Family

My definition of family has expanded quite a bit the past several years. Anyone who truly knows me, I will do anything for my family, both blood and chosen. I am blessed to have developed many friends who have turned into family. And sometimes those people come from the most unexpected of circumstances.

I would say I have four types of family: blood, Arbonne, paddling, and everything in between. They have different places in my life, and I do not discriminate with whom I love. They span all genres, sexuality, and age.  I give readily, but rarely do I give myself.   I do not trust easily, and I readily hide myself because I thought it was easier that way. This is an error in judgment, and it’s a constant battle I fight with myself.  To be worthy of giving that trust.

genetically related

In truth, it is easier that way. It is much easier to show façade rather than to tell the whole truth. To pretend everything is perfect. Be the highlight reel for people.   One of my best friends says that “he has barely scratched the surface of me” after being friends for more than a decade. But it’s a lie. I love my life, and it’s not perfect. They are not mutually exclusive.

One of my consistent challenges is to be vulnerable. I am certainly not unique in this aspect. I would go even further to say a majority of people when they broke down to the basis of their fears that it would rank very highly. We seek perfection in our society. I have written about this, and I am going to extrapolate further. It is much easier to portray the lie of perfection, then to tell the actual truth behind the mask. The truth is almost without exception, messy and multi-layered. There is no easy “fix.”

My closest family members are the ones I trust without question. The ones who ask and push the questions that no one else wants to ask when necessary. They push us out of our comfort zone into a whole new reality and space. Which is often terrifying, because we have often lived and believed our own lie for far too long. They help us confront the truth, which is often deeply buried and disturbing.

being broken

Blood family doesn’t often push that boundary for some reason, at least not in my family as of late. I am still puzzling all this out, and everything is becoming clearer.  Not crystal yet, but it’s getting there. Our own minds are often our biggest obstacles. As one friend of mine put it, “Stop using your big, beautiful brain and just do it.” Put your faith in trust, as terrifying as that may be.

I am working towards putting my trust in consistent vulnerability, and making myself known to everyone I love. It is scary. It is messy. And the effort and pain is worth it. I am worth it. It is one of the hardest aspects of personal growth I am pushing through. It’s another step towards my progress to being the best me.

I am the vault for people. People tell me things that they don’t tell anyone else, and I value that trust as sacred. I have rarely put that amount of trust into other people. And that is where one aspect of my self-worth breakdown is. When people trust you enough to tell you their innermost thoughts and feelings, you are worthy of doing the same for them. You not only deserve that amount of trust that people place in you, but they also deserve the same from you. It is not a burden to them. I will repeat because I have felt this way my entire life: it is not a burden to them. It is a comfort of reciprocity.   If there is not the same amount of trust, they will pull back from you. And it hurts. I have only now just realized why the pull back happened. Loyalty and trust must go both ways.

relationship detective

Thanks to those who haven’t moved on, and I understand the ones that did.  🙂

I have lived most of my life in fear of being hurt by trusting the wrong people. It is a path I am striving to banish. If you find this true about yourself as I have, and you realize the pedestal you place yourself on both undervalues your needs as a human being and the gift of your truest self to others.

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.

Valentine’s Day Redefined-Not what you think

I am not really the romantic type.  I’ve had one or two serious relationships that Valentine’s Day would have meant anything anyway.  Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day will always mean something infinitely sad for me.  It was the day my Nana passed away, tomorrow it’ll be a year since she passed away.  She was 96 years old and was in damn good shape for 96.  She was sharp as a sharks tooth until she was about 92-93.

My 96-year old Nana receiving a mud mask last summer. Thank you Arbonne for giving me the time with her.

My 96-year old Nana receiving a mud mask last summer. Thank you Arbonne for giving me the time with her.

I haven’t felt this sad about it in a long time, which is to be expected I guess.  It is really the first family death that hit home hard.  When my Aunt Goldie died (at 96ish), it was sad, but as much as I loved her, I didn’t feel as much of a connection with her as I did her sister, my aunt Gert.  When my Aunt Gert died, I had actually said goodbye to her a few years before, after seeing her for the first time after her massive stroke which had left her as a virtual vegetable, I saiIt td goodbye.  Eventually I just couldn’t go to see her anymore, it was too painful.  Despite her being the virtual vegetable, there were signsher still there.  Which is even worse in my opinion.

I was trying to figure out why I was somewhat melancholy throughout the day today, after feeling on top of the world this month.   I have no been this upset about Nana’s death in a long time, but I guess that’s too be expected.  This might be the first time I let everything in the past year hit me.   It’s been the gauntlet.  My friend said, “you’ll cry when you least expect it.”  It was about three months for her.  It’s been about three months since EVERYTHING hit, and came at me like a cattle yard with a fan.  So, I guess that makes sense.

I still didn’t expect the affect of her death to affect me like this.  The start of everything that set my soul on fire to get my ass in gear.  But this shit fucking hurts.  I know it’ll dissipate with time.  It’s very different than anything I have felt in a very, very long time.  The pain is deep, visceral, and feels like a living, breathing being that I wish I could stab to death.  This is a free-thought entry.

I am very good at compartmentalizing when it comes to emotions, etc. However, I do much better when I expect it coming.

Amazingly Inspired

I have a friend who at a young age has gone through two bouts of cancer, and some other very personal life changes that should not happen to a person so young.  A lot of people would bow down to that, and have a pity party for themselves.

Instead she started her own personal movement to inspire people to start and end happy.  She made a video that via index cards told her story, and at times tragic story.  She is one of the strongest people I know.  You can google it if you would like, you’ll see her video come up.

Full disclosure, I do not know her very well; I would like to point that out.  However, there are lots of things that inspire me in writing, and watching this woman’s reaction to her life, and the events in her life before and after tragedy is miraculous, awesome sauce.  It is a display of nothing short of pure will, courage, and blind, stupid stubborn (meant in the best possible way).  I do not think she knows how many people she will inspire.  I honestly think her story, her courage, her fortitude will  teach thousands, if not millions of people, to take on their challenges in their own way.  I am not a bullshitter, it’s not in my nature.  I say what I mean, and I do what I say.

Little and Big Things

There is not much that makes me cry or even tear.  There are a few things that do:  highly emotional events, friends and family support, and nature connection.

I experienced a highly emotional family event in February-my Nana died at 96 years young.  I say young because she was the initial badass, and she remains an inspiration to me this day.  Those that know me, know that I will do anything for my family and friends.

I am going to fast forward to six months ago.  There have been a number of people on my personal growth journey that have been instrumental, and they know who they are.  When my Nana died, of course my blood family came together, but two other families gave me supported that I would not have thought fathomable about a year before.  My Arbonne family and my paddling family, and they were some of the first to reach out to me.  Reading my facebook entries and the condolescenes made this entry crystallize.  This entry has actually strayed far from my original inspiration, and it doesn’t matter.  This is why I write to let stuff out and process.

I lost my way.  I lost sight of the goal.  I even lost my belief that I could do it for a brief period of time.

My 96-year old Nana receiving a mud mask last summer. Thank you Arbonne for giving me the time with her.

My 96-year old Nana receiving a mud mask last summer. Thank you Arbonne for giving me the time with her.

Everyone gets in those periods.  And most people need a kick in the ass to get them out of it.

I had just such a kick, except it was mostly a kick from myself (yes, I had help).  I re-read a lot of my entries from February and March just now, and said “what the fuck are you doing right now!?  Get your ass in gear, and make Nana proud.”

Except unlike February and March, I realized it’s about making MYSELF proud.  She was already proud of me.  Now, it’s about changing and getting out of my own damn way.

Belonging, Terror, and Love

I have been pondering the past month about the many things that have changed in my life so much in three years.  Since I was in middle school, I have been searching for and also running from belonging to anything outside my family.  I’m fortunate enough to be comfortable with my family, which has always been my rock.  I’ve just expanded it a bit.

I didn’t belong to anything in middle school or high schooI, beyond an environmental club and to a certain extent my church youth group.  Even that was superficial.  I think everyone to some degree goes through bullying in middle and high school, and it affected me greatly-I know I am not unique in those aspects.  It was typical middle and high school tormenting, and it left deep scars of trust issues.  The groups I thought I belonged to, I really didn’t.  I felt awkward, uncomfortable, and painfully self-conscious most of the time.  So I retreated, and built reinforced concrete walls.

It was simple in mind.  Belonging equalled trust that inevitably lead to hurt, which led to me being terrified of letting myself get close enough to feel worthy of belonging.  It was one more thing to lose, one more heartbreak, and it was just easier to cut myself off emotionally.  It was damned effective.

At my community college was the first time in a very long time I felt I belonged somewhere, and it wasn’t superficial.  I found my beloved Garden Club, the Garden Elite.  I am not sure whether it was because some of them were older that I felt more at ease, or just because they were an exceptionally accepting group that made even an awkward newcomer feel welcome.  For whatever reason, I did feel welcome, and more importantly, I let myself feel that I deserved to be included.  As I am writing this, I am realizing what a defining period it was in my life.  I trusted people a little, and it didn’t hurt.  There was just acceptance, love, and I will forever be grateful to them.  I am still in touch with those people today.

Garden Elite 2002. Left to right: Monica, Taylor, me, Lauren, Dustin

Garden Elite 2002. Left to right: Monica, April, me, Lauren, Dustin

After college was a struggle to belong again, and I was back to feeling like I did in high school.  The scarcity mindset had returned, and I wondered if I would ever feel good enough at anything again.  Fast forward to three years ago.  I found friends, a tremendous group of people, and an organization who’s entire philosophy is to empower people.  I feel a true sense of belonging, love, and appreciation I never thought I would ever receive again, or let myself feel like I could let people in without fear.  I found my group, who is a part of my extended family, and to finally feel like I belong somewhere, and that I am worthy of it, is an indescribable feeling of gratitude.  I have surrounded myself with people who love and accept me for me.

Striking Times

This has been my first Mother’s Day without my Nana.  I felt her on Sunday, I did.  However, for some reason, it is hitting more today for the first time in awhile.  There are so many other times where have felt her presence more, and it is beyond random.

It has happened when hiking, walking, paddling, and very occasionally driving.  I will see something, and out of nowhere WHAM there’s Nana.  I am a deeply spiritual person, and a lot of the emotion I express via writing. It just comes out better than if I do it verbally.

My 96-year old Nana receiving a mud mask last summer. Thank you Arbonne for giving me the time with her.

My 96-year old Nana receiving a mud mask last summer. Thank you Arbonne for giving me the time with her.

The time I spent with my Nana before she died was directly related to my business.  It gave me the time freedom to go down to the shore, and give my Nana a facial and spend time during the week.  My flexibility gave me the time I needed to be with my family.  There are two things that matter to me more than other part of my life:  my family and my friends.  You mess with either of them, and you will regret it.

I get struck by these emotions and sentiments at odd times.  Generally when I’m tired, and my guard is down.  I got to have a final conversation with my Nana that others in my family didn’t get to have.  I would have given ANYTHING so they could have had that conversation that they so deserve.

She is with me.  In every heart ache, every barrier broken, every adventure, and every celebration.  She is there, and always will be.

My mission in life right now is that no one else that I know, specifically, has to endure that hurt.  They get to have that option, freedom, and say in their own god*&mn life.  It’s not about me, and it never really was.  But this just got real.

Nature and Respite

The last two weeks, I have sat in front of the ocean at numerous times.  Many at night, and a few during the day.  I have realized how peaceful I am while at the ocean.  I wrote a poem about 2 weeks ago.  How the tide seems to ebb my pain away.  It is still there, and it will be there for quite some time.  The ocean is especially emblematic for how nature seems to center me.  It brings me back to a specific time and place of riding the waves to shore with my nana, or the boardwalk where we watched fireworks.

However, it doesn’t need to be that symbolic.  It can just be soothing.  I was at a park watching the river, and I felt something.  Nana had never been there with me, but the creek reflected her essence.  It had her shine, her bright smile.  And it made me smile because of it.  Things don’t have to be concrete to be real.  Given my background, I have some trouble with that statement.  If you believe it to be real, then it is.  The difference has to be how you reflect on that experience and make it real to the world.

It is there how you truly bring your memory into the world as a living, breathing thing to share with others.

On a completely different note.  This blog has been an amazing experience in so many different ways.  I get to share a personal part of myself (something I am NOT good at) with others I never would have met before, and you get to experience what I write as you want to.  I also get to share my passion for nature, gratitude, my business, and my family in a way I never would have thought possible.  This has been another life changing journey for me this year, and it’s JUST begun.  Thank you to all of you who have subscribed so far, I feel honored.  I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am.