July 20, 2018

But first, savor.

I often let things get me down.

Personal struggles.

Relationships.

Anxieties.

And lately, the state of the world.

Recently, I found myself in a sort of depressive "slump" wherein I was wrestling with each of these continually. They invaded every thought I had and every action I took. I could no longer brush them aside and busy myself with a day's work. Rather the opposite in fact. I found myself unable to do even simple tasks. One day in particular was so bad that I could not will myself out of bed. It was all consuming.

The slump was deep but I practiced self-care. I went to my therapist. I journaled. I was proactively mindful during the day. I listened to calming music. I gave myself extra space and grace. I wrote down affirmations. I indulged in things that brought me joy.

And if you follow us on Instagram, you'll know that I went on an impulsive streak and got two new tattoos.  Little by little, I felt the fog lift. I could still see and feel everything surrounding me, but none were dictating my journey.  At times, my slump was deep and dark. And while I did arrive at the other side of it, I arrived a changed woman. For that, I am actually very grateful. In the darkness you see, I discovered (and re-discovered) things that made my life brighter. Lighter. Happier.
I learned to focus on my breath. Silly? Perhaps. But stop... right now. Don't change your breathe. Focus on it. Each is special. Each is a gift. Each can never be repeated or reclaimed. Ever. There is 
.deep power in knowing that...in remembering it

I learned that life gives us respite. In fact, each day has a built in period of rest. We can toil all day, but the sun eventually relents. So too should our anxieties. Give them a break. You can pick them back up in the morning. But each night, lay them aside.

I remembered that I cannot pour from an empty cup. I cannot be the wife, mother, friend, employee or volunteer people deserve unless I fill my own cup. I need to attend to this task with care and 
.reverence. So should you

I learned that I accomplish more if I focus on less. Spreading yourself thin -- even just mentally -- diminishes your overall effectiveness.

I remembered how much I love my life. It is easy to get caught up in wanting more or wanting different. But when I stop and look around me, I remember that everything was carefully selected by 
.me or for me. It is already perfection

I remembered the power of small pleasures. Each is more than a moment -- they are tangential reminders of a life well led.

I learned that self-discovery does not end in your teens or 20's. The ability to surprise yourself is just 
.as stunning and exhilarating as always

I learned that acceptance is not the waving of a white flag. Rather, it is merely acknowledging the path before you so that you can see the briars instead of becoming ensnared by them.

I learned that Force ultimately fails one way or another. It's counterpart Flow however, is merciful 
.and generous in her own time

I remembered that less is more in most aspects of life. Brushing aside the unnecessary leaves you more space to enjoy the needed.

I learned that life is best when it is lived. Not wished away. Not muddled over. Not fussed about. It is 
.best when you dive into each day with one mission: to experience it

I learned what it felt like to truly savor something. Not to just acknowledge it, but to drink it in so deeply that it almost hurts. To have a laugh or gesture truly radiate within you. Truly savoring something allows you to recall it with such specificity and strength that you almost transport back into a moment or memory. True savoring is magic. We should all try it more.

Yes, my fog has lifted. Trudging through it was not pleasant but it was profound. I cannot and will not declare that it shall never happen again. I do know with certainty however, that if it does, I will be better prepared for my journey. And even better, I now find myself equipped with magic I had either long forgotten or which had been unknown to me before entirely. I cling to this magic now. Not out of fear. Not out of obligation. But because it is merely, life after the fog. 

June 25, 2018

Flow; Not Force

Life is a puzzle. But we are too close to the pieces of our own puzzle to know what it truly looks like to others. I sometimes sit back and imagine what people see when they see mine.

I want them to look at my life and see, a hard-working mom. A caring wife. A community activist.
I want them to see my love for others. My devotion to living a life of meaning and kindness.
I want them to see someone who loves to laugh.
I want them to look at me and see someone worthy of everything she has been handed.
Someone who tries to enjoy it but also, someone who actively tries to pass some of it along.

But I am sometimes unsure if that's what people truly see.
Because often, that's not really who I am.
I am a mom who sometimes goes to the office only because I know it will pay my mortgage and mean someone else will watch my child long enough for me to drink a cup of tea before it goes cold.
I am a wife who isn't always grateful or kind to my partner. I sometimes resent him.
I am a community activist who often finds it draining and overwhelming. I sometimes just want to give it all up and live in blissful ignorance.
I am someone who sometimes loathes. And sometimes the loathing of certain people or things overwhelms me and brings me to dark places.
I am someone who occasionally wants to cry for no good reason at all.
I am someone who isn't worthy of even a quarter of the things life has handed to me and still, I often find myself asking for more. Asking life to give me even more things I do not deserve.
I am someone who likes to receive and sadly, someone who is constantly comparing and coveting.

That puzzle isn't pretty. And I physically shutter when I think about others discovering it.
I don't want people to see it. But is that who I am?

It isn't. At least, not always. You see, these two sides of me are not constant. I ebb and flow between them. Sometimes, I remain in one longer but ultimately something snaps me back to the other.  When I feel the less desirable qualities coming through, it is like I can see my puzzle change. I see the darkness and the ugly seep into the pretty picture I've portrayed.

So I spend considerable time and energy focusing on maintaining the "good" side of myself.
I try forcing myself to be a cheerful giver when my desires are to the contrary.
I try smiling when I want to cry.
I try selling myself as a wonder-parent when the one thing I'm actually wondering is how quickly bedtime will come.
I try not to long for more than I have. I try not to indulge in things I do not need.

At first, this forcing feels good. It feels like my puzzle looks brighter -- prettier. That feedback encourages me to keeping forcing it. So I do.
But in time, the forcing starts to hurt. It creates this tangible pain inside of me. I can feel the pressure of it rise up within my chest. It boils. It threatens to bubble over.

It is not sustainable.

I think I'm starting to learn that the ebb and flow of life (even with the bad) beats a forced one.
I think I'm starting to learn that I can be both. My puzzle isn't wholly beautiful nor is it wholly ugly.
My pieces may never even fit together and I'm starting to be okay with that in ways I have never been before. I catch myself reaching for pieces only to remember they are not for me. So I decide to stop.
Someone else can have that. Someone else can be that.

Maybe your puzzle is wonderful through and through.
Mine isn't.

Mine, like me, is comprised of messy, complicated things and emotions.
Mine, like me, is beautiful to some and less desirable to others.
Just like me, my puzzle is complicated. And I'm starting to be okay if the world sees that in me.
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