A Big Life Lie

It always amazes me when I feel drawn to something and it winds up breaking through a part of me I didn’t know was in need.

Listening to Elizabeth Gilbert on “The Good Life Project” podcast hit that spot for me. She usually does. In this episode, actually at the very end, she was asked what it means to live a good life. She explains we are already Love. We don’t have to live this big spectacular life or have this ever elusive ‘purpose’ for us to be worthy of being here. Just by being here, wherever we are individually, we are worthy. The world would not be as it is if we were not here. And to hear that on this day, when I needed it most but didn’t know it, her words brought tears to my eyes.

For as far back as I can remember, there was this underlying feeling that I was meant to do something meaningful with my life. I’m not entirely sure what or possibly who planted that seed. But most of my twenties were spent chasing something without ever having a grip on what it was exactly. There was this innate sense of ‘knowing’ that seemed to drag me every which way and was never quite within reach.

I thought I found it when I went into massage therapy school. This sense of it being ‘right’ washed over me. I thought I had finally figured it out. Until something started to feel unsettled inside me. There was this mental battering of ‘there’s more!’, if only I would believe in myself enough to try. But now I’m not so sure.

Maybe this is the best it gets. Maybe, despite having long believed myself to be something great and worthy of doing big things, I’m meant for a small life. Because truthfully I never felt I was something great and I never felt worthy of anything good. It always seemed as if I could have had the potential ‘if only…’

The cards always seemed to be stacked against me. Life always seemed to present another stumbling block just as soon as I began to pick up speed. None of it within my control. My imagination always too big for a girl with so little chance.

Recently I found myself lost in this TV show. It started giving me this false hope that there is always a fighting chance. There is always something more worth going after. The possibility of friendship and coexistence and passion and romance, it’s real. Until the lights go dim and the credits roll and I remember it’s all an illusion.

I miss that little bit of spark I used to have. I miss the excitement of dating and falling in love. The newness of it all. I miss the freedom in making my own decisions, getting up and going as I please. The potential. I’m not a risk taker, never was. But the limitless potential of a dream used to excite me. Now, my creativity in life and in expression has fallen flat.

And I think that is part of why this job is eating away at my spirit. It feels safe. It’s within the box. It’s fairly predictable and controlled. Each day is just enough the same. And that’s not the life I want to experience. It isn’t the way I want to move through this world and this one chance. I don’t want to live in black and white. That’s never been me.

That has never been me… until now.

I daydream about being a gypsy of sorts. Allowing life to flow through me. Welcoming what comes and releasing what’s ready to go. Living more whimsically. Finding a way and making it work. Never accepting finality. Worrying less and trusting more. Accepting who I am for all my nuances and idiosyncrasies instead of self diagnosing as flawed and worthless.

I don’t want to live a big life to the world. I want to live a bigger life than I’ve been lead to believe is possible for me.

I’m tired of always being practical and limited. Tired of being lost in suburban life and believing this is all there is. I miss creating. I miss dreaming in color. I miss being playful and letting go. I miss throwing out the rule book and living on my own terms.

Sometimes it does feel as though the barriers are self created. And sometimes it feels as though the walls may never come down. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop trying.

A True Test.

I’ve been sick for a week now. One illness layered upon another layered upon another. It’s forced me to slow down, like to a screeching halt, in an effort to preserve what little energy I have in order to heal my physical body.

A true test. I am so used to constantly being on the go. Work, kids, cooking, cleaning, working out, and all the mundane daily needs of the self and a family. Sleep never brings the reset I pray it will and by sun up it’s time to do it all over again.

Being unable to do much of anything sure gave me a lot of time to think though. Mostly about how my body got so damn sick. You see, I very very rarely come down with anything, even with two little ones in the house. Yet every few years I get knocked on my ass. I guess my good luck streak had run its course.

With the combination of all I’ve got, I know physically how it happened. Yet I tend to believe it goes beyond the body itself.

Lately I have been weighed down by an almost insurmountable amount of stress, depression, anxiety, doubt, and fear. It eats away at me. I cry a lot. My stomach is often in knots. I have been highly irritable. I can’t sleep through the night and what little sleep I do get is restless. I’ve withdrawn from a lot of people. My mind is constantly racing and trying to find a way ‘out’.

On top of all that, alcohol has become a close friend of mine, ‘to take the edge off’ I foolishly tell myself. I haven’t been fueling myself with the best food choices. I over caffeinate to make up for the lack of sleep. My workouts have been subpar. And my lack of confidence is growing with each passing day.

When I step outside of myself, I can see how all of these negative thoughts and actions are poisoning me. My immune system is being chipped away at each time I engage. It’s absolutely no wonder to me how I managed to get as sick as I did as quickly as I did.

I wholeheartedly believe all of these aspects of who we are and what we do, the things we think, the choices we make, they either elevate you or they bring intense bouts of suffering in some form. Unfortunately the emotional torment wasn’t enough thus manifesting a physical illness which would force me to face my reality.

The root of the matter is not unknown to me. It’s a truth I have been trying to hide from for weeks now. I made a decision in haste, knowing deep down the timing was not right yet feeling as though my hand was forced, and I am paying a high price.

What holds me back the most is the criticism I stand to face from everyone around me. I don’t think there are enough people in my orbit who are in tune with their intuition and allow it to guide the decisions they make, even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else. It has taken me many years and many more missteps to get here. Somehow though I am still allowing fear to take the wheel.

It reminds me of a quote about fear from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic:
“There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way… You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote.”

I aspire to live my life in this way. I am in dire need of a burst of creativity, a return to who I used to be. I’m not even sure how I lost her, or my magic, along the way. My guess is I have allowed fear to consume me and completely drive my life in a direction far off course. Sure there have been some trade offs in power along the way, but realistically I have played so close to the vest which is the exact opposite of how I wanted my life to be.

By this age I dreamt of freedom and far off places, books and wisdom…. a colorful life. One I curated out of love.

I don’t want to spend the remainder of my life, however long that may be, inside this bubble of safety and comfort. I don’t want to care if my life makes sense to anyone other than me. I don’t want to continue to allow fear to have a say.

I want to live a life fulfilled. I want to invite fear in as a friend. I want to mend these broken parts of me for good.

What Am I Doing Here?

Sit with it, they said. Let it move through you.

Feel it.

I haven’t had a drink in days. Self soothing with words instead.
There is no beauty in this madness.

Suffocating by candlelight.

Wondering, wondering.
Who am i?

Anxiety pulsates through my veins daily. Soulful torment crying out. Tears. Screaming. Uncontrollable near convulsions.
Waiting. Waiting for it to pass. To pass through me.

There is no connection to God here.

Less IS more.

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Living on less means many different things to me.

It means living without unnecessary extras. It means living without excess. It means eating in moderation and with the intention of fueling my body. It means not spending frivolously. It means less distractions.

But I also do not want nor intend to make this about ‘cutting things out.’ No, instead it’s about adding more of the good stuff in.

It means more time spent cooking healthy meals which I really enjoy. Not only does my food taste better and my body feel better after eating it, it’s a means of connection, to my body and the bodies of the little ones I’m looking after. It’s also relaxing and helps me de-stress. It means more love, time and attention to my family, my circle, my work, my self expression. It means more time to dream while I’m awake. It means more time to move and enrapture my body. It means more time to meditate and turn inwards but also more time to learn from others. It means more time to get outside, more time spent at play, and more time to rest when I need it. It truly means more of what matters most.

Growing up in a lower middle class single parent home meant we had to make do with what we had. My sisters and I didn’t always have the latest toys or the fanciest clothing. We went out to eat when it was ‘kids eat free’ night. We had to save for and earn the special stuff we wanted. But never did we feel we were going without. We lived in a loving, safe home, always had food on the table, had friends to play with and the freedom to roam around until dusk, and then we had a nice warm bed to sleep in at night.

Essentially where I’m at now is returning to those basics.

As an adult I haven’t ever been one for flashiness. I haven’t ever had a fancy car. I don’t wear designer clothing or buy a new wardrobe with the changing of the seasons. I’m not one for going out much, whether it be for dinner, drinks or a night on the town. The house isn’t overwhelmed by electronics or over the top decor. I was raised to live within my means and so I always have.

That’s not to say I don’t indulge from time to time. But it’s always been more about the experience or the company I’m with than how much I’m spending. I value time and connection more than I value materials.

I trip up though. I am human. Some days I worry more about how much I am making than the experience I am providing. I get stressed about doing all the things instead of doing a few each day and doing them well. Some mornings I feel rushed and impatient and lose my temper. But my aim is less of all of that. The goal is to enjoy the little moments before they are gone. To prioritize better and to lighten up (my Capricorn nature makes that hard!).

I don’t feel as though working toward ‘less’ means I am giving anything up. It isn’t deprivation. It isn’t misery. It isn’t lack. It’s a return to what matters. It is a heightened sense of joy. It’s far more of what lights me up, tickles me, makes me laugh, puts a smile on my face, and helps me sleep soundly at night. It’s more of feeling good – about myself, my family, my home, my career, the energy I am putting out into the world, the reality I am creating, the way in which I am raising my nieces, and the way I am showing up.

Returning to a more simplistic way of living is less taxing on my body, my mind, and my spirit. This is the path to knowing myself better. The path to healing old trauma. To getting really real with myself instead of masking problems or trying to shove them aside. This is my way of standing face to face with who I am and who I want to become.

Conscious.

Not what you do, but how you do what you do determines whether you are fulfilling your destiny. And how you do what you do is determined by your state of consciousness.

Each year for the last several years I’ve chosen one area of my life to focus on bettering. With one word ‘theme’ to sum it up. This year I chose my spirituality and only now, in September, did the path reveal itself to me – Consciousness.

I’ve been exploring and working to strengthen my spirituality by various means over the years. I’ve had an on/off yoga practice. I’ve tried meditation and breathing exercises. I pray more. I have rituals I feel help guide and cleanse me. And although my spirituality has grown, I still feel as though it isn’t deeply rooted enough. I dip my toes in these different practices but I am not faithful enough or consistent enough to rise to the next level.

For the last few weeks I have been vowing to step up my game. Being in the field in which I work, using my body for healing and comfort, I’ve begun to deplete my own resources at a rapid rate. I’m exhausted all the time. Each week a different area of my body aches. My eating habits are all over the place. I drink too much on weekends to “de-stress.” And I don’t incorporate more movement than is necessary into my daily repertoire.

Then yesterday I hit a breaking point.

I’d fallen right back into living on autopilot. Caring more on some days than on others. Giving more on some days than on others. And where has that gotten me? Exhausted. Frustrated. Giving in. Distracted. And most importantly, not any closer to fulfillment.

Conscious: adjective
aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.

This is how I want plan to shift my awareness. Toward consciousness. Toward being mindful. Toward being aware in each moment, in each situation, in each relationship, in each interaction, during each meal, with every step and every breath, and with every single thought that crosses my mind.

I realize how this will happen shifts from day to day. And not every day will I live up to my own expectations. After all, I am human. Realizing this serves to enhance my consciousness. What is important is I am making my best effort and showing up, for myself and for others, each and every day,

In order to live in alignment with my true calling – serving others – I have to be sure I am serving myself first though. A concept I long felt to be selfish. However, I’ve come to understand the importance of taking care of my whole being before I can give to others. To do that I absolutely must be good to myself. Forgiving. Loving. Nurturing.

Today that came in the form of alone time, cooking a big delicious breakfast, drinking lots of coffee, doing a little yoga, and giving so much love to my little ones. Doing better today means I can be even better tomorrow. And tomorrow, who knows how I will rise to the occasion. Just as long as I do.

I used to believe I had to punish myself in order to get ahead. I had to workout hard, eat less, suffer more. It’s unfortunate there are many people who still follow those rules. However, I’m no longer one of them.

Sitting here on this sunny Monday morning, aware of my own existence, sensations, thoughts, and surroundings. Living consciously. I feel really good.

Never Settle.

“Never settle” means something different to everyone.

For me, it means to never get comfortable. Never allow yourself to be resigned to certain situations and circumstances. Fight like hell for what you want but don’t be rigid about it. Don’t accept something simply because someone else says it is so.

For me, it means to work harder, go farther, stay hungry. It means to chase down dreams but don’t be foolish enough to pass up opportunities. Be open to detours. Because sometimes the things you want in life don’t come packaged the way you expect them to.

It also means don’t settle for something mediocre because it’s stable if it isn’t also exciting. Whether it be a job, a city, or a relationship. Never accept less than what you’re worth. Be confident but not cocky. Know when it’s necessary to compromise and when to stand your ground.

Never Settle means to know your worth – at all times. Know you are good enough, capable enough, smart enough, determined enough. Walk away from that which no longer serves you – people, relationships, jobs, workouts. Learn to tap into and trust your intuition.

Be weird. Be wild. Go on adventures or stay home. Love big. Love hard. Give love a chance. Try something new, even if you wind up hating it. Count life’s experiences not what’s in the bank. Dance more. Laugh more.

Live up to your own expectations.

Just please, don’t ever settle for anything less. Because you are worth everything.

Just a dream.

Your voice in my dream
Calling out
“Babe,”
You said
I looked around, unsure
But it was to me

Tonight I sleep
With tear stained cheeks
I’ll never know your call,
never know your touch,
never know your breath,
never know your love

I still long for you
long after you’ve left
I see you only in my memories