Learning to Leap.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw

There have been major developments in my life in the last two months. Exciting, scary, expansive, hopeful, challenging changes.

Finally.

For a very long time now I had been in search of something. What that was I couldn’t quite place my finger on, but I knew it had to start with change. Still, I couldn’t figure out what to change, how to go about seeking it out and then how to implement it into life as I knew it.

Then, the election happened. And don’t worry, I’m not going on a political rant here. I will simply say the outcome of the presidential election shifted something in me. I was angry. I felt fearful. I felt excluded. I felt betrayed. But mostly I knew I wasn’t doing enough.

I happened upon the Pantsuit Nation movement on Facebook, and I finally felt the ground moving underneath me. While our action based group name has changed (we are now Action Together NJ), our motives and drive have only amplified. And I’ve found myself included in something wildly progressive, inclusive, energized, and motivating.

By putting myself out there and making a few connections, which seemed like nothing special at the start, I’ve now become part of something so much larger than myself. I am heading up my county’s group. I have already put together one successful meeting, two newsletters, and my partner and I are about to embark on some local grassroots efforts to affect change in our community.

The spark I longed to feel has been lit.

I spent so many years advocating from the sidelines, behind a computer screen, in conversation, but I felt too timid and alone to join in the real, nitty gritty work. Until now.

This all happened by chance. I am completely inexperienced. I am truly learning as I go along. Yet I feel incredibly excited to be in a position to bring people together for a good cause. As an introvert I have always done my best to shift responsibility onto others. I was happy to follow along and be told what to do. Now I find myself actually wanting to step into a role of leadership. It may be on such a small scale but it isn’t a responsibility I take lightly.

I’ve said it’s a shame it took this election, at the age of nearly 33, to force me out of my comfort zone and into action. But maybe it had to happen this way. Maybe this was what I needed, to finally feel enraged enough to use my voice to work tirelessly for change. For once I feel enthusiastic about the future and about change, change I hope to take part in making.

My professional life is also about to take a sharp turn in a completely different and unknown direction. One of my nearest and dearest friends approached me with an offer to work side by side with her as her personal assistant. It took no real convincing on her part as I was in desperate need of change.

I had been feeling pretty flat professionally. I would grasp at straws hoping something would pull me up but every single idea fizzled out. It hurt to feel directionless. It was dizzying not knowing where my life was heading or even in which direction I wanted it to go. All I knew, with extreme conviction, was something had to change.

When she approached me, it felt like a breath of fresh air. It’s completely new territory for both of us, but we believe with our deep commitment to each other, professionally and personally, we can make this a prosperous opportunity for one another.

To be able to work for and with someone who values me, who understands me, who respects me and who genuinely wants to see me succeed is going to be life altering in itself. I haven’t ever had someone advocating for my growth, and I know this is going to change me in more ways than I can even imagine.

On top of those grand perks, the flexibility to be able to care for the girls more, the lack of stress, the fun and laughter that is sure to ensue, how could I turn down an opportunity like this?

I can’t.

It was really that easy to decide. So with the support of my family and my friends I am taking this leap. I am letting go of any fears popping up questioning just how this will play out (trust me, they are frequent). I am letting go of the fear of the unknown, of the constant need for control, and the panic over learning something new.

The opportunity to expand my area of experience and learn so much more about the behind the scenes of running a business (which I have always dreamt of doing myself) will no doubt be invaluable.

I have always believed everything happens for a reason. For this friend to come back into my life when she did, for us to reconnect deeply, and to be offered something as life changing as this, it strengthens my belief.

So, 2017, I’m coming for you!

Life Lately: Letting It Out.


I had a good cry the other morning. It isn’t something I do often. I don’t handle vulnerability well. But I couldn’t hold it in, couldn’t hold it together. I walked out of Reilly’s school and it all came pouring out of me.

Life with two kids is more challenging than joyful on some days. I am not one to put on airs about parenting. I love raising two wildly different girls, but there are days I wish I could hide in a closet for a little bit in an effort to preserve my sanity.

All families have their own set of challenges, and we sure are not short on those around here. Everyday it seems we are learning something new as we navigate these waters. Each child has their own strong willed personality, their own special needs, and both require nearly constant attention during waking hours.

I constantly feel pulled in every direction but forward. I constantly feel as though I am falling behind in my own life in an effort to always be present in theirs. And I constantly feel like I am falling short in providing for them what they need emotionally.

To me, there is no sacrifice too great for those girls. Things I may want to do for myself pale in comparison to the mutual joy of spending time doing what they want to do. I may not get to go out for dinner, go to the gym, or even pee alone, but as long as they are happy in that moment it’s worth it.

As independent as these girls are they still yearn to be noticed at all times. They need constant security that we are going to be there for them, and obviously I see it more in Reilly as she is getting older. She wants so badly to grow up and make her own decisions, and we are working on negotiating the latter, yet she needs to feel the security of having one of us nearby.

At times it’s difficult for me, as an introvert, to constantly provide what they need emotionally. I cherish my alone time. I recharge by settling into the comfort silence brings and, needless to say, that is hard to come by these days. It can feel daunting and draining to fill up their cups without adequately refilling my own.

I constantly fear being authentic in my own emotionality will cause negative repercussions in their behaviors and their sense of security. I worry that by sometimes showing my own negative, human emotions I will cause this negative ripple effect that will somehow shatter them from the inside out.

How do I find balance in that? How can I express myself, and teach these kids to always express their wide range of emotions, without making them feel less loved, less cared for or less secure?

In recent months we have taken action in helping Reilly learn to better express herself, to manage her emotions in a healthy manner, and doing so without compromising who she is innately. It’s tricky territory and all very new. And it forces me to face more of my own emotions and how they cause me to react in relation to hers.

I have my own struggles with vulnerability and verbally expressing myself. For so long I would shut down, shut out the world, and go about my business stone cold. I can’t do that now that I have children to take into account. The old ways have no place here, and so I have my own growing and expanding and expressing to do.

How does one do that though? Well, I’ve started by being a lot more honest, with myself and with others. Stuffing down how I feel about someone else or a certain situation does not serve anyone well. It creates unnecessary strain on the relationship and adds to my already accruing amount of stress.

I’ve learned to buck up and say the things that are hard to say. In the past I have had a tendency to ignore or keep quiet in an effort to not hurt other people but I knew deep down I was only adding to the problem. So I started opening my mouth. Respectfully, of course.

I have started to weed out who and what isn’t serving my life in a positive way as well as what I am no longer serving. I say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ a lot more, and I mean it each and every time. I am no longer interested in giving into what other people want from me. And this is most definitely a lesson I am trying to teach Reilly at a young age. I don’t want her to ever feel pressured to conform to other people’s expectations. I did it for far too long, and it hasn’t ever gotten me anywhere.

My writing has also expanded over the last nearly 600 consecutive days during which I have written at least 750 words each and everyday (see: 750words.com). It went from just wanting to write more and more consistently to venting, to digging, to expanding, and creating. I have used it as a tool for growth. I have used it as a means to express myself. I have used it as a means to hold myself accountable for my actions and feelings.

So much good has come out of my writing. I have dug deep into my subconscious and I’ve dragged out to the surface so much that has been repressed over my lifetime. It has been and continues to be a transformative experience for me each and every time I sit down to write.

Which leads me to expression. I encourage Reilly to use her words, to use her emotion cards we made together, to let it all out but in a way that is healing and productive. It’s a tall order for a seven year old. She has already had to deal with so much in her short life. I can completely understand her frustrations and outbursts. They are justified.

But they are not healthy. They are not the best way in which to ‘let it all out.’ I want her to learn that, yeah it’s ok sometimes to scream and cry and throw a fit. That should not be her go-to method of expression though. It isn’t constructive. It won’t help her to work through her feelings. She then becomes a slave to her emotions instead of being in control of them.

So how do I work with her to make sure she feels more in control and understood?

Well, I like to think of myself as fairly progressive when it comes to self care and self expression. I may not have mastered it but I have sure done my fair share of research with plenty of life experience to back me up.

I know what it’s like to feel erratic and misunderstood. I know what it’s like to feel as though there is an overwhelming amount of emotions swirling through my head. But I also know it’s possible to regain control of how I react to the world around me. I don’t, however, know how to teach that to a child.

I read plenty. I ask the right people. But that only goes so far because children are by no means cookie cutter. What works for some doesn’t work for others. What professionals suggest doesn’t always work. It’s a cat and mouse game. You win some, you lose some.

I won’t ever give up trying. I know I will never be a perfect parent. I will never be the parent I envision myself to be when I close my eyes and breathe in deeply. That is something I work daily to make peace with. It is another bullet point on my never ending to-do list.

This is all part of my human experience though. And while at times in writing this it doesn’t feel as cohesive as I want it to, I want to convey to other parents and caregivers that not a single one of us has this figured out.

We are all doing it right and doing it wrong at times. It’s ok to be a little messy and scatterbrained and not know what day of the week it is. It’s ok to be a jumble of emotions. Because we are all human. And we are doing the best we can.

So let’s cut ourselves a little more slack. Let’s offer up a tired yet genuine smile to one another. Let’s have each other’s backs. And let’s vow to always forgive ourselves and wake up the next day with a little more love in our hearts, for ourselves and our kids.

No Excuses November.

I will freely admit that I am very much like other working parents. Your entire world revolves around your little one(s) and not much time is left over for yourself.

Your health, your goals, your dreams and your hobbies start to slide farther and farther down the ladder as you prioritize your littles over yourself. By the time the kids are fed, homework is done, teeth are brushed, and they are down for the count there just doesn’t seem to be enough time left for yourself before having to do it all over again. Raise your hand if you’re with me!

Not everyone is like this, of course, but I tend to think there are plenty of people out there who can relate.

Our situation here varies from the ‘norm’ and changed dramatically at the end of Spring, when we went from a family of three to a family of four. As the weeks and months have passed, I have fallen farther and farther behind the kids in what needs to be tended to everyday. I haven’t been taking care of myself well enough, and the longer I’ve allowed it to continue the worse I’ve felt.

Truthfully it happened because I continued to make excuses. There weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. There wasn’t enough help in order to accomplish one task or another. I didn’t have enough money or my energy reserves had bottomed out. I didn’t have enough willpower. It wouldn’t make a difference anyway. I fed myself so many lies and got so far away from myself.

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I think I kind of needed this period of change though. I have spent so many years living fairly rigidly so to have let go for a while has taught me some valuable lessons. Now I am ready to sort of wipe the slate clean and step outside of my comfort zone in order to start achieving great things.

As October started inching to a close I felt the pull to put the wheels into motion. After a little bit of brainstorming I decided to do my own No Excuses November challenge in order to give myself a good kick in the pants.

What does No Excuses mean to me?

It means doing the dirty work. It means showing up everyday. It means doing things that are uncomfortable, doing things that feel impossible, doing things that will get me closer to that next place I’m supposed to arrive at. It means asking for what I want. It means standing up for myself. It means not allowing life to happen to me but for me. It means not making excuses for poor behavior and taking responsibility for my actions. More living out of intention instead of habit. It means fighting for what I want even if at times I’m fighting myself. It means sacrifice, sweat, and maybe even some tears.

I’m not even quite sure I could put my finger on what changed, on any one thing that lit the fuse. I think it’s been everything over the last several months piling up and finally I feel ready let it all go. I feel more ready to take back control of my life, continue making positive changes, and put the past to rest.

In no particular order, some of my intentions this month are:

  • Practice more patience.
  • Eat more for health than pleasure.
  • Cook more, with and without the little one.
  • Finish one book.
  • Work on being Kris a little bit more and not always Kiki (myself vs my parent self).
  • Deepen my connection with my small circle.
  • Keep an open mind to new experiences.
  • Begin to pave a more fulfilling path for the future.
  • Ditch fear.
  • Move my body more.

These are all general ideas that I’ll define more and more along the way in order to figure out what is realistic and works best for me. I’m not looking for quick fixes. I’m not looking to impress anyone. I want to finally feel good in my own skin, and I want to feel at home in my own life.

Because when I am better for me I am better for everyone else, especially the little ones.

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Feel free to join along with me! I would love to hear what some of your excuses are and how you plan to turn things around.

 

Checking In.

If I had to pinpoint one of my weak points it would be consistency. I have so many ideas and plans, and typically I am full speed ahead right out the gate. Until life starts to interfere, other plans and ideas and responsibilities pile on, and I get farther and farther away.

That is exactly how I feel about my little blogging space. I want to nurture it and water it and watch it grow. I have this intense desire to connect, and writing has always been my preferred method of doing just that.

But then I start to doubt myself and what it is I have to say. Who really wants to read what I have to say?

So I start trying to plot out all of these ideas and what I could write about. And sometimes what I come up with feels so authentic and I have this urgency to get it out. When push comes to shove though I get stage freight. Is that really the best way I can say it all? Does this encompass everything I want to convey?

I become paralyzed by my perfectionism.

 It’s a frustrating cycle and one I am working hard to finally break free from. I have been doing a lot more meaningful writing every single morning, before the sun rises, before the littles rise, before the day can get its hands on me. And I think so much more is starting to come up to the surface. I think I am finally ready to share more of myself with a little slice of the world. Consistently.
 
So… hello.
I’ll be back soon.
xx

Falling Down.

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The mind is an amazing thing. One day you feel so full of hope, optimistic, like you’re making headway. And then the next you wake up feeling out of sorts, feeling ill at ease in your own body, and having no idea what happened in those few short hours between falling asleep and rising.

This is life with depression.

While I may not hide my struggles, I don’t wear them like a badge of honor. I can be open to a point about the weight I carry around but I try to remain detached from it. I don’t want to feel it. I don’t want to wear it. I don’t want to be defined by it. It’s part of who I am but it’s not my whole story.

There are plenty of people who don’t understand it and plenty more who don’t even try. And this is why I tend to hide. It’s far easier to tuck myself away than to give into vulnerability. There are so many people lacking in basic compassion and in my state of being I don’t have the patience to explain it.

This is life with depression.

It isn’t always about a specific reason either. Depression doesn’t need a reason. And it sure as hell isn’t about anyone else but me. Can I not claim one thing in my life as my own?

There are circumstances beyond my control, and yes they lend themselves to the weight on my shoulders at the moment. So much of my life has been spent resisting, attempting to control that which is outside of my control. I made decisions long ago in order to be able to carry on my life in the way I wanted, and to have that compromised is a huge blow. My life is no longer about me, as selfish as that may sound, and it is an extremely hard pill to swallow.

I want my life back.

I don’t open up about this for attention. God knows that is the farthest thing from my mind at all times. I don’t want to be treated differently or like a fragile little bird. I want to be treated like a human being, maybe cared for a little extra in time of need, and always with love.

So if you don’t understand depression, if you can’t comprehend why I am the way I am, simply take the time to listen. Both to what I say and what I don’t.

I will always do my best to believe in tomorrow. And it would sure be nice if others believed in me.

xx

Is This All There Is?

Over the last several months of making more time and space for myself I’ve started to confront some very real concerns about my future.

I have been put in some less than desirable situations involuntarily and others, well… I dove head first into those messes. While I’ve moved on from and let go of a few things that were no longer serving me, I still have a long way to go before I’m able to look around and say,”I’m good here.”

I have a steady job which generally I like. But it doesn’t challenge me. It doesn’t push me to learn, to better myself, to believe I am capable of greatness. I have a few good friends, and they are lovely. But none I can look up to, none too ambitious, none pushing me to let go of fear and embrace all possibility.

And so I started wondering, is this all there is?

From a young age I believed in my heart I was different, and I believed I was special. I was determined to make something of myself, for myself. Success was my driving force. I knew I was smart. I knew I was creative. I just needed a focus.

The focus has come and gone in so many ways. None of which I’ve been able to cling to long enough. The years jaded me, aged me, and started to kill off my long held beliefs that I could do and be anything I wanted. I’ve gone so far into survival mode that anything other than is merely a blip on the radar.

So where do I go from here?

The future scares me. Losing my ability to learn scares me. Not being able to provide for myself or Reilly terrifies me. Some days the fear is so overwhelming I literally feel like I’m choking and cannot breathe.

Yet I soldier on.

Deep down I still know I am destined for more, far more than this. I am more than the hustling 9 to 5 grind. I am more than this environment. I am more than being someone’s secret. I am more than other people’s mistakes. I am more than my fears.

And there is so much more than this.

It all awaits me, as long as I stay in the driver’s seat.

Who Am I?

I think there comes a time in nearly everyone’s life when they start to question “Who am I?” And not in a vague, superficial way. But really and truly “Who am I? What is my purpose here? Where do my passions lie? What am I contributing?

There may be a point where you’re so sure of where you’re at. You think to yourself this is it!, this is what I was put here for. Then sometimes that world collapses around you like a broken jigsaw puzzle, and although you scramble to put back the pieces in some semblance of what you once thought you knew to be true, your efforts are fruitless. The ideal you once believed in is gone. Blown away in a gust of wind. And there you stand, back at the beginning asking, “Who am I?

There have definitely been times in my life, in the past few years, when I felt so sure I was on the right path, that what I was doing was “it,” I was finally on my way. But life had other plans for me. Threw more than a few curveballs at me. Knocked me on my ass more times than I can count. And when I finally got up I was staring out into a void. Asking myself, “Who am I?

Sure, I could rattle off a list of who I might describe myself as: I am a daughter, an aunt, a sister, a friend, sometimes a lover, I am an office worker, I am blonde, I am a recovering anorexic, I am a book lover and an aspiring writer. But those are all merely ways in which to describe my human experience. Who am I really, as the observer?

I want to live my life rich with experience and moments, with joy, love, heartache, anger, and connection. I want each moment to pass through me, without clinging to it, in order to be able to remain present and alive.

Ultimately I want to rest my head at night knowing I gave back, that I did my best, that I was grateful for every minute and what it brought to me. I don’t want to live ego driven. I want to be lead by my heart and with pure intentions.

I’m just not sure how.

Where does this road begin?

Moving On..

(written yesterday – Sunday, July 10th)

Today is my last at Brick Fitness, and I have to admit I feel far more happiness than sadness over this ending. My time here has considerably dropped over the last two months, but the decision to leave had been festering inside of me for months before. I kept talking about it and thinking about it, trying to figure out a way to make it work. Deep down I knew my heart was no longer in being here and it was time. It was beyond time.

Of course losing a source of income sucks, no matter how little it may be. It is one less thing to have to fall back on. A little bit of security has been tossed away. When I think of what I stand to gain, though, I’m soothed.

Having just a little more time to myself and to spend with my family is priceless. There is no amount of money worth missing out on quality time spent living and connecting. I have missed out on doing plenty because of my work schedule over the last two years, so to be free of the restriction feels great as well. It’s the cherry on top.

Saying goodbye to some of the regulars and my coworkers was a little sad but also heart warming. I have connected with so many wonderful, sweet, and inspiring women over the last two years. To know my time spent greeting and conversing with those lovely ladies has come to an end is absolutely tugging at my heart strings. They wished me so well and I know they meant it. I didn’t want to create a big fuss and advertise I would be leaving my post here behind the desk. But for those who knew and sent me off with such kind words, well wishes, and big love, I am so appreciative.

So tomorrow after job #1 I will simply go home to my family. And next weekend I will not have to set an alarm. And all will be well with the world. Life will roll on, and I will make it work. Whatever comes next will come eventually. In the meantime I am looking forward to just being.

At the start of this new year (and age) I told myself this would be the year I stopped resisting. It would be the year I went with the flow more, I discovered a little more of myself, I laid the hang ups to rest, and I learned to move on. I don’t necessarily feel any closer to having accomplished any of that and here we are nearly six and a half months in! I like to think making this decision has filled in one piece of the puzzle. I can check it off my list, and move onto the next.

My life has changed so drastically in the last month and a half. My priorities have shifted. My core has been shaken. My faith in humanity has been tested. My will to fight has most certainly been put to the test. But if there is one thing unshakable inside of me it is honoring my truth. Knowing when to listen to my intuition on matter how scary it may seem in the moment and how uncertain it may make the future. When it is time to act in accordance with my inner guidance I can’t ignore it. I have to act. And so I did.

I have made plenty of happy memories in this place (well, both locations!). We have had a storm of laughter together. We have spent cranky hours trying to lighten the mood in the middle of the night (gotta love Black Friday specials!). I put myself through schooling thanks to having the downtime during my shift to do homework. I made some wonderful friends. I learned a lot about myself, and about women and women connecting with other women. I’ve drank wine and margaritas on shift. I’ve seen some darling children come through the doors, and I have watched countless transformations in others. This place has given me so much more than a paycheck or a place to workout. It created a shift inside of me, one I didn’t realize outright until just now.

It will be sad to walk out that door one last time (with the key getting stuck thanks to the humidity I’m sure haha). But I am going home. I am going to create a little more space in my life for myself. I am giving myself exactly what I need in the here and now. And there is no greater gift to the self than that.

Trying Times.

No one can truly understand what it is I am going through. I don’t fault anyone for that. My situation is pretty far outside the ‘norm.’ I get it.

I’ve been put in a situation in which I never wanted to find myself. A situation I worked so hard to avoid. And yet here I am.

I couldn’t imagine going back. I couldn’t imagine being in a different life than mine, no matter how hard I may wish on stars. This is my life now. It is the only life I have come to know. In all of its grotesque twists and turns, I have become uncomfortably comfortable. This is my norm.

Then there are all the minute details of this life, details I work so hard to – again – avoid and yet they are so far out of my control. I should mention I don’t like not being in control of my life. After all, it is this feeling that led me down the dark path of anorexia. A hell I somehow survived.

But can I survive this?

Time ticks on. The days fly by. The calendar changes before I have even had a chance to register what day it is.

Life keep rolling on. All the while I feel as though I am standing still. In the eye of a tornado, simply watching, marveling, at the outside world spinning on around me uncontrollably. I’m waiting for the dust to settle.

It begins to pick up speed.

And there are two little lives inside. Neither of which are mine. These precious little lives strewn about. I feel incapable, unprepared, unfit to hold. Yet here I hold.

I often wonder when this life of mine will truly be my own again. To dictate. To write. To live.