What’s in the darkness??

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As February begins, I realize that blogging is something that makes me truly happy.  I truly enjoy sitting down to write about my thoughts for the day.  To tell the story of me in that moment, if you will.  And low and behold, there is a wonderful blog created on wordpress with daily challenges.  Check it out:  Weekly Writing Challenge.  And today, one of those photos in their challenge moved me.  So, challenge accepted!

The picture above, well, let’s just add it again, shall we?  This picture, now below, is a snapshot Image of where i am in my life right now.  I’m standing still in an opening.  What’s behind me, we can’t see.  And that’s because the past is in the past and doesn’t matter any longer.  Ahead of me looks to be pathways of light off on adjacent paths, whereas the path in front of me is filled with a darkness that I must enter if I want to stay on this path.  Yeah, this picture may as well have been snapped inside my soul.

Where do I want to go?  Stay on my path that I’ve chosen for 2014 and forge on, straight ahead?  Even if it means into darkness?  And what is that darkness exactly?  Does darkness always have to be a metaphor for ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ or ‘scary’ or ‘dangerous’?  Not for me it doesn’t.  In fact, I look at that darkness as an escape!  An escape from the constant need to have every single moment of my life planned out and controlled.  To walk, confidently, into the unknown and trust, yes, trust that taking a chance on something you’ve never done that has neither security nor promise of success, both of which you’ve had no choice but to pursue for 15 long years.

The light off to the side is enticing, isn’t it?  That just a few steps, and take a hard left, and out into the sunlight you go. Safe. Secure. Easily seen.  Key word there, being ‘easily.’ I’m tired of easy.  I’m tired of safe. I am ready, craving, no starving for the path less traveled.  To find out what I could be if I just took a leap of faith.

To quote from Robin Williams from Dead Poets Society:

To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer: that you are here; that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

What will my verse be?  What will my verse be? Will I find it in the light?  Will I find it in the safe?  Will i find it in the known?  Have I already written it?  Dear God and all that is holy, I hope not.  I hope my verse is yet to be written.  I look ahead, into this photo, and I hear my braver self talking to me, and she says, “No.  No, M, it’s not in the light.  It’s in there.  It’s straight ahead into the unknown.  It’s forward, the movement you’ve been prevented from taking for 15 long years, and now, now you’re free to move in any direction you like.  Go forward, M.  Go forward.  Just take that first step.  Embrace the fear.  Embrace the dark.  Make your own destiny!”

And that’s the key for me.  Destiny.  Fate.  Il Destino!  I thought my fate had been sealed the day my mother got sick, and I made the choice to give up my dreams for daughterly responsibility.  And when her illness went on, year after year, with no end in sight, I figured my fate had been set.  In fact, it occurs to me, as I look at this picture, that if I’d been shown this picture a year ago, I’d have seen that place as a sad empty place with only more darkness at the end.  Perspective is a funny thing, isn’t it?  Isn’t it interesting how life events will change your perspective on a static object?  In July, my mother passed on, and I began the slow painful process of laying her to rest and finalizing her affairs so that I can get on with my life.

Although, as my main blog Who Ate My Breadcrumbs? explains, I am so far removed from the path I originally set for myself, I need to find my way back.  Although, it’s as if, along the way, someone ate my breadcrumbs!  My way back is not clear.  So, when you don’t know which direction to go, the best thing to do is stand still. Take a look around. Make your next move with confidence.  With determination.  And that’s where I’m at right now.  I’m trying to find my way out of the place my dutiful nature took me.  I need to find my dreams again; find my hope again.  And so, that is what this picture represents to me: Hope.

I vow to myself to remember that, while the journey is important, the destination must be a factor also.  Though I don’t know for sure the specifics of my destination, I know that I want it to have the following:

  • Love
  • Writing
  • Art
  • Adventure

In that order!  And it’s a new concept for me to think about finding all that in a place I’ve never looked before.  A place I’d never dare to look before while in my cage of daughterly duty.  But, the cage has been placed outside, and I’m mere months away from being able to open the door and fly into the unknown with bliss and un-abandon!  I’m terrified to do this.  But with that terror comes excitement.  And every day I get closer to tying up that last loose end, when I can take my first step towards my new life, and it’s exhilarating.

Join me on my journey into the fascinating darkness of unknown and watch as I discover what is really inside the unknown waiting for me.

Ciao for now,

M

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Got Bliss?

Got Bliss?

So, I searched for ‘happiness’ on Pinterest, and came across this photo of a little girl on an ostrich in Africa. The sheer joy on her face. The sheer happiness that just jump out at you from this photo moved me. And made me think, when was the last time I was truly happy? When was the last blissful moment of my life. And then I looked closer at this picture, and realized, it’s not about the bliss of the past. It’s finding the bliss in the now.

Got Bliss? Not quite yet…but I’m on my way. First breadcrumb found!

This photo, compliments of Pinterest

Let It Go!

Disney wrote the song of my life with this one! I’m in love with this song, and oh, how the great Idina can sell a song!

In finding my way back, there are going to be things in my way: People, negativity, self doubt, and fear. Well, I’m gonna let it all go in 2014!

“Here I stand! And here I stay! Let the storm rage on! The cold never bothered me anyway!”

Video by WaltDisneyStudiosUK

A Tale of 2 S’s: Setbacks and Strength

Strength is something my family does well.  Strength is something that is cultivated, motivated, and demanded of any member of my clan.  Life wasn’t particularly kind to any member of my family, that I know of, so in order to survive, we all lean on our strength.  My grandfather’s parents died when he was a young boy, and the relatives who raised him weren’t kind people.  So much so, that he lied about his age to join the army at 17 just to get away from them. He married into a family led by a hateful matriarch that would make the grandmother in Flowers In The Attic look like June Cleaver.  He married the oldest daughter, my grandmother, who was forced to quit school in junior high to stay home and help on the farm and take care of her younger siblings.  I always thought that was crappy.  Anyway, the clash between my grandfather and great grandmother caused my mother and uncle to be the least favorite of the grandchildren.  As my mother grew up, her mouthy nature caused a bigger rift within the family, and she ran from my grandparents the day she turned 18.  She met my loser of a father, wasted a decade on that cheating alcoholic, and then dedicated her life, unhealthily I might add, around me.  When my grandmother died, the family blamed my mother, because, you know, if she’d been a better daughter, my grandmother wouldn’t have had stomach cancer.  Cuz that’s how that works.  They also blamed my grandfather for not getting good enough medical care.  Cuz again, that would stop cancer.  Ugh.  Anyway, the split in the family grew to grand canyon size, and I was raised in isolation from all of these people.  An only child to a struggling single mother with major health problems was not a fun way to grow up.  More family rifts came and went for me, as I seemed to be destined to have the same life as my mother, bringing my biggest fear to life, in that my daughterly duty would be the only thing I would ever be able to do.  

But through all of that, the one lesson that was drilled into me was “be strong.”  Actually it was “Be stronger than them.”  Whatever them might be.  Them could be other kids, them could be family, them could be fears, them could be the simple want of a boyfriend.  Nothing was celebrated in my house as much as strength.  Crying was never an option.  Wallowing was never an option.  Feeling sorry for yourself was never, ever an option.  The only option in my home was to step into the middle of whatever issue you had and beat it down with your strength.

Strength is so much a part of me, that it is literally how I survive.  I’ve stumbled and been kicked by life, but I’m stronger than to just lie there and take it.  No matter what crappy situation I’m in, be it a bad relationship, an unbalanced friendship, a toxic work environment, I summon my strength and I find my way out.  Strength amidst the chaos is how I survive.  And i cemented that facet of who I am, with this:

forza

This tattoo is my strength amidst the chaos.  Forza, meaning strength in Italian, is the pinnacle of who I am.  And this past week, as I continue on my journey to a better me in 2014, I’ve needed molto forza!  Much strength!  Because I’ve been handed a few setbacks.

I have held to my goals so well this month, that I’ve truthfully surprised myself.  I’ve written every day, and more importantly, I’ve moved every day.  Well, I went out of town for the weekend, and did not stick to that goal, I’m ashamed to say.  I walked a bit around the city, but I didn’t do much on Saturday at all.  And then, when I returned home, I friggin hurt myself and the muscles in my right shoulder seized up and yanked two ribs out of place!  Talk about pain.  And you know what is impossible when you’re in that much pain?  Exercise.  And it’s been awful.  It’s a setback I didn’t plan for, and one I couldn’t overcome in order to move every day.  It beat me.  And I hate that it beat me.

Now, I have a life long friend who is a wonderful chiropractor, and between his magic techniques, and the magical hands of his massage therapist, I am finally better today.  But that’s two more days of no movement, and I’m pissed!  Thank you, Dr. Ben Matheson and Matheson Chiropractic for your help, I’m very grateful. Because now I can get back to my goals.

I knew setbacks would happen.  I just didn’t think they’d happen so soon.  Yet here we are.  And I’m reminded of my mother’s words that I heard so often growing up:  “You’re stronger than this.  Quit crying and deal with it.”  And that’s what I’m going to do.  Amidst the chaos of back pain and frustration, I will be stronger.  It’s just a setback, not a failure.  I can do this.  I’m stronger than this obstacle.  I am strength.  Forza!

Ciao for now,

M

Don’t forget about the joy!

So, I took a few days away from my life, and went on a mini vacation to Seattle to visit my best friends.  Friends, who in truth, are my family.  And we spent a glorious weekend indulging in all the things that bring us joy.  The best of those is the simple act of being together.  Things are just better when we’re together.  The past few years have brought me very few things to be joyful about.  However, there is one thing that brings me so much joy, it literally brings me to tears to think about it.  And his name is Mackenzie.  

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I mean, look at him.  He’s literally the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  And he’s beautiful both inside and out.  His mere existence brings me so much joy, I can’t even put it into words.  His smile lights up a room, his spirit makes my soul sing.  He’s amazingly talented, and breathtakingly stunning, and I’m so blessed to call him family.  He’s the little brother I always wanted, and I’m so proud of him.  That bracelet is something I gave him years ago, and he always wears it, and it means so much to me.  He truly, is my joy.  He keeps me going, and makes things better for me.  I smile when he smiles.  And on the flip side, I hurt when he hurts.

Life hasn’t always blessed this beautiful boy, he’s had his challenges.  He’s just returned home after a time in New York City, and he’s regrouping back home in Seattle.  He’s focused, and he’s driven, and he’s hungry, but to know that not having New York embrace him with open arms from day one, and that fact brought him pain, also bring me pain.

I’m not a parent, but I wonder if this feeling I have is what parents feel for their children.  That hope that they succeed.  That need to fix the hurt.  That want to bring them happiness.  I feel that for Mackenzie, and have since the moment I laid eyes on him; which was strange for me, as we aren’t related in the slightest, and I didn’t meet him until he was almost grown.  But, there was something…something about him that I wanted to be a part of…something about him that i wanted to protect and nurture.  And lucky me, I got my wish.

Mackenzie has a wonderful mother, so that role is very well cast and very well performed.  I, however, get to be the big sister, and I love it.  I want this next chapter to be everything he needs it to be to take the next step in his career.  I want him to find his joy.  And I’ll do everything and anything I can to help him.

So, why add this to my blog that’s dedicated to me finding my way out of my own darkness?  Why write about someone else’s journey?  Because, what I realized in getting my arms around Mack for the first time in years is, while, yes, there is a lot I want to change, there are somethings that I did correctly.  Some things in my life so right, they don’t need me to do any work on it.  Some things already bring me joy, and I need to celebrate them.  So often I get bogged down in the crap that is awful and negative and painful.  I have a lot in my life to be happy about.  Mack is at the top of that list, and today, I take a moment to celebrate that joy!

FWY, Mack, Always!

Ciao for now,

M

Mama loooooves her some cobra pose!

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I woke up with some serious shoulder tension and pain today.  And unfortunately, I couldn’t get to yoga until tonight.  The tension got worse as my work day was hectic.  But then I got home and after dinner and chores, it was time for yoga.

So, I’ve been doing yoga for over a week now, and here is what I’ve learned about this ancient art so far:

1) I looooove the cobra pose.  It feels heavenly to get in and out of that pose.  It stretches my back like nothing else.  Breathing while in it is like massaging my own back with my breath and it’s trippy and exhilarating all at the same time.  I’m a fan.

2) Yoga clothes are a functional thing and not just cute clingy wear.  The wrong clothes will hinder movement.   The wrong clothes feel like weights pulling you out of the poses you worked so hard to get into.  The wrong clothes will make yoga harder than it needs to be.  And one should never wear a thong while doing yoga.  That’s a mistake you’ll only make once!

3) I waste my breath a lot during the day.  I never realized how shallow I breathe.  In the past few days i find myself breathing through moments mindfully.  And it feels really good.

4) The felxibilty I thought I lost is still in there.  I can feel my body thanking me for pulling it out of it’s sedentary prison.  My ligaments are stretching, my muscles are elongating, and I’m getting stronger.

Yoga is badass.  And in no time, my body is going to transform.  I can feel it in my veins.  And I likes it!

Ciao for now,

M

Ultimate Motivation!

This video gets my blood pumping. Ge’s my heart racing, and makes me want to get up out of whatever sitting or lounging position I’m in and move! I love everything about this video, and it will be my soundtrack for 2014.

I’m completely guilty of hitting that alarm and going back to sleep, after I’ve specifically set it early enough for me to get up and get a workout in.  I love sleep.  I love being lazy, this should not be news to anyone.  But I’m trying to change it, and it’s tough.  Really tough.  So, motivating videos like this one help.  They help ignite the fire that still burns within me.  They help bring out the competitor in me, and remind me that i’m only competing against myself.  And anyone who knows me knows that I don’t play games, because when I do, I play to annihilate.

And that’s what I have to do with my current goals.  I have to compete against myself to get what I want.  I have to play this game called life, and I have to win.  I have to win.  Losing is no longer an option.

Thank you, Nike, for this video.  Thank you for the motivation.  Thank you for the reminder.  And thank you for the fuel on my fire to be better than I have been and to keep my momentum in a forward motion.  Because she is a harsh mistress, but I’ll be damned if she’s going to whoop me.  I will be victorious in this game.  I will win.

Click Click Delete! Wait! Undo!

 

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My wisest friend, who also happens to be my best friend, comes from a very wise family.  And more importantly, from a very wise mother.  The matriarch of his family is known for her amazingly deep, truthful statements that, when repeated to you by her son, or if you get the amazing gift of having her say them to you directly, will rock you to the core, has said something recently that moved me.  He said that she reminded him that forgiveness isn’t about the person you’re forgiving.  It’s about you.  It’s about your healing.  And as always, she was right.

My best friend and I, with both being human, have had our share of arguments, misunderstandings, and moments of hurting the other.  Never intentionally, but always painful, the hurt from a friend can be absolutely devastating.  However, our friendship was always worth fighting our way back for, on both of our parts, so, it is with a full heart that I can still call him my best friend, despite all the struggle we’ve been through.  And it took us being able to forgive each other when one party screws up royally.

Recently, I’ve reconnected with a friend I thought I’d lost forever, and we are just starting the journey back to each other.  And the process of it is really opening my mind to the things in myself that I rarely see, and truthfully, don’t really like.  And I realized that, not only do I have to be able to forgive this person, in order to call him ‘friend’ again, but I need to forgive myself as well.  

I’m a highly emotional, sometimes melodramatic, always frank personality type.  I’m never afraid to express how I feel, and move forward with actions that I know will protect me from people who I feel will abandon me.  A therapist would have a field day with my brain, and when I can afford one, I’ll let one do just that.  However, in the meantime, I’m going to have to self analyze, and have been doing just that for the better part of a month.

Forgiveness.  One word.  One single, powerful word that can completely change a situation from bad to good.  And it is such a hard thing to accomplish when you’re afraid to be hurt again.  I’m the queen of surrounding myself with walls so that no one can truly get in, because the ones I have let in have hurt me.  My walls are fortified.  They are made of impenetrable steel.  The doors have retina scan entry as well as fingerprint recognition.  They are hidden behind the gate of a stone castle, with high walls and a moat that is protected by a fire breathing dragon.  No one gets in unless I choose to let them in.  And that hasn’t always served me in the past.  Is that fair to the new people I meet?  Should I give them the access to my inner sanctum?  What should allow them an entry code?  How do I let people in and still protect myself?  And I’ve found, the answer is, I don’t.  It’s one or the other.  

I let people in, or I protect myself.  Trying to do both simultaneously is exhausting.  So, I continue to try to let people in, and I continue to get hurt.  However, I often, after the hurt, end up with a better friendship with the person who hurt me than I originally had.  And I got a big kick out of looking back over my life and at the people who are the most important in my life now, and in every one of those relationships, there was a period of time where our friendship broke, only to be mended and put back together. 

My oldest friend, who I’ve known since we were 6 years old, we’ve had a couple falling outs where we didn’t talk, for years.  And we always found our way back to each other, and our friendship is stronger than ever.

My ‘little bro’ who is the light of my life, and the closest thing to a child I’ll ever have, wow, did we have a doozy of a falling out, complete with name calling and bitterness and silence for almost two years.  And yet, somehow we found our way back to each other, and have such a strong bond now, that I don’t ever expect to break again.  

My best friend, as I said above, and I have stumbled a few times in our friendship.  We bend, but we never break, and I adore that about us.  He is my rock.  He is my brother from another mother, and there is something so comforting in knowing that, no matter what, we will always be here for each other.  

And for my current friendship that I’m working on mending, I have a very good feeling about our success rate.  We are important to each other, and if we have that, we should be able to find our way back.  All that’s left to fully give is time and forgiveness.  

Forgiveness.  It holds such power.  The moment I finally gave forgiveness during all of these friendship struggles, my life got better.  My load got lighter.  My heart beat easier.  Yet, for me, it’s the hardest thing to give.

I hold grudges.  I ‘click click delete’ people out of my world the minute I’m harmed.  I remove them from any possible path they have towards me.  And I rarely look back.  I rarely want to undo that deletion.  And I’ve been lucky enough that, with the important people, with the people who truly matter to me, I’ve been able to ‘undo’ that deletion.  What happens when I get to the place where ‘undo’ isn’t an option?

I don’t want to find out.  I need to forgive myself for the childish, selfish, emotional way I deal with disappointment, regardless of my feelings of righteousness about my actions.  I need to slow down when I get hurt and really decide if there’s something there to salvage instead of just running behind my walls and relocking the door.  And I need to forgive myself for acting that way in the past and learn from it. 

And I know that I can.  I want to say thank you to all my friends who have allowed me to ‘undo’ my click click deletion on our friendship.  Thank you all for forgiving my shortcomings as a friend.  I’m very grateful.

Ciao for now,

M

Aaaand, breaaaaathe…

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So, in keeping up with my goal to move every day, yesterday was tough to get that accomplished.  My corgi, Sheldon, went to doggy daycare, so he would not be in need of a walk when I got home.  It was a long, busy Monday, and I was wiped by the time I got home.  I made a quick dinner, and vegged on the couch with a sleeping corgi at my side.  It was approaching 9pm, and I was beating myself up for not working out right when I got home.  

And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw it!  The DVD three pack I purchased from Amazon for myself for Christmas!  And I remembered there was an AM/PM yoga DVD in there.  I quickly jumped off the couch, and went to change my clothes and came back and popped that bad boy in!  I laid out my newly purchased yoga mat (thank you, Target), and waited as the menu faded in on my television screen.

The PM Yoga menu had everything from a 5 minute long breathing tutorial to a 45 minute sleep well yoga session.  I decided on the 30 minute tension relief one, as I was feeling very tense and had never done yoga before in my life.  So, I clicked play, and this lovely lady came on the screen, looking very tranquil in her soft blue yoga pants and tank top.  The backdrop was a stunning white beach, with clear blue waves crashing on the sand.  

The twists and stretches we did were actually not that foreign from ones I had done yeaaaaaaars ago as a gymnast or during ballet training.  

It was harder than I expected, but since it was a beginner level, it wasn’t so hard I couldn’t do it. The lady’s voice was very peaceful and calming. I realize how much flexibility I’ve lost over the years, and am abound and determined to get them back. This was definitely relaxing yoga. I’m sure the other ones created to make you sweat and fully work out you will be much more challenging. But at the end of the day, I did it! I did my first yoga session of my life. The bandaid has been ceremoneously ripped off, and now to just practice.

Which is a strange thing, because I haven’t heard that word for so many years. One practices yoga. One also practices gymnastics. Interesting dots to connect. Another interesting dot is that one of the women I admire most on this planet is a yoga instructor. I spent one hellacious year in a sorority at UW, and the ONLY good thing that came out of that year was that I got given the best Big Sis a girl could ask for. She gave me my first drink. Introduced me to my first frat boy. Took me to get my first tattoo. She was a terrible influence, and I adore her! And now, all grown up, but still not quite a grown up, cuz she’s too amazing for such things, she has become a yoga instructor. Her body is smokin! Well, it’s always been smokin, let’s be clear. But now, it’s strong and healthy and lean and gorgeous, and I’ve been fighting trying out this art of hers, and now that I have, I totally see what the fuss is about and what drew her to it. She’s a former ballerina as well, and all that stretching and bending and twisting is not only natural to us, but feel really damn good! So, I can’t wait to really get into this yoga thing, with the end goal of taking a yoga retreat with her some day. I’m so proud of me. And I hope she’s proud of me, too!

Namaste.

Ciao for now,

M

The challenge

Challenges Ahead

I should be used to challenges by now. I should be used to the fact that the things most worth having take work, and don’t come easy to me. I should be used to the struggle. And yet, the damn struggle always surprises me.

I have this friend, let’s call him Henry, and Henry is one of those people who just walk in the light. Born to privilege, given every luxury in life, his whole life, he has absolutely no idea what struggle is. He’s never felt it. Successful, wealthy parents who are loving and supportive. Private schools, the best education possible. Disgustingly good looks, the kind of looks where everyone stops to stare when he walks into a room. Women throw themselves at him, he’s never had to work for a woman in his life, so much in fact, that he doesn’t have to be faithful, because he is so up front and honest with them about his non-exclusivity, that they know what they’re getting into and don’t mind it one bit. He has finally found love, and is happily in a monogamous relationship, and even that transition from playboy to boyfriend he did flawlessly. His career took off immediately after college, and he simply has the easiest of life. At least that’s how it appears. Does Henry struggle? Perhaps. Would anyone ever know about it, other than him? Absolutely not. And from my perspective, Henry doesn’t struggle. Nothing is difficult for him. And how I wish I had his good fortune.

But alas, I am not Henry. I am me. And struggle seems to follow me. And my current new struggle I am finding is with my writing. Finding my voice is more challenging than I thought it would be. Even for this blog, I find it challenging to just talk as me, and not write what I think someone would want to read. But it’s a challenge I’ve more than accepted.

A writer must find their own voice, because, while imitation is a form of flattery, well, it is not what I want to be doing. They say ‘write what you know’. Well, I haven’t been. The projects I’ve worked on in the past were 100% fiction, often of a world I know nothing about. So, for my current projects, one of which I am completely throwing out and starting over with, I will write what I know. I will write the places I know. And the themes that I know. And I will find my voice. It’s going to be one hell of a challenge, as I’ve spent the last 36 years being silenced by an overbearing mother. I need to get ok with saying what I want to say. I need to let go of fearing judgment and rejection, and just write what I know. I need to embrace the challenge of finding my voice. Correction, I’ve embraced the challenge of finding my voice. And it starts today.

Ciao for Now

M