerk for doing so. Essentially, you’re saying “Well, there it is. It happened. Too bad.”

What I MEANT was that not only do you have power over your choices, you have power over the negative things that happen to you that are out of your control because you can choose to take from them what you will. You can choose bitterness and anger toward someone who has wronged you, or you can choose to learn a lesson and to move forward and leave the past behind. They only have as much power as you choose to give them.

While all of this was my intent, it’s not what comes across. If I liked a guy and he broke up with me and said that to me, I would want to slap him… and yet I’ve said this to dudes when I wasn’t interested. Ouch. My bad. Public apology extended.

One way I deny my ex power over my present is to avoid taking the low road with him. Do I speak honestly about what happened? Yes. Do I share his name, trash his character in an intimate way, talk to his friends (most of whom I chose to have no contact with for this reason after I left), steal from him, chew him out, lash out at him, etc.? No. Those actions degrade ME. They show weakness of character in ME, and they give him power over my PRESENT and FUTURE by allowing past situations with him to continue to effect me. I will not give that to him, and I choose to take control over my present and take the high road by not doing so. Anyone who gets off on the pain they inflict on another human being, even if “deserved” has no integrity of character. Don’t do it. Move forward.

4. “Everything Happens for a Reason” is an inadequate way to wrestle with pain.

If you say this or hear this and leave it there, you haven’t dealt with whatever hurt you that you’re trying to justify.

Personally, I don’t just say this; I’ve wrestled, wrestled, wrestled with things that have happened to me. Many, many, many painful things in the last 8 years. But not everyone does this, and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes, there is no justifiable reason for the pain that was inflicted on me, and I can’t understand that. I can’t cope with it. So I stonewall my emotion by throwing this up as a safeguard, when in fact it is a cop-out. Grief is a process. If you run, it will find you… and a fatalistic saying in an altruistic disguise is a terrible way of coping.

 

I could go on, but this post is getting long. Essentially, it’s a fucked up phrase. I won’t be using it anymore. It’s become a part of my vocabulary, and now if I start to say it, it carries a shock value because it’s stupid, empty, worthless, selfish, and unhelpful.

No more cop-out for me.

Today I acknowledge that I am powerful.

That I have value.

That I deserve good, and beautiful things.

That I can make something of myself, of my relationships.

That I can choose, today

to be

do

think

desire

and demand

the best of things, a beautiful inheritance, a depth of character and insight, a passionate concern for the wellbeing of others, a love for all things beautiful and real, integrity to myself; who I am, what I want, and all I am capable of.

Let us say instead Everything I Choose to Be, I Will Become.

Acknowledge your own power with confidence today, and lay both hands on the helm.

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xoxoxo

-sportyspice

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A poem. A River Runs From Them. Inspired by Jill Andrews’ “Always Be Sorry”

The deepest of duplicitous loves
Cause for tempests of doubt
Only the passion
Sustained in a vicious cycle
Of fear and distrust.
The greatest betrayals of belief
In a black hole of forgiveness
Transgressions disappearing
Into mercy
Extended once, twice too many times.
A small existence
Narrowed daily by broken confidence
Empty kisses
False promises
Embittered by betrayal of self
Soul sacrifices on an alter of commitment.
A past empty of companionship
A future shattered by fear
Broken glass on a dashboard of dreams.
Wounds so deep
A river runs from them
Memories of moments
Clinging to the dark corners of the mind.
Empty hands
Calloused heart
Virgin hopes robbed of their romance
Life of its sunshine.

Bitter darkness broken
By the sweet siren’s song;
Music, the poetry of the soul
Piercing through the marrow of pain
A thread of hope in the darkness of unforgotten misery.

[thank you to those who have recently revived a passionate interest in one of the greatest loves and the constant salvation of my life… music]

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The Souls that Save Us

The Souls that Save Us

I’ve wanted to write a post for a while about the people in our lives; the constants, the ones that weave in and out, and the transient relationships which play a small yet powerful role in the process of our evolution of character and personhood.

Before I begin, here’s one. You should follow this man. Rarely am I hooked enough by someone’s transparency and writing style to read through the entirety of a post. Want to be inspired, encouraged, uplifted? Check him out:

https://badmuzz.wordpress.com/

There are many people whom I have crossed paths with over the years. I have learned something from each of them. I moved at least 8 (if not more) times in the past few years, and have come across some interesting characters. I have had people encourage, exhort, affirm, build me up; I have had others tear me down, use me, abuse me, mistreat me. I have had those people in my life who simply shine with the radiance of tested character, and the people whose presence is so negative that the room seems to darken when they enter.

Everyone is a part of your journey.

I tell people often that the reason I am not aggressively seeking a relationship, nor am a clingy, obsessive person, is because I have learned many life lessons about a word I overuse but love: transience; the very unquestionable reality of the brevity of existence, of relationships, of materialistic things, and of life. Everything is passing, waning; a breath away from moving on.

7 years of chronic Lyme disease taught me to hold things loosely: to treat them with care, to invest fully where I am (Jim Elliot: “wherever you are, be all there”), and to value what I have been given; but to keep open hands. What I cling to becomes my foundation, and shifts with the sand; the only thing that will endure is my God, and my own character.

I learned to treat my tomorrows without guarantee, to treasure the good people in my life and to remember that nothing given should be taken for granted. I love these lessons; I wouldn’t trade them for 7 years of perfect health and the return on all of the moments I missed as a chronically ill individual during that time frame.

Enter relationships: I feel I may be one of the few people that desires something lasting and beautiful but readily accepts that if something ends, and I have acted with integrity to myself and to the other person, it is because that part of my journey is over, and it is time to move on. Relationships are not an end-all. Make a relationship your everything, make someone your world, and you forget that you really should be with someone who helps you DISCOVER the world, discover yourself. It’s a partnership focused on life and learning: relationships are not an end. They are the means to the greatest end: discovery of self, of the world, and of God.

This also allows me to treat men (and women) like human beings: people I can learn from, hopefully mutually strengthen, encourage. I find my greatest validation in the benefit and impact I am able to somehow have on others. Men are not objects, either for sexual gratification or for “marriage prospecting”. They are people, and many have contributed to my life in powerful and healthy ways.

I have learned more in the last six months of pain and soul-rendering than I have my entire life about myself, others, and the world. Would I wish this on others? No. Would I trade it for ignorance, uncertainty, insecurity of self and less depth of relationship with God? Absolutely not.

Life can bring its worst. I am ready for it. This has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the unwavering assurance that “when all else slips away, He then is all my hope and stay”. In addition, it has to do with the powerful presence of courageous souls in my life who have paved a way for me, lifted me, carried me, tirelessly loved me… unconditionally so.

I have “Hope Anchors the Soul” tattooed on my right hip, from my favorite verse in Hebrews which says “We have this hope as a SURE and STEADFAST anchor of the soul; that Christ has gone before us on our behalf”. The same is true of the souls that have strengthened mine: iron sharpening iron, men and women teaching me about the depth and the brevity of life.

Thank you to the beautiful souls that have many times saved this one.

Dad: thank you for showing me what real love looks like. What a man should be for a woman, what a father should be to his daughters. I knew what my husband was not, because I know what he should be from your example.

Mom: thank you for your beautiful spirit. You empower others constantly and are the single most selfless person I’ve ever met. You never gave up your identity as a person, so you stand out as a mother who knows and values herself but also loved and pours herself into her family.

Liz: thank you for your ceaseless thirst for knowledge and your incredible capacity for pain. You fight onward when the world and your health are against you. You are my personal hero.

Katie: thank you for speaking truth with courage. Even when we don’t agree, you are the most truth-focused, honest person I know. You say it like it is, but you mean it from a heart of love.

Gran-jan: you are feminist through and through. But you deeply loved Paw-paw. You taught me to stand up for myself and my goals, and to follow-through, among many other valuable lessons. I love continuing to learn from you.

Paw-paw: you have gone before, but I remember you daily. I tell people all the time that you taught me this incredible lesson: “Never lose your curiosity for life; the moment you do, you stop living”.

Josh: thank you for the incredible, deep appreciation you have for women as a gender. Sounds odd, but you do. You cherish your lady friends, you treat them like gold. Thank you for being the first person to tolerate buckets of tears after I left. Thank you for reminding me that being feminine is not weakness.

Max: thank you for being a constant friend. We didn’t date, and we are both glad we didn’t – ha. You value me so much as a person that you want nothing else from me. This is rare, and beautiful. You approach the world with so much enthusiasm. I love it.

Cory: where did you come from? One of the best men I know. Your character and confidence shine as you continue to grow as a man… you are unashamedly you, but humbly so. God has used you powerfully in my life and continues to do so.

Katie D: you are fiercely loyal. I love you for it! You’re a champion of other peoples’ goals. That’s a precious thing. You fought for me when I couldn’t stand up for myself.

Jess, Charisa, Em, Sam, Jordan: you always have my back, and I hardly know you. You all face your own struggles but take the time to affirm me and reassure me of my own value when my past sneaks up and trips up my confidence.

Kenny, Bill: gifts I hardly deserve, purely from hearts of kindness, from people I haven’t even met. Amazing.

Christina, Brittany, Kevin: taking me in like family. Resilient, confident, beautiful people and amazing personalities.

Joe C: kicking butt, going for your goals, steering me gently during a really painful time. You and your family played a crucial role.

There are a million more, I need to stop.

Thank you all. Every single name brings to mind something about you, some way you’ve contributed to my life.

I am a blessed, blessed girl.

Cheers to the bright future. Look for the souls that save you, and take your lessons to heart.

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