Losing and Finding Motivation

I had a few large epiphanies the past ten days. The latest and most important one was triggered by something I have been scared of years: therapy. I had pushed it off for years, and I reached a point over the summer where my mood fluctuations weren’t getting better on their own.  It was becoming quite frustrating. I knew the things I was supposed to be doing, and for some reason I wasn’t doing any of it. I couldn’t identify what the underlying issue was, and therefore didn’t know how to break it down into a problem I could manage. For the first time since I started on the path of personal growth and being my best self, it didn’t matter how many books, lectures, and trainings I had attended, I couldn’t get out of own way or my head.  It was different than the shifts during the gauntlet. I was proverbially stuck, and for the first time in a long time I wasn’t sure where I was going with my life. It was terrifying, and it propelled me to take action in the form of therapy. A shout out to Katie J. for the amazing therapist suggestion. I will be forever thankful that we were both at that party at that time. The universe conspires wonderfully.

You might be wondering what my point is here, and I felt it important to lay out the backstory so there was a context. I do not like being vulnerable, and it’s a challenge I rise to every time I write a blog entry; ask someone to take a look at my business, or even make a damn phone call sometimes. Periodically the fear of being vulnerable wins, but it is happening less and less. I cannot think of anything that is more vulnerable than being in therapy and talking about shit in your life with a completely stranger. However, the level of despondency in my life was at an inflection point that caused me to go way out my comfort zone and seek help. It was not up to my friends to help, nor would it have been fair. I even sent a text to one of my best friends, “I need help and neither one of us is in a position to help the other. What’s next?” It reminds me of a quote by Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, “Van Gogh is utterly dead; the world may be fixed, but it never was broken. And shadow itself may resolve into beauty.” The shadow in my life and brain was starting to go beyond frustration to desperation to be off the roller coaster of emotion.

survive fire

I don’t remember exactly how we got talking about the accident, addiction (luckily not mine), and trauma. There are two chemicals in the brain that make us happy: serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin in the brain, among other things, helps regulate mood. Dopamine helps encourage motivation. You know what happens when there is trauma? Those two things get turned OFF. Fight, flight, or freeze is what happens during trauma. If you were happy during times of trauma it would surely be a bad evolutionary design.

My mind did a virtual double take. Wait. Dopamine gets turned off during trauma. Check. I was in a traumatic situation, check. Motivation has been turned off for months now, and a series of epiphanies occurred in a short period of time. Everything started to click and make sense. It was a domino effect in my brain, and it was a cool process to “watch” happen.

see it

It is one of many reasons why getting back on the river, specifically white water was so important. Paddling had and has been a huge part of my identify for so long, and at one point over the summer I didn’t even consider myself one anymore. I wasn’t even sure whether I would be able to get on whitewater again. The last realization happened about two weeks ago after the release I puzzled this all together. The day of the Tohickon Creek release (early November) was pretty much a do or die moment for me. I would either be able to do it or I wouldn’t. But I had to try. I owed myself that much. I estimated later that my dopamine levels had probably been trickling back for about a month at that point because I had started to take action in other parts of my life again. During and after the run however, it came back like a flood. After every rapid that I hit my line perfectly, and the one where I had an epic save at Race Course was a feeling of pure euphoria. I knew my paddling partners would have my back, but I knew I wouldn’t need them that day after the second rapid.

I felt myself coming back to me, and now I understood why. The challenge and the realization that I had not permanently lost that part of my identity. It was temporarily put on hold so I could grow to be a bigger and better version of myself. Like most of the challenges in my life, it was pure stubborn will and years of skill to prove to myself that I could do it. I pushed myself to the perform at that level despite not having been on whitewater since the accident more than six months prior was validation that I was home. I was coming home to myself, and this was a big piece of my soul that had gone missing.

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

I was on fire and glowing from satisfaction and relief. My physiology was different even. My friends said my skin was different, and I carried myself different. It was a switch of confidence that had been turned on.  I owned my body and confidence again.  Tall and proud. The challenge and fear pushed me to the why. The shadow was my major opportunity for growth. It may have taken me awhile to grasp onto the beauty within that shadow, but I am well on my way to molt out of this shell and into another one. I’m just moltin’ bitches. Bring it on.

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Sense of Self Returned

Since the accident there have been a number of things that have been taking away. It is much more than I initially thought it was. The greatest loss I had, besides the actual car, was my inability to paddle a river.

Nature in general is my go to mental reset, and always has been. However, since I found paddling that became my instant happy place. Even going through whitewater, it’s better than any day anywhere else. When the accident happened, I lost my go to mental reset. They were worried about the twisting, and the possible implications of hitting my head on a rock. Which is entirely possible situation because I’ve done it.

Today for the first time since March of 2017, I got to paddle my favorite creek. The Tohickon, or as we call it the “Toh”. It’s a 3 mile Class Three paddling difficulty. I had been out paddling maybe four times since the accident on little local runs, and they were wonderful. However, they weren’t whitewater.

I was so excited this morning that I was jumping up at down at Presenter’s School this morning. As it actually became time to get on the river, I was getting more and more nervous; I didn’t see my normal crew, but I did find another group to paddle with. They are one of the best communities out there. Shout out to the Philadelphia Canoe club for always been awesome.

Apparently paddling whitewater is like riding a bike. Once you have a depth of skill, your muscle memory takes over. I nailed every rapid and every line I wanted to for the most part. The water wasn’t that pushy and it was glorious day. It truly was me stepping back into my true self, and it’s the biggest step I have taken so as I claim my life back. Hours later and I’m still pumped about that run. It was exactly what I deserved, and I’m so glad my PCC crew and Grink were there to encourage. After the first rapid when I hit the tight eddy, I knew I was golden. It feels so right being back in my boat, and finding something else that I lost. Sense of self returning one boat length at a time.

Compartmentalize

I have
been
Compartmentalizing
my

Entire
life.

It’s
how
I’ve
lived

this

Long.

Until
now.

I

Hate

that I

Can’t.

not a
word
I use

Lightly.

I Hate

having
uncontrolled
Emotions.

I’m a

Problem
solver,

especially for

Others.

My own?

I’m not used
to
dealing
with

Emotion

on such
an

Unbridled

Visceral
level.

I am

Accustomed
to

my

Emotions

being like a

Switch

that
I

can

Control

with a
Flick.

On and
Off.

most of the
time

my
Emotion
is still

My

Switch.

Occasionally

it

becomes
like a

Renegade

Bomb

of

Precision.

like a

Lightning
bolt

Through
my

Soul.

just as

Quick,

Deadly,
and

Precise.

Leaving no

Mark.

only

Confusion.

of

my
Life.

 

What’s Your Superpower?

I went to see a speaker tonight named Cornell Thomas, and I had a number of takeaways. The biggest one for me was when started asking my friend about her superpower. Everyone has a superpower that is unique to them, and it’s our life purpose to figure out what that is and to serve the world. His analogy (Cornell’s) was when you don’t use your superpower, it would be like Superman walking to rescue a puppy instead of flying.

Stolen from the interwebs

So what is your superpower? Mine is listening to others, assessing a problem, and applying a solution in a logical and analytical matter. I have known that I was a good listener for quite awhile, and I’ve become aware of my ability to solve other people’s problems. It is something I use quite often at work, with friends, etc. I realized tonight that I could be using it so much more effectively and more powerfully.

Why are we so afraid to identify and use it? It is all about fear, doubt, sense of deserving to be of service (self-deserving), and self-belief. Fear that they think the solution won’t work, and doubt that they will not believe me or that it is possible.   Self-deserving and self-belief are the biggest culprits in holding myself back in most aspects of my life. The self-deserving part is where I deserve to share this gift with people, even if they reject it. The self-belief is my realization that I can change thousands of people’s lives by utilizing my superpower in combination with my story. Not only do I deserve to believe that I will change and impact the world in a real meaningful way by unleashing my superpower, but the rest of the world deserves it as well. I not only have a responsibility to that, but I have an obligation to leave this world better than I came into being.  It’s utterly terrifying, and at the same time, it is one of the most freeing moments I have had.  This is my purpose, this is my life, and it is mine to give.

Full Moon and Refocus

Since the Arbonne area retreat in Albany I had been doing inspired action to achieve my goal, which is a big goal. However, I knew something was missing. I just couldn’t figure out what it was. I was so focused on what I needed to do to achieve the goal that at some point in the last few days I lost the reason behind the goal.

It's a bracelet given to me by Debbie Carroll Neal.

Tonight is the Capricorn full moon, which is apparently very powerful. I am looking at it, and connecting with it. I am focusing on the power of the moon, and seeing what needs to change in my life. And not just in Arbonne, but in all aspects of my life. Most importantly, I deserve to let go of the outcome. Once I let go of the outcome, the pressure was off my psyche. There is a weight off my mind tonight. I am making a mental list of things that deserve-not need- to be changed in order for my life, my destiny, and my goals to be fulfilled.  Verbiage is another one. The word Need is one of the lowest forms of expression, and carries with it a low vibration. I am switching it to Deserve.

I feel grounded again, but inspired to touch as many lives as possible. The focus and intention has returned instead of the activity being similar to unorganized chaos. Activity without intention is like paddling with half a paddle. You may get where you are going, but it’s going to take a long time. Intention is key to obtaining any goal.

Sometimes we are so focused on the goal, we lose sight of the WHY behind the Goal. In the process, I lost the inspired action, and couldn’t figure out the disconnect between the action and the goal. It became slightly overwhelming, and without me realizing it.

I have unknowingly repeated this behavior for some time now, and never made the connection of why. Everyone has the habit of getting in their own way, and I’ve gotten really good at recognizing the signs of when I am doing that. The devil however is very adaptive, and when those old ways of hindering you stop working, it gets creative.

Chasing a dream is exhausting, which is what I have been doing for months now. However, reliving, immersing yourself in it, and envisioning your dream life on a daily basis are not only necessary to achieving the dream, but it’s reinvigorating.  I am enrolling not just active affirmations, but active, present vision into my daily life. BOOM.

Buried

The
amount
of
pain
in
discovery,
healing
is
related
to
how
deeply
buried
the
Pain
is.

 

It is
Raw,
Visceral.
the
Pain
and
Power
are as
Real
as
any
Break.

It’s
easy
to
Bury
it,
let it
Be.

the
memory
of the
Pain
stays
Hidden.

It’s still
there,

Lurking
in your
subconscious.

Like
a
slow,
suffocating
Cancer
of
your
Spirit.

be
Brave

Reach
into
the
Abyss
of your
soul,
Pull
out
your
Pain.

Expose
it
to
Light,
air,
and
Watch
it
Ignite

into a
Fiery
Whisper
of
Ashes.

Your
Burden
of
Memory,
Pain,
Regret
is

Gone.

Like
ashes
in
the
wind.

Pinnacle Moments

This is my life.  I have chosen it, pursued it, tasted it, lost myself and it briefly on my way journey to this moment.  A series of life-defining moments have led to this Bold Act of Vulnerability that was unparalleled in my lifetime.  I sang karaoke it was the song, “Invisible” by Hunter Hayes.

Brene Brown wisdom

I had written about a series of shifts a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t enough for my psyche.  Which is rare for me.  Writing is usually enough of an outlet for me, along with nature.  However, a combination of lack of outside time, stress, and little sleep led me to this moment of badass bravery.

It was cathartic, it was bold, and it was terrifying.  I could feel my heart racing not at the beginning, but about halfway through because that is when I realized what I was doing.  I let out a lifetime of pain, anger, sadness, betrayal, and shame, and let it leave my soul.  Which is what I do with my writing, essentially.  Except this time, I let other people see and hear my emotion in my voice in a way that was as a friend of mine put it “the bravest thing you’ve ever done.”

My mind is blown by this revelation, and I suddenly understand the power of music.  I have always loved music, and know I understand why it touches my soul so much.  It’s the vulnerability of the words, the performance, emotion, and letting people see that aspect of you.  I did not care what others thought of me in that moment, and I went with it.  It was one of the most inspiring, magical, pinnacle moments in my lifetime.  Even better was my friends were there to experience it with me, and embrace me once I got off the stage.

 

 

Uninvisible

I’ve
led
my
life
Making
myself
be
Invisible.

Letting
others
take
Credit,
while
I was
in the
Shadows.

it was to
Fit in,
to Belong

Because
even the
Illusion of
Belonging
was better
than no semblance
at all.

It was
an
Empty
hope

I kept
myself
small,
Hidden

to
Everyone.

Until

The
Painful
Self-discovery
of
My
Own

Worthiness.

Proved
me
Wrong.

I am
not
Perfect.

I am
still
Worth
Knowing.

I
AM
Not
Be
Invisible.

I
Am
a
Force.

I
am
Enough.

Just as
I
Am.

Belief and Success

The image below hit me as I was reading it.

Definition of Success

Definition of Success

My definition of success is loving yourself, believing in yourself, and taking actions to get yourself to your passion and purpose.  I never thought I would find such a raw source of beauty, happiness, and purpose inside myself.  I have often relied on others for acceptance, guidance, and love.  This was in absence of any or all of those in myself.  I persevered, I learned, I dealt, and I hid from everyone my true self.  One of my close friends once said to me, “I’ve known you for years, I think I’ve barely scratched the surface of who you are.”  I took it as a compliment.

There is a relentless doubt to let yourself be known when you have hidden your true self for so long.  It is safe to be hidden.  There is no threat of bullying, no torment, no expectation of others (in regard to yourself), and no disappointment by your peers because you smile, do your work, and move on.  All of the preceding have to do with your expectations of others being there for you.  The true glimpses they get from you, if any, are fleeting.  And you survive.

Survive.

I was not happy.  I was insulated.  I was in a hamster wheel, of my own creation, and I was doing what I spent the last 3 years doing.  I thought I would spend the rest of my life doing it.

I unexpectedly found someone that believed in me, and more importantly, I LET them, gradually.  At the beginning, I had my usual coyness, and sarcastic deflection.  To their credit, they persisted, and to mine so did I, with questions.  It wasn’t a sudden reveal; it was a gradual awakening.  I slowly loosened my clutch on my heart and soul, and let myself out in tiny glimpses.  I grew to believe I was worth it, I could talk to people, I could help people and actually be noticed for doing so without it being narcissistic.

Then I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, those closest to me should know the “real” me.  I wasn’t coy, I didn’t sarcastically deflect, and I listened to why they believed in me.  The reinforced concrete in front on my heart and soul started to erode away, and constant personal growth that allowed it to flourish into a garden.  I started to change, and be vulnerable to let people in, little by little.

I wasn’t crippled by the vulnerability, which has always been my inherent fear.  I was free.  Free of the chains I had put on myself to be perfect and to uphold a standard that was not only unrealistic, but also quite damaging.  The barrier was gone, and let my friends and family in, even if it’s just a little at a time.