And Also With You

The search for peace can be a hard road… but a hard road in which one will be grateful for, even and especially for the difficulties that arise along the way, if one continues searching with an open mind and an open heart.

I was searching for peace in a troubling situation recently, and there was a good bit of time that I questioned the entire process. I didn’t understand why the peace was not already there, as I was questioning the “why” of a really heart-breaking occurrence. I couldn’t understand why this was even happening, and when I considered the idea that there would be an ultimately good reasoning behind i,t I then questioned why that reasoning couldn’t be obvious from the beginning… why did I have to go through all of this pain in order to figure it out? It was the first time in a really long time that I truly felt hope wasn’t even possible, and because of that I was hurting and confused…

But what was important was that I wasn’t giving up in my search for peace.

Truthfully, I was in so much pain that I felt like I couldn’t give up, because I simply couldn’t accept the idea that I had to live with this pain inside me forever. I love God and I know God, so one thing I was able to know and believe with confidence was that pain is not what God wants or intends, so I knew that while He’s allowing me to experience right now for a reason I can’t comprehend at the moment, there ultimately had to be something there that He’d allow me to find in order to authentically address and move forward from this particular situation. I didn’t understand how that would happen or when, but I held onto the hope that it would and simply continued to move forward in my day and in my coping process however I felt lead in my heart to move forward, baby step by baby step.

As my day went on, I was lead to finding one brick of my foundation of peace, and then another. I journaled here and there as revelations came to my mind, and I listened to music that spoke to me. Other times I sat in silence overlooking the horizon and contemplated life quietly. And throughout it all, I was ultimately lead to unexpected circumstances that I couldn’t have anticipated if I’d tried, which spoke to me in ways I could have never imagined prior to experiencing them. And slowly, but surely, my heart began to mend.

I wanted to share that story.

 

I was at the park really sitting still in silence, just trying to rest from the turmoil I’d been experiencing all day prior and doing my best to be open to peace coming into my heart. Up until this point, I’d begun to feet calmer, but I didn’t feel peace. I was just about to pack my things and leave, accepting what was/wasn’t for the moment and agreeing to turn in for the night and possibly try again tomorrow, when I saw a set of dolphins swimming joyfully in the bay. I ran across the seawall to try to catch up with them and caught the tail end (punny) of their playtime just as I reached the edge where they were. I was grateful for the unexpected distraction and opportunity for me to simply enjoy some of God’s beautiful artwork, even in the midst of an emotional storm.

I turned away and began walking back to the spot I’d claimed for the evening, and that’s when I saw feet sticking out of some bushes. My initial reaction was to assume this was a homeless person sleeping and to keep walking, as this is unfortunately not something unusual to be seen around town and I know they typically do not appreciate being disturbed, even by a well-intentioned citizen wanting to simply check up on them. But then I had to consider the idea that maybe this was a person who needed help, and that I should check on them. I carefully tiptoed closer in order to get a better look, and when I did, I saw that this person seemed to be curled comfortably within these bushes, with a bag beneath their head as a pillow. It appeared clear to me that this person had turned in for the evening for a rest within nature on a beautiful night, and I certainly didn’t want to disturb him. He honestly looked peaceful. So I continued my walk back.

As I walked, I contemplated what I’d just seen… I felt sorry for the man who saw sleeping outside as their best option for the night. But then I felt happy for him that he did have such a beautiful option for rest. I mean, here he is, resting on a beautiful evening within a beautiful, very peaceful, and fairly secluded park on the water, residing in the paradise location that is St. Petersburg, Florida. I was happy for him to have that blessing of an alternative to the standard four walls and a roof.
But as I continued walking, I thought about how badly I wished I had something to give this person. I’d bought myself veggie sushi along the way out to this park on my bike, but I’d already eaten it, as well as drank the water I’d brought. I had no cash, no food, and no water to give. I felt as though I had nothing to offer, and that pained me because here I was seeing someone in need right in front of me, and I didn’t feel equipped to do anything to help. I felt terrible about it, and I began to question why… “Why, God, did you allow me to eat that sushi? Why didn’t you suppress my appetite? Why didn’t you show me this man earlier before I’d eaten it? Why didn’t you inspire me to buy extra food like you’ve done before? Why would this happen this way, it doesn’t make any sense to me?”
I wasn’t angry with God, but I most certainly was confused and a bit frustrated about it. But, as I continued walking, my mind brought me to realizing, after racking my brain, that I did have something to give- I had a pen and some paper from my journal. If anything, I could write this man something loving and kind that might start his tomorrow off with a blessing, and hopefully bring him toward more gratitude, happiness, and joy in his day after he wakes to it. I figured if I couldn’t feed his stomach, I’d do what I could to feed his heart and soul by bringing him some positivity and encouragement, at the very least. Maybe he’d resent the unwarranted positivity it and throw it away, or maybe he’d love and appreciate it as it makes his day more beautiful… there’s really no way for me to know the outcome, but I knew I felt called by my good, true heart to try. And so I did.

As I got back to my bag, I realized that within my journal, I actually had a blank card. I’d put it in there for the purposes of writing a thank you to a friend a few days prior, but I’d chosen to use a different card that day and the other was left in my bag untouched as a result. I decided this card was here at this time for a purpose, and that purpose was to be fulfilled here and now.

As I began to write, I realized I had no idea what I should or wanted to write… but I trusted my intentions and ability to bring love onto this paper and I simply let it flow. Before I knew it, I was writing front and back on this card a flow of words that I felt were being derived straight from the depths of my innermost heart’s, through the ink in that pen and onto the paper. I prayed the person reading these words would truly be able to feel the love that was flowing within them, and I felt good about it. It felt right.

As I placed the card in the envelope, I thought about how I had nothing to place within the envelope or next to it- no money, no food, no water… just love. Although I felt good about the words I’d written, knowing that at times, kind and uplifting words can mean more to us than food and water, I still felt the need or desire to let this man know that I wished I had more to give, and would have if I did. So I wrote within the envelope flap the words, “I didn’t have anything to give you but my love… I hope today that is enough,” signed with a heart. I prayed he would feel and absorb the intentions behind this card and the words inside and that it would impact his heart and his day, even his life, in a way that brings him to more peace… and as I prayed that prayer, walking away from the spot in which I left the card by sleeping beauty, I came to a realization of my own.

Had I had what might have been the obvious solution at the time- food and/or water and/or money- I likely would have never continued searching for more. I likely would have left one or all of those things, possibly including a brief, but much less thought out, letter along with it of encouragement and positivity. And not to discount that type of a gesture- it’s beautiful, kind, and would have been wonderful in itself- but I was lead to something more on this day that I think could provide something much more meaningful for this person than food may have been. Had I had the obvious solutions at the time I wanted them, I would not have been motivated or inspired to reach deeper down within myself for that something more…

And at that moment, I was grateful for God’s timing.

I was grateful to have not had all of the answers at the time I wanted them. I felt that the journey which brought me to the place of writing and leaving this letter was maybe a bit more difficult and more drawn out to travel, but it was so much better than I could have anticipated or understood on my own in the time I wanted to know it all. And it hit me, that that’s how He works. That’s how God works in us at all times.

We are human. And since we’re human, we couldn’t possibly understand His ways, His timing, or His reasons… and that’s how it’s meant to be. Because if we did, we would do it wrong. But when we allow Him to work without interference of our own, His ways are higher than ours and bring much more beautiful results than we could ever imagine prior to experiencing them. We simply have to trust… we have to have faith, and then simply follow His (sometimes subtle) lead.

This experience brought me to realizing that the peace I was searching for wasn’t there at the time I wanted it, because I was meant to travel this journey. Not only was I meant to travel this journey for the man in the park, but I was meant to travel it for my own sake and for the sake of those who are impacted by the lessons I’ve learned, the strength I’ve gained, and the ways in which the Lord brings me to sharing it all. He didn’t cause the pain I was in, but He allowed me to experience it, rather than removing it how and when I prayed He would, because He knew that had He removed it then, I would have never been motivated and inspired to find my way to the true peace, strength, and blessings I found myself in as a result of that difficult road. I understand the difficult situation I was in much better now, and I have more than I could have dreamed as a result of the journey I traveled to finding it, and I’m grateful for it all… for the struggles, for the pain, and for the beauty that exists within every bit of it.

The journey to peace can be a struggle. It can be hard, painful, scary, and confusing, and no one truly enjoys those things when they’re happening. But what we can do is we can hold onto the hope, that one day we will better understand, and one day the peace will come… but we must have faith in the fact that although we cannot anticipate or control how/when/why, God can, and His ways are better than ours. And that everything will ultimately, always, be okay.

He takes care. Always and forever. Because He loves us. And because love exists, I cannot believe anything other than that there is hope and there is good, in any and all things. God is good.

Advertisements

Alignment

I’m in the mood to create today… I haven’t quite felt the calling for creation in some time, but man is it screaming my name today! Part of this is certainly coming from feeling such inspiration in different ways from all of the various experiences I’ve had, both positive and negative, but I think a big part of it is also coming from a lack of personal time and a feeling of misalignment that I feel creativity can help to bring back into balance.

I am a person who loves adventure and loves exploring new places and new people, but I don’t feel the need or desire to do that in a big, bold way at all times. I don’t think adventure only lies within hiking, jumping off of cliffs, cave diving, sky diving, etc. because while I absolutely do love all of those things, I also see adventure within the bravery to do any new things that excite, scare, and challenge you, whether they are big and bold or small and quiet. The adventure is especially amplified when we opt to do them alone. To be vulnerable enough to really, truly open ourselves up along the way, as well as to live in such authentic love that we encourage and ask others to do the same, is an adventure that does not receive as much attention and praise as bungee jumping might warrant; but it most certainly is a beautiful way to explore and experience life, in my opinion, and that is the type of adventure I most often seek.

Now, this isn’t to say that there is anything wrong with adventuring in big, bold ways all the time. It’s just that that’s not how I personally prefer to go about my exploration of this world and this life. I love to have many of those quieter moments along the way, because those are the moments that allow me to truly absorb anything that I’ve experienced thus far, and it’s within those moments that I most often find my inner fire to bring these experiences to life in a creative way. They allow me to reflect on it all and find the most sincere gratitude for the experiences, to get to know myself better in a way I may not have acknowledged before, and to get to know the world and others on a deeper level by really stepping back and taking in the unique beauty that I learn from and see in them. Those moments realign me with me at my innermost core. And maybe it’s the artist in me, maybe it’s simply a homebody that exists within me in conjunction with my gypsy soul, but it does exist and I have to honor it or I begin feeling the disconnect and craving alignment more than I’d crave water in a desert.

I think it’s important to truly know ourselves- what we want, what we value, what we need. I’ve definitely put a significant amount of effort into getting to know my authentic heart, but I’m a Pisces and we are mysterious little beings… even I don’t fully understand myself yet! 😉 So it really is a constant journey of unraveling the layers, and the recent traveling that I’ve embarked on has done quite a bit of tugging. It’s difficult at times, especially when we feel like we’ve already made it to the core of ourselves and realize, “Oh! There it is… mountains more of unraveling has begun.” You really have to acknowledge it, brace yourself, and then dive right in.

And that is exactly what I’m doing. I’m diving head-first into this adventure and sooo looking forward to absorbing the experiences and sharing them in whatever awesome, amazing way God calls me to share them. Today, that way calls for some creavity and probably a lot of mess… can’t wait!

Geronimo

My journey so far has been interesting… it’s been interesting in a way that is so very different from anything I’d anticipated before embarking on it and I think that’s what has made it slightly difficult to verbalize or write about. I’ve been feeling out very different and unexpected situations involving adversity and negativity, exhaustion, unexpectedly limited resources, and suddenly changed plans. While traveling around in the country has been so much fun and so inspiring, it has also had its moments that felt slightly miserable and very disheartening. I really think I’ve felt all the range of emotions available to the human heart in a brief two weeks in time, and while it has been difficult to know how to verbalize what it was that I was experiencing or feeling, as I was still in the midst of processing it all myself as I went, the truth is that I ultimately did truly appreciate every bit of it, both in those disheartening moments as well as after they’d passed.

The primary aspect of this journey that I appreciate more than anything else is the truth of experiencing this journey as it is, rather than as it “should be” or even how I wish it would be… because really, that’s how life in and of itself goes. In a major way, the travel journey I’m on has been very reflective of my life journey in general. I’m currently traveling throughout different states with a general purpose in mind that I am very focused on, but also with my spirit free for flying, enjoying, and expploring. That very much speaks to the way in which I’ve been living my life. Because while I most definitely had my own ideas as to how this whole thing was going to pan out for me regarding the types of situations, people, and opportunities I would ecounter, the truth is that we can never really control what is meant to come our way, can we? We can do our best to develop our dreams and ideas, maintain motivation and focus on them, and intentionally pursue them to the best of our abilities, but ultimately what comes our way is not up to us- that’s all up to God.

And I think that’s beautiful.

Because I don’t know about anyone else, but I personally don’t want that kind of responsibility on my shoulders. I’m happy to have that weight of having to control everything lifted from my shoulders so that I can be free to explore and experience this life in a happy, joyous, authentic way. No anxiety over what’s going to happen, because I can rest assured knowing that I’m doing my very best and whatever is meant to come to me will come to me. If I’m giving my all and something does not come my way, I know it was not meant to be in my life and I’m grateful for the fact that it’s not taking up time, space, or energy by being forced to exist for me. If I’m not giving my all, I can simply forgive myself for being lazy, acknowledge it, and then do whatever I can to do better moving forward, even if that means taking baby steps.

The point is this: nothing is really entirely in my control, and not only am I okay with it, but I am grateful for it. Because I’m lighter for it. I can walk lighter knowing that I don’t have the weight of my world sitting on my shoulders.

In fact, we can all walk lighter that way because the same applies to each and every person. The only difference is that we tend to lock ourselves into a weight-bearing, heavy prison via our mindset in which we don’t allow ourselves to move freely. For some reason, we feel like we’re supposed to feel weighed down… almost like if we aren’t carrying an unbearable amount of weight, responsibility, and pain in our lives, we aren’t doing it right. And that’s simply not the case. In fact, I beg to differ that if we would actually allow ourselves to live lighter, we free ourselves to do more to impact the world in a beautiful and significant way. Because, let’s be honest… is it more efficient to run into the water to save a drowning person with a 50 pound weight tied to our soulders, or to run in with our weight lifted and arms free to focus on holding the light and inflatable raft?

You don’t have to agree with me- that’s fine. But personally, I’d prefer to be as weightless as possible. I’m running in weight-free, ready to explore, adventure, enjoy, and save lives. 😉 Here goes something! Geronimoooooo

Secrets of the People Pleaser

I’m going to let you in on a little secret that is far too important to be a secret. It’s something that I’ve come to learn from my own personal experiences, as well as from observing the experiences that others like me have had, and have found to be one of the most significant aspects of my journey.

You see, so many of us fall under the category of “people-pleasers”. We want to avoid conflict at all costs, even if it means sacrificing our own well-being in the process. We want everyone, or at the very least the majority of people, to be happy in regards to the decisions we make, so we tend to become chameleons when it comes to our “opinions”. Our choices are constantly changing with the tides of who we’re around and the circumstances we’re in. And while there’s certainly some benefit to flexibility and the openness to compromise, people-pleasers take it 5 steps further, to a place that ultimately does more harm than good.

As people-pleasers, we strive so desperately to appeal to those around us that we often wind up losing ourselves in the process. We quite literally forget to acknowledge our own needs and desires because we’re so focused on what everyone else wants, and for many of us who have embodied this characteristic for the majority of our life, we have all but entirely lost the ability to know what our own needs and desires actually are anymore. Because our preferences have been molded to fit the preferences of those we love most, and even those we barely know, our identity lies with “whatever everyone else wants”, rather than with who we truly are. For those of us who have lost ourselves to this extent, we can barely say we truly even know ourselves with much honesty; although most of us won’t allow ourselves to face that harsh reality too closely before convincing ourselves once again that “this is who we are” because making people happy is our identity, and we feel a sense of nobility about it, even if we see the unhealthy marks of this type of behavior.

As mentioned before in regards to flexibility, there is absolutely benefit to wanting others to be happy and doing our best to play a role in facilitating that happiness; however, people-pleasers take it much further, and the truth (and secret) is that it doesn’t ultimately benefit others the way we think it does. So in honor of the journey I’ve faced myself and the gratitude I have for the people and situations that have come to me along the way to help me find my true identity in this world, I’m here to shed some light on the reality of the situation.

What no one ever told you about people-pleasing is that it’s not the magical fix-all conflict avoider that we want to believe it is.

First of all, it is literally impossible to please everyone. Every person in this world is different, with different upbringings, different experiences, different mindsets, different cultures, different physiological makeups, and simply different personalities and tastes. There’s absolutely, hand-down, 100% no way possible in the world that any person can appeal to every person they encounter. Knowing this doesn’t give us any reason or right to completely disregard the feelings of others, but it does force us to accept that there are always going to be opposers… even Ghandi had opposers! Many think he was crazy, an extremist, fake, etc., but many also deeply appreciated his teachings and the example he lead in a peaceful life. That’s just how life goes. But Ghandi did not adjust his behavior and his choices in order to mold to the preferences of those who might opposed him. While he had great respect for the feelings and differing beliefs of others and was open to learning differently than what he already knew (again, benefit to the flexibility), he ultimately did the work to truly know his own beliefs, needs, and desires, and he remained strong and true to them to the best of his abilities. Had he changed his mind according to his surroundings, he would have never had the opportunity to impact the world the way he did with his authenticity. Likewise, when we adjust our preferences and choices according to others, we are ultimately robbing the world of benefitting from the beauty of our authenticity that we may not have even given ourselves the opportunity to know exists…. which leads me to my next point.

The second aspect of people-pleasing that I’d like to point out is harmful is the way in which it breeds resentment within us, which is harmful for both ourselves as well as for those we encounter. When we focus on people-pleasing, rather than on simply growing within our own authentic selves and becoming the best, most genuinely loving version of ourselves possible, we are subconsciously setting ourselves up for disappointment, as there are so many in the world who do not operate in that way and for people as sensitive to feelings as people-pleasers are, that can be very hurtful to experience. Over time, the negative feelings towards those other people cumulate and it can be hard to let go of the sadness, fear of disappointment, or even anger that develops. This is because while the people-pleasing is coming from a good place – wanting to make others happy – the truth is that there is some selfishness in there because people-pleasers are typically seeking approval from those they’re pleasing, whether they realize it or not. We’re seeking praise or thanks, or at the very least an avoidance of conflict, and if those expectations are not met despite our self-sacrificing efforts, we can feel confused and even upset or angry at the outcome of our circumstances. And because we know that we’ve done all that we can to make the other party happy, we assume that any misalignment that still exists must be the result of the other party’s lack of love/effort/care, and our feelings are hurt for it. Not only that, but because we are self-sacrificing to such an extreme extent, when our efforts are not met with the praise, appreciation, or care that we were hoping for or expecting, we are left feeling depleted from all that we’ve given and battered from the hurt we’ve experienced, with no one there to take care of us the way we have taken care of others. This is a very sad and lonely place to be, and it only fuels the resentment that has begun to build from the situation that got us here in the first place. And for the most part, no one will know or understand how to fix it, because ultimately this was our own undoing.

So what’s a people-pleaser to do? Welp, I’ll tell you! Again, this is simply from my own experience. I don’t claim or assume to know everything; I simply know what I’ve experienced and how I’ve moved forward from it. This is my attempt to share that with you, but I understand that we’re all different and others may have a different path to follow that’s more beneficial for them… I simply hope whatever path each person takes leads to true happiness and satisfaction in life. But, for me, these were my steps.

1. Learn to accept that you can’t please everyone.

As I mentioned before, this doesn’t mean we need to turn into selfish, disrespectful jerks that are constantly doing rude things and yelling, “I do what I want!” as we run away with our prize. It simply means that we do our best to remain respectful of those around us, just as we would if we were to visit another person’s home or another country that encompassed a different culture and different belief systems, but we do not need to absorb their preferences as our own. There is a balance to it all, and finding the respectful, caring way to maintain your own beliefs while allowing others to have theirs, and occasionally finding the compromise between the two, is a beautiful thing.

2. Learn to get to know who you truly are – what you like, what you want, what you need, what you believe – and love it.

Take some time for yourself! It may feel selfish at first, but the truth is that you can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first. Depleting yourself of all that you have to give and losing yourself leaves you with little to nothing of real substance to give those you love and the world around you. So look at it as an investment for others and allow yourself some quality time with yourself. Discover hobbies that you enjoy because YOU like them, rather than those that you enjoy because others enjoy them. Discover what truly makes you tick and acknowledge what you need in your life to help you develop into the best version of yourself possible. Not only is this okay, but it’s so incredibly crucial to your purpose here in this life. Allow yourself and others to experience that beauty.

3. Learn to see words like “strong”, “confident”, “independent”, and even “determined” as compliments, not insults.

As a former people-pleaser, I can relate to the icky feeling that resides in our guts when we hear words like that after always identifying endearingly with words like, “sweet”, “too nice”, “shy”, and even “naive”. We accept these words as compliments because we see them as examples of our kindness and loving hearts. When we’re told that we need to have a backbone or we should stop being so nice when someone is cruel to us, we take pride in the words because they show the world just how much we selflessly give others, and again, we feel noble for it. Especially as women, we feel the need to be weaker so that the men can feel stronger in protecting and taking care of us. If we’re too strong, we feel as though we may have lost our feminine quality. That’s not the case. There is nothing wrong with having a kind, giving, selfless heart, and in fact there is everything right with it! But there is always a balance to be found that can be much more beneficial than residing on the side of either extremes, and finding a place in which we begin receiving words like “strong” and “independent” as compliments that we hold just as dearly as “sweet” and “kind” is where we will ultimately find the most freedom.

In order to change the world for the better, we must allow our authenticity to shine through brightly… otherwise, we’re simply conforming to the world, whether it changes for the better or for the worst. Going with the flow in that kind of way is self-destructive and does not ultimately help those we love. The people we care for need us to know our value so that we can be stronger in supporting them in their moments of weakness and lifting others up to do the same. Think of it as adopting a healthy lifestyle… we can skate through life consuming everything that’s put in front of us, so as not to offend anyone, but we will ultimately become ill and weakened from it and the burden will be placed on the very people we wish not to burden as they are forced to take care of the neglect we had on ourselves throughout the years. But we can choose better. We can learn to take better care of ourselves by consuming the proper diet and nutrition as well as maintaining exercise to be strong, which allows us to be of much more use to those we encounter. We’re stronger, healthier, happier, more vibrant, and much more truly present in the moments they need us most.

But it’s all up to us, as we can’t ever change anyone else. We must choose to take care of others by first taking care of ourselves – and that’s the secret. That’s the truth to people-pleasing that no one ever told you. Take it and fly, my independent, strong, kind, loving, sweet, confident, selfless, determined, caring babies! Go sprinkle that authentic fairy dust all over this world, will ya? 😉
  

Letter To A Friend

I recently wrote this letter to a friend. But after rereading it, I realized that while I truly meant every word to be specifically written for that friend, if I changed around some of the wording and replaced the names it became something that I think many of us could find something valuable in, in some way. So I thought I’d share it, in hopes that it speaks to each of its readers in the precise way that they need to hear it. Because you deserve all of the love you desire in the world, because you’re wonderful too.

Dear Friend,

I want you to know something that I’ve noticed about you, because I think it’s important to be aware of these things. I know it can be hard to face at times, especially when you’re surrounded by the types of people and situations that are currently a very big part of your life, but still, it’s important. Please receive what I’m about to tell you with an open mind and an open heart, and know that I have nothing but the best of intentions in bringing this to your attention.

Friend…

you are…

an amazing person.

You have such a beautiful heart that I don’t think you realize is quite as beautiful as it is. I know that you struggle at times with the “falls” in life, but you know what I see about those falls? I see that you care that you fell. The fact that you even care that you fall, and the heaviness that you feel in wanting to get back up and do better in the future is not a heart that’s like those who you’re surrounded by and I know are afraid of becoming like. I know you know that your heart is different from theirs, but I just don’t think you see quite how different it is. That conviction you feel in your heart is unique and so special. It’s the beauty of God’s light shining through you, and His Spirit speaking to you in order to guide you in the right direction. The fact that you feel that is incredible, and the fact that you care so deeply about it is an anomaly.

You are an incredible person.

You are not defined by those past mistakes that you’ve made. None of them matter as far as who you are today goes, aside from the past role they played in breaking you down and providing you with an opportunity to build back up to a stronger, wiser, more confident, more resilient, kinder, more loving, more vibrant version of you. And maybe there’s still some working through that needs to be done in regards to past mistakes that remain lingering in your heart, and that’s okay. You can do that. It’s never too late, and the mistakes never need to linger and provide any added weight to your journey as you move forward, because those mistakes you made are no longer your mistakes. They are your past’s mistakes, whether they were yesterday or 20 years ago, and you now have today in front of you. You were blessed with another day, which is huge because there are so many who are not given that blessing today. But you were, and that means that you still have purpose to pursue and fulfill. And that could mean purpose that manifests in a few years, or purpose that manifests now… we never do really know, do we? We can feel pulled toward fulfilling something great in the future, but we may be only given today to live purposefully. Either way, there’s something beautiful to pursue each day, and that’s enough to make me excited and full of gratitude when I wake up in the morning.

I know that you have great purpose on a daily basis.

In the way you speak, the way you treat others, and the way that you choose to shine God’s light to the world, you are fulfilling purpose. Remember that. And remember that that’s where your value lies. Your value is not in the job you work. Your value is not in the way that you look. It is not in the weight you think you may have gained or lost recently, nor is it in the money you have or the car you drive. Your value is not in any other worldly thing… your value is in your heart. Plain and simple. Pursuing finding value in any other form is to cater to something other than God. Because it’s the way that you allow your heart to shine and touch others that is the most valuable currency to exist, as it is the way that God made you, and that is ultimately the purpose he created you for. How many times in the Bible does it say that love- loving others, loving God, as well as respecting and loving yourself- is the most important thing? He gave you special gifts in many different ways so you could explore how you’re meant to share that light at various different times in your life, and that’s okay! That’s what he gave them to you for. EXPLORE THEM. But He most definitely never wants you to forget that the ways you do it are not where your actual value exists… it is what you share from deep in that heart of yours that is the most valuable. The love you give is what He cares about, and what He cares about is far more important than anything anyone else could think about you, even in regards to your family and friends.

I know that you know all of this. I’m sure I’m not telling you anything new. You’re intelligent and wise and I’m well aware of that, so I hope you don’t think that I’m patronizing you in any way by sharing my thoughts here. I simply know that sometimes, we could all use a hug. No matter how strong our friends and family know us to be, a hug is always appreciated… it reminds us that we’re cared for, and worth caring for, because the truth is that we’re human and we can forget those things in our darker hours.

And this is my heart hug to you.

I really, truly, 100% believe that you are a special person who was put on this planet, at this time, with all of the array of gifts and talents that you have, and having experienced all of the trials and struggles you have, for a big, big purpose. You’re here to change the world, Friend. And while that may seem like a really heavy, slightly scary sentence to read, just know that it’s nothing of the sort. Because you can change the world simply by being you- the you that God created to be. Not the “you” that society wants you to be, or the “you” that your friends might want to be, or even the “you” that your family might like you to be. You’re meant to play a significant and unique role in this world as the real, true YOU, in all of your authentic glory. Sometimes it takes work to find our true authenticity, because we have been shaped by society and so many things, but it’s absolutely worth it. And after we do the work to shed all of those layers, nothing could be easier or more genuinely joyful than gliding through life by God’s hand and guidance, simply being who we are at the core of our heart in the Lord. I know because I’ve done it, and because I’ve done it myself I can see past your moldings and walls and see your heart for what it truly is underneath it all… and it’s beautiful. It’s so beautiful, and it will change the world.

I’m grateful to know you. You’re a beautiful soul with a beautiful heart and I look forward to seeing all of the incredible things you’ll do with it. Thank you for sharing a small piece of it with me. ❤

Looking forward to seeing your best role yet play out,
Audrey

Something that I’ve noticed along my journey is the need we often feel for obtaining approval and the immense amount of influence that has on the choices we make.

I was watching a movie the other day called, “Aloha”, starring Rachel McAdams, Bradley Cooper, John Krasinski, and Emma Stone. It was a really good movie! I loved it. But there was a dynamic in there that I recognized all too well. It was a dynamic that showed when Bradley Cooper, who played Rachel McAdams’ ex boyfriend, showed up and began stirring the pot in her current marriage of 12 years with John Krasinski. How someone could come in to a marriage of that long and cause any sort of turmoil after not having been around for 13 years might boggle one’s mind, as one might expect the both of them to have moved on. But it was clear in the movie that Rachel McAdams had not moved on from the break up. She still had pent up frustration and felt as though she had things to get off her chest to Cooper. She was obviously looking for either closer, or reopening, but regardless of what it was she was going for, the fact is that it was coming from a place of still caring for, and still needing from Cooper.

This brings to light something I think we all have been able to relate to at some time or another- wanting even more what has hurt us the most. It’s sick, really, but it’s a truth of our existence that we must face if we’re ever truly going to move past it.

An example that I can relate to this is with my dog. He adores me and I adore him. It’s definitely a mutual love there, and I just wanted to make that clear. BUT… there have been times that I’ve hurt him. I either came home much later than anticipated and missed his normal dinner time, walking in to a very worried and very hungry pup. Or I have accidentally stepped on his tail, hit him while wailing my arms to talk per usual, or kicked him while walking and not realizing he was in the vicinity of my feet. So many times, so many hurts. And, yet, what does he do each and every time?

It’s almost as if he loves me more.

Seriously. Each and every time I’ve hurt my dog, he puts his tail between his legs (as if it was his fault, which breaks my heart even more), and cowers towards me, kissing my hand and wagging his tail quickly, though still holding it low tot he ground. It is the most pitiful thing I think I could ever experience and I typically spend the next 5 minutes apologizing, talking in a sweet voice to him, and giving him love to make sure he knows it was not his fault and mommy didn’t mean it! It’s really a sad scenario- you don’t ever want to witness it.

But the point to sharing that story is to more easily highlight the dynamic that exists- someone hurts us, and we wind up cowering towards those who hurt us, in hopes that we’ll receive that reassuring apology that it wasn’t our fault, they didn’t mean it, and they love us. We want to believe that the harm wasn’t actually meant for us and that we’re worth the love we desire… and because they person has taken that away, they seem to be the only person who can truly provide it. We feel like we need them to fix the mistake of whatever harm that was caused. If they don’t we may attempt to move forward and find that love and worth elsewhere, but ultimately, if the opportunity ever arises for us to get it straight from the original source, we want to take it. It really is quite sick. And if we don’t ever face this truth and do what’s necessary to work through it- truly work through it- we will be stuck in that circle.

The ways we can go about addressing this are not the easiest, but neither is living in an unhealthy, ultimately unhappy dynamic. Once we address these things, we can truly move forward and life really does run a whole lot more smoothly.

1.) First and foremost, we need to recognize it. It’s hard to look at these types of relationships straight in the face because we don’t want to see them as something we need to address and move on from… that’s the pull that we feel keeping us there, and it’s precisely what we’re trying to work through. So the first step is actually acknowledging that it needs to be worked through.

2.) The second step is finding and understanding our “why”. Why do we feel this way in this relationship? Why do we feel the need to be near this person and/or obtain approval/love/appreciation/worth from them? What happened to create this insecurity in us, and why have we allowed it to make us feel so insecure? Do they honestly, truly define our worth or are we putting power in hands that it doesn’t belong in?

3.) Once we’ve addressed that, we need to work on realizing where our worth comes from, which is from ourselves. We need to see and truly believe in our own worth before anyone else will ever be able to do so. We need to understand the strength that we truly do hold within our own selves, even if we’ve never allowed it to surface and be seen. We need to learn to love ourselves the way we want others to love us. If we can’t see it, how in the world can we ever expect someone else to?

4.) And then we need to do whatever needs to be done in order to leave this pain behind and move forward. Let go of it. Stop holding on. There is nothing to hold on but flames of something that doesn’t exist any longer, and it’s burning our hands. Let go, allow your charred hands to heal, and leave them open to receiving the healthy, happy love that we’re meant to hold within them. Do not close them off. That is the worst thing you can do for a burn, as it could very potentially mend the burn wounds together, making it hard and harder for you to ever open those fragile fingers back up again once you want to. Leave them open. Let them heal. And trust that the right love will come into them, in the right way, and the right time.

We don’t need these painful relationships, and we certainly don’t need the “closure” from them that we think we do… we can have closure, sure, but we typically place that power in the wrong hands. Closure ultimately does not come from anyone else but ourselves. At times, something that someone else says can trigger that feeling of relief and closure within our minds and hearts, but the very basic truth is that that’s where it lies- in our own minds and our own hearts. We can have that peace with or without the help of anyone else. It’s always been in our own hands and that’s where it will always be.

Rest easy, beautiful souls, and never let anyone have your worth in their hands. It doesn’t belong there and never did.

The Veil

I do have to say, though… death brings a thickness to the air… a fog. It’s as if someone placed a semi-thick sheet of plastic over your body that acts as a veil as you walk through your day, shielding you from fully being a part of the world but not completely blinding or secluding you. It’s more like a light barrier which just requires much more focus and attention from you in order to function at basic levels, as your sight, hearing, smell, and coordination have all been compromised. You walk through the grocery store and the sounds you hear are suddenly a bit muffled. Someone says hello and it takes you a moment to realize they were addressing you, much less hear what they said, because that plastic sheet is just so separating. The grocery store clerk asks how you are and suddenly that plastic sheet becomes tighter and you think of how almost inconsiderate that was, as if they should know what you’re going through. After all, you feel like it’s practically written all over your face…
Don’t they know what your life entails at the moment?
Don’t they understand the pain you’re in?
Don’t they get that your world has just fallen apart right in front of your?
How anybody can not see the shattered pieces all around you is beyond you, but you don’t even quite care. All you truly care about doing is getting back to whatever shell makes you feel safe- home, office, park, beach, car- and spending all the rest of your days curled up there, staring into the abyss, just trying to gasp for a fresh breath that seems to never come, because someone you love is suddenly no longer a part of this world… and you just can’t… process.

It’s definitely a process.

And it’s strange.

Soon you begin to realize that maybe not everyone is being inconsiderate… that maybe, just maybe, they truly can’t feel your pain. That pain that you think is so explosive it could take out at least a city radius around you might actually just be yours and your alone to feel.

So you begin to soften.

You remain tucked under your plastic sheet, but you begin to soften your frustration with the outside world for not seeing it and treading more carefully around it’s delicate layer. Someone begins to speak to you and you think, maybe this is where the opportunity lies for me to communicate through this thick layer… maybe I should go for it.

And so you do.

And you know what? It’s not so bad. Sure, it was difficult, And it might have even been a little bit painful. But it was nowhere near what you were anticipating, and ironically enough, there was a moment or two of completely unexpected actual relief. Something about opening up to the outside world made you feel like you were somewhat of a part of it again, despite the heavy sheet that still seems to be remaining in place over you.

Time goes on and that sheet begins to thin out. Fresh air breezes in from time to time when you decide to let go of your grasp of its veil, which you do reluctantly because something about its protective layer has become surprisingly comforting. While you don’t quite feel like you’re functioning “normally” as a part of the world again, something about the new you feels like it’s okay. You start to realize that you may never not have this plastic sheet draping over you again, at least not entirely and at least not permanently, but that the thin layer it has become is… doable. You can bear it.

And so you try.

And the thinner the sheet becomes with time, the easier it is to see through it and notice that there are others who have plastic sheets draped over them too. Maybe they were there all long and you simply never took notice before, or maybe they are entirely new sheets, it doesn’t quite matter. Because anyone wearing a plastic veil is someone who’s lost, and no matter where they are on their journey, that is pain that you can relate to, and your heart reaches out to hug. Some are thicker than others, but what’s beautiful is that each of these people can relate to one another, simply due to the existence of these veils. And yours, having thinned out quite a bit, becomes a source of comfort for those just beginning their journey of adjusting with this new addition to their existence. The thin layer of your veil as well as your ability to survive, and even possibly thrive, with its existence becomes a light at the end of their tunnel. It gives them hope, which give your purpose.

And suddenly, you realize, your pain has meaning. And while you may always wish that this plastic veil did not have to exist, you’re grateful for the opportunity that its existence has given you to lend a helping hand to others who have been in your shoes. Suddenly, you find the rainbow in the storm.

And you thank your late loved one for it, because it’s them, and it’s beautiful.

Forever In A Day

I had the pleasure of meeting a very sweet woman in my class a couple of days ago who was positive, kind, and simply radiated the type of energy that people are drawn to, like moths to a flame. Not exactly the type of demeanor you’d expect from a person who’d been diagnosed with cancer… earlier that day.

This woman isn’t the first of guests to come to my classes seeking therapy though learning to paint in a creative and positive environment, but she most certainly is the one who had the most impact on me.

We spend a good deal of time talking that night and she shared her story with me. She’d had cancer a couple of years ago and beat it, but it was back, this time with a vengeance… it seems there’s no hope for recovery this time around. When she told me this, I could see that it broke her heart, because she’ll be leaving behind children and other family and friends when she goes. But the entire time we spoke, she didn’t shed one single tear, and her illuminating smile didn’t waiver at all, not even a little. I know that most would say that she was faking it, or that she could have possibly been in denial, and I know I could be wrong (I’m not her), but I didn’t think this was fake. I truly felt that the joy and love she was showing was the joy and love that she felt, not because she was oblivious to her circumstances or faking through the pain, but because the good things that she saw to come from her circumstances far outweighed the bad.

See, she spoke a lot about her children… they’d actually lost their stepfather- her second husband- to cancer a few years back. I think it was knowing the pain that they’d endure in losing her which was the worst part for her to have to face. It was the only time I thought maybe her smile could begin to fade. But as she continued to tell me about their plans to enjoy life to the fullest, beginning with my class as their first step toward adventure (I felt beyond honored), her face quickly began to light up again. And it wasn’t only the idea of making new, amazing memories with her loved ones that seemed to filled her heart; it was more what she knew her children would take from it all. I saw that it was the strength that they’d gain and the appreciation for truly living and enjoying life that she knew they’d never let out of their sight was what made her glow. She knew that through her difficult circumstances, she was able to give them something that was absolutely priceless- the gift of life.

We talked some more about this and I told her how wonderful I thought it was that they were choosing to move past what they can’t control and toward finding new, wonderful things to build upon in the rubble. I know that’s not easy for most to do in much less of trying circumstances and I found it to be so inspiring to see her making the most of something that she would be more than justified to spend her remaining days crying and sulking over. I asked her if she thought it was funny, that it often takes something as catastrophic as being faced with death for most to wake up and realize what’s truly important in life, and she said, “Absolutely. It’s a terrible waste that we allow our whole lives to pass us by, only to realize what we were meant to do with it all along right before we’re gone. That’s why I’m glad for my daughters to get to have this experience. My heart breaks for them to go through this again and lose another parent, but my heart leaps for the lives I know they’ll live after. They’ll never take a moment for granted… they actually have a shot at living.”

I believe that. I believe that we can choose to live our lives now. We don’t need to be faced with death to see the importance of our lives and understand what a blessing it is to have this one extra day, even if that’s all we get. I also don’t believe we need to be faced with pain and illness in order to appreciate the meaning of true health and vibrance. I do my best to live each day with meaning and purpose, and I try to always make choices that feed my body, mind, and soul properly along the way to benefit my today as well as my tomorrow, if I should be so blessed to have one. And I’m not perfect- I’m human- but I try. And I think that’s all we can really do. It’s the effort that shows gratitude and appreciation, which is the most important part. It may not ever yield perfection, but it will ultimately yield results worth having.

I pray that this beautiful woman is healed and blessed with years upon years of happy, healthy, vibrant living… but if that is not what’s meant to be, I pray that her life continues on through her children and those who know and love her. One way or another, she has impacted this world tremendously simply by existing and by allowing herself to be authentic and true, and I’m grateful for her. Thankful for the love that she shares with the world… felt like I got forever in a day. ❤

Mother’s Day (everyday)

I’ve been scaring the daylights out of you since circa 1988. From the time I chose to bungee jump in your womb with the umbilical cord around my neck to the moment I told you I’d be traveling solo across the world and that I didn’t really have any plans as to how I was even going to make that happen. “Just seeing where the wind blows me!” was my answer, and the look on your face said it all- you weren’t exactly excited. But you pushed through.

You pushed through that emergency c-section to save my life from my bungee adventure gone wrong, you pushed through our years of disagreement and misunderstanding each other as we learned how to know and respect each other as people, and you pushed through that feeling of fear when I expressed my wild and crazy dreams to you so that you could bring yourself to a place of unconditional love, support, and encouragement, for me. You’ve been strong for me in so many ways that you may not even be aware of, and it would take the entire day for you to read through the list if I provided it here, but that’s not what today is about. Today is YOUR day- one that I want to start with thanks, but one that will be carried through in whatever way you desire to spend it because you deserve it.

The truth is, you deserve much more than a day, because you never get a day off. You’ve been my maja for going on 28 years now… you must be exhausted! It couldn’t have been easy to raise a free-spirited wild thang hippie child, but you were strong, and in some cased you even ran wild with me.

Which is why I try my very best to let you know constantly how much you’re so very loved and appreciated. I want you to know everyday, not just today, how amazing you are… how strong, beautiful, kind, inspiring, and absolutely one-of-a-kind incredible you are. I want you to know that you change the world, simply by being you. It’s brighter, more authentic, more true, just because you’re here, being the wonderful woman you are. You deserve to know and feel that each and every day, but today is Mother’s Day and I want all of that love and appreciation from every other day to be so concentrated in your heart that it feels as if it’s going to burst, in the best way possible of course.

You, mom, are an amazing human being and I love you. You’re my best friend and I’m beyond blessed to know you, let alone to have you by my side in this life as mother. Thank you for being you, for loving me so immensely and so unconditionally… thank you for everything.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom! You. Are. Special.

Wanderlove

I have always been a wanderer, barely grounded and unconfined… and I don’t mind that. Not only do I not mind that, but I have come to love that about me. Because my wandering heart has brought me to many people, places, and situations that have inspired me, touched me, broken me, and rebuilt me. My wandering heart has broadened my horizons in thought, emotion, and dreaming in ways that I couldn’t have intentionally imagined if I tried. It has has filled my soul with beauty, amazement, awe, and love to the point that I can no longer hold it in, so now I overflow these things and share them openly with anyone that cares to receive them. I can no longer contain my spirit, nor do I want to.

Because what I once thought to be strange and doubted would ever be understood or valued is now my most coveted piece of my me. My desire to know the world more- to really feel it and learn to understand it, to be open to meeting strangers and unattached with saying goodbye, all while holding onto gratitude for the part that they played in my journey- comes from a place of deep, unrestrained love… a love for life, for others, and for myself.  And while that may seem dangerous to some, to live with a heart so wide open for all to see and even feel, I know that it is also an adventure and opportunity. Giving and receiving love in abundance simply cannot happen with the dam walls in place.

I do not fear that danger, that flood, anymore because I see that it is not pain, nor failure, nor rejection, nor uncertainty that I have to fear… it is living a life in fear of living my life that I should be afraid of. And I do not fear the falls of my journey, as I have learned to create a dance with them. I no longer fear feeling the pain of rejection because I welcome the excitement of exploring a new and unexpected path. My wandering heart used to instill fear in me- fear because I could see that I was different and didn’t know how I would ever blend in with the world around me, fear that I might not ever truly be understood, and fear that I may be dreaming too big and, therefore, might fail in what I pursue. But thankfully, my wandering heart has kept beating, and despite my best intentional efforts to ignore it, my feet knew to follow. And now I know that I was meant to dance all along.

That rhythm inside of me has been calling me out to the dance floor ever since the time of my birth and I now realize that there is nothing that fills me with joy more than when I’m stomping my feet down and waving my hands high, because man, oh man… this wanderer’s heart knows the best damn songs. This isn’t wanderlust, this is wanderlove. ❤