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).

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

That’s what “they” say.

Recently, I was attending a memorial service for a dear friend who had lost her life partner.  The things that were being said about this person and their life were amazing and inspiring. Beautiful.  Death brings light to life.

Think about that sentence.

Death brings light to life.

Some would argue that the opposite is true. But is it?

In death, we see things that we normally would not see. We see families devolve and fight over things that don’t matter in the long run, in a desperate attempt to keep the person that has died, close to them. We see the ways the deceased touched others in their lifetime. In good AND in not so good ways. We see personal struggles of the deceased that come to light, that we had no idea they were struggling with while they were living. And we see the people left behind, make transformations in their lives, that may not have been made otherwise. We see people inspired by a life lived. A reaffirmation of life, if you will.

Death brings light to life. Do you see what I mean now?

And it made me think about this journey I’ve been on. About time here in this life’s existence. About letting things go that no longer serve who I am or what I’m meant to do. About living every moment. Not like it’s your last. But like it’s the moment that it is! Right there. In front of you. In you. Behind you. It’s gift. It’s a chance to change your destiny constantly. We can be more than we think we are, in every SECOND going forward.

But some of us choose to stay mired. Complacent. Angry. Sad. Bitter. Victims. Powerless.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in those kinds of moments (and I’ve had plenty of them) and I don’t want to stretch those out anymore.

There have been lots things that have happened in my life in the past few months. A lot of changes. So am I living the best life I’m meant to live?  Am I doing the things that call to my heart? Am I being the change I wish to see?

I’ll be completely transparent here, because that I what I promised to you dear reader. That this blog would be honest and no holding back.

I am vulnerable.  I find myself living on a daily basis, in a place of overwhelming emotions. I have been like that since I was little. I can get into the struggle of what that is like and how people react to it. Another time though. But I will say, there are times when others need to feel something and it’s a moment of honor when your sensitivity can affect such inspiring change around you… (My call to be an actor may tie into this)  🙂

Don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m fragile. I’m not. I’m sensitive. But I’m by no means fragile. A lot of people mistake the two. Being sensitive, I’m in tune to emotions and feelings and I express them. That doesn’t mean that I’m broken and can’t handle life. I’ve handled a lot of ugly things in my life. Looking at me, you wouldn’t think that I have. I guess we all reflect what we’d like to see in ourselves, onto everyone else.

I have revised this blog a few times this AM. Because I wanted to inspire you to think instead of it becoming about a venting session for me. Also, I needed time to sort my thoughts. To get to the root of why I really wanted to write this blog.

I think what that memorial service really inspired, was a thought process in me. A review on life maybe? It also happened to fall on the anniversary of my Grandmother’s death, and I miss her, because this is a conversation I would have with her.

At a service, do you ever find yourself thinking, “What would people say about me?” “How would I be remembered?”

I had to ask myself, do I live with a passion for life everyday?  Why do people come into our lives only to be yanked out? It’s not just death that yanks them out. There’s break-ups, divorces, fights, accidents, work, callings, all kinds of things that take people from us. How do I deal with life changes that are seemingly out of my hands? Because these are the things that happen that make life more challenging and may make us “give up” living, for fear of being hurt, for being left behind, for making us feel too much.

I think the point of those hardships and challenges are to inspire us to find ways to move beyond the pain and live even better! Not give up. Not hide behind an armor of anger or bitterness so that we don’t get hurt.

I’ve been through a lot of life altering experiences. But here’s an example of how growth can come from chaos.  I’ve been pretty mum about up it to this point. Only a few people really know what happened, and it’s going to stay that way for the most part. I’ll touch on it here though, because I think it merits the growth process experience discussion.

I recently was in a complicated situation with someone who I considered a very close friend. What I didn’t see for a long time, was who they really were. Whether it was to ridicule the things in other people’s lives that identified them as an artist, or criticize other people’s personal choices they made, this person, consciously or unconsciously, was not a very nice person sometimes.  It kind of snuck up on me. The occasional venting session or sarcastic remark turned into a daily mire of negativity. Everyday, in some way, shape or form, they would give clues to the deep chasm of unhappiness that resided within them. There were a couple of specific circumstances that clarified this. Not getting into it here.

I never felt (and still don’t) that they were/are a bad person. I knew the circumstances that shaped them. I truly believe that people can change at any point, if they really want to. So, I excused things that I shouldn’t have because I saw a different bigger picture. (Oftentimes this is my downfall as evidenced by a myriad of complicated and challenging relationships I have been involved in)

LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #1

You have no control over what others feel or how they act. You can’t “stick it out” till you change them. You can’t change anyone.

Our friendship started to get challenging. Did I mention before, being the bleeding heart is often my downfall?  Been there, done that. Here I was again. Dammit. And sure enough, it began to unravel. Like it had done so many times before. And this time, instead of fighting it, I let it unravel. I let it get all tangled up to where it all exploded. That was where my growth and change was in this situation. I have never let things go like that. I was the fixer, the peace maker. I would morph MYSELF before I let somebody else fall. This was unusual for me to let something self destruct like this. I think deep down, I knew that this a was lesson that I had been tested on numerous times. This time I was going to take a stand. I was going to pass this test and advance to the next level. I was done with this lesson.  It was time for me to put on my big girl panties and take it like a woman.

It started when, apparently for months, the gossip machine had turned on me.  This person had been informed by another that I had been voicing some unhappiness and lack of caring in our relationship and that I was saying derogatory things about them. However, this person didn’t come to me and confront me.  There’s not enough time on this Earth to waste second guessing the motives of rumours and gossip.  But they chose to believe the gossip before the truth. They started setting me to up to fail. They watched my personal social media, assuming posts that alluded to (but never named) circumstances in my life were about them. They started asking people that were close to me what I was saying and doing when they weren’t around.

But never once, did they come to me.

LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #2

Always be authentic with how you feel, no matter the timing. There is never “a good time”. 

They did, however, start holding me at arms length. And I felt it. They started coming down harder on me in situations that did not merit the level of intensity.  And I felt all of this. And it made me sad. Hyper-vigilant. Guilt ridden at times when what I was offering was never enough.

So I made a mental plan, that I was going to go to this person and have a talk. Be candid about everything that I was feeling. But when the time came, they dropped some news on me, and the timing felt poor to bring it up. So I let it go.

This new thing called social media changed all that, and a posting on Facebook brought it to a head.

In a sense, we called each other to the carpet. Emails ensued. They were convinced I was talking about them. I was not. But there were things that needed to be said. The next day we talked over some food and a bottle of wine. It felt like the old days again. We aired out everything. We talked about all of it. We found middle ground and had some realizations of how others had misrepresented the truth. If anything came up like this again, we would talk to each other plainly and openly. Everything was all good.

It made me feel like I should have done it sooner.

LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #3

Always trust your gut.

The next few times I saw them, I felt better, but still a little woozy from the experience. I felt like now, I needed to prove myself more than ever. I felt like a bit of an outsider again. The friendship didn’t feel authentic as it should. But I kept going thinking it was just me over thinking it.

And apparently, I was right. When opportunity presented itself, my former friend read a mutual friend’s personal FB email. In it, was a discussion of a topic my former friend decided was inappropriate of me to be discussing with this person. And I was sitting right there in the moment they read it. I guess they didn’t think I knew. They kept quiet and let me go home without saying a word to me. And I, seeing where this was going to go, sat back and waited.

The friendship ended via email on a cold November night.  Yes. Via email. “Due to conversations with <name redacted> I have no choice but to….”

Two things ran through my mind

1) Where do you get off reading somebody’s personal email and then getting mad about it and start retaliating?

2) Did they take the opportunity to make the change they had promised? Did they come to me to clarify anything? No. They said nothing. They did not uphold the promise to never let this happen again.

I should have listened to that uneasiness in my heart. It was trying to tell me something.

LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #5

When standing up for yourself, don’t make it personal. It’s counterproductive and unnecessary.

I responded with an email that confronted them right off the bat. That they had violated someone’s privacy and read someone’s personal email and that they were ending the relationship on yet something else taken out of context that had nothing to do with them personally. No more bullshit. And I’m not gonna lie. I felt relieved. I didn’t have to tiptoe anymore for fear of waking the beast. It didn’t matter anymore, it wasn’t my job to deal with it from this point going forward.

A flurry of emails ensued. Mine were plain and fact driven. Theirs, emotional, chaotic and full of vitriol. I was overwhelmed. And I would now have to explain the sudden absence of them from my life to a lot of mutual friends. How was I gonna do that? I needed guidance.  When I showed several people the exchange, some of which knew this person, they were flabbergasted. The comments ranged from “This all sounds like a high schooler wrote it” “This all drama” “It’s like you’re dealing with a 5 year old who got their feelings hurt”  to “You’re better off now” “I can’t believe this is what was going on, no wonder you’ve been a basket case” “This is a blessing that you have been released from this” I kept thinking if I’d have just done this or that differently…but then I had someone bluntly say to me “Stop it. This isn’t about you.”  It made me realize for the first time in my life, that people who have problems are just that. People who have problems. And in reference to Learning Opportunity #1- I can’t change them. I couldn’t take on their issues.  I had to let my ego get out of the way, and not make it about me.

LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #6

It’s okay to be mad. It’s ok to grieve. It’s better to forgive and move on.

At the time, I had to look at it from the standpoint of “What did we learn?” A worthy question in any given circumstance in life. And I grieved. And I got angry. And I grieved. And I let go. And I got angry. And I grieved. And I let go.

Why was I going through this nasty situation? Why did I have to deal with this?

Well let’s look:

I had become complacent in where I was. I was trying to fix something beyond repair. And I had to experience the above learning opportunities.

So armed with this new knowledge,  I made some changes to better my life as a person and as an artist.

I accepted an offer of a job that I had been extended to me in August, but I had just been sitting on it for two months for various reasons. I moved to a more peaceful environment, out of the city and into nature. I started writing consistently and getting back to my acting. I started hanging out with people who kept at me to learn how to trust again, who treated me with genuine love and respect. Who had my best interests at heart. Sincerely.

A couple of months later, I got an email from my former friend, wanting to reach out to me. I didn’t really know how to respond other than that I wished them well, and had never seen that ending the way it did.

Life hummed on.

And then out of the blue in the beginning of January, I got a phone call from one of the parties who had been involved in the gossip mill during the breakdown of my friendship.

They profusely apologized for their role and for not standing beside me and for misrepresenting me. I don’t know if they ever told my former friend that they did that, but ultimately I guess that’s up to them. I was relieved to forgive and move on. I didn’t want to hold on to it anymore.

That same week, I randomly ran into the party who’s private email had been read and had been the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was more of a reconnection after an awkward incident kind of experience, but I was genuinely glad to put it behind us.

Then there was this kind of cathartic release after that. I was no longer angry, nor grieving, nor confused, nor anything. I was done. It was over. And it was a relief. I realized that in the grand scheme of things, it was everything and it was nothing.

I didn’t think of it a single bit after that day. I kept living everyday with a newfound gratitude and excitement for the opportunities that I was generating and that I hadn’t even seen yet.

I would have never gotten to this point in my life, had I not experienced it all and learned from it.  

LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #7
Well, what did we learn? 
You’re probably wondering how this all ties into anything I was saying at the beginning.
Here it is:
Fast forward to present day, I’m speaking with a friend. They bring up the fact that I came up during a recent gathering involving my former friend. That things may have been said.
And I had to laugh. Because I didn’t feel anything about that. I hadn’t even thought of that possibility.  And it felt great. I can’t even tell you the things that I have carried around my life’s baggage, that I would punish myself for. I’m finally free of it.
I finally had crossed this barrier in life that I wasn’t going to punish myself anymore. And THAT was living in the moment. I am no longer living in the past of my mistakes and/or regrets. 
I’m human. You’re human. We’re all on a journey here. Everything that I’ve been through is something that teaches me and makes me stronger. I will never claim to be perfect. I’m far from it. But at least I’m authentic. You will always know where you stand with me. And I will continue to go forward loving more fiercely than ever and pushing through the fear of the unknown with boundless courage and optimism.
At my memorial, I know what people are going to say about me. I can rest easy knowing I lived the best life I know how to live. My close friends and family know who I am.  I have an inkling of what they would say. Or not say. And it’s all welcome by me.

Death brings light to life.