Getting Back to Basics

Well I must say, I am in a really amazing place right now! I hope it’s contagious 🙂

I have taken a step back from the chaos of the past six months and it has given me great clarity.

I can see now how easy it can be to lose sight of where we are headed in life. Even when you think you have it all figured out, life has a way of derailing you down a path you never planned.

Sometimes it is a complete dead end and you end up having to track back through the mud and the muck of past lessons you have not quite mastered.

Other times it is simply a detour…you get lost along the way for a bit, but eventually you begin to recognize old patterns and you manage to follow the breadcrumbs right to where you were meant to be.

I wouldn’t say I hit a dead end…it was more like I picked up the wrong trail of breadcrumbs for a while, went in circles for a bit, but eventually ended up back where I needed to be.

It was a humbling experience.

I thought I was an expert at positive thinking. There was no way I would ever fall back into feeling negative all the time! I was wrong, but it was a good reality check for me. I discovered a lot of areas in my life that I still needed to work on and old self defeating behaviors that I thought I had mastered.

I learned that I still have a tendency to take on more than I can handle sometimes and that I have a very  hard time admitting that to anyone…especially myself.  For me, failure in any form is perhaps the feeling I hate the most. Rejection is right up there with it, but that is easier to swallow because it is more like an incompatibility than something you didn’t succeed in. When I interview for a job and I don’t get the position or I go out with someone new and it doesn’t go quite well, I simply chalk it up to not being the  right fit. Failure on the other hand carries all the weight of the expectations associated with the goal you did not reach or the relationship that didn’t work out. Moments of failure are like poison to my normal routine of positive thinking.

It is easy to stay positive when everything in your life is going great, but the real challenge is finding a way to do it when everything seems to be falling apart. But once you do, you will find strength you never knew you had and  discover all the  power to change your circumstance within you.  You are no longer filled with anger and sadness, because you are too preoccupied with finding ways to better your life and the life of those around you.

After this recent reflection, I have a greater appreciation for my life and all of the people in it, regardless of their role. I believe that everyone enters our lives for a reason. Some may treat us poorly, but in most cases those people are the catalyst for some major growth.  I think that is why forgiveness is so freeing. When we place all the blame for our circumstances on others, we carry around the weight of all the pain we associate with them. Replaying significant moments over and over in our mind, stirring up old negative feelings, until it completely prevents us from ever moving forward.

But when we forgive, it is like purging the mind. We are able to look back on those moments with gratitude because we know the role they played in helping us become the person we are today.

Sure it is easier to sit around and bellyache about the painful things that have happened to you in the past, but you are only wasting the small amount of time we have on this earth. Nothing will ever change until you step up and take charge of your own life.

It is not the fault of previous lovers that you are afraid of love or the fault of your parents that you are insecure. It is yours.

Your life went on after those experiences and every day you had a choice as to whether or not to try and move forward and you didn’t. So year after year, you not only carry the weight of the past, but you add to it. Until one day, you begin to accept your fears as simply being a part of who you are. They become an excuse for you to take the easy way out and just settle for your life instead of creating it.

And that is all fine and good if you are happy, but are you? I mean really happy? Or are you just settling for the life you think you have to live?

I know it sounds a little harsh, but it’s true. It would be very easy to blame my mother for all of my insecurities, abandonment issues and fears of failure. And I am pretty sure most would agree she played a role, but that was then and this is now.

Recently, I asked myself those questions. I took a long hard look at every aspect of my life and made myself answer honestly.

And I am not ashamed to admit that my answer was NO for a lot of them. And that was okay because I took it as a challenge. I moved my energy from feeling bad about the less desirable aspects of my life to figuring out what it was that bothered me and finding a way to turn things around.

The difference it has made in me has been transformative and still expanding every day.

I am not saying I won’t run into another detour, but let’s hope this time I make a few less circles around the trail!

 

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New Beginnings

For the past few days there has been a robin at my house that has been relentlessly attacking the windows. The most obvious reason is that it is mating season and he most likely saw his reflection so he was persistently staking his claim. So, I covered the exterior windows to remove the reflection, but he didn’t go away. In fact, as I was getting into my car to leave, he flew at my car window and then just sat on the hood looking at me.

“What do you want?!” I said looking at him through the windshield. He just tilted his head and flew away.

Frustrated, I just rolled my eyes and left.

A close friend of mine reminded me that birds are messengers and that he was trying to tell me something. I had no idea what that could be and then today it hit me.

For me, seeing a robin usually fills me with great joy because they are a sign of spring and spring is a time for new beginnings. However, this robin was making me angry and just seemed to be adding to my already sober and defeated mood.

My life since last fall has been in a bit of turmoil. I won’t go in to the details, but lets just say that every aspect of it has been a challenge. From work to house repairs to my love life, everything has been in what feels like a constant state of upheaval.

Each day it was becoming harder and harder to find peace. Something I had thought I mastered. I was very wrong.

The downward spiral started in September and by March, when I was beginning to think I had a handle on everything again, my greatest weakness reared its ugly head.

I felt broken and ashamed.

Mostly, I was disappointed in myself for allowing others the power to take my joy away, for letting their actions dictate my self-worth and my mood. I was better than that! I have done the work, found my center, my peace. So how in the world did I end up here again?

Because I am human.

Because I am a person who feels with great intensity and loves from the deepest caverns of my soul. I look for the best in people and when I don’t see it, I just look that much harder.

Call me naive, but I think the words we utter to another, whether it be a boss making promises to an employee or a lover professing their love, should be taken as truth or never spoken.

Perhaps that is the lesson here.

The only intentions one can truly count on are our own.

Last night for what is now going on almost a month, I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned til 3AM playing the disappointments of the days past, over and over in my head. Until it all became too much.

The emptiness in my heart so heavy I could hold back the tears no longer. So I cried. And I begged the lord to make it all go away. Pleading with him to take away this pain, this love and the memories that keep swimming around in my brain. It had been a very long time since I felt this alone, this defeated, this heartbroken.

In that moment, I would have given anything to be angry. But with all the love in my heart, it was just not possible.

Catching my breath, still pleading for a resolution, I eventually fell into the only place of peace I have found these days…sleep.

I awoke this morning with an overwhelming feeling of disappointment that I had to struggle through yet another day.

And then it came…the anger. What a relief!

Sounds weird I know, that anger would be a relief, but it was.

Just feeling the anger, reminded me of who I was. I was no longer debilitated with sadness anymore, but rather empowered with madness! Not just at those who hurt me, but at myself.

How dare I allow the actions of others to bring me back down to a place I swore I would never be again. They have no power over me unless I let them and why did I let them?

I let them because I gave them much more credit than they deserved. I was not unworthy of their kindness or undeserving of their love. If anything, perhaps they were unworthy of mine?

“The biggest coward of a man is to awaken the love of a woman without the intention of loving her.” – Bob Marley

And for me, after anger comes clarity. You see, I am a person who believes in second chances, but there is rarely a third. Once I get pushed to the limit, there is usually no going back. For by that time, I have learned too much to revisit old feelings. Call it self preservation I guess, but by the time I have reached this point the words of another that once had so much power lose all meaning.

I know people can change and I will never rule out the possibility of them doing so. After all, this life is a learning experience for all of us. However, actions become their only hope in convincing me that the change is real.

And more importantly, this entire experience has taught me that I still have a great deal of growing to do myself. They say that timing is everything and as humans we want what we want and we want it right now!

It is important to remember though that perhaps the reason we are not getting what we want is because either we are not ready for it, it is not ready for us or it simply is not meant to be. And if it is not meant to be than there is surely something even better waiting around the corner. We just have to have faith that it will come to us when the time is right.

When I think about my little robin “stalker” now, I can finally see the message. Anger was door to the peace I was seeking and joy the window to new beginnings.

For anyone who is feeling down, left behind or unworthy, I hope you found this helpful. Just remember, you are the creator of your own reality and only you should have power over the way you feel.

Never give that power away.

 

Image courtesy of PaulR at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Gratitude For Love Lost

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like now if you had changed just one major life altering decision? Paths that would no longer cross and the new ones that would.

Would you still have met the same people by some divine intervention or do we truly design our own destiny? Who would you know, who would you be, what kind of life would you have now?

I can remember so many times in my life when I was caught in a whirlwind of struggles. In the midst of it all I was convinced I knew what I wanted, what I needed.  I had this perfect idea of what would make me truly happy, what I thought was surely meant to be. And basically in every case I was wrong. Not getting what I wanted turned out to be the best thing for me every time.

I look back on those moments now and I am very thankful I was wrong!

My first steady relationship is a wonderful example of that. I was a freshman and he was a junior. I couldn’t give you a reason now, but for one or another, I fell for him very fast. I am not so sure it wasn’t a classic example of transference. My mother had just abandoned me and here was this person showing me love and affection. Did I really fall for him or was I just filling the void?

Either way, in the moment, I was just that, in the moment. Completely caught up in this forever love that when it ended just a few months later, I was devastated. I pleaded with the heavens to bring him back to me and by the time they finally did, the spark was gone. Sure, we had chemistry based on our history together and our friendship over the years that followed, but that crazy love feeling that was there in the beginning was just gone one day. I can’t really explain it other than to say that it was as if a veil had been lifted. Not that this was a bad thing. Completely the opposite actually. You see, when this happened, I began to understand that things are not always what they seem and more importantly that I didn’t always know what was best for me.

Now I am not saying I completely learned my lesson after that either…lol

In fact much to the contrary. Sometimes we have to repeat a process over and over before we truly understand the meaning of it. And that is exactly what I did in my early dating years. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I took a step back to reevaluate my life and reconnect with myself that I finally noticed a pattern and began exploring its roots.

I have spent relationship after relationship working so hard to please the other person that I completely put my own personality aside. So much so that I completely lost touch with who I really was and what I really wanted in this life. Over and over again, I created this grand illusion of a love that would last forever. And time and time again I was wrong.

When I was a teenager, I thought my life would never be complete until I ended up with my first love and then the love after that and the love after that, and…well you get the point. I was convinced I knew what I wanted, who I wanted and how I wanted us to live.

Looking back on this time in my life is very strange for me. I am so far removed from who I was then that it is almost hard to comprehend that I was ever that way. It is amazing how much one can learn from a heart break even 20 years later. Sometimes those that hurt us the most can also be our best teachers.

I learned another great lesson in love from one of my closest friends in the years after high-school. He was my person. I trusted him with all my heart. I never had a doubt that he truly cared for me. I, along with many others swore we were destined to be together, but we could never seem to get together. We came very close once, but I ended up meeting someone else and moved half way across the country with him (that’s a story for another day). He showed his true colors many years later when I moved home and fell right back in to the swing of the olden days. I won’t tell you the story now, but if you are interested, you can find it here  🙂

It took many years for me to realize that the reason the timing was always off was simply because it was not meant to be. Knowing what I know now about myself, I know I would have never truly been happy with him nor him with me. I was in love with the idea of us at the time, but the us of today just wouldn’t work and imagine all I would have missed out on had I taken that road. It is situations such as these, that I can’t help but believe there was a greater force keeping us apart. Something saving us from ourselves.

Besides, I would have been no good for anyone back then. I had no idea who I really was. It took losing myself over and over again to finally find the real me. I no longer need someone else’s love and affection to give me purpose anymore and it is so freeing.

I have so much love for my previous objects of affection because if it had not been for them and our failed attempts at love, I may still be lost.

Someplace I know I will never be again!

Make Peace With Where You Are

One of the biggest challenges I have faced over the years is making peace with where I am, truly embracing the power of NOW. It was not until I began my journey on WordPress in the brainstorming of my novel that I was able to understand just how important this is.

Appreciation is one of the most fulfilling feelings anyone can feel. And for me it is the easiest to reach for in a moment of struggle. I didn’t realize I was doing it at the time, but as I wrote my story, I noticed the constant repetition of this behavior during my early childhood. When the world around me was falling apart, gratitude was always my guiding light.

Now, as I begin writing the next chapter in my story, I am noticing a very significant change in myself during that time. In my early childhood, I always seemed to be able to keep focus on the good things in my life to get me through the bad.

After the disappearance of my mother, my thinking took a drastically darker turn.

It seemed that by the time I started high-school, the pain from my past had finally caught up with me.

I had deep seeded anger and shame in me that was slowly gurgling to the surface. I held a great deal of resentment towards my mother, but yet I longed for her to come home. Part of me wanted to yell at her for taking my childhood away, never allowing me to just be a kid with no worries about what may be lurking around the next corner.

And the other part of me wanted more than anything just to have her near. I never knew how to feel from one moment to the next. Reaching for good feeling thoughts became harder and harder to do.

At some point, negative thinking became my standard way of thinking. I guess I figured I had experienced so much pain already that setting myself up for more was a chance I  wasn’t willing to take. I would say things like, “No point in getting my hopes up, because then it won’t hurt so much when I get disappointed”.

Eventually, I internalized my mother’s behavior and became ashamed of myself – what’s wrong with me?

As a child, I just didn’t understand, but now it all makes sense. As children, when the ones we love hurt us, we don’t have the comprehension to realize they are the one with the problem. Instead, we think there is something wrong with us. And the younger you are sometimes the harder it is to overcome, because you are so deeply rooted in that mess.

Part of my healing process was writing about it. Forcing myself to work through my anger, disappointment and shame. In revisiting that time with a fresh understanding and appreciation of myself I have been better able to recognize certain patterns in my behavior that gave me a much different perspective on my life during that time.

For example, one thing that happens when you have been deeply rejected is that it affects your perception. It affects how you perceive things.  You begin to imagine that things are happening that aren’t happening. This was extremely evident in the pages of my high-school journal! There are some stories in there that the adult Tiffany and the teenage Tiffany seem to recall very differently! The same person experienced the exact same moment in time, but their perspective in that moment was not the same by a long shot.

When I was teenage Tiffany (and the Tiffany for many years to come) I was not able to separate myself from my opinion. When someone rejected my opinion, I  felt like they were rejecting me, because rejection was so deeply rooted in me that I was unable to separate the two.

For so long, I was afraid to be tender and soft because I was afraid I would get hurt. No one is going to push me around again! I was afraid to be vulnerable and as a result I was missing out on life.

It was a very sad place to revisit and I think that is why I had such a hard time getting started. For some reason writing about my early life was much easier than this next task has proven to be. I have worked very hard to break my negative patterns of thinking and it is eye opening to go back to where they all began.

It’s amazing what understanding can do for us.

The journey back from that dark place is one that I look forward to continuing. Growing every day, being in full acceptance with who I am and what I desire with no caveats.

How freeing it is to live with no expectations. Make peace with who you are in this moment. Life can change in an instant and your perspective may be a whole lot different tomorrow, so why not try your hardest to live for today! Appreciate the little things and soon you may see even more to appreciate 🙂

I Just Love My Family!

One of my intentions for this year was to be better about staying in contact with my family and friends and to hopefully reconnect with those I may have lost touch with over the years.

This past Christmas, one of my aunts decided to get the family together because it has been a really long time and I mean a really long time. Not everyone was able to make it, but those of us that did had such a great time. After dinner we all sat around and recalled stories of the past. We laughed and laughed. For anyone who has been following along or has had a chance to read my memoir, you can only imagine the stories we had to tell. We have all been through a lot in our lives and managed to turn out pretty darn well 🙂

I felt amazing (and a little sad) when I left. I don’t know how to explain it, but something about sharing space with my kin again lit a fire inside of me. It’s like I didn’t realize how much I missed them because we had all grown so far apart. Being together again seemed to erase the gaps between us. I kept thinking to myself how much I love my family and how blessed I am to have been broken from the same mold. This moment was my inspiration to be a better friend, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin…you get the point.

I launched this intention on 12/26/15.

Ever since then the universe keeps sending me opportunity after opportunity to do so. I have reconnected with friends I have not spoken with since high-school and family members I thought I would never hear from again. I’ve had a nice visit to PA to see my godparents and a surprise visit from my step dad, his wife and my step brother, All of whom I have not been able to spend time with in years!

I have talked with my family more in the last two months than I have in the last 10 years! It’s amazing.

Crazy stuff will happen too, like just today I was thinking about someone and before I had a chance to contact them, I was on the phone with them through someone else and they were at the house of yet another person I had been meaning to call. It was so great!

So much of my issue before was that I simply forget, not because I don’t care, just because I have so much going on at any given time that instead of acting on something right when I think of it, I will think, “I’ll do it later” and then I forget. I have been trying to make a better effort to act on those impulses as they happen if possible.

I find, I have less to plan to do, because I just do it as it pops in my mind. And time and time again I find that I am getting more of what I need to get done than I used to. It’s very possible that all those years of over thinking may have been a bit counter productive on my part…haha

Yesterday, I thought of two people I needed to send thank you cards to and instead of putting it on a list (my normal go to), I just did it. Now it’s done and I can move on to the next thing.

Abraham Hicks talks a lot about the Art of Allowing; making peace with all things where they are. Love yourself and those around you for who you/they are in this very moment.

“It means allowing yourself to love your kids, your spouse, your friends, your family even if they don’t do what you want/think they should. It means allowing other people to make their own choices (and live out the consequential experience of those choices) for themselves.”

For example, sure maybe you would like to lose 20 lbs. Does it serve you to spend your time worrying about how that is going to happen or dwelling on the fact that you have 20 lbs to lose? I think most would agree that the answer is no. Instead try allowing yourself to be happy with who you are first. Then take the steps needed not as a remedy to fixing your situation, but rather as something you are doing to improve the great person you already are. Sounds cheesy I know, but trust me it works.

I am speaking from my own personal experience. I have about 20 lbs that I would like to lose and I used to waste a lot of thought getting down on myself about it. I made a switch in my thinking and now I don’t see it as 20lbs I need to lose in order to be happy. I have made peace with where I am and keep focused on my positive attributes. Anything I do to improve myself is because I want to do exactly that, improve myself, not fix myself.

And do you know that I go to the gym 5-6 days a week, I eat the right foods and I drink more than the amount of water I need to. That may not sound like a huge overhaul to you, but anyone that knows me, knows that I have never gone to the gym regularly and getting me to drink one glass of water a day was a challenge. For me this is a huge shift and I am enjoying every minute of it. 🙂

No one in my life is perfect and neither am I, but I love them and myself anyway. It allows me to be free to appreciate without judgement or wasted energy.

How boring the world would be if we were all perfect.