The Root of Belonging, Pt 1

So I have been inconsistently trying to write about belonging for the better part of a year. I had “finished” an essay, and my friend and mentor told me to break into parts because each paragraph was just scratching the surface of the story buried beneath.  I bring you the first part of my story of belonging.

I have struggled with belonging my entire life, and as a consequence, it contributed in undermining my self-confidence into virtually nothing over time. Growing up, there was nothing I wanted more than to belong. Even if it was just a little bit. That didn’t happen. I had a much better relationship with my teachers than students my own age. Kids are cruel, manipulative, and traitorous as we grow into our skin. And it can cut deep, and those cuts can last inflict a lifetime of psychological damage, if we let it. Once we recognize the hurt and identify some the reasons we hide ourselves; it is up to us to alleviate that pain and grow into our best selves. It is no longer our role to be a victim. It is our role and responsibility to be a badass survivor.

two-options

The myth of the society we live in is that vulnerability and emotion are to be avoided at all costs, especially in public. I have adhered to that rule for most of my life, until about five years ago when I started to realize my own self-worth. I am not sure where the idea of being emotional and vulnerable equated to being weak, but that is the point of view I adopted early on in my life. I do not remember any specific conversations, either directly or indirectly, taking place in my house growing up. It could be that I thought with all the added stress of growing up with a special needs sister that my social difficulties at school were of secondary importance in my mind. I do not know. This is what I do know; I used my distain for vulnerability to create an armor around myself, because not doing so made middle and high school indescribably painful. I had been hurt too many times by letting people know me. I wasn’t about to let anyone else penetrate my armor of protection. I would never let myself be vulnerable again. It simply led to being hurt.

For the rest of my middle school and high school life, to say I was withdrawn and introverted, would be an understatement. For the majority of my middle and high school life, I went to school, later work, and I came home. I would hibernate to my room to escape into the world of sports, music, reading, and writing poetry. I had two after-school activities I participated in, one in middle school and one in high school. I was baseball card club, which is just what it sounds like. Yes that was the actual name of the club, and I had started following sports obsessively to fill a void in my life. Baseball card club especially was a refuge to the self-imposed isolation of my life in middle school. I could just truly be me there, because it was a bunch of other displaced kids who loved baseball cards and sports as much as I did. I think many of us were outcasts. It was an escape from the cruelty that can be middle school, and allowed us to bond in a non-judgmental way that eluded many of us. I loved it, and I was truly devastated when I graduated middle school because it was my one tether to other kids who didn’t judge me for being socially awkward and shy.

teenage hero jolie

In high school, I joined an environmental group called Students for the Environment (SFE). It was a club comprised of like-minded students who were environmentally conscious that organized and promoted environmental causes. Until sophomore year of high school, I still felt pretty isolated and awkward in the group. I had a few friends a grade below me join the group, and I almost developed real friendship there for the first time in years. I felt relatively comfortable, and this bizarrely scared me back into my shell, when I became aware of the connection that was occurring. I realized I could get hurt again, and I pulled back my real self. We were still friends, but I hid my real self behind self-deprecation humor and put my vulnerability armor on. This ended up sabotaging the friendship to one of superficial nature. Ironically, the detachment hurt. Except it was my fault this time, and that was the first time that I realized maybe this armor wasn’t as effective as I had constructed it to be. I didn’t understand what had happened to the friendship until many years later. I didn’t understand it was ultimately my fault that my ever-present armor caused the friendship to collapse. That is how apprehensive I was about connection, and vulnerability. I sacrificed my first connection in years due to my fear of rejection, vulnerability, and to let people see and know me for whom I was.

The concept of finding a place and people where I could feel comfortable just being me was elusive until I was in my 30’s.   My beloved Garden Elite being the exception to that rule at Union County College. I owe that group more than I could ever explain because of their immediate acceptance of me. I struggled to find my tribe of belonging, and it hurt until I turned off the emotional intelligence part of my brain. These revelations have taken place over the past few years due to a wonderful therapist, self-reflection, and finally realizing that I am worth knowing all aspects of myself, and others do as well. I became to understand more of why I acted the way I do, and the underlining why. And it was and is not easy.  The proverbial cliche of peeling of an onion is really apropos, and I’ve been digging deep into a lot of issues resulting in a lot of layers being peeled.  None of this is easy, but it is worth it. That is for another essay that is forthcoming.

shall pass kidney stone

I discovered more of the equation of belonging in high school while discussing it with a friend of mine I hadn’t seen in a few years. Every time we see each other, I realize how alike we are in many aspects. It is one of the those rare friendships that deepens over time, and it doesn’t matter how often we see each other. She has also struggled with belonging. We are both smart, definitely high on the nerd scale, had similar childhood backgrounds, and can be socially awkward. We tried clubs, activities, and eventually I gave up in high school except for SFE. I ended up working a lot. She was much braver than I was, and did a variety of after school activities that I am still in awe of. I didn’t know much about this until recently, and our friendship has been evolving in the best way as I become more vulnerable and trusting. It seems the more vulnerable I become; the deeper the friendship goes. Vulnerability and trust go together like thunderstorm and a rainbow. It is sometimes volatile, but a beautiful thing to watch as the light comes shining through illuminating the invisible beauty within. It’s been a hard concept to grasp, and grudgingly accept as truth. Since I have an exceptionally hard time practicing both vulnerability and trust. Both are worth risking in order finding your true belonging, and your true self.

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Friendship and Progress

Hello out there in blog land.  I have been away for a long time, and I apologize for that.  I will not make excuses for myself, and just know that I have been writing.  I just wasn’t ready to share a lot of it publicly.  Here is one of many to come.  If you are still out there ready this, I can never express my gratitude to my readers for being there offering supporting.

Every time a friend of mine (and sometimes I considered them close friends) has pretty much made it clear that they no longer wish to be friends, I have let it go. I have not asked why or what I did to cause their alienation. It hasn’t happened in several years where I felt a significant loss. I have learned to choose my friends carefully. I sent a text to a friend of mine about two months ago, saying “hey would love to see you and get catch up.” No response. I briefly ask about her to a mutual acquaintance, and she said a friend of hers is going through a rough time that is probably why. I texted a month ago, and still nothing. I finally got up the courage tonight to be like, “I clearly have done something to offend you, and I would like to know what it is to avoid it in the future. I truly am sorry for anything I have done to hurt you.” This was not an easy text to send. I love this person. But something had clearly changed. As always my scientist brain likes to know why because a) so I can maybe fix it if it’s a misunderstanding; b) avoid doing whatever it was/is in the future.

They responded very courageously themselves, “I don’t know what to say, other than I don’t wish to have a dialogue[…]I wish you the best and will remain kind and cordial.” She could have ignored me. Or blasted me. Did I learn what happened? No. Do I have an inkling of what might have happened? Yes. Do I have closure? Somewhat.

let go of people

People move in and out of our lives. I don’t let a lot of people in to begin with, so when one leaves it creates a hole. And it hurts. Every time. Because I want to know what I did, and that is probably selfish of me. It is also entirely possible that I didn’t really do anything, and the friendship had simply run its course. In this instance though, for the first time probably ever, I have confronted the situation. I didn’t just let the other person go; I deserved confirmation of events. And I got it. Not necessarily the way I wanted it, but I know where I stand. And sometimes that has to be good enough.

I have another friend, someone who knows me better than anyone, and I feel that we are at a crossroads. And that hurts. It wasn’t until tonight that I have begun to understand why we are at a crossroads. I stopped growing and pushing myself. I had identified a lot of some of the deeper issues. I wrote a ridiculous amount in August and September, but all of it scared me. It is one of the only times on my self-development journey that I ran away from confronting the demons within. I don’t know why, maybe because it was all too close to confront. There would be a lot of hurt, pain, and growth involved. I was identifying the bullshit obstacles in my life, and there was a lot to identify. Therefore, a lot to process and change. The demon within said, “haven’t you done enough of that? Don’t you deserve a break from self-reflection?” I unknowingly agreed.

The conclusion I came to tonight after hearing her impassioned plea to be better and courageous? I deserve to step up into so many aspects of my life. Deserve to get back in there. Deserve to be seen again. Because for so long I have been half-seen. I couldn’t go back to not being seen at all. But to trying to lurk and be seen was mainly myself wanting to hide behind a layer of bullshit. And the bullshit layer eventually starts to hurt.

I have tackled a lot of mind bullshit layer before, but this feels profoundly different. This hurts more than almost any other time. I have pushed myself so far into the background that my own friends might not recognize me anymore. My gift. My passion. My code. Has been buried under a maze of bullshit that I am just starting to dig out of the manure and see the root of greatness ready to sprout.

judgment self-destruction

It’s interesting because I thought I was digging through it for months now. And I have, in a way. I am now at the crust of my potential, and I know the pain to go through that will be so intense. I want to shrink back and procrastinate into oblivion Quite frankly, that has not worked out well for me. They say, you experience growth when your pain becomes bigger than your obstacles. Well, I think I am finally there. My heart is racing and I am SCARED about where I am about to go. Because I know it’s big. I just have to keep going upwards, and not let myself get sidetracked by the demon within that pushes procrastination with meaningless drivel.

I have not felt this kind of raw pain in some time. It feels good, somehow. Like I am alive again. I realize that I have been working towards this for about nine months. I have stumbled again and again by own my mind giving me an excuse to procrastinate on the meaningless distraction. I am grateful for this journey. For all this pain. Because it is all part of a plan to show myself that I can prove myself right. That this is the true me. The ugly, messy, and fucked self that is also so grateful to be alive and on this path to greatness.

Where am I going with this? I am declaring to be better every day. I am declaring to getting back to myself and showing people how to build a better life through my example. I am declaring that I will not stop until this pain of disappointment is consumed with gratitude of being an inspiration to thousands. Because I can. I have before. I just got very lost in my own head of doubt and shame, and I just needed a compass of encouragement to get me out. Well, here I am. I am coming, and I am ready to be me. I don’t think I have ever been so scared, except for the last time I found myself. This time I will not run away. I am running towards the demon of shame. Because that is the only way to conquer shame. To shine light on it, and extinguish the flame of self-deceit.

Demon Within

It causes

Inexplicably

Self-
Destructive

Behavior.

Sometimes

Repeatedly,

and
Often.

worst yet,

We

See
what is

Happening

and

Do

Nothing

about

It.

It is

Easier

to

Ignore

the

Demon
within

than to

Conquer

the
Devil

behind
It.

The
ultimate

Culprit

is

Shame.

which

Breeds

in

Fear,

Secrecy,

and Judgment.

The
best

way
to

Duel
the

Demon

Within

is to

bring the
Secret

Out.

Own
your

Story,

own
Your

Imperfections.

this

Painful
Concession

Sets

us

Free.

from the

impossible

Burden
of

Perfection.

which

Destroys

the

best of

Us

when
we

Strive

to Reach
it.

My
Ultimate

Vulnerability

is when
I

Write

for the
World

to

Delve into.

I love
to

Hate
the Process.

Cliché as
it is,

it Sets
me

Free.

it is
my

Art

to

Transcend

my Pain,

Vulnerability,

Epiphanies,

and Emotion

to
Share

Connection

with
a greater

Audience.

That is my

Power

and
one
of
my

Gifts
to

Share

with

Intention

of
Connection.

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.

2017, the Takeaway thru all of the Bullshit

2017 has been filled with good, bad, and ugly. There has been a lot of bad and ugly in my case, but it has also been filled with the opportunity of growth and stubborn determination to breakthrough the ugly. If someone had told me last year at this time: I would be a life-changing accident, get my hours cut, months of on-going physical therapy, and subsequently months of on-going therapy, I would have said you are nuts and I want some. And yet that is what happened and then some.

that is pain

Like most of my friends, 2017 was a year of growth and pain. It was also the year of discovering my inner-resolve and growth. The year of how fucking bad do you want this life. For me, I have had to have more tenacity in both my growth and business than I ever had before. It was up to me and me only to get schnitz done. I would apologize for all the cursing in this entry, but I really don’t care.

Because it got real this year. In every fraking way of my life did it get real. My business, my work life, and my life in general. I have struggled more than I have in a very long time, and you know what? I conquered it.  It wasn’t pretty, but I did it. I conquered the deck I was dealt, and I nailed that river card like I was in Vegas betting my life.

breakdown no matter

In a lot of ways, I did bet my life. I put so much on the line that I haven’t before. I was more vulnerable in my writing than ever. Relating my struggles with PTSD, my life struggles of the last five years, and becoming the person I wanted to be. The person I was distancing myself being (the partier) from that at times keeps coming back trying to pull me back to mediocrity. There is nothing wrong with partying lifestyle per say. I have done all of that, and enjoyed it at the time. I have had some of my best times partying with the people I love. It’s just not who I am growing into becoming, and sometimes it’s tough to remind myself of that.

profile pic

Part of my fam

This is a relatively short entry about this past year. There is so much to ponder, and tonight I was pushing towards a goal and I reached it. One takeaway, there is nothing as satisfying as reaching a goal you thought was out of a reach a few days ago. This is a cliché, but if you do your best and miss at least at the end of the day, you can hit your head on the pillow with a quiet calm of knowing you can kick ass tomorrow. I know from experience that regret sucks. Some of my worst pain, and there’s been quite a bit, has been from the things I didn’t attempt for fear of disappointment. Fail forward towards your best self. It sucks. It hurts. But you do move forward.

Vulnerability – Part Deux

I have been playing small with everything in my life for months now. I thought a contributing factor was the accident, but it was going on before that. It certainly didn’t help matters. Maybe I started then to doubt my purpose. Is that why the accident happened? To challenge how much I value the life I worked so hard to achieve? Who knows.

What I can tell you is that even months before the accident, I was coasting. I was “playing” life instead of achieving it. I was inconsistent with almost everything in my life except for a few aspects. Pilates and paddling were consistent. I just read the last section of Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, and if you haven’t heard of her check her out. Her books not only changed my business, but also changed my life.

As I was reading the last ten pages of a book I all but finished almost three years ago, several epiphanies occurred. The one constant in my life is my family. It is not necessarily my blood kin, as mentioned before I do not really distinguish between them anymore. One person in particular I think has been waiting for me to snap. I don’t mean snap as in implode into a ball of goo. I mean snap back into my true self. Snap back into vulnerability and action. Snap back into being seen again.

don't grow easy

I wrote two essays recently, one about stepping back into my true self via paddling. The other explaining how hard and simultaneously awesome my life is. I used to pretend it was roses, sunshine, and butterflies. At times it was certainly like that, and I realized it was true when I was being vulnerable and being willing to fail. I was out of integrity by continuing to tell the story of how my life was everything I wanted. Integrity is one of my core values. It’s one of the reasons why I broke my co-dependency and moved. I felt like a fraud. By telling the real story, the good, bad, and the painful I was taking another step towards being my true self again. It was hard to hit the publish button, and to let people see the struggles of my real life. It was brave and courageous. It was real. And the response was amazing.

Actions in proportion to fear is what determines progress.

One of the epiphanies I had after reading that section helped me clarify something I haven’t been able to identify for months. I stopped being seen. I went back to almost being invisible, but not quite. Because despite not accomplishing much in many months, people still look to me at times. It’s not as much, and it shouldn’t be. I have not become an asterisk. Even after I haven’t accomplished much with any of my passions in a long time.

One might ask why that is. It is the value I bring to the communities I am involved with.

This may be selfish, but I don’t want to become an asterisk. I want to be seen and be the example for people. I just realized that I want to strive to be “this is what happened to her, and this is how she rebounded to be even better”. So people realize that you can crash and burn, and come out a bigger badass then before.

I look back on when I was really rocking it with all aspects of my life. and what was different. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time trying to pinpoint what was different. I was different. I was bold and daring. Ready and willing to fail forward as often as necessary. And I did, repeatedly. I swam paddling when trying maneuvers; failed in writing, and failed repeatedly and often with my business. Until I got better and achieved the momentum necessary to explode to be seen for the badass I am. It was an incredible feeling of accomplishment and joy. It was something I did it. I showed up. It might not have been pretty and I might have been wet, but I showed up.

What happened? A combination of things, and all of them referenced in the Gauntlet if you’d like a more in depth understanding of it. The underlying cause? FEAR. And Self-worth.

that is pain

It was like a 2×4 to the face. As Brene Brown says (I’m paraphrasing), “there is nothing as uncomfortable or heartbreaking than standing outside of your (my) life looking in and wondering how I got to this point?” What happened to the courageous woman who broke through the reinforced concrete barrier of being seen?

Life did. I didn’t realize how much I had shrunk back until we were talking about it with one of my best friends today. I still don’t know why the accident caused me to shrink back into self-conscious and low self-worth again, and it’s something I will puzzle out. It’s another piece of the deeper reason behind all of this.

The realization took my breath away with all the implications yet to be uncovered. But it is also an epic relief. I can fix this. This is something I can now tackle. I will be vulnerable again with failure and imperfection.

magic in water

Paddling is my outlet for this. THAT is what I was missing all those months. The challenge, the fear, the action, and then the reward. Of doing something that provided me with such passion, clarity, and sense of fulfillment. A phrase I heard used today is perfect. Listen through the fear, and I’m going to go one step further and then act on the fear. This is why paddling is so important to my psyche. It’s the physical manifestation of working through listening through the fear. It’s about setting that challenging and rising to meet it, and therefore increasing my self-confidence in the process. By doing so, you are raising your own bar of expectations to the level of excellence in your life.

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.

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.

Invisibility, Choice, and Discovery

I have written about my entire life being spent trying to be invisible, and it worked. Then I started to be become noticed and recognized for what I was. A caring, compassionate human being who longed to serve others before myself. This is not meant to aggrandize, this is actually who I am. Those who know me can attest to that.

I think I have finally figured out why the past six to eight months have been so odd for me. People started to recognize me and outside my immediate circle. For a person who until a year ago, at most two, wanted to blend in the with the crowd this took some time to adjust to. I didn’t recognize it. I thought it had something to do with my move into my place, which was a factor but not the ultimate reason of my weirdness. It might have been the reason why I was like, “shit this is real.”

white party pic

Out of Integrity
I am going to be totally vulnerable here. Which I really despise doing, by the way.  Writing is the place where I become most vulnerable because I can take the time to express it. Up until the point where I actually did get a place on my own, I felt almost like a fraud. I confided this to a dear friend of mine and asked for her advice. She said, “because you are living out of integrity with your true self.” If there is one thing in my life I really have a profound and utterly disdain for is dishonesty and not being integrity. If I tell someone I am going to do something, I damn well am going to do it. It may take awhile, sometimes much longer than I anticipated. But it gets done.

So I got to work. It was a slow process, but I eventually got my life together and moved on my own. This was a month after the phenomenal Arbonne area manager retreat, and for whatever reason things became very real and very scary in terms of accountability and recognition. I froze. I was in activity, but without intention. I did all of this without realizing WHY. I truly didn’t realize it until now.

I never wanted to be an inspirational figure, leader, or role model but I became that in the past two and half years. I have written about it before, and truly thought I had come to terms with it. Except I clearly hadn’t. For all of you who have stuck with you and supported me, it means more than you know. For those that wondered wtf happened to her (with good reason)?  HERE I AM.

Standard cargo pants and fleece at Island Beach State park in New Jersey. Photo taken by Looie Voorhees

Slayer My Smaller Self

I am ready the slay the dragon. The dragon is myself. It is my own crippling fear in something bigger, and becoming something bigger and very public. It is the belief that I AM the leader that so many in Arbonne think I am. I AM COMING. It is one of the most terrifying and inspiring moments in my life.   I am finally seeing myself as so many of you do. I am the badass leader who has transformed from a treehugging hippie and into a shimmery water ninja.

This is not about what I want. It is about what I deserve, and how many other people deserve to be inspired by my story. I have grown into my creative self who actually loves to doodle, and perhaps even draw.  I have always loved photography, and this year will be the year to blossom into that.  I am becoming my true self.  It is amazing, terrifying, and realizing it is one of the most understated but determined moments in my life.

I will be a regional vice president and a national vice president with Arbonne THIS YEAR. It’s all revolved around this fraking moment of discovery. In this journey there have been so many moments, but to this point this is the biggest. I am growing into myself and being a whole person, an adult. A woman who up until quite recently didn’t believe I had any artistic talent or even a desire to be an artistic in the traditional term. I am growing into me, and I am a powerful freaking being. Watch me roar, because I am coming like never before. BOOM.

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.