Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Nothing is By Accident


Nothing is by accident. A series of events lead you to exactly where you need to be. For me, it was a slow unraveling which (to the untrained eye) would seem just as normal as everyday coincidence. “Coincidence” is such a clinical word that strips joy. It gives reason where only magic should be. I choose to believe that I was tossed another handful of pixie dust and in no way does that mean I negate reality or that I am stuck in adolescence. It means that I live beyond the physical, tangible things. I have always lived there, but have been stuck in a push and pull between two worlds. One is beautiful and filled with hope and the other is cynical and full of rules. For forty years of my life, I have traveled back and forth, trying to be pieces of what each world wanted me to be. And now, I don’t know who “me” is.

Nothing is by accident. Last year I started listening to Armchair Expert and I began to expand my mind. I’ve always been open to new ideas and break off some of those bits to add to my many hatboxes of meaning. I keep little pieces of everything that has ever touched my life in real, old fashioned, hatboxes. In the physical world, I have 8 or 9 full of cards, letters, mementoes I've grabbed along the way. If I find something I really identify with and it can be hung on my wall, I hang it to surround me with as much inspiration as possible. It is so helpful to be inspired from the very moment I open my eyes each morning. In my beautifully messy, unseen world, I also have little pieces of inspiration that have touched my heart or mind (usually both). You can't see those hatboxes, but they are filled with so many golden nuggets. I go mining most days for these nuggets by listening to Dax Shepard & Monica Padman on the Armchair Expert podcast. I could literally spend the rest of my life just listening to this one show and I know I’d feel fulfilled, but therein lies the problem. I have so many great pieces of wisdom and I am never applying them. I don't have an outgoing life. 

Nothing is by accident. I’m a bit behind on the podcasts and so last week I just heard Jason Segel’s interview. I wasn't aware of his struggle with alcohol or that he had been sober since he was 33 years old. I wasn't aware that he had the same realization as Dax and so many others like Jim Carey, Rob Lowe, etc. have had. They get to the place or the dollar amount or into the job title they had looked up to as "Successful," but it doesn't make them feel any better about themselves. There's still an emptiness. There's still a void. It was just another affirmation that all the material world offers will never fill what I'm searching to fill either. At the end of the interview, Jason mentions his show Dispatches from Elsewhere and Dax said something about Sally Field being his childhood crush. So, then I realize that there's a show (a universe, LOL) where Jason Segel and Sally Field are paling around together? How cool is that. I don't hear much about the premise of the show except that he states "by the end of the season, that was just me on the screen..." Didn't get it at that point and kind of filed it away.

Nothing is by accident. Soon after, my guy (Mister Paul) and I were not sure of what to watch one night and so I looked up movies on Disney+. The state of everything in our world has been very dark and stressful lately that we both wanted something light and airy. We watched The Muppet Movie which starred Jason Segel… He also wrote it. Though we had seen it once before, we were so very moved by the message of the film plus both Paul and I are huge Muppet fans. (Okay, okay... Paul more than me, but I'm a close second! I mean, how do you not love Kermie?) This week, I was home and not feeling well and I needed something to watch. Thought of Jason Segel again (since his energy is so full of joy) and I felt like I hadn’t seen everything he’s been in. So, I put his name in Roku’s search feature and turns out, I guess I really am a HUGE fan because I HAVE seen most everything. Only 3 things I haven’t seen: Our Friend (New film, costs money), The End of the Tour (Only available for free with commercials, I hate commercials) and looky here... that show he was talking about: Dispatches from Elsewhere (Free with AMC 7 Day trial through Prime Video).

Nothing is by accident. I chose the free option and not only because it was FREE (but that sure helped), but because I remembered hearing about it on the podcast and Sally Field is in it! I looked it up on IMBD to find out that Andre 3000 was also featured in a huge part (and who doesn’t love Hey Ya “Shake it like a polaroid picture”?). Also, Eve Lindley was a name I heard buzz about, but had never got a chance to see her in action. So, it was a no brainer. I'm sick and home... Just try it. Well, the opening scene with Richard E Grant made me uncomfortable just staring at him for what felt like an eternity, but then I was in awe that he was in this too. There are so many great folks in this series. And what the what?!?!?! - Jason Segel created it. Well, what a glorious ride. The details and stories woven like a blanket that keep you cuddled and comfy through each and every episode. 

Nothing is by accident. I watched 9 of the 10 episodes in one day. I was going to wait till Paul fell asleep to watch the last one because I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen. Unfortunately, I fell asleep. This proved to be perfect because I watched the last episode the next morning over coffee. It was life altering, mind shattering and heart breaking in that really powerful way where you’re happy for such a different ending than you'd imagined. The speech that was given at the end, on stage, is by far the most important thing I have ever needed to hear. It was simple, self shattering (though I’ve shattered this self about a thousand times at this point, hence not knowing who I am and all…) and as intended, this audience member felt seen and understood. That’s all humans really ache for. To be seen and understood. I’m confused about who I am and what I’m supposed to be doing and I feel so alone in these feelings because the collective behaves as a group of singles instead of an inclusive WE.

Nothing is by accident. I don’t know who I am now. I’m not “cured” or secure with which path to go down in this life. I’m as flawed as I was yesterday, but today I’m not alone. I’ve secretly always known that, but until it’s attached to a quiver that can pierce your exact armor, you just don't feel it. I felt it so completely this time. Coupled with a few personal realizations that have upended my thinking pattern these last two weeks, I feel more broken than ever. The kind of broken you get to before you finally piece together who you are. I'm excited. This show is now my ALL TIME favorite show and I will be watching it again before my 7 day trial is over in just 5 days. It’s a wild ride with so many underlying and right in your face messages. It is like nothing I’ve ever seen before and I can’t imagine anyone being able to repeat this kind of magic. It has stirred me to write without fear. To live in the space beyond the physical and find my Elsewhere.

Nothing is by accident. I was meant to find this piece of art to inspire me so wholly. To take my beautiful darkness along with some pixie dust and turn it into a place that no one has ever seen before. If I hadn’t found Audible 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have been open to a Podcast and if I wouldn’t have found Armchair Expert, I wouldn’t have heard Jason Segel and I would’ve missed the most precious piece of art that I have ever seen… Dispatches from Elsewhere… I took the ending monologue and turned it into a colorful expression that I can hang above my writing desk (shown below). As I was creating it and rehearing those words, it’s me. Jason is me. That is what I feel after having watched. Those exact words sum it up so simply, so completely. I am Jennie Camile. I am YOU... and NOTHING is by accident... 

In Divine Nonchalance, I encourage you to find your Elsewhere... 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Soul Stories

I wrote the intro to this blog about 10 times. Trying to fluff it up and explain why I haven't written in so long. All I need to say is 2020...

The emotional repercussions are felt far and wide. We're starting to pick up the pieces and process all that we've been through. I dealt with 3 different spells of deep, dark depression during this pandemic.

Towards the beginning, the fear of it all paralyzed me. Not only did we have the virus to contend with, but the devastating images we saw before the Black Lives Matter protests (and during) were heart breaking. Fearful of losing my parents or loved ones to the virus were coupled with watching someone lose their life at the hand of someone else who was hired to protect. It was a lot to deal with. I was holed up for almost a month just terrified.

Then it didn't end, this new way of life that we thought was only to be temporary became permanent. After a few good months of working and trying to get back to life, the sadness took hold of me again. Not being able to travel or do things with the people I love set in and made me so blue. There came a few weeks of staying in my home under personal rainclouds.

Snapped out of it again. We made the most of everything and adapted and I was starting to feel better. Then came January 6th, 2021. This is when something in my brain snapped. I shut all the way down. I didn't know how I'd ever get out of bed and have the courage to get back out in a world I didn't recognize. I haven't felt a threat to our liberty and justice like that since 9/11. Except these were our own people... United States Citizens... That really messed me up...

These dark times didn't come without bright lights of understanding and internal work. I'm grateful that I am a very introspective person who desires to untie the threads of trauma in order to be a more viable and thriving human in the world. So, every day that I sat in bed, I dissected what was triggering and why I was feeling the varied array of feelings.

Safety, Truth, Understanding and Freedom are what I came up with. These 4 things are vital to my happiness.

When I say the word "Safety," it's not a desire to never be harmed, but just a basic feeling that I am safe. We cannot control what happens to us in life. I get that. What I value is the feeling that the world is inherently good. When you engage in it, you come to find that it is. It's when we were isolated that we could only see what the world looked like through screens or other people's lenses that distorted truth. I also desire for all beings to feel safe. It is hard to feel perfectly safe when fear radiates from others in the world. I feel it all.

Truth. It's all we can stand by. Our truth is also flawed, at times. This becomes evident when you start recounting a shared experience from 10+ years ago with someone who was there with you. Their account is like night to your day. How can you both come away with such a different feeling or memory of the same experience? It has to do with how you were feeling that day, what you focused on and what you decided to take away. OUR TRUTH IS NOT THE TRUTH. No one's truth is. Still, we should share our truth openly and with whomever we come in contact with. When we own who we are, we can be such better people in the world. We're not having to be a chameleon in different circles, we don't have to change bits of our stories depending on the audience and as Mark Twain so eloquently said: "If you tell the truth, you never have to remember anything." Being truthful, even when you think you'll look silly or different is the bravest thing you can do. Plus, you help people to be more open and honest about themselves or feel less alone by hearing your story. Truth is the most beautiful gift you can give.

Understanding. This one is the hardest, but I have learned that it's something I crave most of all. I crave being seen and heard. You won't be understood all the time, but you should have at least one or two people in your life that sit on or are very close to your same wavelength. Responses that trigger me are "here's what you should do" or "I always do..." It is not the other person's fault. They are listening and attempting to help, but so often we just want to be heard and validated. "I hear you. I understand," is like the spoonful of sugar that makes the how to medicine go down. I know that I can't expect this from everyone and how I take it is half of the exchange. I just need to be sure to communicate more often with those who do operate this way to fill up my cup for all other conversations that don't have understanding baked right in.

Freedom. Wow, we are so lucky and yet there are still so many who don't feel completely free. It's hard to take pride in my freedom when people in my own country are not treated with liberty and justice for all. I love my country, but we have a lot of work to do. I have really been thinking about the word "freedom" and as a woman I feel stifled sometimes. Not to compare, at all, to the struggles of racism or hatred, but there are still things that come up where I feel less than. The fact that as a woman, just going outside for a walk can lend itself to cars honking or guys screaming from their windows is icky. Cat calls and long looks are demeaning and unasked for and so in that respect alone, I feel an infringement on my freedom. To just be able to exist without any attention. That would be REAL freedom.

I gained the Quarantine 15 for sure. Put on some extra weight where extra weight already sat. I have 100 lbs to lose. Walking around the world in this physique compared to 10 years ago when I was 60lbs lighter has opened my eyes to how people are treated so differently based on looks. For the longest time, I have preferred to stay heavy because I never liked the attention of men's long stares or whistling. It is something that really makes me uncomfortable. So, my flawed logic has been to stay heavy to stay safe from unwanted attention? Who is that serving? I was not made for anyone else. I was made to be a happy, healthy individual who looked however the hell she wanted to. Last month, I started to take care of myself for the first time in a long while. It feels amazing to be on the road to better health, but the aspects that eluded me were the emotional and psychological. The addictive habits are never the issue. It's the WHY that needs more investigating. Why are you eating that bread and butter? Why are you having those sweets? It's never because you want to be unhealthy. Who would ever want that? Diving into boredom, sadness, regret, loss, etc. has allowed me to see the root of my unhealthy habits. It's never just the band-aid. There is always a cut underneath that needs mending.

Now that health is a priority for me, I am back to my favorite activity - walking! Today, I was on one of my morning walks and I heard a song that I've heard a thousand times before and yet it held such a deeper meaning this listen. It's by a band called THE KILLERS and it's called "MY OWN SOUL'S WARNING." This song is my favorite off the album for so many reasons, but today this song cracked my soul wide open. You know that feeling when you go against your grain because you just want to feel something so bad? That is what I've been doing. Going against "my own soul's warning." All the ways I've not felt good, had health issues, felt depressed and alone. Those were warnings from my soul and I just kept ignoring them. When he speaks of "I just wanted to get back to where you are..." I always used to think that he was talking about someone else. A lover, girlfriend, etc. Today, I heard the song as a love letter to me. To get back to where my best self is. It was a huge revelation that changed how I'll forever hear this song and it was the push I needed to find her, me, again...

Enjoy the song below...

I tried going against my own soul's warning
But in the end, something just didn't feel right
Oh I tried diving even though the sky was storming
I just wanted to get back to where you are
If you could see through the banner of the sun
Into eternity's eyes like a vision reaching down to you
Would you turn away?
What if it knew you by your name?
What kind of words would cut through
The clutter of the whirlwind of these days?
I tried going against my own soul's warning
And in the end, something just didn't feel right
Oh I tried diving even though the sky was storming
Thunderheads were forming
But man I thought I could fly
And when I hit the ground
It made a messed up sound and it kept on rattling through my days
Cutting up my nights like a goddamned knife
And it got me thinking no matter how far
That I just wanted to get back to where you are
I tried going against my own soul's warning
But in the end, something just didn't feel right
Oh I tried running from the memory and the mourning
But the penalty kept on pouring
And now I think I know why
'Cause when I hit the ground
It made a messed up sound and it kept on rattling through my days
Cutting up my nights like a goddamned knife
And it got me thinking no matter how far
I just wanted to get back to where you are

Songwriters: Brandon Flowers


Sunday, April 5, 2020

Stay Home

The waves of feelings rush in like the highest waves towering over the Hawaiian sands. Some days I am the professional surfer who can ride it like a champ. The news, statistics and warnings all hit me, but I still find a way to turn and tip my board whatever way I need to stay afloat. Other days, I am the newbie who cannot grab a wave to save her life. The emotions, stress, fear all overtake me until I head home, climb into bed and watch six (yes, I said 6) Sandra Bullock romantic comedies back to back.  I can tell by looking on social media, we're all pretty much feeling the same. Some days are just better than others. 

At the beginning of this pandemic, I was beginning a new chapter of life. I finally found a job that let me make my own schedule, paid well and didn't put me back in an office setting which I had so grown out of. I was pumped to get started and see where this all could lead. Would becoming a Shipt shopper be enough income? Would I like shopping for a living when I don't even like shopping for myself? Would my anxiety be a factor in this type of work environment? All the normal questions crept into my mind and the answer to all of them were YES. Yes, I can earn a hefty income. Yes, I absolutely love shopping for people. It's like a scavenger hunt each time. Plus, you get to see the store in a whole new way and learn about items that you didn't even know existed. Yes, anxiety is just a part of me. As Luka Bloom sang, "No matter where you go, there you are." The blessing about this new adventure is that when I feel anxiety creep in, I can change aisles and distance myself to catch my breath. I don't have to ask permission to take care of myself. The great part about this job is that I can take work when I want. I can bow out when I need a mental health day.  I am no longer chained to a desk and on someone else's schedule. I am free. 

Recently, I ran into the shopper with the most seniority in our area. He has done over 1,000 shops and has the jacket to prove it. His jacket is what actually caught my eye. "1k Shopper" I was in awe of one thousand as I humbly try to climb the mountain to fifty. I introduced myself and he explained that it's not this busy or lucrative normally. He still makes a nice living, but right now the iron is hot and so I got in at just the right time. He was so kind and for the first time in a while I realized that I am not alone. For a while there, I would watch Paul go off to work and on our lunch walks, I'd listen to my Mom talk about her job and I felt alone. I was home and not a part of anything. When I was at my desk job, I dreamed of being home and not having to deal with anyone or anything, but as they say "be careful what you wish for." This introvert who stumbles through life with a fistful of depression and anxiety actually craving to be around people? I was as shocked as anyone. 

Staying home wasn't what I wanted. Even though that has been the goal since October 25th when I bid adieu to my desk job. Now I know the core value I was searching for was freedom. When you learn these things about yourself, you have to settle into the shift. It's not as if *BAM* you are a whole new person overnight. You really have to sit with it and learn how your values and perspective have changed over time. I only now (6 months later) have come to realize what I was truly seeking. Now I get to cultivate this new experience into a journey of finding more pieces of myself. What was so daunting has become a new lease on life. The amount of times I've recreated myself is now at 6. I have had 6 different pivotal moments in my life where I felt like someone new. May seem like too many to some, too few to others, but for me it is just the normal progression of self discovery and growth.

In this time of uncertainty, there will be a lot of growth for all of us. There are things we are going to go through and deal with that we have never dealt with before. I've become a better bread maker because for a little while we couldn't find bread. I finally tried my vegan burger recipe and made a ton of them to freeze so that we didn't waste any ingredients. Paul sharpened his sewing skills and made us both masks to wear when we venture out. Distilleries in the area have started making hand sanitizer. Some restaurants have turned their dining room into makeshift stores where the public can come buy bread, butter and essentials that are going unused due to lack of dining out business. There are so many ways that people are stepping up and making the most of the situation and it's so amazing to see. Looking after those who cannot go out is also a big piece of that. I check in with my Mom almost daily to make sure that she and my Grandma are healthy as well as ensuring they have what they need for their household. It's one thing I can do to be of service and keep them safe. That is now spilling over into my new career as well. It is so rewarding to be out there helping those who have compromised immune systems or want to adhere to the guidelines to stay home because they should not take all four of their kiddos to the grocery store. People are so appreciative and it is true what Phoebe (F-R-I-E-N-D-S reference) says "there is no selfless good deed." Truth to that. It is somewhat selfish because it makes me feel so good. 

Thank you to all the families who are graciously staying home and either sending one parent out to venture for food or ordering groceries in. On the other side of the coin are those families or younger folk who think that this pandemic is a holiday. - Insert steam rising from my head here - STAY HOME. This is not a time to browse through the aisles at Target. This is not a time to try on clothes or grab a new rug for your living room floor. This is not the time to bring your family of 6 to the Toy aisle and let the kids run around so that you can finally tire them out somehow. This is not the time for you and your 4 friends (who are all still living at Cal Poly) to act rowdy, throwing footballs across aisles or taking up the entire game aisle debating what games you should buy because as you so obnoxiously screamed it "we're in a damn quarantine, ya know?!?!?!?!" - Insert eye rolls and people muttering under their breath: well then act like it here - 

Why won't people listen? STAY HOME. STAY HOME. STAY HOME?!?!??! If you are not doing essential work, you should be home. When you go out to the grocery store, you should be getting in and out. Yes, Target is enticing with all it's other aisles, but right now it is best to pretend that Target is a grocery store. Get your essentials and get out. 4-5 friends or 2 parents and their 4 children should not be in the stores right now. Send 2 people or 1 parent. We have cell phones and video chat if you need direction or guidance whilst shopping. THERE IS NO EXCUSE at this point. We all know what is at stake and it so hard on the rest of the people who are just trying to follow the rules. I have no idea what it's like to be a parent, but I have very close friends who have little ones and they are home. Period. It's not fun and they wish they could walk around with their kiddos somewhere stimulating to burn some energy, but that's just NOT our reality right now. And those young folk... I just have no words. It is not partay time. There is no school for a reason. Think about that reason the next time you are thinking of going out and don't take the whole crew. I wish it was a let's go out for a fun outing time, but it's all about staying in. You can get creative and make memories inside. Also, no sports. It seems like a no brainer, but there are folks having full on volleyball, football and soccer games. Yes, IT SUCKS... I know, but just try and envision the germs and sweat you're touching when you catch that ball. Germ city! Just don't do it! 

We have entered a new normal and it is difficult, but what would be more difficult is to hear that you infected a stranger or your friend or family member and they didn't survive. We all have a great responsibility to act in a protective manner for all of humanity. I feel that our collective spirit is changing and for the better. Change always brings discomfort and uncertainty. However, it is so beautiful to watch the caterpillar become a butterfly. We would never ask to go through something like this and nor do we want to lose people to an illness.  Still, to every dark there is a light. To every day there is a night. Innovation and creativity are at an all time high. We are seeing so many people take a step back into themselves. We've been running so fast and not really focusing on what lies within. Now we have been forced to stop. What a blessing in disguise. We get to STAY HOME. We get to realign ourselves and see the world differently. We all get a chance to shift. So many caterpillars are in their cocoons right now. So many butterflies will emerge. What a beautiful day that will be... 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Choices in Uncertain Times

These are uncertain times. I've been fine up till now. No major freak outs. Calm, cool, pragmatic and cautious. I had a panic attack last night which made it so hard to fall asleep. Then I slept for about 4 hours and now I'm up before the sun to try and get through these deep emotions that are rattling me. We're all rattled. We can say we're not, call this a hoax or brush it off and say "if I follow all the rules, nothing is gonna happen to me or my loved ones." Still, grocery store shelves are bare, people are losing their businesses and thousands around the world have lost their lives to this thing. This thing that has so many conspiracy theories around it that it has a back story of its own. Someone else can write that blog. 

We're here now, this is our new reality. However it came to be doesn't change the fact that we are going to have to overcome this. How to overcome it still lingers in the grey area. A different expert, each day, says something different. We know that if we shelter in place, we can "flatten the curve," but that doesn't mean that we can beat it. It is essentially a flu bug that we as humans need to contract to gain immunity. Flattening the curve just means prolonging the inevitable so that hospitals can keep up with those who truly need supportive care. At least that's one take I've heard on it. We currently have 21 cases in San Luis Obispo County and 20 of those people are home battling it out. 1 person needed hospital care. There is no medicine to take at home. You ride it out like the flu. Tylenol, soup and rest. It's pretty much what we all do, yearly, when the flu comes calling. So, why did so many people have to die? 

We hear numbers. As painful as it would be, I prefer to see faces. We get so desensitized to the fact that those 13,000+ people each had a family, a dream, a life. "13,000 and counting" is just one line of data. There are so many strands of data around each one. We are sheltered from information like where they grew up, what their passions were, who they fell in love with, how they made a living, who they called family and how they impacted the world around them. It's just so very heartbreaking and in these modern times, it's just a number on a screen. Not for those communities, not for those countries, but on the nightly news, we hear the number and go "wow," but do we really grasp that heartache? Do we want to? Of course not. Who wants to go down that rabbit hole of despair? Stay positive. Smile. Everything will be all right. It's not all right. I feel it all. I've been trying to push through and get out of feeling this one, but whenever I do that, it eventually comes rushing at me like a tidal wave out of nowhere. That wave drenched me last night. 

My Mom is Immune Compromised. My Grandma is 84 years old. These women are my lifeline. Their kind of love and support has saved me 3 separate times when I thought my world was ending. My story may have ended if not for them and my Mister Paul. There is no judgement, just unconditional love. So, as I sat there last night, the little asshole in my head whispered: "What if you lose them?" We all have that voice in our head that floats in and pretends to be our own voice and stirs up chaos in our brain. I tried to silence it and the tears just came. I sobbed for a good 40 minutes. Then, I just laid there in a state of shock and bliss. I let it out. I finally let myself feel the fear that I told myself I wasn't going to feel. Covering it up with FINE is not the way to go. Nothing is fine. This is unprecedented. Still, I spoke to fear and said "I live in the moment and everyone's here. Everyone's being mindful and careful." That is the information that is most true and real. We are all doing our best in these chaotic times. That is the current status. Beyond this is fear binoculars that only see the worst possibilities. I will NOT look through those lenses. We only have right now. This moment.  

Right now. Well, on Friday the 13th (of all days), Paul and I realized the virus (that shall not be named) was actually something that would be affecting our day to day lives. After he got off work, we ran over to Ralph's to stock up on essentials and the shelves were still healthy. Lots of supplies to choose from. We got a few extra cans of beans and corn and such, but we didn't hoard. We didn't even buy toilet paper. That was not on our radar. To us, toilet Paper isn't essential. So many other ways to clean your bootay. Anyhow, after that shopping trip I went out to dinner with my Mom and Gma for a girl's night to our favorite Mexican restaurant. I didn't know that when I said "goodbye" that night, I wouldn't get to hug them again or see them in person for quite sometime. We are going on day 9. Doesn't seem that long when you type it out like that. We've certainly gone this long without seeing each other in the past, but there's just a heavy cloud over these days. Each day feels like a year. Time moves so slowly. It's the knowing that we CAN'T go see them that is hard. 

On Sunday, March 15th, we heard these words: Those who are immune compromised or over 65 are urged to stay indoors. Just like that, our worlds officially changed. Mom had to stay home from work and her and Gma had to stay inside. I had recently become a Shipt shopper (delivery person mainly for Target, but occasionally  Ralphs, Vons and Smart & Final too). I had always planned to start shopping as a career around the 10th. After a thorough background check and two hours of online training, I started this gig on Saturday, March 14th.  By the time the news hit for everyone with compromised systems to stay inside and have no contact with anyone who could potentially be carrying the virus, I had done a few shopping trips. This meant I couldn't even go visit my Mom or Gma.  When I shop, I am so very cautious: use hand sanitizer, stay ample feet away from people and I get in and get out fairly quickly.  Still, I could have no symptoms and be a carrier for the virus and so I need protect the ones I love. Our new normal is that we can talk and walk separately and we will leave them food on their doorstep when they need something or when I bake a fresh batch of bread. I'm not scared for me. I am scared for them. Well, when I typed that, I called bull because I am scared for them, but it has to do with me. I'm scared of losing my people. Those two ladies are such pillars of my life. I know someday, it's inevitable that we will be separated by galaxies, but I think everyone would agree that this ain't the way to go... 

Well that got dark. On a positive note Shipt shopping is so much fun. It's like a scavenger hunt. The App you use is awesome and had it been any other time, there wouldn't be so much added stress. Having to substitute someone's entire shopping list with what is left is a hard feat, but I honestly find it fascinating and fun. That being said the first few days of shopping, I got some side eye and I even had one lady say some unkind words to me. This girl keeps coming to the store to stock up and hoard is how their face looked or literally what came out of that one lady's mouth to me. I would either open my jacket so they could read the SHIPT across my t shirt or I would explain, (like I did to that elderly woman) that I am shopping for those who cannot go out right now. She was combative and said something about how it "must be nice to be able to afford such a service." Her tone elevated in such a way that I continued on down the aisle. I have things to do and negativity is overflowing enough already. I made a choice to press on. In my life, I have had to press on so often. Career has been a tricky beast for me and I really excel in my passions and personal life when I have a part-time job. My creative passions need to be part of my life. They keep me breathing. I am so excited to have finally found a gig that will potentially afford all that. I love shopping for people. I just didn't expect to being doing it during a pandemic. 

The shelves are empty people. They truly are. Most fresh meats are gone so I have to text the customer that I can substitute for a frozen variety? Or "I'm sorry to report that there are no eggs in the store." It's more time consuming than it will ever have to be, once we get through this pandemic. Right now it is far more rewarding. I'm helping people. Yes, I started this as a means to pay some bills, but now the cards and texts I receive about our helpful service during this crisis is uplifting. Those kind souls cancel out the judges who either think I'm exploiting elders or that I am purposely running around the store to spread germs. I was always going to do this work. It is affording me more income because of the demand, but anyone who REALLY KNOWS ME knows that income has never been the carrot in front of me. I need it to pay bills, but beyond that, I don't care what is resting safely in the confines of my bank account. It's money. It is to be spent to enjoy this life now. Can't take it with you and sure as hell ain't doing any good if it's sitting in the bank and I die tomorrow... That's just my philosophy and honestly please keep your own philosophy. We don't have to match. Just don't force your views on me. I would never do that to you.

Choices. How we live our lives. I've been thinking a lot about it lately. Those kiddos who went to spring break during a pandemic or the family of 4 kids running around Target while Mom and Dad buy groceries just after we were told to shelter in place. It is easy to judge. So easy. I initially judged. What are they thinking? Silly kids not taking anything seriously. So selfish. Why does an entire family have to come to the grocery store the day after there was an official shelter in place order put in place? We don't know what is going on inside those people's minds or hearts. Their fear could whisper to them "rebel, go to the beach anyway" and instead of having the skill set to realize that voice in their head isn't always their own, they listen and own that thought. The family in the store could be so fearful of being apart that they just brought everyone not trying to be selfish or meaning to put anyone else in danger. They may have another skill set, another tool box. 

Recently, I heard someone writing off another for their lack of ability to get something done. It got me thinking of how easy it is for us to sideline commentate. We all do it. Some people just don't catch themselves before letting it all come out of their mouth, potentially hurting someone on the field. Each player has different skills. This is why they have different positions. "You're good with your hands, you be the goalie. You're good at getting right in there, you be a forward." We all have a toolbox. As we go through life we grab more tools, but each tool is specific to the life that is being lived. We cannot expect that everyone has the same set of tools. This comes up a lot when people try and compare traumas. "Well, my life was so much more traumatic than yours" or "I've been through so much more than her, why is she so broken?" Well, not everyone has a supportive family or a chance to go to therapy or the ability to see that internal work is needed. Not everyone has the tools you have in your toolbox. We are all doing the best we can with what we have. The choices we make aren't meant to hurt anyone. Honestly, the majority of people are good. Lend them some tools if you will, but never look down on anyone for not rising to challenges the way you would  (or hope you would). 

There have been deliveries I've made where people were concerned that I was still out there in this pandemic world. They would ask the question as I handed over their grocery bags. They needed their groceries delivered. Who else is gonna do it? I felt that they didn't expect me to be the one delivering the groceries. Once they saw a face to go with the name of their Shipt delivery person, they saw me as human again. They appreciated me for helping them, but they wanted me to be okay. There is an underlying fear. Understandably. I have it myself. Yet, you cannot expect groceries to be delivered and then think the person who delivered said groceries is crazy for going out there.  I don't agree with the fact that she's out there in harm's way because she needs to earn a living. She should have set up her life differently. Some savings or something?!?!?!?  I can see it in some of these faces. I'm an empath. I KNOW. Would this person like to take care of my responsibilities for me? If you're so scared of my being out there in it, then I need an income in order to stay at home. Will you afford me one? I didn't think so... I'm not asking for one. I'm earning one. It's a catch 22 that nobody wants anyone out there, but they need groceries. The reality is that the majority of people don't have a savings account to bail them out. 

I stand by my choices. I support everyone's choices. I only ever have a hard time when others attack my choices because I'm not attacking theirs. It is my life to live and right now I feel of service and I feel so grateful that I have a way to earn money in such uncertain times. This time indoors should be a time we all focus internally. What is so threatened inside of you by not being accepting of the way another lives? Dig into that nugget and you'll most likely discover that you fear that your stance will change. You don't want the way you've done something for 10, 20, 30 years to change. You hold tight to your beliefs and they cannot come undone. Ever. If that is how you feel then why would you ever ask someone else to be more like you? They would have to give up their beliefs and the way they've operated for 10, 20, 30 years. Why them and not you? Why you and not them? We all need to realize we are one human species that are not meant to combat each other, but move together to create a space (a seat at the table) for everyone. The war of words needs to end. It will not make you less of a person to understand another human's way of thinking. If we can focus on anything while holed up inside, focus on this: We all have different tools in our toolbox, we cannot judge anyone who simply is not equipped with the tools we have. Why not lend them the tool they need? Why not be accepting? Choices... 

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Little Bites of Bravery

     I woke up early this morning. Bite of bravery. I took my Mister to work. Bite of bravery. I took a shower and got dressed. Bite of bravery. I broke down and cried with apprehension for a solid twenty minutes. I went to the mirror, took deep breaths and kept telling myself: "there is nothing to be afraid of." Bite of bravery. I put on my makeup through trickling tears. Bite of bravery. I got in the car and drove to the interview. Bite of bravery. I walked in and remained calm with the help of deep belly breaths. Bites and bites and bites of bravery. I did it. We'll see what happens, but at least I tried. 
     I have been so sad this week. Truly I've been so sad for most of this year already. My sadness is not just the blues where it's like go take a walk and you'll be cured. I feel the collective. The knot in my throat is the heaviest pull and it drains every ounce of sunshine from my soul. Sounds like depression. Why don't I just go get a pill for that and get better already!?!?!? I know this gets so old to anyone who knows/loves me. I've tried pills and they don't take away that feeling, but just make me feel other sensations on top of it. I have periods when I can navigate the blue waves like a senior sailor taking on the open seas with ease and familiarity. It's just the world is so sad right now. I feel it. It is heavy. 
     I heard Lady Gaga on Oprah's 20/20 tour and I was blown away by her open honesty. I highly recommend checking it out (link below). She struggles mentally every day. She takes little bites of bravery and watches them add up to something big. I identified with so much of what she said. Certain struggles we've had are similar, but the bulk of her struggles, I have never endured. I instantly shame myself for comparing because I am healthy (knock on wood) when it comes to my physicality and I don't have to suffer as she does with daily aches and pains. I struggle in the emotional and mental sense only and so I shame myself. "Why can't you just get your mind right? Why do you have to feel so much? You have it so good, why can't you be okay? You're so weak. No one understands you. You're so damaged. You're not worthy of love." It gets really loud in my head sometimes. 
     This week I stayed in bed for two days/nights. Open honesty here. I felt sick to my stomach, but I did it to myself. I got so intensely emotional after watching Kobe's memorial and it impacted my thought process in my own life for two whole days. I gave up on myself, my home (cleanliness), my sweet Mister and any productivity I had been making in my life. I gave up. I watched F-R-I-E-N-D-S episodes and escaped into that world. May have been wasteful of time, but I thank the stars for shows like Friends or The Office. I deal so much in my feelings that sometimes shutting it down and escaping is exactly what you need. 
     Here I sit at my computer, chasing some dim spark. Something just told me to sit down and just write. Writing has been my salvation and I really wish that I had more confidence in my writing, in myself. I know that if I could just have the confidence to play the part, eventually I'd become whatever I'm meant to become. Though this pesky word "become" unnerves me as well. WE ARE ALL SOMEBODY. I don't need to BECOME anything. I just need to find an avenue to fully share who I am. Need to grab confidence and all my passion projects need to come to life. 
     I have so many ideas and every time I get a good stride going, I self sabotage. I let these feelings take over my life and own me. These same feelings that help me create wonderful bits of poetry like: 
Lost appetite
Nothing new
Wasted night
Already too few
Light beam
By any means
This for that
To an indoor cat
Freedom implied
Door ajar
Promising escape
Silent alarm
Door slams to seal fate

How do I find balance where I keep my feelings tab open to create beauty here and there, but keep my feelings from overtaking me? 
     I know this is who I am supposed to be. Like every single piece of life that I have traveled through was meant to happen exactly as it has. Nothing is in vain. No regrets. I am so grateful for all the experiences, good and bad because they've shaped my deeply feeling heart. It is a blessing to be deep, sensitive, open and highly feeling. The pros outweigh the cons, but these deep dark days empty me until I have nothing for anyone. And then comes the feeling of guilt and shame (again) for not having anything to give. Cliche as it is, you've got to love yourself the way you want someone else to love you. I'm so grateful to have a partner stick by me for almost 13 years. 
     In the process of writing this, I took a phone call and spoke to a beautifully wise voice. She corrected me when I was putting myself down. I said I was being "ridiculous" for having an anxiety attack before a job interview and she said, "it's not ridiculous. You just need to keep tackling it." She was so right... It is NOT ridiculous! Who I am, what I feel, what I go through is valid. I didn't share all these feelings with her. I feel guilty for that now too. I don't know where this "INVALID" stamp got stamped across my forehead. It's such a disservice to my spirit and soul. The thing is, I stamped it on my own head. I may have received messages and insults along the way that added up, but NO ONE else stamped me "INVALID." Only I could have done that. Time to get out the Brillo pads and bleach. Time to remove that label from my psyche. 
     All I can do is take little bites of bravery. Try, try, try. When people who were like superheroes walking on Earth pass away, we are all jolted back to reality. We're not here forever. What good can come from these senseless tragedies? Live better. Be stronger. Love deeper. In their honor, chase life as they would have chased life. Be confident. Have grace. Love yourself. Let go of shame. Try everything. A little bite of bravery at a time... 

Here's a link if you haven't seen Lady Gaga on Oprah's 20/20 tour yet:

Tuesday, February 4, 2020


When something ends, we must sit in it. Sit in the pain or the joy or the feeling of the finite. An ending is not a beginning of anything that ever was. The finite nature of a true ending is hard to grasp and so often we say: “the end is just a chance for a new beginning.” This is a way to make the pain less daunting. We start something else or take on life a different way, but that’s only distracting us from the very nature of what we need to deal in. END… 
Our entire existence is based around two facts: we were born, and we are going to die. When we die there is no beginning for the people left behind. Sure, some could say that their lives without you begin, but there is an END to you. Sounds morbid and painful and that’s why people just don’t want to go there, and I completely understand. I have been terrified of death for as long as I can remember, and that fear has kept me alive. Battling depression and anxiety and just feeling like I completely don’t belong here, sometimes I think that it would be easier to go. To cause the great END, but I am so scared of the other side (the beginning of the celestial life, if there is one) that I would never go there. Plus, I’m an empath and I would hate to cause pain to anyone in my life. Just to be super clear, I’m not suicidal, but I think at some point in all our lives we wonder why we’re here or what would it be like if we weren’t.
Today, I realized that emotions are meant to be felt fully. If we don’t sit in them, they will come back and grab us at some point or another. The craziest thing is that this revelation came after watching THE GOOD PLACE series finale. I had repressed emotions. Sweet little show pulled a powerful punch and had me sobbing in my living room for a good hour. It’s not rare that I cry, but it is rare that I sit in it for this long. It got me thinking how this world has taught us not to feel what we feel. I have spent the better part of 10 years feeling ashamed for my deep brooding. In turn last week, when I was by my Papi’s bedside at the hospital, positivity was so important and I did everything possible to hold back tears. When I heard the news that Kobe Bryant had died, I didn’t want to make it worse, so I held back the tears. I promised myself that I would never change my sensitive ways for anything and yet I turned into a bit of a robot and held my feelings back in these latest situations. I realize a TV show’s end is way different than life or death type scenarios, but THE GOOD PLACE was themed around the afterlife and so it all hit me rather deeply. We move on so fast and don’t process everything we should. I was about to turn on another show. I was sobbing, looking for something to take these thoughts out of my head. Then, I had this HUGE thought rush over me: “You have to sit in this.”
Like I said, I am a BIG deep thinker, an empath and my journal is my best friend. Deep is my avenue and so often that becomes too much for people. You write paragraphs confiding to a friend, hoping for real understanding and you get back an answer like: “I’m sorry you’re feeling this way. Take some deep breaths.” Or “Everything will be okay.” I am a lucky girl and I appreciate all who are in my life. There are times when no one understands or they understand, but don’t want to go there with me. It’s hard. Watching Taylor Swift’s MISS AMERICANA documentary on Netflix this passed week, she said something that struck me so deep. Paraphrasing, but its theme was: “I have my Mom and she’s the best to talk to, but there should be someone I could call to understand my exact point of view. There’s no one. I should have someone.” Whether she was talking about a love interest or actually someone who can 100% relate to what she’s going through, I don’t know. Still, that line resonated with me because I guess everyone is ALL ALONE. In some aspect, we are alone. Sit in that. Own that. No one can know what we’ve been through, what we’re going through, how we truly feel. We can have people who listen and care and love us through it, but that feeling of being truly UNDERSTOOD is huge.  
Sit in it.
I wrote the first three paragraphs and I sat some more in this state of enlightenment. This moment is such a gift. It’s grueling with tears streaming down my face and more confusion than understanding but writing down these thoughts and ideas is more exciting than anything else I have ever known. Writing is life. Words are breaths. For a time, I got so into my head and told myself I was a horrible writer, my thoughts and ideas are meaningless and basically, I bullied myself into thinking that what I have to say doesn’t matter. Just as I was saying before that no one can fully understand, these blank pages understand. They have let me write my life on them repeatedly. Whoever reads this will understand pieces and my words will no longer be voids of space. They will be read, maybe criticized or praised, but all that matters is that these words escaped the prison of my mind. My exact experience make these words different than anyone else’s and my continual apologies for who I am are a direct disservice to that uniqueness. I cannot do that anymore.
Last night we watched another TV Show I love (TV is my friend...), A MILLION LITTLE THINGS and there was one line that was so simple, but I so needed to hear it: “You matter.” WE ALL MATTER. Everything we each individually have to say is a direct reflection of the universe. We are all connected, and we are all valid. The universe has created our realities to help us to serve the greater population. Any struggles, beginnings, endings, etc. are to ensure we are equipped with the messages our souls feel compelled to share. SIT IN IT. Don’t change the channel so that the noise takes away the pain. SIT IN IT. Feel your feelings FULLY and heal and grow and love. WE ARE NOT ROBOTS. Feel, no matter who it might make uncomfortable. Be genuine and you will see your world change little by little. To all the empaths out there who feel the pain of others and don’t want to add more to that by showing their own pain. You must show up with your feelings. Your tears may make those around you in pain feel less alone. It may feel like it is your responsibility to make everything okay. It is not... 
“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful its ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heart-breaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.” – LR Knost

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

I - Be Mindful of What You Put After "I"

     Have you ever sat and just stared at this word "I" before? It is literally one letter and it is so very powerful. It is each of us. We all can say, "I am" or "I like" or "I think" or "I know." For instance, I have been on a journey. I found myself completely unhappy with my day to day ambitions and decided that my life was too short to spend it miserable. The stress of going against who I was every day was also taking a very physical toll on me. I had the worst anxiety of my life as well as skin rashes that came and went with my emotions. It became very clear that I needed to change my life. Over six months, I planned over and over again to quit my job, but I kept moving it back and delaying the actual action of quitting. I would make pro and con lists and rationales about why I should just suck it up and really I had a lack of respect for myself. I didn't think I mattered or that I was good enough to make a different life where I deserved happiness. Then, the universe stepped in. I had gotten to a place where I was just open to whatever the universe thought was best. I literally said OUT LOUD: "I will do whatever you think I should. I am open, give me a sign." 
   What I received wasn't one or two signs, but an avalanche of signs. Little arrows pointing straight to my decision. The signs were subtle to anyone else, but to me they were goose bump inducing and loud! I couldn't ignore them. The first being Jason Mraz posting a snippet of a new song he had written which went like this: "Living your dream is hard work, go on and try it, you might like it!" I then went to an Ingrid Michaelson concert where she sang a song that had these lyrics in it: "I have got to make my own world. Find my own words. Be my own girl. I have got to find that fire that used to fly me so much higher than this. Find my own words." I came across a post-it that I had found a while back that simply said "RETURN" on it. When I had previously found it, I felt the spark of returning to something I used to hold so sacred - my dreams. Still, I shoved it in a drawer and didn't act on it then. I found it again during this time when all the messages in the universe were screaming, "DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. THIS ISN'T WORKING!!!"   
    So, I finally quit my job. I knew I had nowhere to be and so I gave a month's notice so that my employer would have enough time to find a replacement for me. October 25th was my last day and only just in the passed 7 or 8 days have I begun starting to digest it all. I threw out my back the weekend after my birthday (October 31st) and was in bed for about a week and that was the BEST thing that could have ever happened to me. I thought I loved laying around, watching TV and doing nothing more than anything. That is what scared me about choosing a life where I would be the one responsible to slice up my day in a productive way.  I am a great STARTER. I will come up with a plan and lay everything out and do it for about a week or sometimes even a month, but then I lose my motivation and start something else. I have the beginnings of over 30 projects that I need to finish. Things I never even gave a fair shot at coming to fruition. What I found while laying there in pain is I was lonely and hated being so idle. Those who truly know me, know that I am a homebody. Friday nights at 5pm, I was home, Redbox DVDs in hand with a glass of wine and a Digiorno and if possible, I'd be in for the weekend. This may have something to do with my anxiety, but really since I was a little kid, "where's Jennie?" would usually be followed up with "she's writing in her room." It's just me. I adore solitude. So, again, you can see why I was so surprised at how lonely I was for those 9 days in bed with my back out. And this is when I started to shift my energy back to focusing on this "I" word. 
    I have defined myself as someone who values solitude above all else except that wasn't me anymore. I was alone for 9 days and was stir crazy and wanted to see people. Went to three grocery stores just to get some interaction with people and I was more outgoing than I usually am too. I was even making jokes with the cashier and such. I am ever-changing. This started me down a rabbit hole that has profoundly changed my life. I read articles and books and watched videos and listened to audio (books/podcasts) about self evaluation. And here's what I learned, "I" is not concrete. When we attach something to that "I," it's a very concrete statement. I am sensitive. I know Algebra. I think leopard print is tacky. I like Country music. The thing of it is that my feelings are sensitive today and I cannot know all of Algebra. I may sport some leopard print done right in the future and I may not listen to Country Music much anymore. When we define ourselves so tightly to "I" and "I AM!!!" then we give no room or space to be something else which is the purpose of our life's journey. We are meant to grow, evolve, change, shift and bend. 
   Now this may bring up a read flag with folks asking, "What about having a sense of self? You have to know who you are and love yourself in order to be a beacon in the world, right?" To this, I say YES and NO. I think anytime you stand so rigidly, you don't listen to other ideas. It is important to be open otherwise you are going to be formulating your rebuttal while someone else is trying to educate you on their views. That's not listening and it's very egocentric to think that your way is the only way. That's why our world is in such a hard place right now. Everyone thinks they're right and no one will have the talks that inform each other in a kind, constructive way. Agreeing to disagree isn't the norm anymore and instead it's just a firm I'm right and you're wrong! There is a reason there are so many different people on the planet. We are meant to teach and educate each other from our perspectives and it's not to say you will change your stance, but you've got to get open to talking to people and really hearing other takes on this thing we call life. 
    My present thought today (ever shifting and ever changing) is the self is something to work through and overcome. I am tackling all my habits and patterns and figuring out what trauma they are linked to. Once I realized that I felt unheard, unseen, unloved at points in my life which trigger my habits and patterns, I could embrace those feelings and sit in them, honoring them so that I can then let them go. Once you start unraveling all the traumas and seeing how you are NOT defined by them, you become free and I am becoming more free of myself. Instead of saying "I am compassionate" or "I am kind" or "I am sensitive." I take the "I" out of it all together. My purpose is to be a kind, compassionate and sensitive being. We are human and so when we say, "I am compassionate" and we're not compassionate with ourselves or we have a moment with someone else where we weren't as loving as we could have been, we feel shame and start to label ourselves in negative ways. "I'm a jerk" or "I really sucked today" or "I hate myself." If you recognize you weren't at your best and you apologize and process why you acted in such a way, you are doing the work instead of labeling. We always think that labeling others is wrong, but labeling ourselves is probably the most problematic. 
    You are human. You are here. You are ever-changing. You can feel sensitive or feel angry or feel worthless, but feelings DO NOT define you. You are NOT your feelings. When you can align with that idea, you will free up so much space in your heart and your soul for the universe to guide you into a much bigger space of abundance. When we live in the constraints we put on ourselves, we are closed off from so much. When we listen to the constraints others put on us, we are not being true to ourselves. When your inner voice says something like, "you're a failure," and you say back: "you're right." Then, you are believing that your inner voice is an "I." You are believing that you are what you think and there are so many thoughts that come into our heads on a daily basis that have NOTHING to do with us. Don't attach so much to that "I." 
    In closing, I will say that once you start listening to your inner voice as a spectator instead of believing that's your voice, your life will transform. Once you realize that nothing defines you and that you are always a blank canvas, no matter what you've already painted or paint that you've had thrown on you, your way of moving through the day will be lighter and full of excitement. It's a process and it won't happen overnight. The biggest thing to remember is that patience is not needed only outward. You need to allow for patience to live inside of you and your journey too. Stop using the "I AM" and start living in so much more possibility. Don't define yourself because you'll let yourself down if you change and you WILL change. People often say, "Oh she'll/he'll never change," but I have seen so many people in my life change. Saying that a person will never change is defining them. Be mindful of how you place labels on the people in your life as well. I've only begun this work and so in my relationships, I'm sure there will be a shift. It will take time, but the more mindful you are about what you put behind "I am" or "They are," you will see your world open up and everyone, including yourself, can be allowed to just BE in the present moment.