Hiding, Settling, and Pushing

For the past year I have been hiding behind my circumstances of injury, PTSD, hurt, depression, and the worst one is self-deceit. I have always been quite open to criticism, so I could power forward and learn. Last year is all of my inner circle was going through heavy shit just like I was. They were not in a position to offer constructive criticism because they were trying to survive. Which I understood because we were all struggling in different, but very challenging obstacles. As my friend put it, we ALL went south for a period of time. I have written about hitting my wall here. Anytime I had hit a wall I went into survival mode, which meant I went into a ball. I was talking with a friend of mine about childhood bullying in general, and snowball fights came up. She said that she hated them. I said, I always thought they were fun. She retorted, “I was always the one being pelted and worried my glasses would break”. I said, “oh I just always went into a ball.” She said, “I just stood there”. I had an epiphany that day about my reaction to internal struggle, and about how when things really get tough I would go into a ball. She said, “it’s time to unfurl. And I’ve been watching you slowly unfurl for 6 years now. It’s time to unfurl and become fully you”.

believeinyourself

From that moment on, I have been steadily and more consciously unfurling myself from the past year of pain, heartache, and being utterly lost. Being lost sucks. Either metaphorically or physically. My life that I had taken so much effort and time to create was slowly being dismantled. The worst part is I was the one who was unconsciously administrating the dismantling. The biggest bitch of it was, I truly didn’t realize how bad it was. Or how much I had internalized my pain that was externalized into confusion. All of these realizations have come about today, and things are starting to click.

For my social marketing business, we are doing a 90 day bootcamp with a training call every Sunday with some of the top leaders in the company. The trainer on the call on Sunday asked, what do you fear the most? I instantly wrote disappointment. And then wrote in big letters FUCK under it. My instant  reaction and consistent fear is not being disappointed, but in disappointing others. It is then when the epiphanies started infiltrating my brain.  Disclaimer:  if you cursing bothers you, I would suggest skipping this entry entirely.

The internal dialogue went something like this:

Me: I thought I conquered that
Inner me (referenced as the niggle from now on): apparently not
Me: Well frak. What am I supposed to do about that?! There’s no book for that. Because I have tackled a lot of things, and I bet that is the underlying cause of a lot of it.
This was later exposed as doubt in therapy, it’s been a heavy week.

When I encounter a problem I can’t solve, I text my coach to ask for guidance. I said something like, “I have an answer to the trainers question and it’s fraking disappointment. I am not sure what to do about it.”

catepillar

My coach says, “It’s a legit fear, and to lean into it and do it.”

I was confused by this and responded, “lean into disappointment?”

My infinitely patient coach says, “no. Lean into the FEAR of disappointment and do it anyway.” After that I got it, and have proceeded to not only kick ass but KILL the niggle. My therapist was resistant to the word kill (she wanted it to have a permanent vacation). I know how insidious that little bastard is, and it needs to die before it infects another human being with its nonsense.

I hit what I call the frak it button, but only part way.  Like a safety on a gun. To clarify, my version of the frak it button is I don’t care WTF people think of me. I do it anyway. This is how I went to the second level of leadership the first time with my social marketing business, and am doing it again now. And it feels SO GOOD to be me again. But that’s a different entry all together.  I am ready to pull the trigger on the frak it button.  Be all in.

After today, I went through something called EFT (look it up of you’re curious) or otherwise called tapping. I went FAR back to where the niggling (saboteur) came from. The emotional imprint originated from an incident so long ago. Except after processing the memory, I discovered that it morphed into disappointment others not so much myself.

THIS is when the epiphany occurred. If you believe that you have disappointed others, especially if you are viewing it from a leadership role, GIVE IT UP. Two reasons, 1) you haven’t and your life’s purpose is bigger than you; 2) any mentor or coach who feels that way isn’t worth your time. Because if your mentors/coaches feel that way, they are making it about them. My experience is that people eventually make themselves known. Carletta Nelson says, “time either exposes you or establishes you.” Which is dead true. I have spent the past year or more trying to figure out my place in this world.   I do apologize for all clichés in this articles, but sometimes there is no other better substitute. They are clichés for a reason.

self-love train

It has been awhile, which is a huge red flag for me, where the lesson caused me utter terror. Because it means I am ready to be the leader so many others leaders believe I am, but more importantly I Believe that to be true.

This entry has been a long time coming. I went into a ball to protect myself last spring (literally and figuratively), hit an emotion wall in September, and have been slowly unfurling myself ever since.

It is about trying to have the courage to fulfill my greater purpose. I always knew I would have courage to fill it. I was unsure of the timeframe. I ready to embrace the reality and responsibility of being the leader of this company now.

My greater and life purpose is to teach other people how to build a better life of their own through empowerment, as well as expressing my love of arts while being able to make a bitchin’ income at the same time. My greater purpose is about fulfilling lives, and I am READY to fill that purpose. Bring it on life. I am ready.

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Ambition and Small-Minded People

To be successful you must have a few things as your core beliefs to achieve long-lasting success. I believe those things to be integrity, ambition, and stickability to never quit. I am lucky to have a reservoir of all those traits, and admittedly sometimes those traits get buried underneath stories that no longer served me. The more dangerous aspect of being successful, though is you become a target. Often it is those closest to you. They tend to be jealous, narcissistic, and fear-based human beings who only know how to deal with success-minded people by hurting them. I am calling it the small-minded syndrome.

As I rose in the levels of leadership, I had wonderful mentors who offered council on how to grow and implement strategies to continue the platform of success. Along my journey of self-discovery and greatness, I had various and sometimes close members of my family say very hurtful and occasionally devastating proclamations. Such as, “this will never work”; “you are never here when we need you”, and my personal favorite, “you’ll never move out” with a sneer and scoff. They wanted to keep me “small” because their life is small. They were unable to make the commitment to make their small, unfulfilling existence into something they could truly be proud of. They resented not being able to be courageous in their life; therefore aimed to keep me small in mine.

The little jabs that are seemingly innocent at first, when reflected upon become a glaringly obvious lever of manipulation and belittling. It took me a long time to realize that what my friends and family were saying was not only debilitating to me, but indirectly to them. It is a direct reflection of how they value their lives and themselves when they bring people down with sometimes seemingly innocuous comments. They might even perceive themselves as being funny, which I have written about here. I am realizing that the people verbalizing to inflict wounds are not usually bad people. I believe that most people love and express themselves in the best way they know how, and sometimes that way is royally fraked.

There are people in society who do not have a life of their own, so they must tear down others to feel better about their small life. This is not to say that it doesn’t hurt just as deep. Because It Does. Holy hell it does. There are some people who know just what buttons and emotions to press to sustain massive internal damage that can leave us wrecked for days. It can continue to hurt for some time after the initial barrage after you process the hell you’ve endured, and the effects can last for years. They say forgiveness is really a gift to yourself, but I have a hard time forgiving those who have deeply hurt the ones closest to me. To be honest, I do not think I’ve ever fully processed the people who have hurt me the most. I am not sure I want to.

There are times in my life where I felt untouchable and kicked ass in every aspect of my life. When anyone tells me I can’t do something, I take that as a personal affront and avenge to prove them wrong. And I do, almost every time. It often comes at a cost, though.  Everything worthwhile has a cost, and it’s a cost I will gladly pay. You find out who really loves you and wants you to succeed. And who wants to keep you small and on their level of comfort. This is when small-minded people feel threatened the most, when you are ready to have a mindset shift. It is also the time when the disparaging and denigration is at a peak. I have come to the conclusion that this is a defense mechanism, and it saddens me. It still hurts like hell when someone close to you assaults you with words. The person who wrote, “sticks and stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me” was an idiot of epic proportions. I would much rather have someone throw a stone at me than words that penetrate and sometimes break my soul open. Cuts bleed, scab, then heal and fall off. Words though? They penetrate and can become a black hole of self-doubt, pain, and anger. They can fracture families and leave a permanent rift that will never be healed. Words become thoughts, thoughts become actions, and actions can have devastating results. Verbal abuse leaves a much longer affect on the soul and harder to remedy on one’s psyche than physical.

that is pain

Any kind of abuse obviously is traumatic, but one is more sinister because it is much easier to hide from a physical and psychological aspect.   It often takes place through self-delusion and denial brought on by low self-esteem from being broken in the past. These pieces are often buried deep, and sometimes we think we have gotten past them. This is where small-minded people are so insidious. Because they are usually weaved into your life, and sometimes pretty intricately. And they know us. The clinically narcissistic ones use that knowledge to inflict the worst kind of psychological pain.  Some even take glee in it.

Everyone is a work in progress. I have hurt those I love, and some of them deeply. The difference is I am willing to apologize, and learn how to corrective action so I don’t hurt them again. Small-minded people have no desire to better themselves because that would take effort and a commitment to go outside their comfort zone. They would much rather tear others down instead. I am working towards accepting and almost feeling pity for those with small-minded syndrome. Except the hurt goes deep, and I’ve got a long way to go for that mindset switch to occur.

Myth of Self-Depreciation Humor

I am from Jersey, which means a few things. I know what a jughandle is; we understand how to navigate a traffic circle, and we not only talk sarcasm we breed it. I get it. I have done it. I lived it, been proud of it. We wear sarcasm like armor.  There is sarcasm which can be witty, and then there is self-depreciation “humor”.

The more time I have spent with my family recently, whom I love dearly, it is readily apparent how frequently some of them use the latter as a deflection tactic in the aim of humor that I used for years. No one likes a person who takes themselves too seriously, but there is a line between light-hearted banter and consistently put yourself down.  It is not funny to actively break your own self down. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because your brain doesn’t know what is true and what isn’t.  If you say it enough times, even if it was jokingly at first, it becomes a reality in your mind.  A reality that is incredibly challenging to break.  I did this for years. And there’s a reason people do it.

day stop self-destruction

Depending on your life experiences, it can be easy to make fun of yourself. You may say, “easy?”  If this is your reaction, I am epically happy for you.  If you come from a background of belittling, bullying or abuse it becomes is a defense mechanism. In one’s mind they think, “what must this person be thinking about me? I’ll short circuit their thinking and prevent their verbal strike by making myself smaller.” What is the one thing above anything else that human beings protect themselves against from an evolutionary perspective? Being hurt and pain. It’s instinctual and biological, and fighting instinct is a formidable task. Eventually when you experience that much emotional pain, the self-depreciation humor becomes like Captain American’s protective shield. I have been thinking about this for a few weeks now, and it became crystal clear today when I heard it multiple times from multiple people I care about. These are smart and successful people who have no business saying they are a loser or lazy.

goal bullshit story

On the opposite side of all this are the people who have hurt you in the past. I am not saying whatever they did was justified because it most likely wasn’t.  I have come to the conclusion that most people do not mean to be hurtful in their actions. Most people love and act the best way they know how, and sometimes it’s incredible destructive because that’s all they have been taught. It sucks on both ends of the interaction.

One of the most painful parts of this discovery is how real this reality has been for me.  I am certain I did this on a daily basis. It is the self-worth onion that is continually evolving. It literally pains me to hear the ones I love say these things about themselves. Because I know it’s not true.  It also makes things so much clearer as to why I did it for so long.  It’s what I knew.

permission

I don’t have a solution to this. The armor is kind of like the Emperor’s new clothes. It is not real. And eventually that armor actually ends up being more of a self-penetrating device because it punctures your self-confidence every time you use your self-imposed ammunition of protection.

Empathy and Vulnerability

I had dinner at my apartment with one of my best friends, who has gone through a lot lately. We were talking and she said, “we tend to hide from the people who know us best. Because they can see us.” And all of a sudden, the pain and the hurt over the past few months made sense. I have been her, and I have written about it. Because being seen when you have been through so much shit feels so fraking painful. It is so much safer to hide yourself than be vulnerable, and it is often with the ones who love you that you hide from. It is so much easier to put on a front of antipathy when you are feeling like your world is collapsing.

judgment self-destruction

Except it really isn’t easier. This has taken a lot of time and self-reflection to get this perspective.  For further explanation, I wrote about it here. It was before I understood that I am worthy of sharing my emotion with people. That by shutting off my emotion to those who love me the most, I could (and have) end up with fractured and untimely-ended relationships. Trust is deserved to go both ways. It wasn’t until the past six months that I understood how much I potentially and unknowingly hurt my friends in the past. I wouldn’t let them in. I thought it would hurt too much based on prior experience. I thought I had to be the strong one.  It was all very wrong in every aspect. Learned behavior is such a bitch to change. It was an epiphany of epic portions.

point in life

There is something about being empathetic that engenders compassion, obviously. In the past couple of years, I have somehow been able to create an emotional block where the physical pain of empathy is no longer felt, but the energy of soul releasing it remains available for reception and interpretation.  This has allowed me to be able to control how the energy of empathy is interpreted and transformed into an emotional energy I can interpret without it being crippling to me.  It is a welcome development to both myself and those around me.  For my entire life empathy has been a crippling sense of duty and painful burden.  “The Block” as I call it, has been a freeing and glorious development.  I can use my empathy to problem solve the best way to help the pain, and now it feels like a gift I am meant to share with the world instead of being a martyr to it.

This might not make any sense unless you are an empath, and I apologize if you feel confused.  When I explain this to empaths, they ask me “how did I do that”?  I wish I knew how.   I know believe that people have specific gifts they are meant to share with the world to fulfill their greater purpose.  Empathy is one of my true gifts to the world, and most of the time it felt like a curse to me.  I wake up most days grateful to have it, and can sense and then ease pain in a friend.  Sometimes all it takes is a “that really sucks and I’m sorry” or a really funny meme.

life is all the feels

I think it was when I made an unconscious decision to be seen and my presence known that this mindset shifted. It was no longer about me. It never truly was. It was my decision to step up to my value as a human being and a person when things started to shift in my life. I am gifted with a variety of leaders in my life, but I am stepping up to the Viper, taking flight, and starting to become my own leader. It’s not a role I ever thought I’d be playing, but here it is. It is time to step up. Step up to leadership and responsibility, in spite of how terrifying it is. It is time to be me. Whole-heartedly and with passion. Fear be damned because it’s my time to be bold. It’s my time to grow into myself, again.

Adulting – Lonely and Worth It

Since I talked about this with a friend of mine, I have been meaning to write it. I just didn’t yet. Because that means it’s real. It means I am becoming an adult. I will be the first to admit it is damned lonely and scary being an adult as a xennial. That is the weird generation in between Generation Y and Millennial. I am by definition a millennial (the last year), but I don’t define myself as one.

This is not because of the stereotype that incorrectly states they are lazy, bored, or entitled. They do not want to be stuck like Gen Xers, with a mountain of debt and for the first time ever worse than their parents. I don’t define myself as Millennial because I knew what the world was like before readily access to the internet, cell phones, texting, and constant social media presence. All of those things came later. It was glorious and free time to grow up.

mud

I will take the mud any day 🙂

Xennials have a different issue that might have real world implications later on. They are stuck between wanting to stay in the mindset of it’ll all workout and actually becoming an adult.  They have created a verb – Adulting. I will be the first to admit that being an adult can suck. Having to choose being participating in one of my passions and paying the bills for the first time was a big wake up call. In that moment, I want to run screaming and say “no, I can’t help you. I’ve got the Tohickon this weekend”. My adult brain says, “this your craft that you deserve to learn. The Tohickon will be there, and you can do it Saturday.” It literally hurts, but I know it’s the right decision.

There are people I know who choose to not be an adult, and I have no judgment for this.  It took me a long time to decide to be an adult. What I do not understand is their inability to see how painful it is for other people who are trying to grow up, and they ask unknowingly to join them in their life choice. It is not noble. It is not bold. It is a life choice. And it is okay to do so.  Sometimes I kick loose and do the same.

I never thought that being a 36 year old striving to be an adult would be lonely. But it is. More than I would like to admit my friends (and sometimes I) stay out too late and drink too much. There is no judgment in this, because I have also done those activities in excess. I am over that part of my life, though. My old self sometimes like to claw its way back, and say “you are this lifestyle. You don’t deserve better.” It is my job to say, “no, I’m choosing something better. Something that is going to enrich life”.  And sometimes I fail at that job, which is okay, too. You can live your life, have fun, and be responsible, too. They are not mutually exclusively.

The goal of life is to become an adult and own your life. Instead of your life owning you. I am striving towards that goal every day, but doing so does require becoming an adult in not only income but mentality. In the past six months. I have had to choose between a lot of things I love to do, and making sure I can cover my expenses. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do, and make choices you don’t want to make out of necessity. They suck every time. The most painful is limiting time with people in your life that just don’t serve your lifestyle anymore.  I miss them for a variety of reasons, and it’s a choice.

Personally that is the hardest part. When I realized my circle of friends, many I would consider family, do not have the same aspirations as you do. What do you do then? You love them where they are at, and this is crucial with NO judgment. You love them, but you end up spending less time with them because they are not in the same place emotionally you are. I still struggle with this. A lot actually. When my old-self and doubt come knocking, I usually response lately with “I’ve got this. I am growing into myself, which does not include you [former self].” I stay in, and am working on developing more friends who want to grow as much as I do. You choose. It’s rather sobering when you think about it. Expect judgment and criticism, and you’ll figure out what boundaries you want to draw.

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.

 

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.

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 Crippling Pursuit of Perfection

What is perfection really?  It is a stubborn mistress that we court, but are never quite found good enough for the Ball.  Perfectionism is different from striving to be better, because that is a competition with ourselves.  Perfectionism is more about proving/convincing to yourself and others that you are good enough. It’s a stifling and oppressive way to live life.  It is often much safer to not go for it, and say I am not going to even bother because it won’t be good enough for insert your favorite excuse here (usually yourself when you really dissect the reason).  The threat of rejection and disappointment are far greater than the reward of showing the progress of discovery.  This is some of the most self-destructive things people can do to themselves, not including bodily harm.  The void of rejection catapulted my self-esteems issues even further because I didn’t think I was even worthy of presenting my skills if it wasn’t perfect.

barriers-to-love

Self-Pressure
Perfectionism is like having to pee in the middle of the night.  Stay with me here, I agree it’s an odd analogy.  You are slightly uncomfortable with the pressure, but you are so warm and cozy in your bed you hate to get up.  You’d much rather stay under the safety of the blanket until it becomes too much and you give in.  Except there is no safety blanket, and eventually you choose to show yourself and your talents to the terrifying world.  Or you pee in the bed, and shrink into self-loathing.

Take this entry for example, I had so many good ideas and lines when I started the concept, but I can’t think of a single one.  And they were good. You know what happened to those ideas I had five minutes before writing this?  I said to myself, “ooo, I like where this is going.  Let me get downstairs and get settled into writing mode before starting to write this entry.” POOF, gone.  I could have written them down where I was, but I didn’t.  I am going to publish this anyway to prove a point because this is an important topic for me.

Judgment
Perfectionism isn’t really about presenting your perfect work.  It is using it to hide behind your excuses, self-doubt, and flaws so people don’t know your vulnerabilities and insecurities.  To have your “best” self always on display, scared of being judged of not being good enough is a crippling mindset that weighs heavily on every decision one makes.  Every decision leads back to “am I good enough to reveal this?”  It’s much easier to show something that you believe is your best effect and have them bring judgment, than it is to show a work in progress and have it ripped to shreds (e.g. first draft of a paper).  It’s the same with my Arbonne business, photography, writing, paddling, and now art.   I used to get ashamed if I swam (it’s where you fall out of your boat in a rapid) while paddling, but it has a become a source of pride because it means I tried something and pushed myself.  Fail your way forward.

Roy and I hitting a rock - hard - in the rapid. Good times. Photograph taken by Ohiopyle Adventure Photography. We kept going.

Roy and I hitting a rock – hard – in the Cucumber Rapid on Yough River.  Photograph taken by Ohiopyle Adventure Photography. We kept going.

Self-Validation
The projects don’t have to be physical in nature; they can be emotional as well.  Or the most vulnerable of all, when it is the combination of both.  The vulnerability of art for the world to see, which is always an express of an emotion of some kind, oftentimes gives me the most pause in sharing it.  And being completely vulnerable with all of you, my latest self-discovery is how much I like to doodle.  I like drawing the lines, the shapes, and all of it coming together to make something kind of beautiful in its own unique way.  Art is terrifying to me, so this is a huge discovery.

doodle

One of the hardest things I have worked on in the last 4.5 years is to make an effort to kick my self-judgment to the curb.  It means you have to confront yourself, which is another entry altogether and discover some of your inner demons.   Be real with those closest to you, and I was surprised by the outcome of this.  In my experience, I discovered those who truly love me for who I am becoming and embracing my true self.  I also discovered those who will always see the old me, and who have a hard time accepting the self-confident version of myself.  It can be a brutal wake up call. Give perfectionism an eviction notice from your mind and soul, and be a vigilante when it comes to visit.

Be the Catalyst

Get Dirty with Change
People say that is change is hard, and it can be. It is also inevitable, and it can be beautiful. It is important to embrace the changes happening in your life because they are coming either way so you might as well embrace it. If the change is unpleasant, the sooner you deal with it, the sooner it will change into something tolerable. If the change is good or long-term beneficial, then embrace the journey to get to the beautiful place on the other side. While paddling I came up with an expression, “on the other side of the mud is often a beauty hidden by the effort to get there.” It is the same with change.

courage-fear-do-it-anyway

The Push
Quite honestly, the catalyst in my growth in the stages of my business has come from outside sources. I do much better historically when helping other people. I am more focused, more determined, and it’s because I genuinely enjoy being a part of helping other people achieving their dream. It’s the part I play, and I play it well. However, it is time to grow out of that. I have written how that is really not enough, but for me it is how I have measured my worth by adding to a cause. As if I am not enough just being me. It’s not true. There are things I am privately passionate about and very important to me that deserves to be heard, known, and acknowledged. These are the ones that only a select few know about, and that scare me for people to know.beat-her

Sparking Your Catalyst
All of it is coming to a climax. Tony Robbins says “change happens when the pain of staying the same is bigger than the pain of change.”  Everyone has demons, and every person has at least one that likes to linger. A lingering whisper is the fear of not being worthy of the amazing friendships I have built in the last 4 and half years. Which is completely ridiculous, and thankfully doesn’t surface often anymore. It’s the old me popping up like a prairie dog, and the part of myself I deserve to beat whac-a-mole style. Its presence has lessened since I am coming out of a transition period that seems to be inevitably messy. The result is a new level of leadership being born. One that I am ready to take on because staying hidden behind some type of misplaced pride is becoming too uncomfortable to stay idle. It’s like a bug molting into a new shell because it’s outgrown its old one. It’s painful, it’s uncomfortable, and as it happens you are incredibly vulnerable while growing into a new stage of development and waiting for it to harden.   It is time to be the catalyst for change and become the adult we are all destined to be.