My New Crush

I am not putting a picture in this post because I have absolutely nothing that will do justice to the content. Not that this post is any more awesome  than any other post in my blog history, but I just have nothing in my arsenal of pictures to use. More importantly, there are no pictures in the universe of my new crush because he only exists in the pages of a brilliant, yet ridiculously heartbreaking book called, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

I’ve wanted to devour it like I usually do with great books. Stay up all night and read, but being how crazy busy my life is right now, I have been reading little snippets as often as I can instead. It is brilliant, I can’t say this enough. I have never read anything else by John Green, but I have a feeling that will be changing soon.

I normally write about books and such at my other blog, and I will more than likely post something about this over there too, but it has opened up a sore spot from my past and I thought it would be good to address it here. The Fault in Our Stars (TFIOS) is a love story and a life story of teens who are dealing with the side effects of cancer. Green does an impeccable job of explaining what this life is like. I have not been a teenager dying of cancer, but I felt like a professional sickie for a handful of years during my late teens and from my experience, he gets it just right.

I had a really trying day. I’ve been on prednisone for my silly lungs that just don’t want to let go of this bug and I was emotional from watching kids feel defeated from hours of standardized testing that does nothing but demoralize them. Nothing went according to plan today and that has now rippled into next weeks events as well. I called my mom and just broke down. She watched high school kids struggle through CSAP for years and understands. I also talked to her about how wonderful and tragic TFIOS is and she said, “Are you sure you should be reading this? It sounds a little close to home.” I answered with a choked sob.

It is close to home. I will say again that I did not have cancer. I did have a horrible illness where my brain believed I had a brain tumor (even though there was no tumor) and I went through everything someone with a brain tumor would go through, with the huge exception of not losing my life. I did almost go blind, and I am still beyond grateful that all my stars aligned and I moved up the food chain of specialists who were able to save my vision. I did lose most of my peripheral vision, but that is something I can live with. It was two years of spinal taps, excruciating headaches, E.R. visits and daily visits to the litany of doctors who were scrambling to fix me – it was hell. I am grateful for all of it because I never overlook the beauty I am lucky enough to witness. I know when things seem horrible that I have survived worse and it too shall pass.

Back to my crush.

Augustus Waters is one of the characters in TFIOS. He is irreverent and metaphorical, he is romantic and sarcastic. He is fictional, unfortunately. He is everything I would have wanted when I was going through the fight of my life. In all honesty, he is everything I would want now. I am grateful that Green wrote this unbelievably beautiful story, but I also hate him for making me fall for Gus.

I was lucky enough to have two incredible friends stick with me through my illness. Most people stayed away, it was a lot to handle. These two people and my family held me together. One friend was with me almost every day. She brought over movies and watched re-runs of Friends with me on the couch, even when my eyes wouldn’t work well enough to watch. She helped a doctor keep me still during a spinal tap even though she’s terrified of needles, she would call and check in with my mom when I was drugged up on pain meds and not up for visitors. She made the worse time in my life bearable and I will never be able to truly thank her for that. Ironically she will be in town this weekend and I can’t wait to tell her thank you again and hug her tight.

TFIOS isn’t just a book. It feels like a memory. It hurts to read about the injustice of losing life before it has even begun. It reminds me of how lucky I am that my brain was confused and not full of real tumors. It makes me glad that I am starting counseling soon and I can start to cut away the layers of scar tissue around my heart and really feel all I have ignored for so long.

Please visit John Green for yourself – his website is cool and his video blogs are awesome.

 All this inspires me to keep writing my stories and loving the beauty around me, despite the brutality and injustice that we all face every day.

Hang the Stocking With Care

I ordered a bunch of Christmas presents this morning and I’m getting into the holiday spirit. Elf is on right now and that is helping with the spirit as well.

I thought I would have a lot of time to get my laundry done and write today, but sometimes life has other plans. I was glad to be a help and luckily everybody is fine.

I gave up dairy almost two weeks ago. I had a severe milk allergy as a child and over Thanksgiving break I did some research and was shocked to discover that most of the things that have ailed me since my teen years can be attributed to a milk allergy. I decided to give it a try and it really hasn’t been that tough. I miss cheese, but it was clear that milk products are like poison to my system. In 11 days my skin has cleared up, my cystic acne is gone, my dark circles have vanished, my nails no longer have ridges, my energy is up and my singing voice is clear and strong.

I have had some pretty nasty headaches as part of the detox process, but those are getting better as well. I read some pretty gross detox testimonials online and I haven’t had it as bad as some folks. Lots of congestion the first week, it was like my body was finally able to clear out all that junk. I have also lost some weight, which is a nice by-product. It’s a bit challenging to eat out. My options have shrunk, but it isn’t impossible and feeling better is worth it.

I am also planning to adopt a new dog in the next couple of weeks. She is a sweet girl who worked her way into my heart pretty quickly. My mom met her tonight and fell head over heels for her too. I think bringing her into my home and heart is a big step in the right direction to help open up my heart even more.

I have been thinking a lot about this final month of the present project. I am reading a couple more books, doing an online course on self-acceptance and I am considering subscribing to Match.com for a month. I also think I am going to continue this journey next year. I haven’t accomplished all that I hoped, but this year has been very powerful and I have changed so much for the better.

We’ll see.

Yes, I’ve Been Avoiding You

I thought I would distract you, blog, with this adorable marebear picture and you will overlook the fact that I haven’t posted in weeks…

It was worth a shot.

I have been avoiding you, it’s true. I have a bunch to write about. More than I can get out in one post. I will fill you in this weekend. I promise.

 

Trying to Find My Way Home

This is my first official picture. It was taken a couple of hours after I was born. I have been looking at it a lot lately and wondering to myself how I can get back to that pure innocence and trust that I would always be cared for.

I don’t usually post until Wednesday, but seeing that it is almost 11:30 pm on Tuesday, I am figuring that it’s close enough. I finally finished the first lesson in A Course in Weight Loss by Marianne Williamson. I have been working on it essentially since the beginning of 2011 and tonight I was able to write out the last of my feelings and fears that have been holding me back from living in truth and authenticity. Marianne asks you to write out all of your thoughts and feelings on twenty-five words that represent the bricks in the wall you have built around your heart as pounds of excess on your body. These words include shame, embarrassment, inferiority, greed, selfishness, disdain, burden and heartbreak. She asks you to not go unconscious and to write it all out.

I did write it all out. It took many months, but I did write it all out. Seventeen pages to be exact. It is freeing and liberating to finish all of that work. It was work. Hard work. I would spend hours working through a couple of words and then not touch it for weeks or months. It was too much to work through. However, now it is done. It is out of my body and my mind and I can move onto the next lesson.

I had an epiphany today during a conversation with one of my best friends. We sat outside in the shade on her parents deck and discussed our lives and their complications and wonders. Later on in the afternoon, we discussed someone from our past. He had hurt both of us in different ways and in varying degrees. The kindest words I can use to describe our tumultuous relationship would be to say that he destroyed something in me. Do me a favor and scroll up to my first official picture. He destroyed my sense of innocence and turned my heart into a battle field for many years. After our demise, I learned how to build walls and deny trust. I learned how to avoid vulnerability at any cost, because it just wasn’t safe.

I also learned from the actions of others around me who continued to allow this person to remain in their lives that I didn’t matter. My life and my pain wasn’t worth enough for them to stop spending time with him. I didn’t matter at all. As I verbalized this today to my friend, I was struck with how profoundly sad it was. I gave all of these people the power to shrink me. I gave everyone else the power to harden me with lies and shame.

I have been trying to find my way home again with this project. I have been attempting to break through the bricks I have stacked around me in an effort to protect myself from any more harm. I know it is impossible to get back to the little person pictured above. I know that even the people who love me the most aren’t always good at taking care of me and my best interest. However, I am learning or trying to learn how to take better care of myself.

I long for the chance to lay all my baggage at someone’s feet, shrug my shoulders and say, “This is me. Warts and all. I am scarred inside and out, but I am capable of great love. What do you say?”

They will look me up and down with eyes that drip with kindness and compassion. They will open their arms and their heart and say, “Welcome home, baby.”

This journey will not end anytime soon. Em, thank you for being honest with me, even if I get defensive and start to push away. Thank you for being quick to apologize and embracing of my whole self. You are helping me to dismantle all this hurt and find my way home again. Thank you for pushing me to be brave.

Building a Lasting Foundation

This is a small Saint Francis shrine that my mom has outside her house. A couple of weeks ago, a frantic blue bird began building a nest on top of the shrine. In her urgency, she built a lopsided mess. It fell less than a day later. I never saw her again. I wonder if she was able to build a second nest in time for her babies. I wonder if they have a safe home.

I thought it was fitting that she built her nest on the patron saint of animals and the environment. I also thought it was a lot like my own life lately. I have been frantically trying to build a nest for myself (and perhaps, my future babies) and in my urgency, I may be building it all lopsided. I may have spent all this time and energy on something that is bound to come crashing down.

I know that teaching is definitely one of my callings. I feel blessed to be so close to that being a reality. But in the process of doing all that needed to be done to complete my teaching license, I have been ignoring the parts of my nest that really constitute a foundation. Like sleep or healthy boundaries, good nutritious food and creative expression. I also have been putting all my trust out into the ether and not enough trust in myself. I have been building a faulty nest that isn’t safe for me or anyone else.

Things are way up in the air right now. I have been trying to exert my control over situations and relationships that I have NO way of controlling or manipulating. I don’t mean that to sound negative, but I have been trying to orchestrate my life for so long that it’s incredibly unnerving to just allow things to unfold. I’m learning how to react and respond to what is actually happening instead of retreating inward and deciding what reality really is.

I stood up for myself last week with a friend who was being unreasonable. I had to. I hated saying it, but I had to. I couldn’t pretend that it was a situation that was perfect for me even though I knew he would be hurt. I may have fatally injured a relationship I cherish, but I also understand that if this could fracture us in such a profound way, maybe our friendship had been built on a faulty foundation. Maybe it only seemed sturdy because I was always agreeable to his demands and needs. Once I exerted my own needs, maybe that was the last straw…

I want to focus on myself. Not in a selfish way, but in a healthy way. A lot of my support systems are changing. One of my best friends and biggest supports is more than likely moving soon. It is the right thing for her family, but I can’t help but be sad and scared about not having her here to help catch me when I fall.  But I think it may be exactly what I need. I’m building new relationships that are proving to be important to my evolution as a human being. These relationships are healing me – I don’t know what will happen in the long run, but I do know that I am building something strong as we slowly peel back the layers and get to know each other.

Part of building a lasting foundation is taking the time to look at what you have to work with in reality…not in fantasy or delusion. I’m wanting to build something lasting and strong. I know that in order to do that I have to slow down and take a breath. I need to continue to protect myself and erect healthy boundaries with some people while also being brave enough to let other people in and learn to be vulnerable and trusting. I need to trust myself and believe in my own talent and skill. I need to carefully pick each branch and twig and find the proper place for it in my nest, constantly reevaluating the filler that doesn’t assist me in my quest. I need to look at this nest, this life, from every angle and build a foundation that I know is safe and sound.

Seeing the Light

Today was one of those great spring days when you catch yourself enjoying your life. Those small moments where you realize that at that exact moment, you are perfectly content. In the past when this would happen, the realization would break the peaceful spell and I would go back to life as usual, but today I felt the happiness last all the rest of the afternoon.

I had class all day, but I’m learning such great stuff, it didn’t bother me. My brain hurt by the time we were dismissed, but I know that it’s just because my brain is  trying to soak it all up! I know that what I’m learning will make me a much better educator.

Later, after class, I spent some time with one of my best friends and her family. I hadn’t seen her in weeks because of being sick. It was wonderful to be with her again today and to get a baby and puppy fix too.

We talked a lot about relationships and all their intricacies and complexities. We talked about another friend of ours who is in a difficult relationship. We talked about how marriage is difficult, even when you are with the right person. We talked about our siblings and mothers and fathers. We spoke of healing relationships and healing ourselves through our relationships – good ones and bad ones. We discussed how even the trying relationships are a valuable use of our time in preparing us for the next step in our journeys.

We discussed my own evolution in relation to my relationships. I have been working hard on being present and at the beginning of this project, I was still uneasy with some of the relationships in my life. For years every time I met someone, I would travel in my mind to the farthest point in the future – trying to put us into a box of my own creation. I know now that this was another attempt at self-protection and only served to keep me isolated and alone.

Now I am staying present and allowing. Allowing the natural progression to take place and appreciate it as it’s happening – not what it will be like in ten years or even thirty minutes. I’m learning to be inside my relationships right now.

My friend was pleased to hear about this development and expressed that she had been hoping I would have this shift in thinking for a long time. It felt like a confirmation that I am still on the right path with this inner journey. I’m beginning to see the light about my self and my connection to others. It’s beautiful. Like catching colorful reflections of light on a perfect day. Or understanding that being content with my life makes this day perfect.

Sleeping Beauty

A weeks worth of sleep deprivation finally got me last night. I came home from a birthday party and essentially crashed. I had homework to work on and a post to write…but instead I was asleep by 9 pm. Sorry for being late twice this week.

I had a wonderful evening with a friend on Friday. I hadn’t seen him in about a month and it was refreshing to spend time with him. It’s one of those friendships that gets better and better. We enjoyed Indian food and then went for coffee at one of our old haunts called Pablo’s. We spoke about my concerns about having enough room in my life for a great relationship and he gave me some wonderful feedback on the matter. He said not to worry about the man of dreams not fitting, because he will be so in step with me when we meet that he will automatically fit perfectly. I will have to make time to see him, of course but that will be easy.

This was exactly what I needed to hear. We laughed a lot and I felt lighter just being in his presence.

I have been working on changing my attitude toward relationships and love. Even making some small adjustments in my attitude seems to be making a difference. While my friend and I sat at Pablo’s, I received many smiles and offered many smiles in return. It might be small, but I know that something has shifted in what I’m sending out into the world. It’s nice to get some positive reinforcement from the Universe.

This is a picture of my coffee from Pablo’s. The barista might not have meant anything by it at all, but it was a nice nudge that my efforts aren’t going unnoticed.

This week I’ll be focusing on catching up on my Mt. Everest of homework, getting back into my grid, going to bed earlier and creating my  big relationship list.

Talk soon…

Put Humpty Back Together Again

I have come down from my emotional tailspin from over the weekend. Thank you to all the friends that let me talk it out and were kind enough to check on me and shower me with some loving. I appreciate it more than you know.

It wasn’t actually a random bout of sadness…after reflection and talks with insightful friends, I understood why I was so upset last Saturday. The truth is that growth is uncomfortable and I had some emotions that needed to be processed and process they did. I haven’t cried that hard in awhile.

I’m proud that I didn’t suppress it. I didn’t isolate. I felt and acknowledged every tear – that is growth for me. Big growth. Even though the Saturday night boo-hoo’s kind of sucked, it’s worth it to be on the other side and know that I handled it differently than I would have in the past.

I found these Hello Panda cookies a couple of years ago at World Market and went crazy with excitement because they’re just like a cookie I used to love when I was a child. My grandmother went to Australia and brought back these awesome little cookies called Koala Yummies. My brother and I were obsessed. As I grew up, Koala Yummies seemed to disappear. I discovered that these Hello Panda cookies are just like Koala Yummies – they just have different animals printed on them. Finding Hello Panda cookies as an adult was a nice surprise. They hold no nutritional value, but they hold sentimental value and I do enjoy a box from time to time. But I digress…

I didn’t enjoy a box of Hello Panda cookies over the weekend, however, I saw this picture tonight and thought it was appropriate. It reminded me of Humpty Dumpty. I fell off the wall on Saturday. Luckily I had people who could put me back together again. I stayed present during an unpleasant emotional speed bump and that means I’m not as broken as I used to be. That feels good.

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