Love Thyself.

Who’s the most important love of your life? If you are looking outside of yourself, consider another point of view.

I’ve struggled to write this entry for weeks now. Was there an inciting incident? Yes. Isn’t there always? At first it seemed like an obvious but herculean thing, something that’s been lingering in my heart for a long time, and I had finally gathered some courage. I was finally gonna give it life, with no expectations, just the chance to speak my heart. It was on the tip of my tongue. I’m not good with these kinds of things. That kind of vulnerability renders me absolutely shaking, feeling completely naked in front of a person who’s capable of smashing my heart in their hands. My mouth, which often shoots off unbidden, is remarkably silent; glued shut.

So the moment came, and then…..

The moment left.

In the way that moments often do.

You see, I’d learned my lesson before. I’ve been burned. A lot. And I told myself I would NEVER let anyone have that kind of power over me ever again. But I think, when I made that vow to myself, I went too far the opposite direction and I shut off a part of myself and left her in the dark, in the guise of “being Strong”.  I’m mad at myself for letting that moment pass by. Disheartened that I lost my courage. Emotional because I was/am so close, and I just want what I want. I have so much gumption in every area of my life – but I struggle with love, abandonment and feeling like I am enough.  I have struggled with this challenge for the whole of my existence.  After the “Inciting Incident” I sat in Las Vegas, taking in a lovely view of lights, and planes making their approach to the airport, trying to get my heart together. To be perfectly candid, normally, I would go out and drink it away, and that thought had crossed my mind on this go around as well. Vegas is a perfect place to go hide behind smokescreens of excess.  But instead, after arriving that afternoon, I took a nap. I woke up in the early evening, and found myself settled in my room, cup of tea in hand and sitting in front of this screen, feeling raw as hell, trying to finally soothe my soul, once and for all. I started writing. I express myself so much better on a page. I had a whole entry done and lined up.  But it didn’t feel complete – it didn’t feel like I’d said all I wanted to say. So I waited and thought this out.

All of my life, the concepts of love have baffled me. I’ve talked about it in the context of romantic relationships and familial relationships. I’ve never tackled the topic in a singular focus – love of one’s self.  Did I have to learn how to define Love before I ventured into that territory?  Is Love, in fact, its very own language? Are there hidden pieces of love in what people say and do? Is it a tangible THING? Something we can hold tightly to our chests, or something better thrown out into the universe around us, without any kind of discernment as to who “deserves” it?

I realize that Love is a subconscious obsession of mine, but also something I’ve actively run from and withheld from myself.  I’ve only just owned up to it.  I’m an over-thinker so bear with me but……How do I earn love? How do I know how much is enough or if I need more? What are the signs of love? What kind of love is “appropriate” for each person?  Do I really know how to love? Am I loved? How do I get “that” kind of love. Why does love come easier to some as opposed to others? Why are there times that I try to deny that I love as much as I do, to the point that it causes me literal physical pain? What is it about humanity that makes us think we are not worthy of it? Why can’t we love ourselves the way we love some people around us? All I know, is that it has been this topic that has consumed my psyche for the whole of my life.  In some way shape or form. I’ve always felt that it’s the reason that we are put on this planet: To figure out what love is and how to do it.

How do we figure this all out? Author of The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman, posits that we all have a love language. His breaks down into five categories: physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and receiving gifts. So I took the quiz and learned my language, not at all surprised at the results, if I were to sit down and really analyze them. So that was a step in me recognizing how I view people “speak” to me in the language I determine is love. William Goldman, author of The Princess Bride, ventures to say that “As You Wish” actually means “I Love You”. How did Buttercup figure that out? Why did it take her so long? Because Westley kept doing any and all things she asked? Because he got mad and told her off and went and made eyes at a Countess, which sent Buttercup into a tumultuous fit of jealousy causing her finally see how she really felt about him? Was it some kind of game on his part to get her to finally throw herself at his feet so to speak, so that he would finally have his chance to come clean? (If you haven’t read the book, this is actually how it really happens, the movie just glosses over this beautiful moment of conflict in her, unfortunately)  In that same vein, another author echoes a similar sentiment:

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Love resides in song and poetry. Words from the heart that somehow capture the grief and simultaneous exultations of being in love.  Some of my favourite songwriters (Bryan Adams, Phil Collins, Thom Yorke and Peter Gabriel to name a few) have a sheer gift of talking about how we can reside in this space of conflicting emotion and come out more whole than when we went in. Bono of U2 writes ballads that speak of residing only in love, in any way, shape, or form we can, no matter the dysfunction, love is the only thing that will save us in the end, that love is all we have left. The Bible tells us that three things remain: Faith, Hope and Love and that the greatest of these things is Love. Love has been defined by the likes of Rilke, Lord Byron and Tennyson as the thing shared among a mentor/disciple, a secret admirer/object of affection, and knights/noblewomen of the court.  I’ve even Googled love. Seriously. (FYI, the definition is convoluted and not at all clear.) So I would venture to say, if you could figure out the love language of yourself, then feasibly, you could unlock the languages of your family or your friends, your significant other. You could find a way to tap into a hidden well of love and communication thus far unseen with them.

How do we determine what love is and where it comes from?  One might argue that if I cite my sources, I should be an expert of sorts on that. I have examples from parents, friends, family, I’ve been in a longterm relationship, I’ve been engaged. I’ve been broken up with. I’ve been left. I’ve been an object of affection. I’ve read all kinds of love stories, plays and novels. I watch deep, thought-provoking family dramas, finding love lost in time and space, films about unrequited love, films about love conquering all obstacles. I’ve been in love. Fallen out of love. Fell back in love. Loved my family even in dysfunction. Loved my cat that I had for sixteen years. Loved my horse that I grew up with into my thirties. Loved friends I’ve made along the way. Loved a thousand hobbies and experiences that I’ve had or have. I’ve listened to dozens of songs about true love, unrequited love, bad love, tragic love, passionate lustful love, and lukewarm love. I’ve nursed friends through break-ups and potential relationships, hookups and dry spells. For the longest time, I’ve known nothing and everything all at the same time. So to talk about love to others felt easier when it wasn’t about me. None of them were about me, so it was easy to stay “objective”. Hah. Well that’s backfiring on me now, isn’t it?

Time to face the music. How do all of these definitions fit into the most important relationship of all? I was finding myself SO frustrated that I haven’t attracted a loving mate into my life. What was it about me that I was putting out there that attracted men who only used me to feel better about themselves but left my needs unmet?  I’ve been posing questions to my nearest and dearest friends. We’ve had conversations about love, things we’ve experienced in love, what we hope for in love, what we’ve written and seen about love trying to figure it out. One of my friends managed to break it down for me in a way that clicked in just right in that moment. He asked me, “If you had a billboard about yourself, what would it say about you and who you are? How would his traits fit into yours?”  I looked at him and couldn’t think of one damn thing to say in response to that.  So now, I think I’ve put a final piece of the puzzle together that’s been missing for a long time. I’ve never really focused on the one person that I really need to love the most:

Myself.

All of this time, I’ve been looking for traits in other people to love and that could feasibly be compatible with me, but without a clear picture of exactly what those “compatibilities” matched in myself. What is it about me that I would want another to fit with?  What makes the ABCs of me in how I want to live and what I want to do? What parts of me have I been brave enough to own? So what do you think I did next? You know that answer…….. I made a billboard of myself, the things that I love about myself and the things I work towards every day. It’s currently on my wall where I look at it every day to remind myself who I need to love first and foremost.  Dr. Athena Perrakis brings up a valid point.

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I reflect on what shadows and past selves I’m trying protect, and to that end, what do I need to let go of? How do I love all of it?  Honestly, I haven’t been embracing all of the shadow and all of the light, nor have I admitted to what I really wanted and what I really needed, because I’ve struggled with insecurities regarding a myriad of things.  I realized this in a recent conversation with my roommate. We hadn’t really had a good talk for a few weeks and the conversation went all over the place. And it dug up some really old pieces of me that I had sort of just, put away. Not really released or embraced. Just put away. I’ve kept up a pretty high wall, and neglected to present who I am, in the interest of staying under the radar.  I often feel like these shadows were too much of a burden. That it shatters the person that people now know me to be. But how am I going to move forward with anything if I can’t stand strong in the essence of who I am and the experiences that shaped me, dark or light or otherwise?

I’ve always sworn that I would be more humble than some of my previous examples, that my love for others had to be of importance, because I know what it’s like to be left behind in the dust.  But I can’t do myself the disservice of downplaying the importance of my own heart. I can still love myself enough to ask for what I want and need and still reside in my heart and soul. The heart wants what it wants. When the soul wants, the soul waits.

So do I have any answers about love? Sure, I have a couple. Is Love a language? Maybe. That’s what we’ve blocked it into, so that we as humans, could figure out how to express it. Is it a feeling? Absolutely. It’s the ache in your heart when you leave someone you love behind. It’s the light in your eyes that shines when you get to see someone you love.  But it’s also more: it’s an energy we enact. Love naturally courses through our electrical outlets in our bodies, coded in our chemicals and hearts and minds. It’s who we started as, and as we get older, love is who we choose to be in ourselves. The whole thing is about shining the mirror on your own soul and finally acknowledging what you are seeing in your own psyche.  How are you contributing to love in your own environment? Have you started within yourself? Do people reach out to you because there’s something in you that they want to feel and they only feel it with you? Do you find that people respond to you differently than they do to others around you? Do you look in the mirror and love the person you see? All valid questions in my mind and worth looking at.

I’m now going to post this as is. No more editing. No more fine-tuning. No more doubting. It is what it is, and it’s time to move forward. So if you’ve come this far with me, have I presented any solid answers? Maybe, but in reality, I have no solid conclusion to this missive. Love is Love. With yourself or anyone else.  Love is communication. Love is action. Love is a choice. Love is heart. Love is a language. Love is a life transforming emotion.

And Love is bigger than anything in its way. (According to Bono).

What are you looking for?

Sometimes I hesitate to write about my personal stuff here. I’ve had positive feedback from people in my life, that they appreciate the points of view that I bring. That they can relate to it, and don’t feel so alone. But I’m also being incredibly vulnerable and that’s very hard for me. Most know that I’m pretty honest, but I do pick and choose the time and place, how brutally honest to be, and I don’t expose the softest parts of me. I tend to reserve that for select people in my life.  However, there’ve been things on my mind lately, as always. And I think it might be cathartic to me to finally speak on it, as well as it might be of help to someone else.

I was speaking to my Dad last night about how I felt there were traits that I got specifically from him, relationships with our respective parents, things of that nature. We came around to the point where we started talking about our romantic relationships in life. I found out that he had many of the same wishes I did. For instance, I wish that I had been more courageous to leave certain situations sooner. More courage to pursue the situations that might have had a shot. I thought he would be worried that I wasn’t in a relationship by this point in my life. He encouraged me to continue the changes I was making in my life, and he emphasized “Do not settle. Wait for the one that fits. Wait for a teammate. It’s my thought that we should be waiting for the complement to our soul.” We talked at great length. He reminded me that it’s not entirely bad to be just be on my own for a little bit like I have been.

I couldn’t bring myself to be completely honest with him about what I’ve turned into. I mean, how much can I tell my Dad without getting into the messy parts and worrying him unnecessarily? Also, I feel slightly like a bit of a flop in this department. I’m not very good in relationships, so I’ve purposely avoided them, regardless of the thought of “settling”. I “date” people. But for the record, I have not been in a solid committed relationship since I got out of a 10 year, really fucked up, and tumultuous relationship. I have not called anyone my boyfriend since the early aughts, which we can safely say has been, quite literally, years. (I know a lot of people look at me and think otherwise. And that’s ok. I can’t really stop people from projecting stories on me).  I’ve gotten really good at pushing away people before they have a chance to leave me, which I’m convinced, is totally inevitable. I also am really good at “dating” people that are not healthy, emotionally available, nor interested in a deep committed relationship with me specifically.

The thing is, deep down, I really do want to change that.  I’ve been thinking about this aspect of my life quite a bit. I’ve really been blessed in all areas of my life, but this is my last hurdle, as it were, I guess to conquer the things that have been holding me back in the love department.

After I hung up with with my Dad, I logged into Facebook, and someone had posted an article from a dating coach. The coach suggested a method that a woman shouldn’t commit to any one man until he puts a ring on it. While I can see this from a feminist perspective, I wasn’t feeling completely aligned with that. I noted though, a reader had commented on it, recounting a story about meeting a man through mutual friends who was interested in her and made it very clear – he asked her straight up “Are you single?” and “What are you looking for?” and how it kind of made her stop and think. It made me stop and think too.

There was an instance recently, where I had gotten romantically involved with a person over this past year up to this most recent holiday/Christmas season, and I had started opening myself up to the possibility, but I realized very quickly, that it was a poor decision, and have since closed that chapter. I won’t get into specifics but, what I will mention is that once again, I felt completely frustrated and emotional and left behind. I remember at certain points he would ask me: “What do you want?” And I would be completely at a loss for words.

“What are you looking for?” Valid question. I’ve really had to think on this. We get what we put out – energy begets energy and whatever we put out there, comes back around to us.

What AM I looking for? Why was I struggling in the relationship arena? I had heart to hearts with friends closest to me. One theme came up regularly: Self worth. I have a lot of scripts that I’m re-writing in my head about that. Some of them though, stay in my psyche and surprise me at random moments….insidious little thoughts and insecurities that decide to voice their opinions right when I find a small sliver of happiness with someone.  I know where they come from. While I’ve moved on from those circumstances,  it’s the subconscious reactions I have that are killing my game.  Someone will say something, and I respond with a passive-aggressive, rather self-deprecating phrase, and as it’s coming out of my mouth I regret it immediately.  I’ll completely freeze up. I’ll start finding things wrong with the whole situation in order to talk myself out of it. I tell myself it’s just safer to be alone.

What I’ve reminded myself is that I’ve already been alone this whole time! So sure, I guess I got that one figured out!

So how do I figure out when it’s safe to actually BE with someone? (Because that’s the thing that bites me in ass, apparently).

I was journaling today, re-writing those inner scripts. I was reflecting on my life. Money. Job. Education. And of course Love. I reminded myself that everything I need to know is inside of me. My heart. My soul. Those are the things I seek to follow the most. I’ve built myself into a strong and courageous woman. But in matters of love, I still struggle with those feelings of self worth. It’s been an insidious ordeal and a complicated dance. On the flip side though, I do feel, on a lot of fronts, like I’m finally coming out of the shadows of my inner demons for the first time ever. I’ve merged pieces of my soul back together that I thought were long broken. I do things more for me instead of trying to change myself into someone that pleases everyone. (Because that’s impossible by the way).

Then I had a HUGE realization: I realized that ALL of this time, I was looking at things the wrong way. I wasn’t wasting my time. I didn’t go about things the wrong way.  I shouldn’t regret anything. I was simply on a life path of learning how to put a relationship with MYSELF first. How can I love anyone if I don’t love myself first? Sounds cliche, but it’s true. I’ve been in situations that have brought me closer and closer to loving myself and pulling myself up by my own bootstraps. I’ve learned that I need to really look at who people are NOW, in THIS moment. Not who they were in the past. Also not live in potential “what-ifs”. It’s so important to be in the moment.

Ok. I’ve established that. Does that mean I’m ready to really look for something healthy for me and really put myself out there?

Oh but wait… there’s more? I’ve also noticed that my tolerance for being “hit on” has been low. Normally I just brush it off. But it’s really been bothering me. Especially with the reputation that seems to accompany the Flight Attendant life style. There are so many assumptions that are so off base. So I’ve been a bit jaded and a bit angry about it. While I appreciate valid and sincere compliments, I just don’t need to hear the superficial sentiments that are only aimed at getting into my pants without any regard to who I am as a person.  Believe me, I know the difference between the two. But I have to let go of the emotionality around all of it. Just focus on what I WANT, not what I DON’T want. Don’t pay attention to the situations that don’t serve me and pay attention to the situations that DO.

Now the question is two-fold: “What are you looking for?” and “What kind of an approach from a man WOULD I appreciate?”

Dating has been all kinds of awkward for me, because it moves too fast and has become a crash course in, “Okay, I have to get to know you faster than normal because this is supposed be a bigger deal” kind of thing. Which in retrospect, doesn’t work in today’s dating world. ( I could talk more about today’s dating world, but that’s another entry for another day). I always feel so pressured and I’m tired of feeling that way. Nobody should have to feel pressured that much. Especially when it comes to finding your lifemate.

I really soul-searched on this and I finally came up with five cohesive thoughts. So here they are, in all of their blinding simplicity (blinding on my part because I don’t know what took me so long to really put this into my psyche).

You ready?

  1. Be my “friend” first.

Haha. Sounds kind of ironic as I write it. But seriously.

Don’t go through my Facebook page and think you know me. Sure, there are bits and pieces there, but that’s a curated piece of who I am. Spend time with me and actually get to know me. Like actually DATE me. Find ways for us to spend time together without any expectations of me “paying you back” for your “investment” – I can foot the bill for myself. I can get myself where I need to go. So what you are expecting me to “pay back”? I’m not a fucking wind-up doll.  Put some time in. Also, don’t expect me to sleep with you until the timing feels right.

   2. Show me ways I can trust you.  Show me your honour.  Be a person of growth. Be serious.

Mostly that means, don’t lie to me. Speak to me respectfully. Live your life with strength and courage. Treat people decently. If you are looking for casual, we are not the right fit.

3.  Communicate with me forthrightly.  

NEVER leave me wondering where I stand with you. Be authentic.  Tell me what you are in this for, so that I can make my own informed decision about what I want. Be honest about how you feel. Don’t tell me what you think I want to hear.

   4. When I show you my heart and bare my soul, don’t be a douchebag and ghost out.

You are not responsible for how I handle MYself. But you ARE responsible for how you handle YOURself.

5.  Honour my time.  

It is a valuable commodity. I’m a busy person. If I make time for you, it’s because I’ve made it important to me. Be respectful of that. If I reach out to you, respond in a timely fashion. Don’t always wait for me to be the one to reach out. It takes two to Tango. I shouldn’t have to do all the work.

So that’s my list. Approach me with those intentions and I’ll be responsive.  It’s a new thing for me to be so specific. I’m hoping it changes the dynamic of how I look at relationships and who I grant entry into my life. Also, it holds me accountable for how I treat myself as well as look at the caliber of the person I’m considering spending time with. It helps quiet that voice in my psyche that has been rearing it’s Medusa head trying to get me to doubt myself. I know better. I’m going forward and BEING better about this.

I’ve finally learned to love myself and be courageous in love. I wish you the same.

Say What You Need To Say

If there is anything I’ve been reminded of in various different ways in the last few days, it’s that this life is ever-changing. One thing can happen in the span of seconds that irrevocably changes everything you know. Absolute in their karmic causes. Unchallengeable in their  manifested intentions.  The most important thing we can do is embrace the challenges with an unseen faith that we have the strength to propel us forward in the story. We are each living the hero’s journey right now, and we can choose to answer the call or ignore it. Mark Twain said “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear; not the absence of fear.”

I strive for courage every day. Courage to wake up. Courage to step out the door and live another day. Courage to stand up for justice.  Courage to keep dreaming. Courage to speak my truth. Courage to look to an uncertain future and continue taking deliberate steps into the horizon. But it’s not just about a great big beautiful tomorrow. It’s also about courage to live in the moments of what I have right in front of me. Courage to face those inner demons that make me doubt everything I know. Courage to actually follow through and do what I say I am going to do in every single moment.  Living in that very prism of time I’m in right now. Living lovingly. Intimately. Heart open. Forgiving myself…and others. Stepping away from the shackles of the past and into the fields of gold that have been surrounding me this whole time.

Courage is inspired in the most unexpected situations. I can’t tell you what sparked mine, other than a sheer will to survive on some occasions. Sometimes I just heard someone say the right thing at the right time. Sometimes it was a song that tapped into a creative part of my soul that only wanted to dream bigger.  It’s led me to many adventures, going further than I ever thought I could. I always find that I have something I can improve upon in myself.

For instance, lately, I’ve really had to face that I’m not very good at speaking my heart out loud. It’s ironic – I can speak in front of hundreds of people on any topic, and perform in front of even more and be adrenalized by it. But to speak my heart…..well, that’s a little harder for me. It’s hard for anyone, isn’t it? We have to put ourselves out there, lay wide our vulnerable soul.  I can sit here and pour my heart out to a nameless, faceless audience. It’s so much easier behind a computer screen. I don’t know who’s going to read this. I don’t know who will see pieces of themselves in this and be correct, despite my best efforts to protect their identity. I don’t know who will be inspired by me, or repelled by me, a woman who can spill out lines of words trailing all over a blank page, reminding them of the very things they didn’t want to acknowledge either. I know this is a roadblock for me. I can’t speak for everyone. But I can speak for myself when I say, NOT vocalizing my feelings to a person, face to face, has been a detrimental roadblock for me. I’m an artist – I’m expressive by nature! So this odd little twist, it wasn’t a personal choice. It’s not how I grew up wanting to be. It’s just how I’ve been conditioned by forces outside of me. And it keeps me from living fully. From loving fully. From feeling fully. It chokes me, silencing me and locks up my ability to be fully intimate in any sort of friendship or relationship.

It’s a choice: be courageous or let the fear win. I’ve chosen to be courageous.  The more I express the things that I felt I’ve had to keep close to the vest, the lighter I’ve become. The easier it is to speak. The easier it is to forgive. The easier it is to receive love. The easier it is to give love, compassion and empathy. Saying “I love you.” gets easier. Speaking my mind gets easier.

Loving myself gets to be the norm instead of caring why someone else may not love me the way I expected. Saying thank you feels more authentic and more important. Listening becomes key. Hearing the other person just as much as they hear me. Being right all the time is no longer important.  Being acknowledged all the time doesn’t matter. But being authentic and in truth does. Coming from a place of love is a powerful intention and I strive for that every day. I succeed a lot of the time. Sometimes I don’t. But the intention speaks truth when I need to hear it.

There’s so much more I have to say. But I’m done waiting to say it. The filter is off. Time is happening right now and I’m jumping into the vortex.

See you on the flip side.

Post Birthday Reflections

It’s a rainy and stormy morning. I’m looking out my window as I write this and listening to the sound of the rain and the wind blow. It’s a sight and sound that I took for granted growing up, but now I find soothes my soul.

This past year was full of ups and downs. I was confronted on some pretty deep levels of consciousness about many things in my life. Looking back, I’d like to think I rose to the challenge pretty well. I suppose you can say I’ve morphed into the butterfly everybody told me I could be. I just didn’t believe it was possible at the time. But I had SO much encouragement. So many loving friends. Transformed relationships with my family. While I’ve done bouts of growing through the last few years, I’d say, this year was THE most exponential of them all.

Taking time this year CHOOSING just to be a single girl finding her identity was the best thing I could have done for myself. For just one year. I wasn’t sure how well I’d do, and it took a while, but I finally fulfilled that promise to myself. I learned how to take care of myself emotionally in ways that I didn’t know I was lacking. My heart became cracked open again. I don’t know why it took so long, or why it happened the way it happened, but I know enough now about spiritual growth to not to question the process. To just be thankful that I could feel so deeply again, because I was sincerely afraid I was incapable of ever feeling that way in my lifetime. I now feel confident that come what may relationship-wise, I will always be me. I will never lose myself again. I respect and love myself. I know exactly how I want to live in love. And I know how much of a gift love is to give. Love is not a fairytale. But it IS beautiful and compelling and worth taking a risk for. So this year, I hope to find love that fills my heart and sets my soul aflame. I hope, in turn, to give that love to fill someone’s heart, mind and soul.
Transitioning careers was a painful process this year. I had to give up many things I loved and was familiar with, to take a leap into the great unknown. At first, I felt like I fell flat on my face. Like, making-a-crater-sized-dent-flat-on-my-face-fall. It didn’t go at ALL the way I planned. But then, life is what happens when we’re making other plans right? Then I learned, that I did not fail. It was more like an aptitude survey. How much did I know? How much did I need to learn to take myself to the next level? I learned how to constantly live in gratitude even for the things I wasn’t planning on, nor did I strive for. I learned to turn my way of thinking around so that I was talking nicer to myself and showing more compassion and empathy for others. I learned that nothing is personal. It’s all just the journey. We all have our own journey to take and we have to let go of judgement to embrace that journey fully. I learned to make the best of what I have, to not give up as I so often have done. To take risks and do something everyday that follows my heart and fulfills my creativity. To that end, this year I am going to finish my book. Develop my blog. I’m going to embrace my career as a writer, and move heaven and earth to live in possibility and abundance.

My personal finances were challenging. I found myself living in avoidance of making any true goals or visions about how I wanted to shape my financial life. This probably ties in with the career journey this past year as well. On the other side of it, I was living in a space of “just getting by”. Always too cautious about making determinations because I was sure they would end in failure and that what I envisioned wouldn’t/couldn’t happen anyway. But then I really cracked down on that, especially as of late. I started watching the way I spoke about money. Every negative thought I had, I made myself rephrase it and turn it into a positive. I made a vision board. I started looking at money as a tool to use to my advantage. I took more ownership of where I stand with it and how I treat my money. And I learn to start thinking in a space of flow and abundance, prioritizing what I wanted to do with it. So this year, the goal is to clean up a couple of messes. To make more money doing what I love. Sell my book. Have faith that I’m always taken care of no matter what, because it’s in my own best interest to take care of myself that way. I want to buy a property. And all of these things are literally starting to line up even in these last few days.

Every experience I’ve had this past year was necessary. I would not be where I am today without them. I would not BE who am I am today without them. For that, I’m profoundly thankful. Thankful for the love of my friends and family, their inexhaustible faith and support in me. Thankful that I was awake enough to see all of the things I need to see. I hope to continue to grow and level up. Can’t wait to see what this year brings and I’m sure next year, I’ll have some great experiences to share.

Only Love Can Leave Such a Mark

2015 was full of eye-opening behaviours of mine when it came to love. I found myself here in 2016, wondering why I still felt like I wasn’t quite feeling settled about it. There is something deep-seeded inside of me that has been gnawing away at my subconscious. Admittedly, while having nipped a lot of behaviours in the bud, and changing a lot of my outlooks in life, there is one thing that hasn’t gone away. And it’s a VERY hard thing to admit, especially being the hopeless romantic that I am.

I’ve become brave and courageous. I’ve become more honest. I love myself. I love the life that I’m creating, despite some of the things that have happened. I’m really embracing my life. I love my friends and my family.

But despite that, it seems I’ve had a very deep seeded truth, or belief,  sitting like a toad in the shadows. It’s hard to convey into words.

However, the overall feeling is that I will never be enough to keep my true love’s attention.  I don’t believe people are capable of being faithful. Does true love really exist?

I’ve analyzed where this starts. But I also have to give you, dear reader, a very BIG dose of honesty about my life. Keep in mind, this is about my experience only. I will not weigh in on the character of the person, nor will I share names. You see, I’m not innocent in this either.  You are not allowed to ask me why I stayed. These things are complicated and I’m not submitting this for your judgement. This entry, is selfishly, for me to work this out and finally let this go.

While I’ve alluded to some of the things that happened, it boils down to a major thing. I’ve come from a long line of experience in infidelity. I was with someone for a very long time, who professed to love me, didn’t want to be without me. But in every “friendship”, every female co-worker, every girl they met randomly,  having sex with them was always the outcome.  It didn’t matter who I was. It didn’t matter how well I kept the house, how much I cooked, how perfect I was.  It didn’t matter how much empathy or anger I showed. It didn’t matter what I did to “keep” him. I didn’t matter how much I tried to “spice” things up. It didn’t matter how much we talked about it. Nothing I ever did was enough. He was always looking elsewhere when it suited. This happened for years.

I was never able to rest in the “security” of a relationship. This was the tip of the iceberg in the many issues we faced together. But I think this is the one that really shook me to the core in retrospect. There was always the girl that came along, that struck his fancy. And I was forgotten. Soon the love I felt was never enough.

You see, this wasn’t the first time I had seen this happen. I had seen the behavior repeatedly in my childhood from adult figures in my life. People I loved and looked up to for my education on how to be in a relationship.

I figured the depth of love you felt in a relationship was proportional to how much pain you had to go through to keep it. That men and women are incapable of staying faithful. That life is complicated so I should stop expecting so much.

So I did. The string of relationships to follow my break-up were with single and attached men alike. I’m finally saying this out loud. I have NEVER fully admitted this. I’m not proud of it and maybe it’s the judgement on myself that has kept me from moving forward. But ultimately it’s because I thought that human beings were not capable of anything else anyway so I should stop expecting more. I NEVER committed to them and never expected them to commit to me.  I would cease immediately if feelings were ever brought into the picture.  I built up a sort of armour around myself to shield me from becoming too emotionally invested.

After a while, I felt even more lonely and isolated because deep down, this was not what I had dreamed about. This was not the way to do it. I’m not a disloyal person. In fact, when my ex was unfaithful all those years, never once did I step out on him. I was faithful the WHOLE TIME.

What?!

Yup.

In the recent year, I found myself jolted. The more that I looked inward, I realized that I have a unique kind of energy. My nature is that of empathy, love and no judgement. For everyone. And in all that time, they never saw ME. They thought they knew me, but if they had paid close enough attention, they didn’t. They knew an idea of me.  I realized maybe that’s how I found myself in situations like this. It became more about what the other person needed from me. What was I doing for myself though? Was I applying that same forgiveness to myself? Was I now self-punishing for all of the things I did wrong up to that point? The shame that I felt in things that I did in my previous relationship?  The shame for actually feeling something and wanting more than that?

Well shit. How do I change that? Is this something I’m ready to take on?

I figured if I can forgive my ex of ALL of the things that happened between us, that we can move on in peace and wishing each other well, how hard could it be that I could do that with myself too?

I want to believe in love.

I watch all of these romantic movies. Everybody finds their soul mate. I see a myriad of happy relationships around me. I want to believe in being faithful and trustworthy and growing in life with someone that is in love with me and I am in love with him.

But here’s where I trip up, because for as much as hopeless romantic that I am,  I admit that deep down inside my heart I think it’s an impossible ideal. What happens after those closing credits?  So again, does true love actually exist?  According to the Princess Bride it does, but that’s only in the movies and the storybooks. In real life, people betray you. People only do what suits them. Love for as long as it suits them. When it suits them. They get what they want from you and then they leave.  There’s no such thing as real love. True love…..doesn’t exist here.

Or does it?

I have no answers right now. I can’t tie this up with a pretty bow. All I know is that for right now, I’m letting all of what I just wrote go. I forgive myself. I embrace my experiences as learning opportunities. I will continue to live in love and empathy and non-judgement. I know who I am. I know what I want in a relationship and what I want to do with my life.

I don’t know love the way I want to. But I suppose the only way to learn that is to keep loving myself and those I surround myself with.

Maybe that’s the only answer.

Writing Prompts: Romantical Firsts

So today’s assignment: My first love and my first kiss; if separate, discuss both. (My goodness, these questions sometimes make me feel like I’m signing up for some kind of dating event.)

These were two very different occasions actually. I won’t say any names here, just because this is online and all that.

My first kiss happened when I was 16. I worked at a pizza joint in high school and so did he. Even then, I was kind of a loner when it came to dating. Translation: I didn’t. So when I met him and we hit it off and it just kind of went from there. I’m afraid my tendency to remain a loner in the dating world eventually got in the way of things, but my first kiss was a very sweet and very romantic experience. He’d had 11 roses delivered to me at work “Just Because” and he was always the utmost gentleman. At the end of the night, he delivered the 12th personally, sealed with a kiss.

The first person I fell in love with? That’s a much more LOADED answer. If you know me, you already know the whole story. Now, keep in mind, there were some HARDCORE crushes that happened before that. But when I was 18, I met a man who became a “First” in many things. We started dating when I was 19. I ended up staying with him for 10 years.

Unfortunately it didn’t work out for a wide variety of reasons. And I learned the hard lesson of being in love with someone who wasn’t quite in love with me. To be fair, I’m sure he loved me. But I don’t know that he was ever IN love with me. If that makes sense. We had a lot of adventures and were very close and it was a very rocky road when I made the decision to go my own way and break up with him. Thankfully in the following years, we’ve found a peace about it all and it’s all in the past at this point.

A very sobering experience for me, when viewed in the frame of many other things happening in my life at that time. The way that it impacted my life was profound. It was a HUGE learning experience at the very level of my soul. Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to go back to do things just a touch differently. But then I remember that if I did that, I would risk rewriting my entire history and there are moments I’ve had since then, that would have never come to me otherwise, and I never want to erase them. I would not be who I am, I would not know what I know, and I would not have gone through many things in life that led me to where I am now.

Until tomorrow mes amis!

Writing Prompts: A Few of my Favourite Memories

I have to write about my earliest memory.

 Surprisingly, I can remember quite a bit. It was what I remembered that caused me pause….It’s bittersweet, like many childhoods are. Some of it is a bit tragic in my eyes, and I don’t necessarily want to focus on that. I just want to release the emotional energy around those, forgive and forget. This may be a good exercise for me. Or exorcise, depending on your preference of words. So what should I write about? It says my earliest memory. My earliest memory of what? I suppose this is where I can take a little bit of artistic freedom.

I’ll give you some of my favourite earliest memories. None of the bitter. Only the sweet. They are now, at this point, more like sensations, fleeting sounds, smells and colors.

  • The sounds of the sports games emanating from the TV all the time. The sound of whistle as the refs made their calls. The sounds of the crowds cheering. That sound is still a very comforting thing to me when I hear it. My Grandpa Grim loved his sports. Sometimes I would sit with him, when I knew it was almost time for The Lawrence Welk show to come on. Then we’d watch that together and he would tell me stories of all of the classic movie stars and how Bette Davis and Joan Crawford never got along.
  • My Grandma Grim always let us watch TV in her room. We watched Singing in the Rain, Brigadoon, Darby O’Gill and the Little People, Gigi, The Last Unicorn….just to name a few. She even bought us little dinner trays so we could eat dinner with her while we watched.
  • The sound of the traffic on the nearby busy State Route when we stayed at my Grandma and Grandpa Grim’s. It was just far enough that if I listened to it just right, it sounded like the ocean was going all night long.
  • Living in Ashland, Oregon when I was SUPER little. I loved (and still do) going to Lithia Park.
  • Walking into the house after school and the smell of sautéed garlic and onions when my step-mom was making dinner. Sometimes it was the smell of a yummy dessert she was making. All the same, it made me feel cozy.
  • The sound of my Daddy’s keys in the door when he came home from work. This lasted throughout my teenage years. I would fall asleep on the couch after a very long day of school, horses and work, and he would come home from his swing shift and rouse me to tell me to go to my bed.
  • The smell of sawdust and alfalfa. I was an equestrian when I was younger, and these smells are one of the many staples of owning horses.
  • Fresh cut grass. Then it would rain for a while. The gloomy cool clouds would stay on even if the rain stopped. As the evening dusk descended, I could always hear the whistle of a train in the distance. It always struck me as a very lonely sound.
  • The sound of a good rain pour.
  • The smell of hops from a nearby brewery. Yes, the craft beer craze actually originated in Portland and as early as in the 80s. So there.
  • The lights of Portland at night as we would drive over the Fremont Bridge. I always thought that city was most beautiful at night.
  • Going to visit my Daddy at Cummins NW, where he worked as a diesel mechanic at the time.
  • My Grandpa Larson always making his own dried fruit. Then blending it with the taste of the fresh batch of homemade yoghurt my Grandma Larson had just made.
  • My Grandma Larson’s owl paintings. I love all the little different shapes and sizes. These were among some of her first art pieces.
  • Hearing my Mom’s van coming up the driveway to pick us up for visitations. I was always super excited to see her and go on to our next adventure. Especially when we were going on a road trip somewhere.
  • Hotpot parties at Deanna and Eric’s with Mom, Michael and various guests. We’d all eat together, then the kids would wander off to play and the adults would all get shit-faced. We always heard them laugh uproariously, in excited conversations. Then in the wee hours it would get quiet and I would go upstairs to use the bathroom. All the adults would be in various stages of sleep (or close to it) under the table, on a couch, halfway up the stairs. It was hysterical and oddly comforting.
  • The sound of someone reading to me. I love being read to. One of the most peaceful things ever.
  • The little notes that my sister Kristie would leave me in books and jewelry boxes.
  • When she was super little, my other sister Patricia would crawl into bed with me in the wee hours of the pre-dawn. She would sleep with me until she heard our Mom coming and then jump out and go back to her own bed. You see, my parents were trying to break the habit. But I never cared and always let her anyway.
  • When my brother, Jeff, and I had to rake leaves in the yard, we would find hysterical ways of letting all of the yard rakes fly out of our hands in random moments whenever the chorus of “Beat It” came on the radio.
  • Sleeping bag wars. Us kids would put sleeping bags over our heads and wander around bashing into things whilst trying to catch each other. Probably not the best strategy, but hysterical nonetheless.
  • But my favourite earliest memories were three-fold. When I got to meet each one of my siblings for the first time. They were, and still are, among the loves of my life, from the very day I got to breathe them in. I couldn’t wait to hold them and feed them and love on them.

Of course, I’ve made many many more happy memories since my youth. These are just a few of the early ones.

 And now I bid you adieu. At least until tomorrow’s writing. 🙂

The Grass is Always Greener (and other Tales of “Not Dating” for a Year)

Captain Picard Asks

I get this question a lot. Admittedly, I wouldn’t mind getting this question from Captain Picard. I’m sure we’d have philosophical debate over a cup of Earl Grey, reminiscing about our youth and lamenting the loss of old-school dating etiquette.

There’s nothing like taking yourself off of the dating market for a year to discover how many people really ask this. All. The. Time.  Some people take it as rude. I don’t necessarily. It actually flusters me sometimes. What I’ve experienced, is if I answer the question, it turns into a debate where the winner gets a blue ribbon prize for talking me out of my disillusioned ways.

I’ve been thinking about writing this blog for a few weeks now, wondering how candid I should be. While I’m a very open person, and sometimes painfully blunt, I do tend to keep a lot of things private. I’ll share with those I trust the most when I find I need guidance.

But this topic has shaped my very existence on this planet. I think that’s half the battle right there. Admitting to how much of an effect relationships truly have had on me. When I look at how I’m of service in my human experience, I find a lot of it centers on my relationships with people. So I’ve decided to be very candid. I’m hoping that this touches others, so they know they are not alone.  I’m hoping to find that last bit of clarity, lay down the last piece of resolve and really put my intention in the universe, stepping into the person that I have been yearning to become this whole time.

DECIPHERING THE BEHAVIORSimages

I am FAR from perfect in any relationship I’ve chosen. In fact, I’ve chosen things that allowed me to hide and not have a voice because I was wrapped in a cocoon of fear.  I’ve run from things because I thought I wasn’t good enough. It’s all I’ve known how to do.

I suppose we can all go back to childhood. I was taught at a very early age that showing your emotions was a liability, that people who say they love you were lying, and that nothing I had to offer was ever good enough to keep anybody around. So I learned how to people please. I was so desperate for someone to put me first for once, I would be whatever they wanted me to be. Many times it meant doing things I hated, but I was so love-starved I didn’t know what else to do. I would be upset when the someone I was trying to impress gave someone else more attention than me, leaving me feeling utterly rejected and abandoned.

When I was 19, I got into my very first long-term relationship, having learned all of these behaviors. Unfortunately, because I was not aware that what I learned about love was rather erroneous, I found myself on a 10 year journey with someone who devalued me more than anybody ever had. I won’t get into the specifics. But in general, there was no trust, no loyalty, and no fidelity. When it was good, it was amazing –  and in my mind completely justified all the times I fought desperately for it when it fell into the cracks of mental, spiritual and emotional abuse.

And I was in love. I really was. I thought he was it. And I fought for it hard.

But in reality – all it did was breed behaviors in me that I was ashamed of. I was an emotional manipulator. I was unstable. I was the “crazy” girl. I did things that were under-handing, emotionally questionable and self-destructive.  It awoke another sleeping dragon of  bi-polar depression and self-deprecation that was exhausting to be around.

It wasn’t working. It wasn’t supposed to work. I didn’t want to admit it. I was so sad about it, I was on the verge of giving up on life itself.


Wake-up-call

It wasn’t until someone in my immediate circle recognized this and stepped in. It was a cold, dark rainy day, typical of the Pacific Northwest. I couldn’t get out of bed. I just….couldn’t. She was my roommate and an Aunt by proxy. She spent a good 30 minutes coaxing me to just take the little step of getting out of bed and taking a shower. Then she coaxed me into a cup of coffee. And then into an outing that was scheduled that day for the local Buddhist chapter we belonged to. Luckily, I was in a place where I heard what she was telling me and decided that I needed to make a change. I always credit her for saving me.

Today, I can tell you I’m a grown-ass woman, and with that comes the notion that I am responsible for my own actions.

But that wasn’t how I always thought. However, it WAS one of the first things I learned.  So while it became apparent that something need to change, it was easier said than done.

The first step was admitting that what I had learned was dysfunctional and truly seeing how I manifested that in the world around me.

The second thing I did was move out of the state. I was fortunate to have a family support system that allowed me to do that. I needed a fresh start. I needed to get away from the things that I leaned on as a crutch. I need to fix this on my own terms.

The third thing I did was break up with “the guy”.  (That’s what I’m going to call him going forward. I’m not gonna use names.)  That took about a year of back and forth before I finally nailed that down.

What followed was very long journey of learning how to stand up for myself, counselors, life coaches and holistic therapies.

And the fourth thing that happened was that I learned how to forgive.

My familial relationships improved. In fact, I made peace with my childhood in many ways. There were things that popped up here and there. And I dealt with them in a much healthier way. Much stronger. More peaceful.

But I still hadn’t mastered how to LOVE myself. That was going to take another few years.

LEARNING HOW TO LOVE MYSELFto-love-thyself-is-the-beginning

It took me a couple of years to even consider dating after I broke up with “the guy”.

My dating life was still a bit of a mess. When I finally took the plunge back into the dating world, I had somehow decided, on a subconscious level, that I was not going to date anybody that I could have a real relationship with. So there were lots of shades of grey that came along with that when it came to who I dated.

I was only going to hang out, have someone to spend time with when I didn’t want to be by myself, and maybe be physical with. Or maybe not. Regardless, I never got close to them. I would keep the focus on them. I would listen to all of their stories about life. I would never get into my “stories”. It was too long and complicated.  People naturally like to hear themselves talk so this was easy for me to just be quiet and listen, never having to open up about myself in the slightest, thus avoiding true intimacy entirely.  The minute they told me that feelings were growing stronger for me, or that they wanted to move into a more committed place with the relationship, I would gracefully bow out.

And then before I knew it, it had turned into an unspoken rule of mine that I would never date anybody for more than 3 months.

In the meantime, everything else was great – though there were some learning curves. I had been living on my own, sans roommates, for quite a while. My career was progressing in the way that I was finding what I loved and what I didn’t. I was supporting myself and learning how to manage my financial life better.  When I could get schooling in there, I did. I found myself in my work as an actor and a writer. My friendships were strong, true and loving. I was more loving with my family. I re-discovered my love for cooking and entertaining. I developed a profound appreciation and gratitude for everything and everyone in my life and that made going through the ebbs and flows more peaceful and manageable. I learned to trust in myself and treat myself better.

In each of these things, I found myself, and had more confidence in who I was.

It was a natural step when I told myself that I was going to be better at dating. I wanted to be better at it because I finally admitted that I wanted to share my life with someone now. I was strong enough as an independent woman, that I could now discern what was healthy and what wasn’t.  I was scared but it was time for me to move past that and really look for a relationship, if that’s what I wanted.

And I honestly tried. There were a couple of good guys there. But I wasn’t falling in love. Instead I still found much of the same of what I was trying to stay away from. And going through the “cooling period” of saying that I didn’t want a relationship with them was proving harder. Now I felt conscious of the fact that I was hurting people.

So this past year I decided to stop dating.  The intention really, was to be celibate. And I was. For a few months at least. In that time, I’d had an unprecedented amount of interest, but I said no. And I was totally inexperienced on how to handle it.  Regardless, I didn’t have feelings for them. So what was the point? I was completely content to be on my own. Of course a crush would pop up here and there, but I’d wait on the impulse and just get to know the person. Eventually, I would find that the crush faded because I was really starting to look at who they were and how compatible they were with who I was and what I wanted long-term. I was really proud of myself.

I was focusing on growing me. I was really taking the plunge with my career, and transitioning out of what I had been doing to “just get by”. It was just another life experience that I was cementing myself in. And I was going to embrace it. I was going to be brave and follow my dreams, because life is too short to not enjoy it.  I took on a second job to help me. I started prioritizing my life to accommodate the changes.

But sometimes lessons pop up that you didn’t see coming.

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 TAKING CHANCES

There is a belief I have, seeded by my work with the public, that people only want what they can’t have. Once they get it, they move on. In this day and age, very few are experienced in longevity, and everybody wants the latest and greatest, with very minimal work and commitment. The same goes for relationships.  The grass is always greener. People think you are what they see on your Facebook profile and in your Instagram feed. It’s the magic of PR. That’s what Social Media is after all. PR.

6 months into my non-dating phase, I was thrown for a loop. I had recently turned down a romantic encounter and was proud of myself for it. Not gonna lie – they were nice, but this person had all of the baggage I didn’t need and I saw some incompatibility. But I was confident enough to say no and walk away. That was a new one for me.

And right after this happened, someone ELSE crossed my path. I was a little blind-sided, to be frank. The more I talked to this person, the more I found that I liked about them. We were similar in age. Though I hadn’t really gotten to spend much time with him at that point, he was someone I shared circles with but that was about it. Despite that, there was  familiarity there that I hadn’t felt with anyone. He was smart. He was funny. We shared similar life experiences. Loved all the same movies and music.

The further I got into it, the more I realized I wasn’t feeling casual about it. That scared me a bit.  But I just let it ride. I didn’t think he was on that same page. But then he made a move, I was stoked!  But I didn’t want to give myself away. I wanted to play cool. Inwardly, I was anything but. Things escalated rather quickly. I got caught up and went too fast.  I took the chance.

Soon I found that it wasn’t gonna go the way I was hoping. I couldn’t fault him. He’d been nothing but honest and clear and I had just let my feelings get the better of me. It didn’t take the sting away.  That’s what surprised me: how much it affected me. Some of it was ego driven, not gonna lie. I’d gotten used to being the one that backed off, not the other way around.  This one though, somewhere, somehow had gotten to me. What I needed to see about this, was the context of my self value when with someone I really did like.

img-thing

It triggered a lot of self-introspection.

I was confronted with that age old fear of not being good enough and only being something beautiful until I was conquered. Then I was left behind. “As usual” I wasn’t worth staying for.  It triggered all of those age-old tapes, that I hadn’t quite released.

So I dealt with it.  I put on my tough girl facade. I let that be the one slip-up, all the while secretly, silently hoping maybe it was temporary blip between him and I – that I, in my newly enlightened state, couldn’t have misread everything that badly.

I believe everybody comes into our life for a reason. While I was at a loss as to what to make of it, I did consider that maybe he was just a catalyst that was supposed to help me move past some of my old tapes. So that’s what I focused on.

I gave up the idea that I was a bad girlfriend. That I was crazy when I was in a relationship.

I started valuing myself more. I started LOVING myself as a person on my own, not waiting for others to validate that love for me.  I stopped beating myself up for taking the chance on someone that I liked but didn’t return the feelings.  I forgave the whole entire situation and let it go.  And in the meantime, I found all of those old outdated energetic memories and I shed them like a horse sheds its heavy winter coat.

Now, when the insecurity pops up, I remind myself, I’m the first one that has to prioritize me before anybody else does.

The more I went through this process, the more the attention came out of the woodwork. I was honestly surprised at some of the sources. I soon realized though, it was a “test” of sorts from the universe. I’ve stayed open and a couple of times just found it wasn’t for me.

When you love yourself, others will offer you the same value. You have to be comfortable in accepting that gift but also be secure in letting it go if it’s not for you.  You don’t have to be mean about it. But don’t hold onto out of fear for what’s next. Just be gracious. Don’t give up.

whats-next

I’m fully focused on getting to know who a person is. No rushing in. No casual hook-ups.  I have to take the chance to get to know the person but also letting them fully know me. That means putting some things on hold while I do that. I have to be secure that if the physical is all they are in for, then they’ll just phase themselves out. That who I AM will be just as loved and wanted – that I’m worth more than just my body. Women have had this interesting dynamic to deal with of being taken seriously as independent beings, while embracing everything that is beautiful about them, bodies included. It kind of leaves us in some grey areas sometimes when it comes to our worth in the eyes of society and the dating world.

I have goals in life and I want to be part of a “power couple”. When a man wants to be part of that, he will be. And if I want to be part of his journey, I will be.  Neither of us need to chase anything. Love happens when it happens. And it’s mutual. If it’s one-sided, then it’s not meant to be.

In the meantime, I’ve rediscovered in me, the young girl who used to dream of finding her Twin Flame. Only now, I now have a lot more courage and self-confidence to filter through the “casual” as I make my way through a world of empty physical hook-ups. Now I’m brave enough to look for the meaning and the love that can be in that kind of a union. They are rare, but they do happen.

And until that happens, that folks, is why I’m still single.