Sometimes I surprise myself…

It’s been a weird week with a few bad days that culminated in something amazing happening, but more on that later…

I’m finally detaching myself from my dear friend, and I think it’s for good this time, but more importantly…I’m doing ok…and that’s the surprise.

Long story, but he is no longer able to have me in his life, though I know it is not his preference, which helps me. It makes me still feel valued…the last time I saw him, I got to hear how he was taking time for hobbies and reconnecting with friends. I feel like he’s been listening and has some newfound resilience built into his world now.

I also was able to tell him how much he’s meant to me and changed my life. And while I still feel a little unsettled and wish I could see or talk to him, I’m focusing on my relationships, my work, and myself.

And I’m surprised at myself. I’ve been trying to let go for the past year, and just felt like I couldn’t…and while I still don’t want to, I now know that I can…I’m going to be okay, due in large part to the healing prompted by my dear friend. My dear friend that I will never forget, always care about, and wish well 😊

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I’m not perfect

News flash: I’m a little messed up, a little broken, a little crazy, and a little muddled.

I make mistakes.

I piss people off at times.

But I try to be the best person I can be when I’m able.

People believe what they want to, but unless you’ve had first hand experience, or been part of a situation, you have no idea what has transpired between two people.

The insecure will cling to the worst possible scenario and spread their negativity. The strong will keep their mouth shut and take the high road. I’m trying so hard to take that high road but I get so furious when the insecure try to make something so simple and positive into something ugly and unkind.

Deep breath.

I’m not perfect. I’m just…me.

Noticing the impact of the waves…

Over the weekend, I had a chance to spend some time on the beach. I watched boats go by, and saw the wake of each one gradually make their way to shore. It got me thinking…

Now that I’m getting better, I’m noticing things…trying to notice the impact of my actions. I used to feel like I didn’t matter, didn’t have any power, and, well…you know where I’m going with this…

So to keep my insecurities at bay, I try to notice when I have an impact…so I launch a boat, and watch the wake left behind in the water. Here are a few specific examples that have stayed on my mind:

  • I bumped into a young man I’m acquainted with at the grocery store awhile back. He was buying a lot of frozen meals. I have a tendency to be a mother hen, so I say, “be careful, those dinners are loaded with salt, you should try not to eat them so often.” Well, a few months later, he has lost 12 pounds. I asked what his secret was, “cooking more often.” And while he gave me no credit, I’m quite sure I had a little something to do with it!
  • In my work with young children, my teenage son is frequently nearby, and I’m always modeling how to resolve conflicts, meet their needs, and validate their feelings. I hear him using my words, echoing my tone, and mirroring my body language…that is one strong and persistent wave!
  • When I was finally ready to share with my mom that I was in therapy, i was nervous. I didn’t know what she’d think, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised…she has been taking inspiration from my journey, yet another ripple, long lasting.
  • I started my first blog to write about child care issues for families and providers. I eventually started this blog to share my struggle with depression, and hopefully bring awareness and help to others. Now this ripple might be a reach, because I was just a passenger in the boat that someone else was driving, but a young woman in my life started a blog sharing her thoughts as she is working to make sense of her mom’s illness. Another small ripple…
  • And my dear friend that I’ve been going back and forth with, but trying to let go…from the beginning of our friendship, I tried to impart the wisdom of my years, specifically the importance of having friends. And after almost 3 years, he is finally making an effort to connect with friends for the first time since college. Guy friends, outside of work, outside of his marriage, are becoming part of his world because I drove the loudest and fastest boat I could find. That wave hit him hard again and again!

Which one of my biggest “failures” brought me the most value?

I love this question because it takes me all the way back to why I write this blog: I failed to care for my own needs after several family issues demanded I care for others first. I ignored my need for friends and connections, my need for physical health, my professional goals, and my emotional well-being as well.

And while it’s not a choice I would make, this failure led me to where I am right now, and the value in that is immense: I AM FINALLY ME. I broke as a result of that failure and as I unraveled my failure, my life, I learned about myself, and slowly became the person I always wanted to be.

Now I am doing my best to take care of my needs, because I cannot afford to fail again, at least in that department!

Connection…it starts with me!

Photo by Stacy Brown

As my son finishes up his 6th lacrosse season, I finally feel like I’m connecting with the other parents. His first season, I was shy, and nervous, especially because all the other families seemed to know each other so well, while my son had been an outcast early on because of some behavior issues.

Anyway, some of the parents were actually unkind, and others just doing their thing. There were definitely some parents that were inviting and helped me feel at ease. But as I watched the boys gather after a tough championship loss, I felt more connected to all of the families than I ever had before. And while it’s true that over time, those relationships develop, I think it was more about me: I wasn’t connecting with myself.

I was a mess, insecure, emotionally volatile, and couldn’t meet my own social and emotional needs. I feel like now that I’m listening to myself, and meeting my own needs, I’m more open to connecting with others. And in turn, people are more open to connecting with me. Feeling proud and happy today, truly. What a feeling!

Yes, I do need to be my own hero

I just got home from paddling and checking in with a friend, had a nice conversation. Came home, put some of my stuff away and opened up my social media. Lately, I’m digging Andy Grammer and his new video was posted. I gave it a listen and before it was half over, I was saying to myself, “that’s exactly what I have to do, what I’ve been trying to do!”

Check out this inspiring song

So in the interest of following what strikes me, I am going to be my own hero. I am going to look within, and look at my skills, and notice the positive impacts I can have on the people in my world. I am going to be my own hero.

Please feel free to share if I have affected you in a positive way!

Little by Little, part 2

I’m making progress, little by little. As I’m seeing things more clearly, I’m also discovering a little more self-discipline. One of the things I’m getting into the habit of, finally, is spending time in the dirt.

I’ve always liked the feeling I get after working in the garden, but depression robbed me of the “get up and go” that used to drive me. Now that I’m becoming myself, again or for the first time (not sure which), I’m spending time tending to my plants every day. Whether I’m pulling a few stray weeds in the sandbox while the kids play, or turning the soil in the garden, each time yields some peace. Gardening calms me, in every sense of the word, but especially the freeway of thoughts that never wants to slow down on its own.

Just looking at this fuchsia, I start to notice the tiny parts of the flower, the unique shape of the leaves and petals, and beautiful combination of colors…and my thoughts slow down, and shift. Gratitude and awe creep into my mind. And how wonderful is that? And there’s the begonia…the many layers amaze me, but I also notice that there are different shape blooms from the same plant. How can I possibly feel anything but surprise and wonder?

So in the interest of drawing my attention outside on my tough days, I created a small garden corner on my deck. When I’m in the kitchen, the window to my right gives me a view of my little patch of color. Sometimes I’ll go out there thinking that I’ll just pick a couple faded blooms and then go back to whatever…I usually end up out there for an hour. I even set up a chair and a couple wind chimes, and it has become a cozy spot to relax at the end of the day with a hot cup of tea. Here is a peek:

It’s a work in progress, but that’s the fun part! And hey-there are days when I really only spend a few minutes in the dirt, but forming the habit takes away the pressure, gives me a sense of pride, and promotes my mental and physical health.

I’m too much sometimes

I’m learning that sometimes I am too much for people. What I mean is that when I connect with someone, and I feel something positive, I open my world to that person. And though I’ve had some success, and some reciprocity, it’s difficult when I come on too strong and there is a retreat by the other person. Even more challenging is when it seems like it’s accepted, and all of a sudden, I am met with silence.

It sucks. But that won’t stop me. You know why? Because I am finally myself. I no longer feel a need to stifle the real me. I accept the rejection because if someone doesn’t want me, I know it’s their loss.

And I also know that sometimes, a person needs a little push…a reminder that they are worthy of friendship, and that they can contribute to another persons happiness, and of course, that they deserve kindness, belonging and connection.

This song, I’m not giving up…, reminds me of what I said to my friend, Laura, when she started to push me away at the thought of moving. Sometimes it’s too hard to care, sometimes it’s too scary, too risky, and sometimes, we walk away. I fought for her friendship, and I won. She is a clear case of someone who needed the fight, needed to hear that she was worth the effort.

But this songs makes me think of my dear friend lately, who just doesn’t have it in him to be my friend anymore. I am too much for him. I have to accept that. It sucks, but it’s his loss. And yes, I did fight for our friendship, “…until my heart was black and blue,” but at the end of the day, his friendship came with so little reciprocity that it wasn’t good for me anymore.

I’ve paid tribute to the friendship in so many ways, and I’ll always treasure the personal growth that came from it. And if he ever decided to let me back in, I’d still be myself…but of course I’m still discovering who that is. For now, I’m just me. Open, honest, blunt, flawed, emotional, scared, brave, whole, vibrant, alive…and I’m grateful for the color that came into my gray world when I needed it most.

*and did I mention that this song is absolutely breathtaking?!

I Can Only Imagine

Finally saw this movie, which is so unlike me…but a friend of mine saw it awhile back and said it had a powerful impact. So I’m finally watching it and I’ve been in tears off and on the whole time-and I’m only half way through. Had to pause it to write.

  • All it takes is one teacher, one manager, one person to have faith in you to make yourself the authentic and real you
  • Songs as an anchor…they can reach you in a profound way and carry you through tough times
  • The sunsets and sunrises in this film make me want to travel (well, not really but almost😉!)
  • When you have passion and hope and faith (in yourself or something bigger) things will come together as they should
  • Perseverance
  • Sometimes your passion about…whatever…will be too much for people. It’s their loss. Share it anyway
  • Trauma, perceived and literal, stays with you and shapes you…better to accept it than fight it, to heal and grow.
  • “What are you running from? Let that pain become your inspiration.”
  • It’s hard to trust the change in someone, the one that triggers you, when the trauma is still so fresh for you
  • “I got a lot of questions about myself” What a powerful statement-it opens up a whole world of vulnerability
  • Knowing what another person is feeling, thinking, or at least having a window into their world can create understanding, build a bridge between two islands
  • Choosing to forgive…there’s great power in that, though I don’t think God has anything to do with it…I think it’s about putting down the heavy load you’ve been carrying…whether you give it to someone/something, it’s good to set it down and let it go
  • “Like junk, like to fix things, make something out of nothing”…metaphor for redemption
  • This blog is my journal. I choose to share it, but I do it for me. “It feels really good”
  • “I’ve never told anybody my story…” sharing his song, was important for him and his healing…that resonates with me and that’s how I feel about my book. And when your story is embraced…what a feeling!
  • You never know what will open up your soul, your curiosity, your sense of wonder and engagement in the world…stay open, let it happen, and grow from it

Everything happens for a reason…I don’t always know what it is, but I believe we are shaped by everything we touch and are touched by…it’s strange, my friend says he sees himself as the monster, but I see him as the little boy who grew up with a lot of unresolved trauma, who is working through it still. I only hope to see what kind of man he becomes someday…

There’s nothing quite like putting yourself out there…

Sharing my book makes me nervous, anxious at times. I have to meet new people and go to new places and do things that I find scary. But once I get there, set up, and take a deep breath, I’m ok.

I had several book events recently where I got to connect with people…and while I was very nervous, it turned out wonderfully. To see someone open my book for the first time and ooh and ahh over the story and pictures fills me up. It sparks conversations about the world we live in, about what we can do right now to make it a better place.

Connecting with some people I already know in a new way, or after a long period of time has been fun! They are often surprised that I’ve written a book, glad that I’m still working with children…and many ask me how I got there. I’m honest and tell them that I had an unraveling, a breakdown, that led me to spirit animals and beyond. The responses vary: “good for you” or “I’m so sorry” or “oh…”. It definitely catches people off guard, but I think we need to talk about it-we need to be honest and open to diminish the stigma associated with depression and mental illness. And we need to own the laundry list of responsibilities we carry on our own, and begin to take care of ourselves again.

Anyway, sharing this story with others fills me up, from the book store managers to the kids visiting the stores, to the childcare providers who listen alongside the kids…the story is having an impact on all of us, but especially and selfishly me!

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