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Fantasy vs. Reality: Where do you live?

I live in two worlds. Most of the time when I’m not working, I marinate in fantasy. Denial and self-sabotage rule the roost, but the excitement and chaos serve as a fair trade.

Fantasy Land is fun. Until it isn’t. But the pain of realty is short lived because I find a way to slip back in to the land of make believe as quickly as possible.

FIR

Reality? BO-RING. Why anyone would want to spend their time being responsible and accountable is a mystery to me.

Welcome to the textbook addict hard wiring in my brain. I’m convinced that having a “normal” life with a “normal” man (one who isn’t a fellow addict, narcissist – and has their shit together) would be the beginning of the end of happiness.

And don’t get me started on sex. I keep hearing that falling in love with a nice guy won’t equate to a vanilla sex life, but it’s so hard to imagine swinging from the chandeliers with a man who pays his bills on time and actually digs monogamy.

The problem with fantasy living is – shocker – it’s not real. Those of us who spend most of our time living in denial and chaos know this all too well when we get the shit kicked out of us from reality.

RDThe person we love reveals themself to be anyone but the person we pretended (or tried to change) them to be. The calories we pretend don’t exist find their way to our waistline. Money we pretend to have transforms into credit card bills we can’t believe can reach that high.

The golden rule for the fantasy-loving part of my brain is simple: If I have to ask, the answer is no.

Can I afford it? Will this serve my health goal? Is he going to be different from the others? If I keep living in my fantasy – No. No. And Hell-to-the no.

Here’s the thing about “no.” It’s actually a “yes” to something else. Something better.

Having just turned 46 recently and exhausted with dusting myself off from fallout I’ve essentially created on my own – I’ve decided to make a change. I’m choosing to say yes to the flip side of chaos. Yes to a healthy body, relationship and bank account. Yes to having break-the-furniture sex with a good guy who digs monogamy, pays his bills on time, inspires me, makes me laugh and laughs with me at myself.

I’m going to spend more time in realty and see what she has to offer. There’s nothing I love more than a challenge; and when I’m proven wrong? Bring it.

ClarityBlog

Unfolding as it should be

 *Photo credit: Mark W Stromberg

The Universe is a trip. Whether you believe in God, Allah, Buddha, Elohim, Jehovah, Shàngdì, or Bahá’u’lláh, the raw truth of life is that most of its bullshit is out of our hands. Our hearts wrapped in passion and circumstance, we grip tightly to what we know is slipping away.

Take our own bodies, for instance. After we reach a certain age, our miraculous flesh-vessel we’ve abused so thoughtlessly in our 20s starts to break down. In what seems like almost overnight, we’re worrying about cholesterol numbers and heart rates. Of course, we’re not totally helpless to father time – we can choose lettuce over Lays chips and water over Pepsi. We do have control over how much we exercise and handle our stress. It just takes a little more effort the longer we’re walking this earth. Good times.

Outside of the inevitable aging process, there are other things we find hard to accept. Maybe you didn’t land the job that was perfect for you, or your dream home is out of reach. Disappointment is part of the ebb and flow in each of our lives – and the way we handle it is crucial to our mental health. But, it’s easier to say “go with the flow” than actualy practice such a groovy mantra in our every day lives (can I get an Amen?).

Being turned down from a great job or realizing you can’t afford your dream castle is one thing – but how about when your anguish is born from personal rejection of YOU? How do we recover from the “it’s not me, it’s you?” love scenario?

Here’s where things get tricky. When it comes to our love interests not picking up what we’re putting down, we’re basically on our own – everything relies on us – how we feel about ourselves. Our friends remind us how fabulous we are – how it’s their loss!, that everything happens for a reason! and, you are the total package! (we love them dearly and please don’t stop gushing, but pass me the barf bag while you’re at it). Jokes aside, the bottom line is that unless we truly believe their love drops of confetti, those priceless affirmations are simply clogging up deaf ears.

So how do we arrive at the Self Worth Station without derailing our effervescent Love Train? For one thing, we can stop buying the lie that only the beautiful people are immune to heartache; that if we were fill in the blank enough, we would find love. Don’t believe me? I’ll see your Jennifer Anniston and Raise you a Halle Berry.

When you realize that no one is immune to heartache, the real work begins. Accepting the reality that, as phenomenal as we are, there’s someone out there who we want that doesn’t want us (or we want who we think they are, but that’s another post entirely).

Acceptance can be brutal. So much so, that we try to navigate around it completely. We attempt to drink, drug, fuck, shop, eat, or gamble our way out of it. The problem is, we’ll never get to Oz without that goddammed road, and each brick is built with acceptance, self-worth, forgiveness and self-love.

It’s a real pain in the ass to remind ourselves how amazing we are. And a tragedy for those who never truly believe it. For some of us, self-worth is a sultry mistress cloaked in years of mental abuse of you aren’t enough. The road to finding our Awesome is long – and not without lessons in love along the way.

There’s no way around feeling the sting of disappointment – and heartache is just part of life. But there is a way to lighten the load of our suffering by grounding oursleves in some basic truths: we ARE amazing, everything DOES happen for a reason, and this TOO shall pass.

Not buying it? How about reading this poem from 1927:

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should be.

Therefore, be at peace with The Universe whatever you conceive it to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” – Desiderata of Happiness by Max Ehrmann

Unfolding as it should be.

So, let your tears build a river of acceptance. Submerge yourself in sorrow and disappointment – then take a breath – and another – and just let it be.

 

 

LookingBack

The Blind Leading the Mind

For a minute there, I lost myself.  – Karma Police (Radiohead)

As kids, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of learning your enough. Tall enough? Bring on the rollercoasters. Smart enough? I’ll take that pop-quiz. Old enough? I’ll be home before dark. Responsible enough? Thanks for the ten spot, I’ll fill the tank (I’m dating myself here).

For those of us who grew up in Dysfunction Junction (abusive, alcoholic or addict households), it’s easy to argue that while we may have physically grown into our adult bodies, our minds are another story. On any given day, we’re pretty much hovering aimlessly between recess and study hall. And if you’re an addict – I’m positive when you’re in party-mode, you’re probably in need of some daycare. Or maybe that’s just me.

Damaged

In trying to explain my world to a friend recently, it went something like this:

“It’s like my brain is being held hostage by my mind. I know what I’m doing is fucked up, crazy and beyond forgivable, but I do it anyway”

I don’t think she got it.

It’s easy to call bullshit when it comes to anyone but us. There aren’t any cobwebs of denial obstructing our view of the tangled webs anyone else weaves. It’s a totally different world when forced to turn the spotlight on our own fuck ups as a result of our choices and actions.

There’s nothing like heavy fallout to pull our heads out of our ass. We lose jobs, get into legal trouble, even lose friends who – let face it – may be as fucked up as we are, they don’t need added drama.

Everyone is in recovery from something. The hard part is remembering that no matter how much we think someone may have their shit together, that we’re all just fragile human beings floating in a sea of struggle. No one is immune to the landmines life throws our way. We just have different ideas and methods in terms of how we handle our collateral damage.

Forgiveness is powerful. Support and understanding are essential. Getting out of bed, taking a breath with the thought that each day is a new opportunity to get it right, with the support of loved ones you’ve wronged? Well that’s just everything.

 

FaceInMud

You’re not a Pussy

I was seventeen. He was 27. A one-night-stand-turned-partner in bed, turned roommate “boyfriend”. A coke dealer who spoke with his cock and screamed with his fists.

Three years and nine months we lived together. We fucked and fought like animals, but walking hand-in-hand remained elusive.

“I’ll never walk with you because of your skin.”

The attention is better than none at all. With him, I feel alive.

I knew no other way.

It was my first day at the ad agency and the drive to a client meeting was long. My boss behind the wheel was cocky, convinced he was just being funny. Conversations of where’d you grow up? quickly morphed to, so…you boning anyone?

“I’m so glad I’m a good lover.” He boasted while turning into the parking lot.

This is a good job. Don’t say anything. Be flattered he feels comfortable enough with you to go there.

I knew no other way.

We’ve been dating for months. He left his phone unattended during one of our overnight sleep-overs. Temptation sold out to my worst fears realized – I painfully asked the question, taking a peek at his phone. So many sext messages. My stomach flipped and I was sick.

We never did say we were exclusive. Some of his time is better than none. We have such amazing chemistry.

I knew no other way.

There’s a time to shrug your shoulders at the world and give in to the daily shit of life. Someone cutting you off on the freeway? Go ahead, buddy. You’re not worth the stress.

When your self-worth is tested, especially when at a low – this is where you need to remember that YES, you may have known no other way – but that was yesterday. Today, you’re focusing on strength – finding your voice.

What is it that you WANT? If you find yourself in the throes of life not surrounding yourself with people, opportunities and challenges that don’t serve your happiness – ask yourself why.

The cinderblocks of I’m not good enough may fall deep inside your soul – but YOU have the power to stop pouring the cement. Time to stop believing that crumbs are the same as a seat at the table.

There IS another way. You’re NOT a pussy. You’re a fucking LION who’s learning.

Conquer your kingdom (you’re worth it).

“When You Hold Onto Your History, You Do It At The Expense Of Your Destiny.” – BT.D. Jakes

 

Burlesque-act-001

21

The water was choppy and colder than I was used to, but on this triple-digit day there was no debate.

“It’s too hot”

“Right!?” He was faced-down on his towel, but the beads of sweat on his back agreed.

“I’m going in.”

I stood up, brushed the sand from my palms and pranced my completely naked, out-of-shape ass in front of everyone on the nude beach and walked.

As my body floated with the current, my belly and me had a moment. I laced my fingertips across my navel and exhaled with determination to get back into stripper shape. Fine – as close to stripper shape as a middle-aged broad can get.

“You just have to get all the way in, then it’s awesome!” I was thirteen, bragging about how I had the balls to brave the cold (it only took the afternoon to submerge myself completely).

Once I was swimming, my eyes surveyed the people along the shore. It didn’t matter that my body wasn’t perfect. That a crowd of strangers saw my cellulite and buddha belly in motion. I was comfortable in my skin. I wasn’t happy with my body at the moment – but holy fuck – I was happy.

A swell lifted my body – and the water mirrored my breath – sighing with me in the realization of just how far I’ve come. Continue reading

LouieBlog

The Incomparable Dr. Bigelow

Perspective is delicious. Comparison is dangerous. When you combine the two, sometimes you’ll find yourself in the middle of a Sports Guy Chest Bump with the type of nirvana only a three-legged dog and Charles Grodin can serve – Louis CK being the master chef of such delectable comedy cuisine.

It’s an acquired taste. You either satiate on the comedic texture of humanity and all her fucked up idiosyncrasies, or you don’t. For those who do, we find ourselves licking the fingertips of the rolling credits counting the days until we get another taste.

If you’re one of the millions of viewers who tuned in to the latest episode (six, season four) of Louie (Monday nights on FX), you’re picking up what Louis CK so sharply laid down.

Booya. It’s so obvious. Your life really doesn’t suck. Well, not as much as those guys. And you don’t hear them complaining, do you? Besides, as Grodin’s hilariously played apathetic Dr. Bigelow explains to a lost-boy-seaking-advice-Louie – nobody really Continue reading

KikiBeachStretch

Soon

When your lashes unlace to greet the light. Your body uncoils, unwrapping your flesh from her thread-count comfort. You discover reassurance. It’s close to normal, this sacred breadth you’ve reclaimed as your own. You stretch, allowing your lungs to expand and release within the space of familiar. What’s old is slowly new again.

You are singular but not small.

When brushing past a stranger in a crowded room, their fragrance leaves a familiar trace – something happens. You inhale detailed Technicolor memories – setting the dragon free from slaughter. There’s no use in sleighing the visions of who you were with them. You unleash the reality, welcoming their face, their hands on your body, their taste on your tongue. Falling among the trace of tears that struggle to emerge are fragments of your smile.

You are longing, but embrace living.

When driving home isn’t met with worry. Anxiety falls into the lap of acceptance. There is no one on the other side of the door. Your phone is silent. You curl up to the empty space, making peace with alone.

And a song is just a song.

Soon.

Soon you will find the familiar reflection. Your smile, unorchestrated without agenda. Free-falling within the space of your heart, you find yourself. Your laugh laces her fingers with acceptance and time.

When you slip under the covers. Your eyes slowly drift. Your thoughts aren’t far behind. They whisper. Soon. Soon. Soon.

Forgiveyourself

Forgive WHO?

We’ve all been there. Turned into that person we don’t recognize. Our brains hold our happiness hostage, giving pain where pain doesn’t need to exist. We unknowingly sabotage our hearts because our perception of reality is altered thanks to a heavy dose of What We Wish To Be The Case.

Perception is horrifying when the lens we choose to view from isn’t based in what’s real. The trick is knowing that we are choosing to stay in the clouds.

Red flags are not welcome signs waving from across the field. We aren’t bulls who need to charge at the first sign of danger. Seriously. Danger doesn’t equal excitement. Healthy doesn’t need to be boring (is this just a drug addict thing?).

I can’t speak for any other PTSD-Drug Addict-Sex Abuse Survivor-Ex-Stripper, but for me – the lessons in reality come at a lofty price.

Between planning a huge life-changing move, my story-telling series, and licking wounds from a recent breakup (talk about being in denial), it’s all I can do to keep it together.

So how do we get real with ourselves without beating our hearts up in the process? For starters, we need to forgive. Not the ones who’ve hurt us – but ourselves.

We can point the finger all we want, but let’s face it – at some point, when it comes to living through pain based on patterns we keep repeating – we need to look at our own choices. Once we realize we have more power over our happiness than we realize, the best thing to do is wrap our hearts around our loving souls and forgive us.

There are so many things I’m not proud of about myself. So many actions I’d love to take back. Tomorrow is another day. Another chance to get it right. New beginnings that shed old patterns. How lovely it would be to have a clean slate with the one person who matters the most, who we are always the hardest on – us.

So tell me – What do you forgive yourself for?

 

yoga

Ch ch ch changes

I’m not one for change. I like what I like, and that’s it. Even when I think I’m happy, turns out, I’m just content with the way things are. Content is all well and good, but it doesn’t scratch the itch we all have in terms of personal fulfillment.

Content may be the symphony, but Happy is the dance.

Have you ever said “I’ve always wanted to…” and never found a way to make it happen? What about that thing you’ve been putting off because you just don’t have the time or energy, but it’s still on the front burner of your mental dream list?

When a friend passed unexpectedly last week, I literally felt shock waves throughout his circle of friends and family.

Tragedy has a way of waking us up.

MarkusQuote

Markus D Manley

I wasn’t terribly close with Markus, but that’s the thing about him – you didn’t need to be to have his influence wash over you. He was and continues to be a light of unparalleled energy and intent.

From our very first conversation, I felt his vision and passion for the arts. I saw myself in him; the way our eyes lit up when exchanging stories and professional plans. He was a visionary and person of substance.

As so many of us have and still do, I looked up to him as a dude who got his shit done. What he wanted, he sought and conquered. What he envisioned, he created. Check out his Continue reading

nb

A Narcissist’s Harem: Are you in one?

* After reading these two brilliant pieces: Narcissistic Harem’s In A Nutshell – Why it’s time to stop envying the ex and various hanger-on’s ; The Narcissist and His Harem: Why You Should Decline Membership - I picked my jaw from the floor and felt compelled to share:

 * * *

Let me start by saying that although my tag line states that I’m in recovery from narcissism, the term is a very tongue-in-cheek way of saying I’m a recovering addict.

Addicts are narcissists in our own delightful way – in that when we’re using – it’s all about us. Hopefully, after we pull our heads out of our ass, this darling trait dissipates and a much more level-headed, compassionate and thoughtful person emerges.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, the purpose of this post isn’t to gab about my addiction or recovery from drugs. I’d like to shed some light on something I’ve been working through after a recent personal heart-wrenching experience I really brought on myself. Again. Familiar heartache induced by my own denial that somehow, if I were enough – my prince charming would change.

As I alluded to in yesterday’s post, thoughts of:  I’m old enough to know better! creep in whenever  I trip myself up, having not learned the valuable lessons the universe keeps trying to teach me. I can’t seem to get a clue. Or worse, I know exactly what I’m getting into (when I relapse, date an emotionally unavailable man…), but my “fuck it” switch is on – and I don’t care how much pain I’m serving myself on the back end.

You don’t need to be an addict to date the wrong person. And by wrong – I mean to say – a person who is not in a place to open their hearts to you because they have work to do on themselves. We’ve all been there. Maybe the chemistry is too strong, they’re so much fun, or they live right up the street and it’s too convenient NOT to date them. Whatever the reason, we dive head first.

Fast forward to the moment we realize – somewhere between the snorting laughter and multiple orgasms, we’ve slipped. Our world is smaller. We become obsessed. Every thought, action and daydream is about how we can serve our love. Our friends tread lightly, showing us the obvious red flags, but they know we’re in too deep.

MSBWNot every person we’ve dated who was clearly wrong for us is a narcissist, but check out these basic characteristics and see if any ring true:

1. Extremely confident.
2. Charming beyond compare.
3. Has many friends of the same sex (a “harem”) – most, if not all are previous lovers.
4. Requires excessive admiration [regularly fishes for compliments, and is highly susceptible to flattery].
5. Plays on sympathy.
6. Is the life of the party. Always “on” – a “people person.”

This list sums up just about every man I’ve ever been involved with.

There’s a catch-22 with dating a narcissist – or even someone who isn’t diagnosed, but just has some narcissistic traits – they’re so much fun and charismatic, it’s hard to see underneath it all – that they are manipulating our hearts to serve their hungry ego.

To be fair – the last man I dated isn’t a monster. Far from it actually. If anything, we’re so much alike in terms of our personal history and struggles. He used to tell me I was the female version of him and I beamed with pride. The issue isn’t how much of an asshole a narcissist is (my guy was actually quite dear), it’s that they don’t realize what pain their behaviour causes because they are so wrapped up in their own turmoil.

These people aren’t evil. Like every human being, they have a story. They didn’t wake up one day and decide to manipulate, lie to and cheat on the people they are closest to. They’re protecting themselves against what they fear the most – intimacy, abandonment, heartache. Reasons aren’t excuses, though – so even when knowing our partner doesn’t mean to – it doesn’t make our staying with them (and putting up with disrespect) okay. At some point, we need to take personal responsibility.

I remember early in our relationship, I was invited to meet he and his friends for drinks. When I arrived, I met them – all female – and already knew he had a sexual history (and current status) with at least one of them. I held my cool, and at the end of the night as he walked me to my car, I hugged him and told him I wasn’t going to be part of his harem.

On the drive home, I felt proud. I finally held my ground and stood up for myself with a man I was dating.

Three days later he was in my bed.

As much as I knew deep down he wasn’t available for anything serious, I listened to his confessions of love and adoration over and over again, trying to ignore the constant texts from numerous women at all hours. I knew he was still meeting women via on-line dating sites, sleeping with others. I still stayed.

So why, after knowing all of this did I fall from my self-esteem soap box? It’s easy, when you’re co-dependent and struggle with feeling ‘not enough’. We think “If I’m pretty, skinny, sexy, funny, smart enough – more than any of the others – he will pick me.”

cbAfter a few months, my insides began to turn. I finally realized I was manipulating myself as much as anyone.

After meeting a lovely women he invited to join us for drinks, I got the wake up call I needed. When he left for the mens room, his new lady friend asked if he and I were dating and she was floored to learn we were still lovers. She shared with me how he was texting her daily and flirting with her – and that she was thinking they were on the threshold of dating. She was me, six months ago.

It’s been a few weeks since having any contact with my ex. I don’t harbor any resentment or blame with him, and I hope we can circle back and reconnect one day. I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t miss him – but what I don’t miss is the feeling of being in a competition with his other harem members. I don’t miss the needy, insecure person I was turning into, who I’ve fought so hard – for so many years to change.

For some, standing up for ourselves and never settling for disrespect is natural. Then there are people like me, who are still learning to believe we are worth so much more than what we’ve ever allowed ourselves to feel.

Sometimes holding on give us strength. But when it comes to dating a narcissist or someone with narcissistic traits, we only get stronger when finally get real with ourselves. We need to let go of the belief they can be serious dating partners.

Thoughts?

elephants

Objects may seem larger

“Dear, it’s no good feeling sorry for yourself. You’re gonna have to overcome these difficulties. And you might as well do it with some style.” – Doris Mann (played by Shirley MacLaine)

Shirley MacLaine is my girl. I’ve loved her ever since The Apartment, and when she rocked Doris Mann in Postcards from the Edge, my adoration exploded.

Doris Mann bubbles over with the type of moxie only movie screen legends seem to pull off. Such is the beauty of cinema. Somehow a morning vodka-banana protein shake doesn’t seem that tragic in the land of make-believe within the context of dry humor.

Denial is fun. Until it’s not. Kinda like when our “fuck it” switch goes off when we chose curtain number three, against our better judgment. And when you’re an addict, well, all bets are off. What’s fun about making the right choices? How will my brain be stimulated with such vanilla flavored normalcy?

The older we get, the smarter we’re supposed to be. In theory. Then there are times when when our fuck ups are so epic, it’s hard to believe we’ve evolved past term papers and learning permits.

It’s a well known fact that the age we start using drugs is where our emotional and mental capacity shuts down and stops evolving. In many ways, I’m still very much a teenager on the verge of a mid life crisis. The moment life tends to feel like it’s normal – like everything is as it should be – I whip up a huge batch of chaos in my favorite flavor of denial.

My non-addict friends are left scratching their heads.

“If something or someone is bad for you – why do you continue to go there?”

“It’s fun.”

“Is hurting yourself fun?”

“I know. It’s fucked up.”

“It is.”

“I’m fucked up.”

“No, your’re an addict.”

“Same thing.”

The hardset part about an addcit falling on our ass is owning the fact that no one tripped us. No one forces us to fuck up. Our brain is sick and we tend to make all sorts of fun choices when faced with the universe’s temptations.

Ever taken a piece of birthday cake at the office because your co-worker is passing them around – and you’re trying to lose weight? It’s the same thing. Sort of.

So chaos is created, and we fall on our ass. Now what? Feeling sorry for ourselves is the usual modis operati quickly followed by self-hate and shame. How could I be so stupid? I’m old enough to know better! Once we get that out of our system, the real work begins.

It takes a lot of balls to talk about the elephant in the room; especially when you’re the one who keeps welcoming it back. The good news is that we can learn to switch the wiring in our brain. We can choose to treat ourselves with kindness and love. No one’s really buying our bullshit but us anyway – so we may as well come clean.

The sooner we get real in knowing our chaos is self-induced and understand why we create it in the first place, the faster it will go away. Drama doesn’t equal fun. All it does is create a distraction from the kind of life we all deserve.

Your thoughts?

 

DQ

Blow on this

Introspection is no picnic. Much more fun to live in the clouds, breathing in the intoxicating vapor of denial and frivolity. Getting high on the life we pretend to live has its moments, but there’s no mistaking the gnawing jabs in our gut when we know at some point, we gotta come clean. Bottom line – it’s never as good, or bad as we think.

 “The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change ” ― Heraclitus 

Part of getting real is accepting change. She’s a fickle beast, cloaked in promises of new and exciting, but beneath her veil, lives the weight of logistical responsibilities and emotional adjustments. Nothing like the vibe of uncertainty to pop a pin in our balloon.

There’s an article in the Huffington Post currently circulating on Facebook called “The 18 Worst Things About Hawaii” which is pretty spot on. Being born and raised on O’ahu for 30 years, I relate to all eighteen, but number five hits close to the vest these days:

gb5. It’s a revolving door 

There is a lot of turnover in Hawaii; people move here for an adventure and then go back to “reality.” While this means you are always meeting new people, it also means that friends are constantly leaving. Be prepared for going away parties to be a social staple.”

Even though I’ve been living off the island for years, the pull on my heartstrings when a loved one moves away still carries weight; it takes me back to feelings of loss and longing I struggled with as a teenager.

Compound the fact my biological father bailed when I was a toddler, and you’ve got some serious abandonment issues. Even if you didn’t grow up in Hawaii, and dad was around, farewells are never easy.

So how do we come to terms with change when it comes to loved ones leaving our inner everyday circle? For starters, it’s a good idea to remember – it’s not all about us. Sure we’re affected, but let’s be honest – most things in life have very little to do with us. We just get caught in the fallout. Our world needs to adjust – and whether we like it or not, it eventually does.

Once you pull your head out of your ass and realize the universe has her master plan no matter how much you fight reality, you realize it’s time to step up. Show a little more support and compassion for your loved one who’s starting a new chapter. It’s never easy starting over – and wallowing in our feelings, instead of wrapping our hearts around the person who’s taking a leap of faith with their life is never a good color on us.

Here’s the thing – when it comes to the loves in our lives – whether they’re platonic, romantic or family – no amount of distance will subtract your bond, period.

I recently embraced one of my favorite people, bidding him farewell. As we held each other I felt the loss immediately. We’ve grown accustomed to folding our arms together, in-between wiping tears and snorting laughter. No longer will there be impromptu movie nights and pajama parties – wine soaked kisses and spontaneous Ferris Bueler days. What skin will my fingertips graze subconsciously as the hours float by in comfortable silence?

As our bodies let go and we collected our breath, he looked in my watery eyes, kissed the top of my head and spoke softly to my heart: “It’s just another zip code.” Even in his departure, he made my life easier.

As I write this post, I’m reminded of that scene. That this sacred, beautiful life of ours is to be explored with the very people who ignite our soul. The sooner we stop trying to understand it, the closer we are to really living – no matter how far apart our zip code.

MGR

Like a Record, Baby.

“I hate news and information and anything that threatens to puncture the bubble of oblivion in which I live.”  ― Augusten Burroughs
 
I’m not a fan of merry-go-rounds. Never have been. Something about the incessant moving and turning and not really going anywhere. Let’s not get into the haunting organ music. It’s highly possible I’ve seen too many slasher movies as a kid, but still – to me – creepy.
 
 
It’s been a couple of days since re-entering life as I know it, after being in Guatemala for ten. Time was spent creatively and with purpose. I wrote letters. Made life-long writer-friends. Devoured my reading list. And, in true romantic fashion – turned out some Grade-A poetry that would clog your arteries, they’re so cheesy.
 
 
One of the things I adore most about my heart is her capacity to pump the corniest, most childlike illusion through my body while I’m knee-deep in the fantasy of being in love.
 
 
There’s nothing wrong with having fantasies; they keep us flying above the day-to-day bullshit.  What gets us in trouble, though, is when the line between what’s real and our delicious daydreams become blurred, we pretend we know what we’re doing. Seriously – when it comes to love – do any of us know?
 
 
When on the merry-go-round of yet another wake-up call, when we know it’s time to hop off and run far away from the creepy slasher music, why do we continue to stay? Is it fear of changing course? Do we secretly like the stability of knowing exactly what’s around the bend – even if it’s not what we want?
 
 
One of the hardest things to do is stand up for what we deserve – even when we don’t feel worthy.
 
 
On this Valentine’s Day eve, if any of us are spinning on our own personal merry-go-round, not feeling we’re getting exactly what we want – let’s ask ourselves why. It’s so easy to point the finger at the person operating the ride, but remember, it’s WE who make our own choices. Owning our shit in the harsh light of reality may be pulverizing at first, but in the end, our fantasies will serve our hearts more than ever – knowing we refuse to settle for anything less than what we are worth.
 
 
I’ll always be That Girl. The Romantic. The Dreamer. Never giving up on the one thing I keep at bay because I’m too afraid to feel it. With each relationship, I’m getting closer – and the amount of love and gratitude I feel for those experiences are immeasurable.
 
 
We learn so much by taking chances – even when the deepest part of our being already knows the end result. We are better for having loved deeply. And even stronger for surviving the fallout.
 
 
Sometimes, instead of getting back on the horse, it’s entirely possible we just need to find another ride.
 
 
sstones

Letting go, holding on

One of my girlfriends posted a question on her Facebook page asking about favorite quotes. Call it the bloggy-writer-poet-romantic-dreamer in me, but I do love me some killer dialogue – especially ones that leave an indelible mark.

I don’t remember when I first came across the one I shared  – one of my all time faves – but there was no question this quote was my choice:

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” – Henry Ellis

If you follow my Twitter feed, you’ve heard my running joke – the devil and angel on my shoulders always have three-ways with my voice of reason. What usually breaks up these tumultuous trysts are moments when I come up for air, realizing I’m once again, making the same choices that cause me to take two steps behind when I should be trying to evolve in a forward, positive motion. Breaking rules instead of blazing my trail and writing my own. So I dust off my ass, kick experience and memory to the curb and press ahead.

The good thing about tomorrow – it’s always a clean slate.

.

I don’t care if the blood pumping through your veins is the oil straight from a Normal Rockwell painting – living inside every one of us is our very own saboteur – and they’re always down to party.

Careers, relationships, even emotional baggage that weighs us down; we know we should be letting go, but our fear of the unknown serve as cinderblocks, pulling us deeper into a sea of regret and longing.

So what do we let go of, hang on to, and how the hell do we know when to turn the page? It’s easy to look at anyone else’s world and offer up the typical advice. Let go of the bad, hang on to the good; but reality isn’t a twenty-two minute sit-com where resolutions are made and all is tied up in a bow as the credits roll.

Sometimes shit is so simple, we try to find ways to fuck them up.

We stay in relationships we know are toxic. We talk ourselves out of a career move because we listen to our fear. We hold back – hanging on – even with bloody fingers, because the only thing scarier than staying with the darkness, is free-falling into the unknown.

If only we had a guarantee that what we’re falling into is better than where we are now; but when has life ever been easy?

What I’ve come to realize lately is that even if what lies ahead isn’t what I hoped for and takes me farther away from my dreams – it’s always better than holding on to something that keeps me from going after them.

Moving forward into the unknown will always trump staying where you aren’t happy. Yes, there are no guarantees that what lies ahead will serve our soul – but the fact we have the courage to keep trying is a helluva great start.

GB

Be. The. Ball.

If you haven’t heard of professor, scholar, author, and public speaker Brené Brown, allow me to introduce you through her two most popular videos: The Power of Vulnerability and her follow-up, Listening to Shame.  

Over the last ten years she has been involved in research on topics ranging from vulnerability, courage, and authenticity, to empathy and shame. She’s written books such as The Gifts of Imperfection (2010) and Daring Greatly (2012). She and her work have been featured on PBS, NPR, TED, and CNN.

In a nutshell Brené is every hot mess’s wet dream. I’ve seen her videos more times that I can count, and each time (this weekend, being the most recent), I well up at the same moments, where she talks about selectively numbing our pain (not possible to do, without numbing joy), and daring greatly – embracing vulnerability.

If you don’t consider yourself to be, or never have been a hot mess at some point in your life – congratulations – you don’t exist. Every one of us has our shit. That thing we don’t talk about, try to wish away, or, maybe you’re one of those peeps who point the finger at everyone else to avoid focusing on your own mess. I’ve been and done all those things.

Sometimes we don’t even create our shit – it’s just there, served up on a shiny platter of Fuck You, and we’re left to clean it up. Most of the times though – we end up buried in How Did I Get Here as a result of our choices. And life being its adorable self tries to teach us lessons along the way, in our ever-evolving journey to Bliss.

I used to think Bliss was only possible through chaos. Getting high felt great. Until the lows Continue reading