Embrace Your Failure

I wrote this a few weeks ago on Facebook.  I had such a positive response, I am posting it here.  Usually it is the other way around.  I usually write it here, and then post on Facebook.  Except this message is so profound judging by the response to it; I wanted the Blogosphere to see it.  Enjoy, and so grateful for all of you to be on this ever expanding journey with me.  There are some points in your life, where you ask one of the following (and they all suck and they are ALL uber scary), “what the frak am I doing”?  Or “where am I going”?  Or my personal favorite at the moment, “that’s my lid universe?  For real?  Can’t I realize my greatness with any other question but THAT?”

adventures, learn

I’m here to tell you, unfortunately, “Yes”.  Your defining moments will be when you OWN your scariest, darkest, and real emotion in your life.  They will bring you to task to see if you are ready.  To tell the world to frak off if need be.

I feel this massive shift coming, and tonight I realized what that would entail.  It is that deep down kind of fear and shame that comes with real change.  When you embrace your “real” self and basically say, “oh shit.  I better get going with that.”

This is not to say that your goal has to be big and life transforming.  What I am conveying that no matter how small or big your obstacle is, it comes down to your self-worth and faith in yourself.  I have recently realized this, and it’s a sobering fact to accept.  I love all of you for being on this journey with you.

If something tugs at your heart strings AT ALL.  Just go for it.  You and I are lot alike that way, and I appreciate you taking the time to write it.

The truth is … I’m a failure.
It took me a long time to graduate college
Failed in my Arbonne business over and over.
Failed at writing
Failed at exercising consistently for most of my adult life
Failed at backpacking
Failed A LOT at paddling (lots of swimming)
Failed at eating the right way
Failed at being disciplined
Failed at being a good family member.
Failed at being in relationships
Failed to live up to my own expectations
Failed at being my true self until recently
Failed at being ME
and Accepting the real ME.

And the world didn’t end. I moved on and tried again. To be better every day.

I am not perfect, and I don’t want to be. It’s damaging, unattainable, and extremely unrealistic to think you or someone else can be perfect.

If you watch me on Facebook thinking that this happened in a poof, and I didn’t work my ass off to be where I am, you would be severely mistaken. I have bled (literally), gotten bruised, been sore, written badly, read, cried, and been told I couldn’t accomplish something many times. I am blessed to be infused with grit and determination because the universe has given me the strength to learn from my failures. So what you see now is the result of a tremendous amount of work.

I am brave enough to embrace the failures and challenges, and turn them into success and opportunity. My experiences, the good, the bad, and the painful, have all gotten me here. It is learning through them that I am successful. It is only a mistake if you fail to learn from it. The choice is yours. Let your failures define you, or let them teach you.

Playin’

I’ve
been

Playin’
at

Greatness

for
Over
a
Year.

Struggling
to

understand

Why.

until

Now.

Afraid

of
Who
I was

Becoming.

being
Known,

Rejection

by the
people

I
hold

Closest.

all
Ludicrous.

I’ve been
through

so
much

Worse
and had

Acceptance.

during
the
Dark
bouts

in my

Life.

and
Yet

the

Thought
of

Success

and

Independence

Stunted
me
into

Mediocrity.

I’m
Bigger
than

That.

I
Deserve

to
Thrive

Success
and

Freedom.

I am

Not
Going

to
Back

Down
this

Time.

to

Fear

Judgment,

ultimately

Shame.

for

embodying

my
Whole

Heart.

I
no

Longer
feel

Obliged
to

Hide.

Life
is

Discovered

in the

Discomfort

of
Growth.

it is
There

you

Find
Your

Truth

and

Acceptance

of your

Greater
Self.

Change and Fear

Change

It is

Painful

Difficult

impossibly
Uncomfortable.

Our subconscious

Pushes

against

Change

with a
Fervor

as if

Molting into
a

Better you
is

Life
Threatening.

because

It
Is.

Not
of your

Body.

of

your

Mindset of Belief.

This is
the

Holy shit

Pit of your
Stomach

Terrifying

Penetrating

type of

Fear.

that comes
with

Visceral

Change.

When you are

Ready to

Molt
Your

Suffering

Skin of

Self-doubt

and

Worthiness.

You must
Grab onto it

before Doubt
sets in

to Become
the

Grit

necessary

to Face
the

Demons

Fears

Judgment

and finally

PAIN

that have

Pinned

you like an

Anchor

to
the
floor.

of

Guilt

Judgment

Shame

for
your

Entire

Life.

It is

Time
to

Win the

War

of a thousand

Battles

once and

for

All.

Freedom

The word freedom is a rather loaded word. It means something different to everyone. My freedom is paddling whenever I want, being able to give whatever I want without it destroying my bank account, and being present when one of my family and friends wants me to be there no matter what.   And travel. There will be lots of travel. To me, you can’t put a price on any of those items.

This is a pic of my crazy cousins, and their significant others, kids, etc at my cousin's wedding. I am so lucky to have them.

This is a pic of my crazy cousins, and their significant others, kids, etc at my cousin’s wedding. I am so lucky to have them.

Your freedom may be different. The key is to be able to actually EXECUTE that freedom.

There is also the third reality. The burnt out and/or overworked mentality. This is by the far the saddest, and in my opinion the hardest to get out. This is where you either work a bazillion hours and get a really great paycheck. Or you are working a bazillion hours just to make ends meet. I have been in the latter of those two. Many of you know this, but for those that don’t, I used to work two different jobs about 60-70 hours a week. In those years I made under $30,000 for BOTH. I got my W-2’s back and said, “Really? That’s it. There’s got to be another way.” It feels like there isn’t though. You become disheartened, depressed, and just resigned to the fact that this is all your life is going to be. You are really just surviving another day, week until the next paycheck. When you breathe a sigh of relief, and said thank the universe it’s payday. You lose your drive, dream, and eventually the ability to hope for something better. You believe that this is how it is going to be from now on. You become resigned to mediocrity.

Except it doesn’t have to be this way.

If you are in this particular mindset, there is a way to find your freedom. My way might be different from your way; however, I can say with conviction as long as you work your lever to freedom, you will get there. The last three years I have had a lot of absolutely amazing things happen, but I have also had some of the worst possibly scenarios come into my life during that time. Here’s the difference between now and seven years ago. I have a choice.   I got the opportunity to spend time with my elderly Nana and go to the hospital for both my Dad and my Uncle when it was necessary. I literally would walk out of my job saying I have to take care of my family now. I am very grateful and very blessed that my “regular” job I get to do that. Family always comes first.

The nicer part was because of my network marketing health and wellness business, my paycheck didn’t suffer to the point where I couldn’t pay my bills. I earned that time. I earned that freedom. It is like anything else, it takes work and sacrifice.

My question is what is your freedom worth?  Think about it.  This is not a hypothetical question.  Take some time and develop it.

Light and Shadow

I
Breathe
in
the

Cold,
Damp
air

as
Darkness
surrounds.

Light
is
bouncing Off
the River
in a
kind of

Dance.

I Let
the
Darkness
Surround
my

Five
Senses

as I
Submerse
myself

in the

Restorative
Energy
of

Light

and

Shadow.

Indicators of Purpose

I was
Never a
Believer in
positive thinking,
Fate, etc.

Self-help
“Crap” I
called it.

Until I
started to
use it,
adapt it,
and
Practice it.

And I was
dumbfounded
that it
Works.

As a
Scientist,

I
Adapt
to

Information

and
Evidence.

A few seconds
sooner,
the
Outcome
would have
Been much
Different.

It is clear
the Universe,
God, or
whichever your
Diety is,
has a bigger
Plan for
Me.

Fate.

Another
line I
Never
thought I’d
believe in.

It is
not
These
moments
that
Define

Us.

It is
What
we
Do
in the

Moments

After
Impact
that

are
Indicators of
Purpose.

It is
Continued
Consistency

after
Impact
that

Reveals
one’s
True

Intentions.

The Shift

Every
Life
Shift

is a
Call

for a

Mental
Reset.

a
Sign of
personal
Progress

Towards
being
the
Best

You.

You’ve
got to
Build

towards
the

Shift.

this isn’t
Magic,
it’s
Work.

My life
and
Mind
has been
Preparing
me

for This

Shift
Moment.

It is a
Break.

signifying
Rebirth
from the
Ashes
of

Poverty.

of
Spirit
and
Mind.

It is
Time
to

Break
the

Cycle of

Doubt.

to
Severe
Limiting
Ties

And
live a
Brave
new
Life
of
Expectation

and
Decided
Determination.

Hitting Your Lines and Missing Them

The Tohickon Creek release was this past weekend, and it is my favorite creek.  It is challenging without being terrifying (most of the time), easily accessible, and a solid class three creek.  Yesterday I hit most of my lines that I wanted to, and when I didn’t I was able to avoid the obstacles I didn’t see coming.  I even hit my line perfectly at the notorious Second Ledge, which is in my opinion is one of the hardest rapids on the whole river because it’s pretty manky and technically challenging.  It is such an amazing feeling when you hit a challenging line just right.  This is true in life as well as paddling.  You feel like you can conquer anything.

Photograph taken by Brent Burke. Hitting my line at 2nd Ledge on the Tohickon Creek in spring of 2014.

The Lead-In

The rapid after Second Ledge is called Race Course, which is tied for first and second place in my opinion with Second Ledge in terms of technically challenging.  It is also significantly longer than Second Ledge.  I was doing really well, hitting the lines, and cutting when I needed to to make the necessary moves.  This was until there was an unexpected obstacle in my normal line.  A kayaker who had come out of their boat, which is called swimming.  It is not usually a favorable situation to be in, and I have swam Race Course.  It is not a fun swim.  So I dodged the kayaker, and thought I was good to go.  However, I did not see the rather large hole in front of me when I turned.  Luckily I was going mostly straight, but did not have enough momentum to push through.  And in I went.  I learned two things, my drysuit is not dry and I deserve to work on my brace this boating season.

lower yough oh shit moment

Lower Yough oh crap moment (I did not swim there, but thought it illustrated the moment)

The Lesson

Life is going throw obstacles at you, and some of them pop up like Whac-a-Mole.  Unexpected and random.  Three things to do in that moment:  identify the problem, set-up a solution, and execute.  Sometimes those three things need to happen very quickly, like in a rapid or while driving.  Other times, you can take a little time setting those things up.  You will either come out victorious or you will come out wet (meaning you failed).  Crucial part of this:  both of those outcomes are perfectly fine.  Feeling on top of the world is the best high ever, and instead of living in that moment build on the momentum.  Don’t stop for anything.  Failure only becomes a mistake when you fail to learn from it.  Meaning if I don’t work on my brace when the weather gets warmer, because I will be getting wet from practicing that, than when I flip next time due to no brace, than that becomes a mistake.  Choose your poison and evict the word mistake from your vocabulary.

Life and Love

I figured out what love is.  It’s taken me 36 years to figure it out, and I’m not letting it go.  It is loving yourself enough to own your identity, and it is the scariest thing I have ever done.  The handful who know me really well and who I’ve confided in know what I am talking about.

personal style

I’ve hidden myself in one form of another since I was around 10.  It was first because being weird in middle and high school is quite honestly just plain brutal, as some people know.  It was much easier to be quiet and meek than smart and bold.  In college, I found myself and surrounded myself with like-minded weird people of the best variety.  It was rare when I was unapologetically me, though.

white party pic

These are some of my favorite people on the planet.  Who helped show me that I was enough.

I reached a point last year where I was on top of the world, so to speak.  There was something missing that I couldn’t quite identify.  I finally figured it out and told my best friend.  She said literally, “thank God.”  It’s the final piece of accepting me.  The final piece of accepting who I am, and loving myself for everything that is me.  It is scary and amazing.  I am ready to do this.  To own myself, and more importantly to love myself on an entirely new level of acceptance.  This is not the forum to announce such things.  If you’ve read through the lines, great.   Just know that I am ready, I am coming, and most importantly, I AM ME.  If you don’t like it, I honestly pity you.  Acceptance is a human trait, and also the cause of the worst travesties of human history have occurred when not allowed.

The Break

Breaks
are

Painful

Necessary

and often

Severe.

this was
No
Different.

The severity of
it
cuts like

a Dull
Knife

lined with
tiny

Shards of

glass.

Each
cut

draws
into the
jagged
Edge into

Flesh

leaving a
Scar

and a
Tale.

the
Tale

however,
is

One of

Rebirth

Opportunity

and
the

Knowledge
that

You
Begin

Anew.

and
at

Peace

with the

Sorrow.

of the
Moment.