Let’s Help Each Other Out of Our Boxes

greyscale photography of human grave

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When people do not feel accepted for who they truly are, suicide rates go up. We’re seeing that across the board, though especially within the LGBT+ community. You can read some statistics about suicide within the LGBT+ community HERE on the Trevor Project website.  Placing further limitations on the rights of those who identify as transgender could mean many more lost lives. I really hope that that bothers you as much as it bothers me.  I do not believe that anyone’s comfort is worth more than someone else’s life.

It’s time that we show ourselves unconditional love so that we can spread unconditional love and acceptance to others. I think the health of our society can be judged by the happiness and peace of the people in it. We’re really out of touch if we think that we have a healthy society when so many people continue to kill themselves and others.  We have a lot of room for improvement in creating a culture that places more priority on authenticity and vulnerability and less on trying to conform us and fit us into generic, one-size-fits-all boxes. Humans aren’t meant to fit into boxes of any kind.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine several months ago and it was really eye-opening for me. We were talking about sexual orientation and the fact that they had been in relationships with men and women. They spoke of the fact that sexuality isn’t a black and white issue and that people can feel attraction to both sexes, but then feel forced into identifying a certain way. We spoke about the fact that humans like clearly defined labels, and that sexual orientation had, for the most part, been reduced to people being forced into the neatly defined boxes of either straight or gay. How accepted is bisexuality as a whole?  The day my friend and I were talking, I just sort of took it all in and ruminated on the way that we tend to try and define each other based on things like race, religion, and sexual orientation. They’re all just boxes of conformity and should not be used to define whole groups of people.

It got me thinking. My belief, shared with many on a spiritual path, is that our bodies house our souls which carry both a divine masculine and divine feminine energy. Both sides are important for each of us as we use them to be the people we came into this life to be, so that we can do what we came here to do. I think ultimately, it’s about striking a balance within ourselves between our masculine and feminine halves, accepting what each brings to the table, and accepting whatever combination shows up as us. Some of us feel more feminine and some of us feel more masculine, and that’s OK and normal regardless of sex. As you all know, it’s hard enough to learn to accept ourselves in this life, without the extra influence of having outside voices and outlets shout at us about who we ‘should’ be, how we ‘should’ act, and what our sexual orientation ‘should’ be. But in our own pain and lack of self-love and self-acceptance, we tend to harshly judge others in an attempt to make ourselves feel better. We keep the focus off of our own issues by pointing loudly at other people. This simply leads to even more separation and hate, which is the opposite of what we need if we truly want to live in a more peaceful world. Separation and hate makes guns feel like an answer to the pain. But neither homicide nor suicide are the answers. Love and inclusiveness ARE the answers.

I think sometimes it’s not even about hate necessarily, but about protection from perceived threats. For instance, people will generally prefer to stay comfortable in their own lives, especially if their lives aren’t being personally affected by the injustices, than to speak out and out themselves against the voice of the majority. But I believe that the most change will come when those of us who live lives of privilege educate ourselves on the issues at hand and do our part to speak out and stand with those who need our support. When we have people with political power refusing to sign marriage licenses of gay couples, it is not only the gay couples who should have a problem with it and work towards changing it, but all of us. When we have a government separating children from their parents in the name of ‘border safety’, we should all have a problem.

A quote from the late Elie Wiesel, human rights activist, author, and Holocaust survivor, speaks to this beautifully:

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

At a recent event with Glennon Doyle, a young boy got up to speak about the issue of kids at school talking about how gay and transgender people were not loved by god and would go to hell. Glennon told the boy essentially that when you stand with the kids who are hurting, you can never go wrong. She said if you ever hear words of fear and shame being used to hurt people, that’s not god. Glennon said god is only ever love. She spoke to the fact that god doesn’t make mistakes in creating people. In my opinion, we should all be standing with the people who are hurting. I am sure that many of us have experienced people not being nice to us, and haven’t we always appreciated the support of others during those times?

I think that the boxes we attempt to place ourselves and others in are the ultimate betrayals to humanity. Once we pretend that we know someone or an entire group of people, we stop being present to their truth and the unfolding of their being. We expect certain things from them. We get uncomfortable when they change or don’t fit into the category in which we’ve previously placed them. We close ourselves off from allowing their fluidity, growth, and expansion.  We relate to them with an us-them mentality that is neither loving , nor inclusive.  I believe that this us-them division mentality was taught to us and continues to be fed to us on purpose.  I believe that when we are made to see others as different from ourselves, then we’re less likely to fight our government when they want to drop bombs in ‘other’ places on ‘other’ people.  It causes a divide in our nation that makes us fight and kill each other rather than fight against the people and policies that continue to hold our brothers and sisters down.  If we understood that humanity is one family, living beings are one family, we would be outraged when ANY members of our living family were killed, tortured, ridiculed, beaten, broken, and treated like second-class citizens. We lose power when we’re divided. Our power multiplies infinitely when our intentions are for more love, equality, compassion, humane treatment, inclusiveness, and acceptance for all, not just the select few we deem as worthy of what should be basic human rights. It is essential that we always consider how we would want our own children treated when we take action or vote on laws, choose to speak up or stay quiet. Whatever treatment you want for your own children if they were in a given situation is exactly what should guide your actions and decisions in life. All children are someone’s children and all adults are just an older version of those same children.

When I started on this path towards complete transformation several years ago, I was in a relationship and had the person say to me, “but I like you the way you are and I don’t want you to change.” It was one of the biggest signs that the relationship was no longer healthy for me or serving my highest good. Change is the only constant in this life, so when we pressure others into fitting into a box or staying the same, we ultimately tell them that we do not accept and love them unconditionally. Expecting or wanting someone to stay the same may sound like a compliment, but it is a way of telling them that our comfort in familiarity is more important that our love for them. If we love people unconditionally, then we do not ask them to change OR stay the same. We love them when they are straight or when they are gay or when the lines of those categories is blurred.  We love them when they have a different religious or spiritual backgrounds than us.  We love them when their skin color differs from ours.  We love them because they are our human family and we are all in the same boat of navigating through this messy, human experience.

We have to remember that god/the universe/the divine/source never makes mistakes when it creates something or someone. For instance, you can be sure that if someone is gay, that they are meant to be exactly as they are, irregardless of what society, your church, your family, or your upbringing has led you to believe. We are all exactly as we are meant to be. G/U/D/S is always love. We are all parts of that love. We are meant to show ourselves and each other unconditional love. It’s the key that we’ve been missing on a personal and global level. When I accept myself completely, I accept you completely too. When I love myself unconditionally, I am able to love you unconditionally as well.

I continue to be most attracted to people who don’t conform. The dreamers, the healers, the artists, the travelers, the peaceful, the medicine people, the change-makers, the eccentric, the lovers, and all other forms of beautifully unique, real, down-to-earth people who are living their truth in alignment with their soul/higher self.

This year has pushed me into becoming my most authentic self, and it seems fitting that I also seek authenticity in those closest to me.  It is only by living in the most authentic way that we can finally feel love from others, like truly feel it, because we know that we are being seen and loved for the real version of us.

I want honesty and vulnerability in my connections with others because I crave deeper connections with the people around me. When we are real with each other, then we know that we are all much too vast and limitless to fit inside of any boxes. Accept me as I am, separate from any categories your mind wants to place me in, and give me a hand as I step outside of this cramped box that our culture has tried to squeeze me into for all of these years. And I’ll do the same for you. Let’s give each other the freedom to be the truest version of ourselves as it is revealed to us one minute at a time.

Sending you all so much love. Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please like and share it.

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My Inner Child

Friends, this is a picture of me when I was about 4 years old.  I have had it hanging up in my room for the last several years as a reminder of who I am at the core.  I can feel the joy emanating from this picture, my smile.  I’m wearing my swimsuit.  I have always loved water.  I have always loved to swim.  To this day, being in and near water brings me the most joy!  Funny thing too is that turquoise and purple continue to be two of my favorite colors.  In fact, my current room is predominantly decorated in purple and turquoise/teal.  If I was searching for a one-piece swimsuit now, I could totally see myself getting this one.  It reminds me of a mermaid.  Who doesn’t love mermaids?!

Have you thought about yourself as a child lately?  Who were you before the world told you who you ‘should’ be?  What did you love before you were told what you ‘should’ love?  It’s interesting to me that we know so much about ourselves to the core when we are children, but then we grow up and get brainwashed into thinking that how we are isn’t good enough.

When I was a child, I loved being outside.  I loved camping and riding my bike.  I loved to listen to music, dance, and sing.  I loved having big gatherings with my extended family in the summer and during holidays.  I have always really LOVED spending time with my friends.  All of these things continue to bring me so much joy.  I practically lived at my best friend Jimmy’s house when we were kids.  The story goes that I met him while trick or treating.  I knocked on his door, and when I saw him inside, I marched right in and we sat there looking through our candy together.  When we were kids, we knew what felt good to us and we followed it.  We allowed ourselves to be impulsive with starting new friendships simply because we felt drawn to be around the person.  We didn’t over think things by questioning how people would respond to us.  We didn’t fear rejection.  We just lived.

I feel like I have lived in different sections.  I have the section when I was a kid still living at home, feeling the tension of a family on the brink of divorce, wishing for my parents’ divorce.  I have the section after high school where I left for college and went far from home.  I was opinionated and strong and fearless.  I didn’t care what people thought of me.  I wore tie-dyed shirts on a campus in Florida where there were less than a handful of us who did, OK so maybe just my boyfriend and I.  I liked what I liked and I didn’t make concessions for other people.  I have the section where I traveled the country as a wildlife/fisheries field biologist which led me, in part, to living in 10 states so far.  I was free and adventurous.  I excitedly researched projects and places to travel to next.  I traveled with everything I owned, leaving half the back seat for my dog, Gus, in my turquoise Geo Prizm.  I was a nomad of sorts seeking the “best” place to eventually settle.  There’s the section after meeting my ex-husband where I gave my power away.  I look back now and just see that my upbringing had led me to be very strong and independent, and I think I was a bit tired of it.  I wanted someone else to take care of me and the things in my life for a change.  As you can imagine, giving my power away led to a slew of challenges, notwithstanding eventually losing my health and almost dying.  It was a wake up call.  It was time to take my power back and start taking real care of myself.  I was finally forced into giving myself the love that I had always sought from other people.  There’s the section throughout the divorce where I felt constantly tested and tried and I came into my own and began to build a new life for myself from the ground up.  I struggled further as I lost nearly every local friend I had known, and set out to actively make new friends that would provide a better support system for me.  Then there’s the section where I fully dusted myself off, began to dig deeper into the suffering I had experienced and I made the decision that I was done suffering.  I decided that I was no longer a powerless victim, but an unstoppable creator of my life!  That’s when the real changes began to happen.

I went back to my roots.  I went back and reconnected with the strong woman who had been so independent and adventurous and I worked to learn what had made her tick.  I went back to my childhood and the memories I held of what had brought me the most joy as I was growing up.  I found a lot of answers when I thought about my childhood.  I found out that my triggers surrounding fear of rejection and abandonment came from that time.  I found that at some point, I had internalized the fact that I was not enough just as I was.  I had come to believe on a subconscious level that I was not worthy of love.  Since then, I have had to basically go back and unlearn all of these beliefs.  I have had to brainwash myself using positive affirmations.  You see, in our culture, we are brainwashed from the time that we are very young.  A lot of it has to do with advertising.  We’re trained to think that there’s something wrong with us or missing from us or not good enough about us, and then the commercials come in to offer solutions to solve these problems and fill our voids by way of the new latest and greatest gadgets, plastic surgeries, shopping, junk foods, a house, new car, or the perfect relationship with another person with a sprinkle of diamonds on top.  We get bombarded with offers of shiny objects that promise to fill our void, make us worthy, and enough.  The problem is that we have been taught wrong.  There is never going to be an external solution for our internal problems.  Ever.  The sooner you stop looking for one, the better.  Trust me.

I thought of this analogy recently that explains how I have felt about unlearning and unbrainwashing (I don’t care if it’s not a word). It goes like this:  when we are born, we do not want to go pee in our diapers.  Babies do not want to wet themselves.  Notice that when you change a baby, as soon as you remove the diaper, they pee.  But what do we do?  Because diapers are more convenient for us, we force them on the babies.  We essentially have to train them to go pee in their diapers.  Then, when they’re older, we decide that diapers aren’t convenient anymore, and so we begin the process of training them to pee in the toilet.  And sometimes it’s a real fight, because this child was trained to go in their diaper for their whole life, and now we are changing what we want from them, and so there can be some push back.  We are trained that we are not OK as who we came into this world as being.  We learn how to act.  We learn what we’re supposed to like.  We learn how to be a ‘functioning member of society’.  We lose ourselves.  Then we hit 30 (though it’s a different age for everyone), and everything comes to a screeching halt.  Maybe we’re faced with some big-life changes that leave us unable to deny who we are at the core any longer.  We begin the process of unlearning everything we have learned so far that has left us feeling small, that has turned us into people-pleasers, and that has told us that we must seek some holy grail outside of ourselves to attain happiness.  We experience push back.  The things we have learned are so engrained in our subconscious by this point, that it takes a real effort to not just follow the status quo.  It takes a real effort to recognize the thoughts and beliefs about ourselves that are holding us back.

None of us are alone in this process, not really.  In the US, we are made to live such separate lives and it can make us feel lonely even when our house sits in a town of over 136,000 people.  That void you feel inside is a common one.  Yep, that’s right, you’re not special or alone in that pain you’re feeling.  You may not realize it because you have been too embarrassed to bring it up to your friends or family thinking that you might be ostracized if you mentioned that you feel an immense emptiness in this life that has been fed to you.  Maybe you’ve done what the commercials told you to do.  You’ve gotten the advanced degrees, you live in a house with a white-picket fence, you have the diamonds on your fingers, you have the nice car, and the well-paying job, and yet you don’t feel happy.  Why?  Because your happiness was never meant to come from a box, bag, person, or job.  Your happiness is an inside job entirely.

I grew up extra sensitive.  I am sensitive to the energy all around me.  I am sensitive to tension and negativity coming from other people.  I used to feel like my empathy was a curse, but I have come to find that it is actually a superpower that I can use to make my life and the lives of those around me better.  I am meant to feel everything.  I am meant to be a barometer for what’s not working in our society.  It’s an important job that I have had to learn how to do without losing myself in the process.

Glennon Doyle spoke of addiction the other night during her talk on a stage in my town.  I’m paraphrasing here.  She said that generally, addicts are the most sensitive people in our society.  That they act as sort of canaries in the mine, and that we should pay attention to the health of our canaries so that we can gauge the health of the ‘air’ we’re all breathing in.  What is causing the sensitive ones in our society to hurt so badly that they feel the need to numb themselves with things like drugs, alcohol, food, sex, and screen time?  What is it that we’re being exposed to that is causing us to hurt so much?  As one of the canaries, I’ll tell you a few things.  The pain we see in the world.  The hate.  The murders.  The lack of compassion. The fighting.  The wars.  The internal void.  The emptiness we feel in this pop-a-pill, instant gratification, consumerist culture.  The disconnect we feel from others. Ultimately, the disconnect we feel with ourselves.

People have lost themselves and they’re finding out slowly, but surely that the things that promised to make them feel better aren’t working.  They have all of the things, yet they have more depression than ever.  People continue to kill themselves at an alarmingly high rate.  The rich people who look shiny and happy kill themselves too.  What does this say about our culture?

As Glennon said the other night, we aren’t meant to skirt around, avoid, or numb our pain.  We are meant to feel our pain.  It is through experiencing our pain that we find our strength and our superpowers needed to do what we each came into this life to do.  We do ourselves a great disservice when we tell ourselves that life is supposed to be easy, and that if it’s not, then we’re doing something wrong.  Life is meant to challenge and grow us.  It’s up to us how we handle the challenges.  I would not be the person I am today had it not been for my illness and brush with death, and so I am endlessly grateful for those experiences.

It’s time to get back to our roots, people, like ASAP, as in yesterday.  I have worked with thousands of people in the hospital as a nurse.  I have gotten to know people intimately in my work and personal life, and I am screaming it from the rooftops…YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN YOUR STRUGGLES!!  Please, read that sentence as many times as you need to so that you really internalize that point.  Our story lines may vary, but everything else is the same:  the void that we feel, the insecurities, and the baggage we carry that tells us that we’re not worthy of love from ourselves or others, to name a few.  If you don’t believe me, start putting your screen away and start connecting with the people around you in deeper, more meaningful ways.  When you move past the surface topics, I think what you’ll find is another real human being who has experienced (or is currently experiencing) pain, heart-break, loss, abandonment, grief, depression, anxiety, and loneliness.  The truth is that we all individually walk around as if we’re the only ones who don’t feel like we’re enough, yet in this society, that feeling is one of the common threads that connect us all.

So, it’s time to disarm ourselves.  It’s time to remove our masks.  It’s time to connect with each other and get vulnerable, so that we can finally heal the wounds we have been merely putting band aids over up to this point.  Connect with your inner child.  Give that child the love you were lacking.  Give that child the acceptance you’ve been seeking.  Give that child the experiences of joy that you most crave.  It’s time to stop surviving and start thriving!  Isn’t enough enough already?!  The only way to fill that void is with the love that only we can give to ourselves.

If this resonates with you, I’d love to hear from you!  Please comment below or reach out to me at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com.  It is one of my passions in life to help guide others through this process of unbecoming who they were told to be to become the person that they came here to be.

Thank you for reading along!  If you liked this post, please like and share it.  Sending you so much love!

Spread Your Wings and Fly!

 

On Friday, I finally listened to my soul’s urging, and went on a nice, long hike. There are two things that light me up most in this life: connecting with people and being out in nature, the further into the wilderness, the better! The other day, I got to do both and it made me so happy!  Life is all about perspective as I have stated many times before in my posts. The other day, I would have liked to leave much earlier for my hike so that I’d have more time to hike to the farthest lake and to stop and enjoy the other beautiful spots along the way. But, I ended up being up late the night before doing some work and deciding where I wanted to hike, so I when my alarm went off at 4:30 am, I snoozed it and shut it off and got a few more hours of sleep. It worked out perfectly, because this meant that businesses were open as I drove into the park and I stopped and got a delicious green smoothie and hung posters in three businesses for Glennon Doyle’s appearance here on October 27th. I also hung my business card in the coffee shop, so it was a win-win kind of “late”. Since taking my leap of faith in May, I am really able to see how even the most simple of things happen just as they are supposed to and it’s awesome! We’re never really “late”, because we are always right where we’re supposed to be. All the time.

 

So, I continued to make my way up into the mountains, but got stopped by some road work. Likely, I sat there for a half hour or more. Many of us shut off our cars and got out to take in the view. I ended up talking with a woman visiting from London for most of the time. We talked about so many things including travel, how the mountains here were reminding her of some mountains in Italy, how friendly people in Australia are, how fearful people in the US tend to be and the fact that I see that it’s by design to keep us living small, prevent us from traveling, and to keep an “us-them” mentality, we talked about hiking solo and why I am so comfortable with it, my wildlife/fisheries career, guns in the US, people in the US thinking they need to take guns hiking with them to be “safe”, the video game Fortnite and the ridiculousness of having instances of kids going to school and shooting other kids while we have one of the most popular games teaching them about every gun in existence and that their goal should be to be the last man standing, but with no blood. Desensitized much?! We touched on a few other things too, but you get it. We connected about real things. I cherish times when I get to connect with people in a real way on so many levels.

 

When I hike, I get so thrilled to be out on the trail that I experience an overwhelming sense of mental, physical, and spiritual wellness. Do you know what I’m talking about? When you’re out doing something that makes you feel so alive that you gain a new level of clarity and perspective on life? So, as I was hiking, I was also thinking about life. As I walked and thought about how free hiking makes me feel, I kept seeing little things on the trail that looked like wings to me. A blot painting class the night before had my mind focused on the messages that can reach us through a multitude of ways. I connected the freedom I was feeling with these wings. Then I started digging deeper. The wings weren’t wings of course, but instead were the little scales from pine cones. As I dug deeper, I started thinking about the journey a pine cone takes to complete the life cycle of the trees, and how it relates to the journey we’ve all been asked to take this year.

 

Pine cones started their lives high up in the trees, safe and secure and nourished. But in order to disperse their seeds, they have to fall to ground, break open, and be uncomfortable on the ground so that they can achieve freedom from the tree. Animals like squirrels break them apart into what looks like little wings dotting the trail. Some of the seeds inside are eaten, but many are spread so that they can take root to create new life in the form of a tree.  I started thinking about this year and how similar our lives have been to that of the pine cone. We’ve been asked to leap or forced to leap into the unknown as we’ve set intentions that we want more from this life than the daily grind that we had grown accustomed to. We’ve asked for more peace and joy. We’ve asked for deeper connections and situations that leave us feeling most alive. Getting to those things requires that the things no longer serving us be removed to make room for the new life we’re dreaming of to enter. We can’t keep all of the old furniture and expect more to come in when there’s no room for it. So we’ve been asked to clear our lives of the toxic relationships, the job that was bringing us down and/or making us sick, things that we’ve developed an addiction to, and the living environment that’s not conducive to our growth and expansion. 2018 has been a difficult one for many, yet exciting at the same time. We are being asked to live more in the present moment and stop trying to predict the future or control the outcome of every area of our lives. We have been asked to dig deep and find what it is that makes us tick, what makes us feel most alive, and we’re being asked to do that more!

 

Sequoia trees need fire for their seed dispersal.  This year has been like a fire to come and burn away everything that has been holding us back, making us feel separate and making us live small lives.  The fire is taking away all that doesn’t serve us and it is giving us wings with which we can fly through the rest of this year and into next year with more power, more courage, and a bigger footprint than we have ever allowed ourselves to have before.  It’s quite beautiful really.  Realize that the fire is not meant to destroy YOU it’s meant to break you out of your shell, to get you to put down your mask so that you can do all that you came to this world to do.  It’s been an uncomfortable process and it’s going to continue to be uncomfortable until we realize that we are the light that we see in others.  We are meant to break down all of our limiting beliefs and barriers so that we can live our best, limitless lives like we were always intended to.  We’ve broken open, we’ve planted our seeds, and now it’s time to grow into the person we are being asked to be so that we can fulfill our life’s purpose and impact this world like only each of us can. We’ve got to become the people needed for the next level of our lives. It’s a requirement for all of us, so the less you fight the process and go with the flow and do what is being asked of you, the easier time you will have with it.

 

It’s time to spread our wings and fly while we trust that the seeds we have planted with our intentions and our inspired actions are going to sprout into the life that we’ve been dreaming about! Trust, my friends. Trust. The seeds are growing in my life and I am blown away at what the work I have done to align with my higher self has created in my life! We’ve all planted our seeds at different times, so we’re all going to see them start to grow at different times. It does NOT mean that some people’s seeds will grow while other people’s won’t. Seeds don’t work that way and neither do our lives. Rather than getting caught up in comparisons with your journey and other people’s journeys, choose to get inspired by the sprouts appearing in their lives. See that as proof that it’s just a matter of time before your own seeds sprout! As you are grateful for the beauty appearing in the lives of those you love, you will raise your frequency to help speed up the manifestations in your own life. If you want something, rather than getting caught up on your intense desire for it, be extra grateful to all that you have now, in this moment, and all that others have that match what you want and before you know it, all that you desire will be yours. Life is not a competition like we’ve been made to believe, and the more love and happiness we show others, the faster we will all proceed to living our best lives.

 

The energy from this fire is going to give us all that we need to propel us through the rest of this year and into the start of next year.

 

I made a video about this when I was out hiking that I’ve posted to my YouTube Channel.

 

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it. Sending you all so much love!

 

Please Be Yourself

(Photo credit to @ledbyheart on IG)

Please!!  I’d rather see real people with real smiles and real eyes and real faces than all these pics with filters.  Love yourself just as you are, and others will love you too.  Your own eyes, skin, lips and all!  Let YOUR light shine, not the shine of a filter!. If someone doesn’t like it, don’t worry about it, because they’re not your people.  

When I first went to the drum circle here, several people commented that I look just like my profile picture.  I hadn’t ever really thought about it before then.  This year, I stopped wearing makeup and stopped dying my hair, because I really had a growing need to just be myself without any masks, to be loved for me, not for some fake external appearance.

I realize that those of us who identify ourselves as more feminine are sometimes bombarded daily with ads and campaigns telling us that we’re not good enough just as we are and that we NEED makeup and dye in order to put an acceptable version of us into the world.  I say, only do that stuff if you know that you don’t need it to be worthy of love.  Do it only if you feel just as beautiful without makeup as you do with it.  Do it if it feels fun rather than a chore required for you to “be presentable”.  Do it only if you’re not trying to avoid “letting yourself go”.  

Dying my brown hair auburn brown started as a fun change, something different.  It looked really good on me.  People thought it was my natural color.  It brightened up my face.  But as the years went on and more silver hair made its appearance at my roots, I got swept  up in the race of dying it again before anyone noticed.  Even more importantly than that, I began to not like my natural hair color.  The auburn made my brown and silver roots look mousy and dull in comparison.  Dying my hair went from a fun way to change things up to a way to hide myself and my truth.  My truth is that I have a lot of silver hair. I have earned every strand of that silver.  Now that I shaved my head and started over, I actually like my hair color.  Without having it sitting next to auburn, my unhealthy comparison and shame of the silver has faded.  I have so much left to do in this life that I don’t want to be confined to a hair dyeing regimen.

I began asking myself, “why is it that men are not made to feel less worthy, sexy, or attractive when they don’t wear makeup or dye their hair?” Have you ever thought about that?  While buying my boxed dye once, my son asked me “Mom, where is the dye for boys?”  Uh yeah, all the boxes of dye had pictures of women on them.  It spoke volumes of the bias in this society.  Looking at it from this angle is partially what made me abandon my makeup and hair dye routine.  Generally men wake up in the morning and go.  They don’t typically add color to their faces or their hair in order to be presentable to the world.  They get to just be themselves and the people who love them, love them, and the people who don’t, don’t.  Have you ever thought that you wished a man in your life would wear some makeup to brighten up his face or hide some of his wrinkles?  Do you think men look better when they dye their hair? I’m guessing most would answer no.  So then, why should I?  I have never had a man comment that he wished I wore makeup.  In fact, I have had men comment that they like that I don’t wear makeup.  If I’m happy with my face without makeup, and men I’ve dated have been happy with my face without makeup, then who the hell would I be wearing makeup for????!

We owe it to ourselves to let go of the biased constraints being placed on us.  We owe it to ourselves to enter into the world every day as our real, authentic, vulnerable selves.  We owe it to ourselves to show up every day feeling good in our own skin without the masks of makeup and dye and fancy filters.  

Shaving my head was the most empowering thing I have ever done for myself.  It seems silly given that it’s just hair.  I had never felt so beautiful in my whole life, nor had I ever felt so naked.  I did it at a time in my life where I finally felt free to be myself without any care given to what other people would think of me.  I felt free!  I continue to feel free in my authenticity and vulnerability.  I have found them to be keys to living my best life.  

I know that anyone who loves me today, loves me for the “real” me.  And isn’t that what we’re all wanting? To be loved unconditionally for who we really are? Aside from physical things like dye and makeup, for many years of my life, I didn’t feel good about who I was as a person, so I hid the “real” me.  I changed the way I spoke, how much I spoke, and the topics that I spoke about to fit with whoever was around at the time.  I was more concerned about what people thought of me and pleasing others and keeping them comfortable than I was about being true to myself.  So, when people loved me, I had an aching sense that maybe they wouldn’t if they knew the “real” me.

I am happy to say that those days are gone.  If you meet me today, you get the “real” me, completely.  I no longer change who I am to find my people.  Instead, I present myself to the world as fully me, and my people find me.  My fears that people wouldn’t like the “real” me have been proven false.  Above all, I love how it feels to be one person all the time, regardless of who I am around!!  I feel free and happy and at peace!  

We have one body, and one face in this life and if we don’t love them, we don’t open ourselves up to having others love them.  It is my hope that everyone gets to comfortably present themselves to the world as their truest version, whatever that means for them.  Sometimes that means going through the physically difficult process of transitioning into a more male body form or a more female body form.  I have so much love and respect for people who find themselves in that position and choose to walk through a virtual transformative fire so that their outside appearance matches what they feel in their hearts to be true.  Your path to your most authentic and vulnerable selves is one that many of us can’t even imagine.  I love that above everything and everyone else, you choose to be true to yourself.  Being true to myself and loving myself are have been the most important components to living my best life.

If you can relate to any of this, I encourage you to start letting more of your own light shine through.  Maybe start by ditching the fake filters on ALL of your pictures.  I get it, they’re fun to play with, but at least give us one normal, fully YOU picture every now and again.  Filters might make you look like a fairy princess riding a unicorn, but your smile is what lights up the world! While we’re at it, please save the duck lips for the ducks.  Smile more and we’ll all smile with you! Smiling is contagious! 

Thank you for reading.  If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it!  Much love to you all!  

Navigating Through New Lands: Part 3 of my Health Journey

Photo: A glimpse of my planner for September 2012

It has been a while since I shared parts of my healing journey, so if you need a recap, you can read Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.  I had a pretty nasty herx during that visit to Colorado, and wasn’t expecting that severity of chest pain again, along with vomiting and diarrhea.  So I got scared, and went to the local clinic and asked for a prednisone prescription, because it was the only thing that I knew would take the chest pain away. The chest pain was severe, and medications would not touch it.  At the time, I didn’t really put two and two together that I was having a reaction because of the injection of antibiotics I had gotten from the doctor in LA. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that antibiotics would cause my symptoms to worsen before they got better. So I wasn’t prepared to handle the 10/10 chest pain that I was experiencing. I was far from home which meant I was far away from my primary doctor or my cardiologist who could prescribe pain medication for me.

So, I did what I could to get through that time.  I took the supplements that the specialist had given me, and followed the guidelines of things I could do to lessen the herx reaction.  I was forced to lay low, and missed a lot of the fun activities with family during that trip.

I had been instructed by the specialist to have my prescriptions for antibiotics filled when I got home from Colorado and to start taking them at that point.  I started treatment on July 12, 2012, and my world was again turned upside down.  The chest pain, high fevers (up to 103 I believe), and general malaise were unbearable at times, and I really felt like I would die.  I was doing so terribly that my husband at the time arranged it so that he could work from home, afraid that something might happen to me while he was gone.  Aside from the initial instance of illness where I passed out repeatedly from near heart failure, this time in July and August 2012 was the scariest time of my life to date.  I did little more than lie on the couch in pain, sleep, and get up to use the bathroom.  Walking to the mailbox that was about 30 feet (10 meters) from our house was unbearable, because of the severity of my chest pain.  All physical activity aggravated my pain.  I was essentially on body-enforced bed rest with a 3 year old who needed me and didn’t understand why I wasn’t the one mostly taking care of him anymore.  That was really difficult for me.

I ended up getting hooked on the show “The Walking Dead”.  I learned pretty quickly that laughing at comedies, and crying during dramas made me hurt worse.  At that time, zombies created very little emotional response from me, because I viewed it as completely fake and unrealistic.  The summer of 2012 was a bit of a blur.  My severe herx lasted for about a month.  Pain medications prescribed to me by my cardiologist began working, though I was having very strange arrhythmias that I could feel.  For my friends in healthcare, on July 20th, I found out that my CRP was 491 (normal is 0-3) and my sedrate was 103 (normal is about 0-29)!  I ended up having a 24 hour heart monitor placed at one point, but then it the weird heart beats stopped and nothing was revealed.  I remember going to my primary care NP during this time, and speaking to her about how awful I was feeling and how scared I was.  She encouraged me to keep track of the kinds of days I was having by drawing a smiley face, neutral face, or sad face on each calendar day of my planner.  I encourage you to try this method for yourself if you’re experiencing a lot of ups and downs with your health right now as you move towards healing.  It can be a good way to realize that you DO have good days.

I was nervous about heading into my last semester of nursing school with the way my summer had stacked up.  I honestly didn’t know if I would be able to complete the program.  I emailed my teachers to let them know that I wasn’t sure that I’d be finishing with the rest of my class.  I knew that if the chest pain and fevers persisted that there was no way that I could focus on school and physically be able to walk to all of my classes.  But luckily, as the days went on and I continued to take all of my medications and supplements to help with my herx reaction, I started having more smiley face days, than frowns.  On August 4th, I actually got to leave the house and went to a local baseball game with my family.  It felt so good to be outside again.  Aside from doctor’s appointments, I had not left my house in nearly a month!  By August 15th, I was back in my first lecture of my last semester of nursing school.  My planner from that semester is loaded with classes, assignments, clinical shifts, doctor appointments, and events and sports related to my son.  Remembering back to how i felt during that time, and seeing the fluctuation in smiley faces and frowns (that persisted into October), I am amazed that I pulled it all off!!  I completed the semester with my class and went to my Pinning Ceremony on 12/13/12.

By the end of that year, I was feeling a lot better.  In fact, I only kept track of my good and bad days into the beginning of November.  I was feeling more back to myself, and because I had been off of the prednisone since July, I was losing the extra weight gradually.  I don’t think I was prepared for my emotions that released following my Pinning.  The whole thing had been emotional, listening to students and our professors speak, one of which was undergoing treatment for brain cancer that eventually took her life.  She had been the one who fostered my love of working with the babies.  After the ceremony, some of us went outside.  It was just us students.  And I started bawling my eyes out.  I was excited, sure, after all I had worked so hard for this day and had overcome so many obstacles to get there.  But more than that, it was like this thing that I had been focusing on for so long was no longer my focus.  I realized in that moment how much school had been keeping me going.  It redirected my focus and allowed me to focus on something bigger than myself, bigger than all of my problems at the time.  It felt like all of my accumulated stress and sadness of the last 3 years began flowing out of me through my tears.

This portion of my story culminated with me taking and passing the NCLEX exam in January, flying home with my son to see our family, and then landing my first full-time Registered Nurse position in the local hopsital on the oncology unit that I started in March of 2013.  As this was happening, my marriage was coming to a close.  By May of 2013, I was living on my own, working full-time as a Registered Nurse, and taking care of my son on my days off.  I continued traveling to LA (and then to one in San Francisco) regularly to see my Lyme Disease specialist and was having my labs closely monitored.  I continued taking oral antibiotics daily, as well as other medications, and many handfuls of supplements.  I was tired after my 12 hour shifts in the hospital, but my heart felt full, because I was using my experiences to help other people.  I used what I had been through to draw in even more empathy and compassion for all of the patients who crossed my path.

I began to feel a lot better, because I was no longer hiding my truth behind the busyness of nursing school and I was following my intuition to a new life for me and my son.  It took moving through a lot of fear.  I had to let go of a lot of ideals I was holding in my mind’s eye.  I had, after all, really wanted to create an intact and happy family for my son that I did not feel I had as a child.  I had to let go of something I had comitted to, because I had to start fully putting my happiness and health first.  For so many years of my life, I had always put myself last, not feeling worthy of love, not loving myself.  My illness forced me to put myself first for a change, and it was a very uncomfortable process.  But I can tell you that from where I am now, it was a very necessary process.

You see, I have now worked intimately with thousands of people as a Registered Nurse, and I also have people reach out to me now with serious, mystery health issues of their own.  We all seem to have a common thread, an underlying lack of self-love.  It can take years to recognize it.  Maybe you’re reading this and can relate, or maybe it will open your eyes to it for the first time ever.  Think about it:  do you take good care of yourself in all ways? Do you love and accept yourself (and show it) fully? Are you always putting other people’s needs or the seemingly endless needs of the world before your own?  Do you supress your emotions to make other people feel more comfortable?  Are you a people pleaser and/or a peace keeper?  We’ve all got to dig down deep to get to the cause of our dis-ease, or lack of enthusiasm about our lives.  I have found self-love to be paramount to my healing in all ways body, mind, and spirit.

If you’re struggling with chronic illness, I encourage you to really look at your relationship with yourself first and foremost.  Loving myself and taking good care of myself has been my biggest, foundation-building lesson from my dis-ease.  Even at Part 3, my healing journey did not stop here…to be continued.

Work With Me

If you’re on a healing journey of your own, and are feeling overwhelmed reach out to me at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com.  I would love to work with you to create some healing and transformational magic in your life!

Thank you for reading!  If you liked this post, please like and share it.  Much love!

Love is the ONLY Answer

frozen wave against sunlight

Photo by Hernan Pauccara on Pexels.com

The other day, after taking my son to school, I had the feeling like I needed to go for a run.  I’m not really a “runner” in that I hardly ever do it, but every once in a while, I wake up with this feeling like I need to run.  I’ve done a few 5K’s and always without any kind of prep.  Yes, I am blessed that I can do that, and I am completely in LOVE with my body for what it allows me to do!  Do you ever stop to think about how blessed you really are?  Do you ever peel back the layers of your life and compare your life to the life of others and just really sink into your grateful heart?  I felt so grateful as I ran for so many reasons that I found myself dancing with my arms and singing as I went.

I had the thought that I wanted to run for my body’s sake, for the feeling of it.  Pushing my body while I am able to get stronger and better than I was yesterday.  I also felt like I needed to run for clarity.  For the majority of my run (and walk because let’s be real, I walked too), I was listening to A Tribe Called Quest’s album ” We Got it From Here. Thank You 4 Your Service”.  It’s an amazing album if you haven’t ever listened to it.  It really touches on some major, real life issues that I have been thinking and talking about a lot lately, namely equality or lack thereof.

One of the songs “We the People..” has a chorus of:

“All you black folks you must go,

All you Mexicans you must go,

All you poor folks, you must go,

Muslims and gays, boy we hate your ways.”

How do these lyrics strike you?  They make me sad, because it’s the truth of the message often sent to these groups of people.  Even when I was a kid, I knew that everyone deserved equal rights and treatment.  I knew that the racist remarks I heard from some of my family members growing up were not OK.  I knew it to my core.  I often spoke out against it in fact, which made family gatherings fun, because I often heard “Don’t go saying that stuff around Jammie, she’ll get mad”, which made me feel like somehow I had been the one who had done something inappropriate.  Funny how people know that if they’re the ones doing the pointing, they displace the pressure from themselves to the other person/persons, even if they, themselves, are in the wrong.

I had a big realization as I ran that I hadn’t thought about before.  I see how my life has lined up to have me work with, and then be a caregiver of people from all walks of life in states all over the US, so that I am really able to connect with certainty with the concept that we are all One.  The notion that we’re separate is a man-made falsehood that only brings judgment, hatred, separatism, and violence into this world.  When in actuality, we’re supposed to start with loving ourselves fully, so that we can spread love in the world.

I am a white woman.  Aside from the fact that I live in a very male-dominated society, I generally feel safe in my life.  I have the typical fear as a woman of walking downtown in my town by myself at night (though I did NOT feel unsafe while solo in Sydney Australia in the Harbour area at all hours of the day and night).  I’m not a fan of being solo in parking garages at night.  With that said, I recognize my white privilege (though I also know that I have gaps in my view, because it’s the nature of the beast in a lot of ways).  I know that when I have been pulled over by a cop in the past, while I was nervous for being pulled over, I have never feared that I would be shot or killed.  And you can tell me that you’re white and you have been fearful for your life in those situations, but the reality is that the fear that you have had does not touch the level of fear held by a black person in this country.  They have to think about their actions even in situations where they are being taunted or even physically assaulted, because they know that should anything happen to the other person, they will likely be the ones to take the biggest fall for it.  They worry about getting pulled over for routine stops, because so many have lost their lives that way.  I cannot imagine the worry that they experience when they send their teenagers out into the world, not knowing if someone will mistake something they do with an act of disrespect or violence that then gets them killed.

We live in a time when our government thinks that it’s OK to separate children from their families in the name of securing our borders and protecting our jobs.  I call bullshit.  How many white people are losing jobs in the agricultural fields to illegal Mexican immigrants in this country?  These hard-working people work for wages much less than most of us would even consider given the extreme heat and harsh conditions that they are subjected to.  This country was founded on the premise that it was a place where people from all walks of life could come for refuge, or to build a better life for themselves.  But now, we find ourselves in times where money and greed are placed as higher priorities than love and compassion for our fellow human beings.  We block the immigration of refugees.  We have stopped being a safe haven.

The white people moved into North America and claimed it as their own even though there were Native Americans already living here.  So they killed off a bunch of Native Americans and sent the rest packing to areas they themselves didn’t see value in. (Fast forward to today when those lands have oil on them and the white people now want those areas too! When will it stop?). Then, they brought people over from Africa to be their slaves to do their work for them. Now, I am baffled when white people are pissed off that black people live here! We dragged them away from their lives in Africa, so yes, they live here now. (Does anyone else have these thoughts?). As white people, I don’t think we are on the side that can be upset with it. Since then, the richest white men work to hoard the land and their material wealth, while keeping the rest of us feeling small and in line, so that they can keep it that way.  People have reacted strongly to my Facebook posts on the topic of my opposition to black people being pulled over and shot during routine traffic stops, and they like to say that the person “brought it on themselves”.  They like to use weak excuses that point to a large majority of black people who choose to “do bad things”.  The reality is that none of that is true.  What is true is that wives of police officers seem to have a hard time accepting that there is a such thing as corrupt police, which doesn’t necessarily mean that their husband falls into such a category.  What is true is that the underlying racism in this country lends itself to the quantity of black people being killed and jailed.  I think we need to get smart about who we side with though.  I certainly don’t side with the white men who have led the majority of terrorist attacks in this country just because I am white.  And I certainly would not choose to accept sweeping negative beliefs about Muslims if I belonged to a church that spoke of such things.  No matter what we have been taught, our race and religion are HUMAN.  Colors, shapes, sizes, beliefs, and preferences are a ploy to stretch and grow our hearts to love more, and to love those who do not look, believe, or behave the same as we do.  If we stop at our shallow impressions based on such things, we miss the opportunity to connect and make a new friend.

The way this society is run, you would think that we live in a Universe of lack, but in fact, we live in a very abundant Universe.  We have been brainwashed into thinking that scarcity ranks supreme, when in fact, we have enough of everything for everyone, but we choose to do things like throw perfectly good food away rather than give it to people who need it.  We seek to grab more of the proverbial pie for ourselves, and hold beliefs like each man for himself when it comes to giving some of our abundance away.  The key to life is creating an abundance in our own life in the form of love, so that we realize that we are always being taken care of, and always have enough to share with others.

Recently, I read an article about a 9-year old boy who killed himself after he was bullied by kids at school after telling other students that he was gay.  As a Mom to a 9-year old boy, my heart broke when I heard that news.  We’ve created an environment for ourselves and our children where we generally don’t feel like we can be our authentic, vulnerable, expressive selves for fear of judgment, ridicule, abuse, or violence from others.  How sad is that?!  I don’t care what your beliefs are about the LGBT+ community, as a human, do you not see the horrible repercussions of treating people so poorly for being different from you?  Our beliefs about this issue are trickling down to our kids, who would otherwise hold only compassion for other kids.  It’s leading to bullying and harassment that is ultimately killing our kids.  Is your belief about a group of people worth the death of a child?

Sure, there are things that have improved in this country over time, but the reality is that there is still so much racism, sexism, and bigotry in this country.  Those of us who are white could have slipped into a period of time where we believed that equality across the board was a thing, but I think if anything, with the election of Trump and the darkness that has come to the surface following, we can be sure that a lot of these issues had been merely swept under the rug just waiting for the right time to emerge.  I truly believe in the adage that to be healed, we have to see the dark side of things.  We have to recognize when people aren’t being treated fairly in order to make the needed changes.  The dark has to be brought to light for the healing to happen.  It’s the only way.  It works like that in individuals as well as the collective.  I cannot heal a destructive thought pattern that I hold if I do not recognize it as destructive.

I know that life can make us hard.  Life can make us cold.  We are constantly fed a campaign of fear in all formats.  So, we often live our lives afraid.  We build protective walls around our hearts and our houses in an attempt to protect ourselves and our families.  We try to sort people into distinctive categories acting as though gray areas for every category do not exist, and then we further assign labels of “good” or “bad” to them.  We then set limits around the love that we can offer to these groups.  At one point, I realized that the walls I had built up around me for protection from getting hurt were acting as a cage that prevented me from having the deep connections with others that my soul craves.

What I have come to know is that we are all the same.  We are all souls here having a human experience.  Many of us grow up with wounds from our childhood.  Perhaps we were abused, neglected, or abandoned and we never fully processed it, and so we hold onto those feelings as adults.  We seek to fill our void with people and things rather than doing the often difficult (but oh so worth it) inner work to move on from our deeply etched feelings of not being enough, of not being worthy, and of not being lovable.  We project how we feel about ourselves onto other people.  The parts of ourselves that we have not healed get reflected back to us in other people, and we place blame on others for how badly we feel.  So people act out.  They withhold love from themselves, and so they withhold love from others.  One that does not fully love themself unconditionally is not able to love another unconditionally.  We are all only capable of giving the amount of love that we carry for ourselves.  This is why self-love is the absolute best thing that we can all offer to each other and this planet!  It starts with each of us.  If we miss that step, and build relationships anyway…or build cities anyway…or build governments anyway…what we find is that eventually, they crumble from the stress of having too weak a foundation to support them.  People have been trained to believe a certain way about various groups because of what their religion and government has told them vs approaching everyone as just as important as themselves.  But, if you think about it, in a society where people are made to feel small, afraid, and not whole in and of themselves, it is no real surprise that people view others in the same light.  If you think that the lyrics above are an exaggeration, I ask you to thoroughly examine the privilege that you are experiencing by not being part of one of these groups.  Just because you, yourself, does not experience discrimination, it does not mean that it’s not a huge problem in this country.  If you find yourself feeling defensive as you read this post, I ask you to question where that feeling is coming from vs simply reacting to the trigger.  As humans, we tend to bury our darkest truths and emotions deep, so that it can take a while to dig it all up and expose it to the light.

It has been a process for me to get to a place where I fully love myself.  I had very low self-esteem for much of my life.  Once I did start making positive strides in how I viewed myself, I found myself still missing the mark a lot of the time.  I would say that I loved myself, but I wasn’t actually showing myself love.  And as with everything else, actions always speak louder than words.  If you merely say in passing that you love yourself, or you love the qualities about you that you or society has deemed “lovable”, and you’re putting everyone else’s needs above your own, you are missing the mark.  I was missing the mark.  I was a people pleaser who lacked self-esteem.  Unconsciously, I did for others and gave my love so that I could in turn receive the love that I felt was lacking (ultimately it was lacking from myself).  Things only began to change once I realized what actual self-love looks like.

Self-love looks like putting yourself first for a change (yes, even above your children).  It looks like doing things that bring YOU joy regularly, and not just going along with what others are wanting to do.  Self-love looks like recognizing when you need solo time to recharge and scheduling a time to make it happen.  It looks like making time for a bath if you enjoy it more than a quick shower.  Self-love looks like taking care of your body in whatever way feels good to you.  It looks like sleeping when you’re tired.  Self-love looks like saying no if you really don’t want to do something even though it feels like everyone else wants you to say yes.  We all have different things that make us feel loved up.  Find those things, and stop waiting for someone else to do them for you.  You will feel better when you take back your power and start creating your own joy, your own happiness, and your own peace and stop expecting it from some external situation or person.  As you grow in this way and begin to really love yourself, what you’re going to find is that it will become impossible for you to not accept other people as they are, and to be against anyone.  In fully loving yourself, you see that whatever you are doing to another, you are actually doing to yourself, because you’re better able to recognize that we all have these struggles to go through and overcome, and that we are all the same.  Having gone through all that I have been through, I find it so easy to view another person at more of the soul level.  Look for the beauty of your own heart, and then look for the beauty of another’s heart, and you will find it there, under the fraction of that person’s story that you have come to believe.

With empathy, I can see that the Mom on meth who just had a baby is hurting so badly because she does not get to take her baby home with her from the hospital.  I don’t have to know her entire life story to have compassion for her. I can imagine that her soul has lessons that it wanted to learn via addiction in this life, but I can also connect with her as a Mom myself.  I’ve spoken of this before on this blog, because to me, it was a very powerful thing when I stopped my judging mind, and turned on my loving heart when taking care of these Moms.  I have no idea what led them to using meth, but I do know that it’s one of the most addictive drugs available.  For all I know, she was peer pressured into doing it one time, and that set her up for many years of addiction.  Why do we even need the back story though in order to be compassionate human beings?  In taking care of so many people over the years, I can tell you that we all have the same underlying issues causing our lack of self-love, which then causes our critical judgment of ourselves and others.  The lack of self-love leads to self-destructive behaviors.  For some, this may mean hatred towards self and others, it may mean drug addiction, or it may mean putting ourselves last to the point of dis-ease.  When you heal those aspects of yourself, you really do start to have love in your heart for everyone.  I now have love in my heart for people I never thought possible, which has added a whole new level of love and peace to my life.  We cannot love ourselves and hate others, and we cannot hate others and truly love ourselves.  If we have hate in our hearts for someone, we have a disconnect in ourselves that needs healed.

Please give yourself permission today to think a different thought and make a different choice than you did yesterday. We are human, we are allowed to change our minds.  We should be allowed to think for ourselves and choose love and compassion over hatred and fear, even when it’s our minister telling us who we should or should not love.  As a child, I knew right from wrong.  I inherently knew that all people should be treated equally and fairly.  I knew that with such conviction, because it is true.  Love is the only answer to every problem in our lives, and in the collective.  If we do not learn to fully love ourselves, then everything we do in the name of “good” is always going to have holes in it at the core.  When we give and give from an empty cup that we have not taken the time to fill for ourselves, we end up with illness/dis-ease.  It is only when place priority on filling our own cup, does it then begin to overflow with joy, abundance, and love.  I am living from that place right now.  My cup is overflowing in ways I never thought possible, and my sincerely grateful heart wishes for nothing more than to use all of the excess to help make this world a better place.

If this is resonating with you at the core, but you feel overwhelmed with where to start, please reach out to me at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com.  It is one of my passions to help fill this world with true, unconditional love, and that starts with each of us as individuals.

Thank you so much for reading!  If you like this post, please like and share it!  Much love!

Watch the video for A Tribe Called Quest’s song “We The People” HERE

Time

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Time is a strange thing.  There are times in my life when time seemed to stand still, like the night I spent in the hospital on the verge of heart failure while I was waiting for a surgery to save me.  Then there are times when time seems to speed by so fast that it takes my breath away, like summer days spent traveling and snorkeling with my son.

Today has me emotional.  I know I am not the only parent feeling this way today.  Where I live, today is the first day of school.  I walked my new 4th grader to school today.  And now, after getting back home and reading a really touching post by one of my best friends from college on this, the day after her son turned 16, I sit in a puddle of tears.

I know that many people I know have had to take their kids to college and support them as they leave the nest.  From where I am standing, that remains a reality difficult for me to fathom.  Still others have new high school students today.  I know that some friends may wish that they had a 4th grader today.  But, as with everything, our experiences are all relative and what we have going on in our own lives is what really counts for us personally. Today, my mind is thrusting me back through the years.  It’s funny how with every milestone, I get transported back into time when my son was a baby, newly born.  It’s not in a way where I am wishing that he was a baby again, but more just wondering where the time since that day has gone.  As normal as this whole back to school after summer thing is for humans, it always reminds me of the version of him, or incarnation, as my friend Michele put it, that I will experience and say goodbye to this year.

It’s the part of parenting that people don’t often talk about.  The thing that you don’t even realize until you become a parent yourself.  The part where you welcome and then say goodbye to all of the various incarnations of your child that you are so blessed to witness.  As my friend Michele Rosa Gee wrote so beautifully today, “Birthdays bring a fascinating combination of emotions as a mother.  Not only am I celebrating the person I see before me in this moment (which is what we normally do on people’s birthdays), but I’m nostalgic for the many incarnations of this boy I have seen through the past 16 years.”  She goes onto say something else that really spoke to my Mom heart and that was “And I am amazed at the depth of sadness that I feel as I project into the future the growing separation that is natural between a mother and child.”  I think this goes for birthdays, and other milestones like crawling, then walking, dressing themselves, and all the first days of school, and every other monumental occasion that we, as parents, get to experience during our child’s life.

For some of us, me included, this time is also dotted with a lot of time spent away from my child.  My son’s Dad moved out of the house when my son was barely 4 years old.  Prior to that time, the only time I spent without my son involved hospital stays and time spent in class during nursing school.  I had never experienced a night away from my son, let alone several at a time.  You would think that over time, this would become “normal” for a mother, the back and forth, the time spent without your child.  But for me, it has never felt “normal”.  For me, it has been the most difficult part of my divorce.  As a Mom, I feel like I should be with my child all of the time.  Maybe that’s my mind and ego speaking, but it feels like it’s my heart.  After living this way for over 5 years, splitting the weeks and holidays with his Dad, it is not an easy thing for my Mom heart to get used to, especially when I hear someone say that they have rarely spent any time away from their child.

But I have come to trust mine and my son’s journeys.  I know that regardless of the apparent shortcomings of this arrangement, it is better for all of us.  I know that my son is being raised by two people who are much happier apart than they were together.  As someone who experienced the contrast of parents who didn’t get along, but stayed together “for the kids”, I know that I would rather spend time away from my son than to have him grow up surrounded by tension and negativity.  Because I believe that there are no coincidences in this life, I have to accept that reality not only in times that feel good and magical, but also in times that feel difficult and unnatural.  I have seen what illness has done for me and my life, and I trust that when things feel hard, there is growth and expansion happening for me, and for my son.  I hold onto that knowing that we are both always being taken care of and that we will get from this life exactly what we each need.

It has been really interesting to see how I feel during significant milestones now that I am more conscious that I have ever been before.  As I learn to be more present during all the moments of my life, I feel more acutely aware when a milestone will be a first and a last at the same time.  There is no little brother or sister to walk to the first day of 4th grade in a few years, so, I can’t even hold onto the illusion that there will be another day when I walk a 4th grader to class on the first day of school for the first and the last time.  Just as I practice mindfulness in other parts of my life and know that this moment is all I ever truly have, today is the only day I have for this milestone.

As I move towards deeper levels of self-awareness and acceptance, and into deeper levels of consciousness, I am reminded daily of how difficult it can be to stay fully present with our kids.  I think it’s one of the things that kids are meant to do, expand us in ways that don’t feel possible.  For instance, when my son is trying to get a rise out of me by singing loudly in my face, and I am feeling the need for a stimulation time out, it is hard to stay present.  My mind wonders and I wish for a future moment of peace.  I think that it is generally easy to stay present with ourselves, how we’re feeling, and what we’re experiencing when we are alone.  I meditate regardless, but when I am alone, I have the quiet and space to check in with my higher self frequently over the course of the day.  But I know that the real test comes when I can keep the same peace and hold the same space for myself regardless of what is happening around me.  I intuitively know it.  It feels like one of the big keys of life.  I witnessed this as a Registered Nurse in the hospital.  When I started out, I felt like I needed a quiet place with no distractions while I charted everything about my patients into a computer.  The more seasoned nurses laughed at that requirement, because they had already learned that kind of peace and quiet did not exist within that environment.  After over 5 years of working in the hospital, all I needed to get my charting done was a working computer.  I became so good at focusing on what I was doing at the computer even with distractions all around me, that at times I wouldn’t hear another nurse ask me a question.

It’s all about being able to tune out the distractions from our environment, the people around us, and our own minds so that we are able to stay present and at peace during anything that shows up in our lives.  When we realize how important our own internal peace is, and we learn how to achieve and maintain it through even the most trying of times, we unlock the key to happiness in our lives.  Of course, this doesn’t mean ignoring our feelings, but it does mean realizing that each moment has something worth experiencing.  Today, I was really present in the experience of walking my son to his first day of 4th grade, which is why I feel so emotional about it.  Everything that has happened in my life has cumulatively led me to exactly where I am right now, and to how I am feeling right now.

With each milestone, I am reminded of the imperative need for me to get out of my head, so that I can soak up the fleeting moments I have with my growing son.  I am reminded of all of the past moments that will never exist again and the years flash on a screen in my head, birth, 1-year-old, 2 years old, 3 years old, 4 years old, 5 years old, 6 years old, 7 years old, 8 years old, 9 years old.  I think part of it is that we equate parenting with so many tasks: the meals, the snacks, the trips to school and back again, the extracurricular activities, the homework, the play dates, the baths, and the bedtimes.  Sometimes we humans go on autopilot, and do more than be.  We quickly seek to accomplish all the tasks as efficiently as we can, zooming around left and right.  But, as we do this, and we turn life into a series of tasks and activities, we sometimes forget to slow down and soak in the moments that truly define our lives.

As I become more conscious and therefore more present in my life, I feel these milestones all the more strongly, because I am very aware of the preciousness of each moment with my son.  If being a Mom and experiencing this as reality through the powerful manifestation of a son that grows and changes with each passing day doesn’t wake me up to only living in the present moment, I don’t know what will.  It can be a somewhat painful process, being a Mom and watching your son grow and change, grow and change, but wow, what a wonderful ride.  Right?!  Isn’t it beautiful that etched within each of our children is the powerful lesson that NOW is the only moment we have with each other?

We can’t relive a moment that has passed, so we must soak in every moment we have, so that we live with no regret in our hearts, and more joy in our lives!

Thank you for reading!  If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it! Much love.

Do you need uplifted and reminded of how wonderful it is to be alive today?  If so, listen to Brett Dennen’s song “Blessed” HERE