Five years: Choices, Gauntlets, and Life

My life can be awesome and hard at the same time. It might be counterintuitive, but they are not mutually exclusive. I absolutely love my life more than I ever thought I could, but it is often hard. Social media is the highlight reel. Real life is almost always different and more complicated.

Five and half years ago I was an environmental consultant. Steady job, decent salary, and it could be quite rewarding. I paid my bills, had money in my savings, and I could splurge now and then on something I really wanted. Sounds great right? A crucial part was missing. I wasn’t happy. I had minimal emotional connection to anyone; smiling was a rarity, and was apparently quite intimidating to people.

courage to grow up

You might be thinking, here it comes. The ode to Arbonne, which has been the catalyst to change my life.  It changed me, it’s always present, and I’m not here to convince you. This essay is more about the ode to my journey to self-worth, acceptance, and getting the fuck out of my own way.

In that time, my self-worth grew and I started to blossom. I went from someone who literally couldn’t look anyone in the eye while speaking to them, to becoming a leader in my business known for my perseverance and gratitude.

There are precious few in my life who know the full truth. Numerous events big and small have taken me from an unfocused mass of metal and forged into platinum that has yet to be cast.  I have been fired, twice. I have had to choose between paying my credit card bill and paying my car insurance. I have had family members die, and have had other family members have serious and almost fatal medical issues. My uncle had a series of strokes that left him with brain damage that he had to retire from dentistry. My friend and I called it “The Gauntlet.”  The medical issues were all at the same time.  It sucked, and our family fought through it.  I made sure to talk to all the doctors and ask the important questions when necessary.  I am so thankful that it didn’t become more serious in one of the cases.

Those times were hard, but manageable. I could do certain things to fix it, and I knew how to tackle the problems. I steadily grew my leadership and myself. Throughout all of that I tackled personal growth and development, and despite all of the shit that was happening I became a much happier and positive person. I developed a core group of friends and I would consider many of them family. I realized I never really had a group of friends like that before. I have deconstructed some of my trust and vulnerability barriers.  I started this blog, and have used it as an outlet that has been powerful for myself and others.  I promoted in my business twice.

All of that progress came to a screeching halt within the last year. It has sucked with a capital S, and the challenge consisted of personal struggle.

Periodically crises are like a ninja where it creeps and builds slowly in the background, and then WHAM! It becomes like whac-a-mole. One problem seems to be resolved, and another one appeared.

fb car pic

My car after the accident

Breaking my codependency, wage loss (partly my fault), traumatic car accident, finding a replacement car, ongoing months of physical therapy (very grateful for), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Good times. The car accident, which caused another layer of PTSD. You can read the details of each by clicking the links. I have broken through on a lot of barriers, but I couldn’t seem to get through these on my own. I started therapy last month because it wasn’t getting any better. I have trust issues, and despite that it’s going surprisingly well.

I thought I had put the issues of self-worth in a time capsule to be revealed 20 years from now and opened up to be like YOU caused all that trouble? Not so much. It decided to resettle in with nagging doubt, frustration and increased the fear. Once I figured out that this was still the underlying issue, it all started to make illogical sense. I didn’t think I deserved success, the apartment, leadership status, or living among the successful.

It’s all bullshit. I have fought on every level to achieve the life I was growing, and I’ll be damned if I let it get taken away. Even if caused by me. Everyone deserves success. Everyone deserves to live a life they love. It should not be a luxury of the rich.

unbecoming

When things got tight financially, I became innovative. In the past year, I started my photography business that I absolutely love. There is nothing like capturing a moment in time for people or a moment in the outside world to live forever. It’s another form of self-expression.

My life is messy, complicated, remarkable, and sometimes painful. I wouldn’t trade it for the life of mediocrity and safety I was living in over five years ago. The difference between my life before and today is choices and a path for something better. I am on my way towards sustainability in life, passions, love, and finances. The true American dream.

 

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Going Back to Progress Forward

Sometimes I self-destructively go “back” in my self-development. I revert back to the apologizing, second-guessing, and self-esteem riddled self. And it sucks every time I do. Depending on where my headspace is at, I can pull myself out of it very quickly. Other times, it takes awhile to recognize where I’m at and get my ass out of it.

day stop self-destruction

I’ve been in a funk for quite awhile, and if I was honest it was well before the accident. The accident certainly added to the confusion of where I was going and what my path was. I was lost, and I wasn’t sure how to get out of it this time. It was a dark time, and quite frankly for a number of my friends, too. It’s like we were all going through our own personal gauntlet. I am quite frankly over the being tested by the gauntlet.

This is a mostly free write entry, so if it doesn’t make sense, I apologize. It’s okay if I lost myself for awhile, and my path. The important thing is that I’ve found it again. As most things in my life, it’s been the circuitous route.

me training 2-1-16

Training about my story when I promoted.

The past five years have seen some of the highest highs, as well as the lowest lows. Normally I wouldn’t use such a cliché, and it works in this context. Interestingly enough, they have sometimes co-mingled.  I have bled, cried, read, written until my hand couldn’t write anymore, confided and trust more than I had the previous 15 years combined. I had grown into the leader and person I am meant to develop, and I have shrunk back to the self-questioning person of my early 30s. It got too real. I was becoming known. For the first time probably ever, there was expectation. From both myself and others. Instead of growing into that expectation, I shrunk back into the role of self-doubt and mediocrity.

The reality and thought I had banished was that fraking onion of self-worth. Another layer of niggling thought, “who am I to deserve this?” This reflection and subsequent self-judgment came from a number of sources: people reaching out to me for help with their business, the accolades, and recognition. My own apartment, which for the most part remains undecorated. All of which originated my fake deep down true that I didn’t think I deserved. Even though I worked my ass off to achieve all of those things.  Somehow in my mind, it didn’t matter. I still didn’t believe I was good enough. For much of anything, really.

I figured out all of this b.s. was a self-worth issue about two month ago. Something I thought I had buried and was free from. Nope. Complacency brought it all back. The comfort of knowing I did it, and thinking I could forget habits that let me achieve greatness. It let doubt sneak back in, and fester like a spot of mildew on your bath mat that soon covers it with slime.

beat-her

I brought out the bleach and scrubbed it clean. Going backwards and cowering back into something you thought you had defeated sucks.  Examining and getting ready to “out” the coward is one of the best feeling I think I’ve had to date.

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.  And it’s worth it.  Every time.

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 and goal are, 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 are worth it, even in failure.

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 at getting out of my own head
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, rejected, laughed at, 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.

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.

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.

2016 Year in Review-it was interesting

2016 was a rollercoaster of the highest highs, and the one of the oddest periods of my adult life. I experienced the amazing achievement of Area Manager in my Arbonne business, and it is a day that I will never, ever forget. The reason for that is because of the sheer inspiration it created in other people. There will be people who become nation before I do because of my journey, and I’m completely okay with that.   I also experienced one of the most profound and amazing experiences I have ever had at the area manager retreat. My face hurt from smiling so much, and I was inspired but also aimless. I understand it doesn’t make sense. It didn’t to me, either.

reflect-and-learn-fave

The Transition
August saw me move into my own place, and that’s where the weirdness started. I was inspired, in activity, but going nowhere. I didn’t believe it. I finally was growing to be an adult, and the comfy backup living plan I had was gone. I fought in my head to figure out why I was struggling so much with this. This should be the pinnacle of my year. The catalyst to growing into my greatness, but it wasn’t. I am growing into that role on a daily basis, but it took some time.

The codependency relationship I had, which I have written about a few times was the culprit. When you are in a codependent relationship of any kind and you get out of it, you start to realize how fucked up your life was. If not, then at least unhealthy.

It is only within the last couple of weeks where I have started to feel like myself again. I am in activity, but it is not only inspired but intentional. Everything in my life has come down to self-worth. I honestly think most people’s issues come down to that issue if you really break it down.

not-what-i-happened

The Break

The codependency break quite frankly sucks, especially when you don’t see it coming. I had no warning; I just expected to keep rocking it. The universe had other plans. The punch you in the face truth from two sides that came to a glaring forefront of change and challenge. It made me face the reality of myself and of my family dynamic. It forced me to realize that I’ve got to get growing to not only be the leaders I know myself to be, but also to lead my family in ways I never wanted to but became necessary.

The Future

The future is always messy. You just have to choose which mess to wade through. Regret or awesomeness are your main choices. Either way, you are going to have to go through your own shit, so it might as well be as short as possible. It will suck. It will be painful. But the pain is short-term, in comparison to the life long pain of what ifs.

Fear of Success and Codependence

 Codependence

I have steadily been moving towards independence, and took a big step towards it by finally moving into my own place. It is exhilarating, scary, and necessary. My whole life I have been enabled and codependent, mostly without me knowing it.   This has lead to some unhealthy and self-destructive habits that I have been slowly working my through to be the best version of myself. I have written about the personal growth aspect of the journey repeatedly.

The Battle

I have never shied away from it. The necessary pain of personal growth until recently. I didn’t know why until yesterday. The last vestiges of codependence are attempting to adhere a strangle hold on my road to greatness, and they are powerful, deeply entrenched, and are not going away without a fight. It is possibly my hardest personal growth battle to date. My will, grit, and determination are even greater.

decisions regret

I don’t think I have ever been more scared to continue on my path to greatness, to success. I will beat this. I will conquer the doubt, frustration, and little nagging voice that says “no you can’t”. I have to. It is past that, I deserve to.

It is bigger than me. It always has been. It is just more real now that it ever has been. The fear of success, and the lingering doubt has been crippling as of late. What if I am not good enough, what if I am not the leader everyone expects me to be, what if blah blah.

Belief

It’s all bullshit, of course. Some of the biggest leaders in Arbonne believe in me, and it’s been a long time since I have felt this uncertain about myself. This is how I know I am close to a breakthrough. The closer one gets to the breakthrough, the more the universe challenges you to see how much you want it. I deserve to get out of my own head not for the last time, but certainly one of the most important to date. I am at the critical junction where my fear of being noticed and success have come to a head. This is my pinnacle moment where I can aspire and reach greatness, or I can shirk into the background. The latter is not really an option. It would be so much easier, but I am never one to take the easy way out. Bring on the pain, I’ve got this. Finally. Yes, I realize I have said this numerous times. And every time it has been true in different aspects of my life’s journey.

Because of Us

Based on the title, this blog entry may not be what you think it’s about. I had a few  conversations about different topics with one of my mentors today, and at one point she stopped and looked at me. She said, “are you okay?” I paused a moment, and said, “yes.  I was just thinking about how different my life is then it was four years ago”.  I looked at her and said, “it’s mostly because of you.”

white party pic

She responded, “well, it’s all because of you, actually.” I retorted, “yes, I did the personal growth work. However, it wouldn’t have happened without you.”  She responded, “it’s because of us, then.”

Relationships are complicated, regardless of what form. Whether it be platonic or romantic, mentor or friend, or personal versus professional. Let me clarify that statement: meaningful relationships are complicated. There are two forms of relationships: the real, genuine do anything for you kind or the convenient kind. Sadly, most of the relationships I have had prior to the past four years have mostly been the latter.  I think that is true for most people.  It is just easier and safer that way.

Mediocre vs Rocking It

Relationships exist for a number of different reasons. Number one reason is to challenge us to be better than we are. Often times, people do not want to do the work to be better than they are. They would much rather be mediocre than rocking it. Quite frankly, rocking it often takes a lot of painful growth, so why not stay mediocre and content? Comfort zone, safety, and mediocrity are where most people live, and that is okay.  Human beings were not created to live a mediocre life, so what if you want something more?

The Change

A good, meaningful relationship, however, will ALWAYS push you to the next level. It involves tough, sometimes hard conversations that neither person wants to have. It involves growing towards your next obstacle instead of away from it. Most importantly, it involves asking the right questions, figuring out solutions, and applying those solutions to life. You cannot apply change to your life without application and action. It just doesn’t work. I am a byproduct of the work on both my business and myself. I take ownership of both. Which type of relationships are you in currently? Take inventory of your life and figure out who challenges you and who placates you. The placators are not doing you any favors, and are in actuality bringing you down.

Be in a relationship type where there are “because of us” moments and growth pattern.  It truly changes everything, and as with anything worthwhile, it starts and ends with you.

Moments

Have you ever have one of those moments where you realize you are the not the person you perceive yourself to be?  Or at the very least, the person people used to know.

know me last year

 

I was at dinner with friends of my parents, one of them my English professor at community college, we all had dinner together.  They really didn’t say anything, and they didn’t really have to.  I felt it, as odd as that sounds.  They noticed and felt something different.

I have taken control of my life; more than that, I have taken responsibility for it.  I am done letting my circumstances control me.  I am done letting my living situation control different aspects of my life.  I am done thinking that people owe me something just because of whatever reason.

This is my life.  I have fought, grown, persevered, and built a life that I am proud of.   I am building a life I can not only survive, but thrive, on my own.

I cannot control if others are proud of me.  I can’t, and I didn’t even realize I was trying to until about a two weeks ago.  I am proud of myself, of my decision to be responsible, and to let go by an invisible rope of financial means.

I AM DONE. Proving myself to others that don’t understand me, my motivations, and my life choices.

This year has been one of growing, building, destroying internal walls, and severe personal, emotional pain.  All of that equal THIS realization.

This moment of “I don’t give a frak what happens”.  It’s a choice, it’s amazing, it’s gold, and it’s coming.  And it’s worth it.

And, you know what?  It IS about me.  Just a little.  Because you have to believe you are worth the life of millionaires to get there.  You have to believe you are worth inspiring and leading thousands of lives.  If you don’t believe you intrinsically are worth all of those things, rethink.

This is from a recovering sarcastic, invisible person, who didn’t believe I was worthy of much at all-you need to believe that you are.  Surprisingly, people pay attention.

If I can work through an immense amount of self-doubt, pain, and personal growth, trust me you can too.  (Find a mentor).

Why?  Because YOU, yes you, are worth it.  Maintain a giving, selfless heart if that is your nature, but understand that you are worth everything that want and for others.