4/14/16 – The Pawprints left by you

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4/14/16 – The Pawprints left by you

“The only thing wrong with dogs is that they can’t live forever.” – Unknown

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January 19th, 2003 my college roommate and I went to love on all the dogs at the Humane Society inside Pet Supplies Plus in Knoxville, TN. We had a habit of doing this and we always walked out feeling better and WITHOUT a new pet. That day was different. While we were there a skinny little black and white pup they called “Promise” crawled up into my lap, licked my face and curled up in a little ball. DONE! SOLD! MELTED! After a few lies about where I lived and the pet policy, January 19th, 2003 is the day that I became a mom.

“Promise” was eventually renamed to “Bella” for a few short days until all of the neighbors decided to have dogs named “Bella”. It was then, after thoughts of coffee with Bailey’s Irish Cream (black with notes of white and brown, like the rescue dog) that my baby was named “Bailey”. When I finally told my parents that “my boyfriend had gotten me a dog for Valentine’s Day” my father responded how I expected, “I didn’t say I would put a dog through college.” So there I was with a ton of new bills and responsibility at 20 years old. After waking up at 4am every day for a few weeks, I thought two things: 1- This was the worst decision of my life! 2- This was the BEST decision of my life! And over the next 12 to 12 and a half years it is the latter that remained true. Over that time frame we lived in 9 different homes across 4 states and she was a trooper through it all.

Today marks the one year anniversary of saying goodbye to my sweet, sweet Bailey Marie. Right now actually marks the exact time I kissed her muzzle one last time as I said, “You were the most AMAZING dog I could have ever asked for. You are so loved, and so appreciated and so many people send their love to you right now. You will be missed more than you know but mom will be okay, I promise, I’m in good hands. You can go now. Know that you took such great care of me for 12 and a half years and that I will be okay without you. I’m so grateful for you. Thank you for being so amazing, for being the sweetest dog in the world. You were my best friend and you saved my life so many times. It’s okay, you can go now. I love you.”

As I type this I am in tears. I still miss her every, single, day! Sometimes I think I hear her in the house. Her photo is on a canvas on my wall and a few photos are framed throughout the condo as well as her ashes. She was my first child. I don’t plan to have non-fur children so she will ALWAYS be my “first born”. I couldn’t have asked for a better, more loving, more comforting, and more beautiful little girl. I will never know the loss of a child for a parent but I do know my loss and what it taught me…what SHE taught me!

I look back at my Gratitude Journal (that I do a TERRIBLE job of keeping up with) but there is one thing that is consistently on my list of 5, Bailey! Oh how grateful I still am for her. Bailey taught me about:

  • unconditional love
  • commitment
  • personal responsibility
  • patience
  • discipline
  • time management
  • financial responsibility
  • grief

This time, this day, last year was the second hardest day of my life. Bailey was the one that got me going through the first. When my dad passed away I was in grad school and working full-time. I was exhausted and some days it was hard to keep going. But coming home to Bailey’s wiggly butt and wagging tail every night got me through it. Bailey would lick my tears and lean against me through the crying fits and hardest nights. I wasn’t alone because I had her there with me. That is the one thing I am most grateful for. I don’t think I could have gotten through losing my dad, finishing my masters and maintaining a job without her. Actually, I know I couldn’t have.

Today’s blog and my first blog in months is dedicated to my sweet Bailey girl, Bailey Marie. Oh how I miss you so. Thank you, again, for EVERYTHING! I will be forever grateful.

There’s a saying, “The first dog is the dog that gives you so much that the first dog is often the reason for the second dog.” I guess that’s where Maya came from. It was very hard to get Maya. Not that I don’t love her with all I have but just that she wasn’t BAILEY and I didn’t know if my heart was ready. Now I realize that that’s okay and that no one will ever replace her, but I can take all the love I gave to Bailey and give it to Maya. I never thought there could be a dog as sweet, loving, and kind as Bailey, but I’ve been proven wrong. I know that 12, 13, or 14 years from now I will be writing a very similar blog about “Maya Marie”.

Bailey Marie, “my heart will always wear, the pawprints left by you”. ❤

In loving memory of Bailey Marie LaViola, 7/1/02 – 4/14/15

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10/27/15 – Everything Doesn’t Happen For A Reason

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Everything Doesn’t Happen For A Reason

I emerge from this conversation dumbfounded. I’ve seen this a million times before, but it still gets me every time.

I’m listening to a man tell a story. A woman he knows was in a devastating car accident; her life shattered in an instant. She now lives in a state of near-permanent pain; a paraplegic; many of her hopes stolen.

He tells of how she had been a mess before the accident, but that the tragedy had engendered positive changes in her life. That she was, as a result of this devastation, living a wonderful life.

And then he utters the words. The words that are responsible for nothing less than emotional, spiritual and psychological violence:

Everything happens for a reason. That this was something that had to happen in order for her to grow.

That’s the kind of bullshit that destroys lives. And it is categorically untrue.

It is amazing to me—after all these years working with people in pain—that so many of these myths persist. The myths that are nothing more than platitudes cloaked as sophistication. The myths that preclude us from doing the one and only thing we must do when our lives are turned upside down: grieve.

You know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve heard these countless times. You’ve probably even uttered them a few times yourself. And every single one of them needs to be annihilated.

Let me be crystal clear: if you’ve faced a tragedy and someone tells you in any way, shape or form that your tragedy was meant to be, that it happened for a reason, that it will make you a better person, or that taking responsibility for it will fix it, you have every right to remove them from your life.

Grief is brutally painful. Grief does not only occur when someone dies. When relationships fall apart, you grieve. When opportunities are shattered, you grieve. When dreams die, you grieve. When illnesses wreck you, you grieve.

So I’m going to repeat a few words I’ve uttered countless times; words so powerful and honest they tear at the hubris of every jackass who participates in the debasing of the grieving:

Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried. 

These words come from my dear friend Megan Devine, one of the only writers in the field of loss and trauma I endorse. These words are so poignant because they aim right at the pathetic platitudes our culture has come to embody on a increasingly hopeless level. Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. Facing the betrayal of your closest confidante cannot be fixed.

They can only be carried.

I hate to break it to you, but although devastation can lead to growth, it often doesn’t. The reality is that it often destroys lives. And the real calamity is that this happens precisely because we’ve replaced grieving with advice. With platitudes. With our absence.

I now live an extraordinary life. I’ve been deeply blessed by the opportunities I’ve had and the radically unconventional life I’ve built for myself. Yet even with that said, I’m hardly being facetious when I say that loss has not in and of itself made me a better person. In fact, in many ways it’s hardened me.

While so much loss has made me acutely aware and empathetic of the pains of others, it has made me more insular and predisposed to hide. I have a more cynical view of human nature, and a greater impatience with those who are unfamiliar with what loss does to people.

Above all, I’ve been left with a pervasive survivor’s guilt that has haunted me all my life. This guilt is really the genesis of my hiding, self-sabotage and brokenness.

In short, my pain has never been eradicated, I’ve just learned to channel it into my work with others. I consider it a great privilege to work with others in pain, but to say that my losses somehow had to happen in order for my gifts to grow would be to trample on the memories of all those I lost too young; all those who suffered needlessly, and all those who faced the same trials I did early in life, but who did not make it.

I’m simply not going to do that. I’m not going to construct some delusional narrative fallacy for myself so that I can feel better about being alive. I’m not going to assume that God ordained me for life instead of all the others so that I could do what I do now. And I’m certainly not going to pretend that I’ve made it through simply because I was strong enough; that I became “successful” because I “took responsibility.”

There’s a lot of “take responsibility” platitudes in the personal development space, and they are largely nonsense. People tell others to take responsibility when they don’t want to understand.

Because understanding is harder than posturing. Telling someone to “take responsibility” for their loss is a form of benevolent masturbation. It’s the inverse of inspirational porn: it’s sanctimonious porn.

Personal responsibility implies that there’s something to take responsibility for. You don’t take responsibility for being raped or losing your child. You take responsibility for how you choose to live in the wake of the horrors that confront you, but you don’t choose whether you grieve. We’re not that smart or powerful. When hell visits us, we don’t get to escape grieving.

This is why all the platitudes and fixes and posturing are so dangerous: in unleashing them upon those we claim to love, we deny them the right to grieve.

In so doing, we deny them the right to be human. We steal a bit of their freedom precisely when they’re standing at the intersection of their greatest fragility and despair.

No one—and I mean no one—has that authority. Though we claim it all the time.

The irony is that the only thing that even can be “responsible” amidst loss is grieving.

So if anyone tells you some form of get over it, move on, or rise above, you can let them go.

If anyone avoids you amidst loss, or pretends like it didn’t happen, or disappears from your life, you can let them go.

If anyone tells you that all is not lost, that it happened for a reason, that you’ll become better as a result of your grief, you can let them go.

Let me reiterate: all of those platitudes are bullshit.

You are not responsible to those who try to shove them down your throat. You can let them go.

I’m not saying you should. That is up to you, and only up to you. It isn’t an easy decision to make and should be made carefully. But I want you to understand that you can.

I’ve grieved many times in my life. I’ve been overwhelmed with shame and self-hatred so strong it’s nearly killed me.

The ones who helped—the only ones who helped—were those who were there. And said nothing.

In that nothingness, they did everything.

I am here—I have lived—because they chose to love me. They loved me in their silence, in their willingness to suffer with me, alongside me, and through me. They loved me in their desire to be as uncomfortable, as destroyed, as I was, if only for a week, an hour, even just a few minutes.

Most people have no idea how utterly powerful this is.

Are there ways to find “healing” amidst devastation? Yes. Can one be “transformed” by the hell life thrusts upon them? Absolutely. But it does not happen if one is not permitted to grieve. Because grief itself is not an obstacle.

The obstacles come later. The choices as to how to live; how to carry what we have lost; how to weave a new mosaic for ourselves? Those come in the wake of grief. It cannot be any other way.

Grief is woven into the fabric of the human experience. If it is not permitted to occur, its absence pillages everything that remains: the fragile, vulnerable shell you might become in the face of catastrophe.

Yet our culture has treated grief as a problem to be solved, an illness to be healed, or both. In the process, we’ve done everything we can to avoid, ignore, or transform grief. As a result, when you’re faced with tragedy you usually find that you’re no longer surrounded by people, you’re surrounded by platitudes.

What to Offer Instead

When a person is devastated by grief, the last thing they need is advice. Their world has been shattered. This means that the act of inviting someone—anyone—into their world is an act of great risk. To try and fix or rationalize or wash away their pain only deepens their terror.

Instead, the most powerful thing you can do is acknowledge. Literally say the words:

I acknowledge your pain. I am here with you.

Note that I said with you, not for you. For implies that you’re going to do something. That is not for you to enact. But to stand with your loved one, to suffer with them, to listen to them, to do everything butsomething is incredibly powerful.

There is no greater act than acknowledgment. And acknowledgment requires no training, no special skills, no expertise. It only requires the willingness to be present with a wounded soul, and to stay present, as long as is necessary.

Be there. Only be there. Do not leave when you feel uncomfortable or when you feel like you’re not doing anything. In fact, it is when you feel uncomfortable and like you’re not doing anything that you must stay.

Because it is in those places—in the shadows of horror we rarely allow ourselves to enter—where the beginnings of healing are found. This healing is found when we have others who are willing to enter that space alongside us. Every grieving person on earth needs these people.

Thus I beg you, I plead with you, to be one of these people.

You are more needed than you will ever know.

And when you find yourself in need of those people, find them. I guarantee they are there.

Everyone else can go.

8/21/15 – The Semicolon Tattoo Project, My PERSONAL Semicolon Project Story

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“Don’t let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries.” – Astrid Alauda (If only it were that easy sometimes.)

This is a blog I’m not sure I ever thought I’d write. But after some recent conversations with so many beautiful, strong, open people in my life, I realized that it’s time.

Tomorrow I get to meet Dr. Brené Brown! Do you have ANY idea how AMAZING that is? Maybe that’s what makes it easier to be extra vulnerable tonight. If so, thank you Dr. Brown, again, for making it a little easier each time.

Okay, enough stalling.

Anxiety. Generalized Anxiety. A diagnosis that many of you may not know I got as a teenager. Now, for those of you that have never heard me say that out loud, you may be thinking to yourselves, “Well that makes sense.” Or, “I KNEW it!” Either way, there it is, it’s on the interwebs forever…where I think it should be and it doesn’t define me.

Months ago I heard about The Semicolon Project, in extension, The Semicolon Tattoo project. I was intrigued, I was relieved, I was at peace. Finally! People were talking about my Voldemort (my “he” that shall not be named). For those of you that aren’t familiar but are interested, check their website out here: http://www.projectsemicolon.org/.

A brief definition from their website if you don’t currently have the time:

“Project Semicolon (The Semicolon Project) is a faith-based non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love and inspire.

There are so many people out there struggling with some sort of mental illness, addiction, depression or anxiety, and not talking about it just makes it worse. I know. Because I AM her. I am YOU. I am US!

I guess it’s time to talk about it. If you don’t struggle with any of this I think it’s easy to dismiss, difficult to understand and almost impossible to relate to. We know that. That’s why we don’t always talk about it. But that’s what makes our battles more difficult and more painful.

I finally realized something was wrong when my claustrophobia got to the point of out of control. It was no longer funny that I couldn’t sleep in a tent. It was no longer funny that being locked in a closet as a joke for more than 10 seconds made me literally flip my shit. It was real and the pain in my head, my chest, my stomach and my mind was debilitating.

Being diagnosed at about 15 or 16 with Generalized Anxiety Disorder was more embarrassing than anything. By definition, GAD is “an anxiety disorder marked by chronic excessive anxiety and worry that is difficult to control, causes distress or impairment in daily functioning, and is accompanied by three or more associated symptoms (as restlessness, irritability, poor concentration, and sleep disturbances)” At such a young age how can people know that about you and think you’re “normal”. It was hard. Being medicated for it so young was something I kept hidden from most people. All I wanted to do was convince myself that I would get to a point in my life when I wouldn’t have to take medication, then I’d be “okay”.

For years I was on and off of medication. Most of the time I was okay, but when my dad got sick it was too much. Back on medication. Then the mental battle began again, “When will I be ‘okay’ and be able to be off the meds? I can be ‘normal’.” Please note that I’ve always gone to therapy to help with the condition. I don’t think that popping a pill is an answer in and of itself. I work SO HARD on myself, to control it, to talk myself down, to breathe, to help others be patient with me, but it’s just not that easy.

Over the past 3 or so years, it has showed it’s scary face again, more often than before. I’m older now, with more responsibility, more to lose in this world and with that load comes a lot of stress and, at times, uncontrollable anxiety. For those of you that can’t relate, I can only share the words of others that have put the feelings into words better than I can:

From an Elephant Journal Article you can find here, “You wake up with that heavy flutter in your chest and a feeling of doom. And the hardest part is that sometimes you don’t even understand why.Work becomes challenging with even the smallest task feeling like a major chore. And reaching out is difficult since the last thing you want to feel like is a Debbie Downer.

From another Elephant Journal Article you can find here, “It feels like the pain of your past is being folded into the joy of your future—and you’re left, somewhere in between, unable to grasp the present. It’s blurring the line between that which is possible and probable, quietly fighting to uncover even the slightest crack in the most brazen of armours. It’s the way you somehow always manage to find one; magnify it, expand upon it—allow it to justify the tidal waves of self-doubt as they build, bend and break to shore. It’s your needing closure to that which you hold open. It’s harboring a silent resentment over the hypothetical scenarios of your own writing, leaving them to play out on a manic loop—sparking a groundless sense of panic which swells and consumes all remaining sense or logic. It’s your questioning even the purist of intentions, deeming yourself forever unworthy—not only of that which you desire, but of that which you’ve already received. It’s tripping over your own laces, tied voluntarily between each shoe…It’s the way you plant such damning evidence in amongst the unassuming beauty of everyday life; setting yourself up as victim and condemning those you love as criminal. It’s anticipating the emptiness to a glass currently full; the crumbling of a wall that remains standing—the eventual end to a feeling finally returned.”

The only thing I can add to that is that it feels like there is a fireball in the pit of my stomach, a dizziness that not even a roller coaster can cause, a nausea that bad seafood can’t create, a sweat from a 110 degree day and a headache worse than any hangover all covered in panic and a racing mind that sends you along falling dominos into a black hole. It’s scary. It’s lonely. It’s dark. It’s painful. It’s hard. BUT, I’m trying my best. I’m doing the BEST I can. So, if it happens around you, please be patient with me.

Why am I writing about this? Why am I sharing this? Because it’s time. It’s time to open up and let others that may relate know that there are others. It makes it a little less scary and I feel a little stronger putting it out there. It doesn’t need to be something I only face in my alone time because that’s not usually when it’s the worst. It’s a REAL battle, nothing to be embarrassed of and the fact that I can get up every damn day and put my feet on the ground and choose to fight my own mind, to live my own life is something to be proud of!

This is my Semicolon story, and I’m choosing not to end it, but to continue to begin it again, every day. An author uses a semicolon when they could have ended a sentence but have chosen not to. That speaks volumes across so many levels to me. Since I heard about this Project I have wanted the tattoo. After watching this video today I am officially ready, now I just need my quote.

To my friends and loved ones, this isn’t a cry for help. It could seem that way if you can’t relate. I’m fine, I’m great actually! I’m happy, I’m successful and I LOVE my life! It’s just that some days, for me, are a little harder than others. And there is NOTHING wrong with admitting that 🙂 I just feel EVERY THING! I feel it a little stronger, a little deeper and a little longer than others. That’s all! I’m not sure I’d change that about me either. My struggles don’t define me, they just help to make me the woman I am.

To any one out there, especially to young kids and teens that are struggling with anything that makes them feel alone…you aren’t and you are NOT your struggles! Your story is NOT over yet! Put a semicolon, not a period. Get up one more day and start it all over again. Life is worth it. It may be crazy but damn isn’t it also BEAUTIFUL?

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6/9/15 – Vulnerability, Risk and Connection

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“Courage is telling our story, not being immune to criticism. Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection…I’m inspired by everyone who shares their work and opinions with the world. Courage is contagious. My friend Katherine Center says, ‘You have to be brave with your life so that others can be brave with theirs.'” – Dr. Brené Brown

The last blog I wrote was a very difficult one for me to write and even more difficult for me to share. I have been thinking about it for YEARS, ever since I started this blog. I think that one of my hopes when I started the blog was to eventually share what I shared on the 4th without being scared of how vulnerable I had to be when I shared it with the interweb world and my network of family and friends. I’m not sure if I thought that day would ever come but it did…and I was immediately changed!

I received a lot of positive feedback from what I wrote and, please let it be known, that every word, share and like was noticed, appreciated, humbling and was felt in my heart and soul. It’s for those words and that feedback that I write. I read a lot on the topics of self-awareness, vulnerability, authenticity, fear and personal growth. Over the years the authors and doctors behind all of the books and journals I have read have taught me that vulnerability is not only necessary for self-growth but that the courage that it takes to be vulnerable is contagious and it is within the fear behind vulnerability that we find our strength and true selves. It’s AMAZING how true that is today after I shared one of my darkest sides last week. I truly feel like a better, stronger and more authentic version of ME and I BELIEVE what I said to myself. I have already begun to change my thoughts, the way I see and speak to myself and my word choices in dialogue with others.

It worked, it really worked, Dr. Brown!!! You were right! “Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.”The connection I felt with hundreds of you after I shared my blog is indescribable and connection is such a beautiful and comforting feeling. To know that there are others out there that share your same stories, struggles, pains and feelings is what keeps many of us going when the going gets tough. We are not alone in this world. We all fight very similar battles and its by putting our wounds and stories out there for all to see that we find that shared connection and reminder that it’s not just us on this roller coaster of life. It can be a beautiful ride and we don’t have to ride it alone.

Thank you to all of you that have let me know that you are in the seats with me. By being brave with my life I have helped some of you to be brave with yours and that’s the reason I LOVE to write. Thank you for making the vulnerability worth it and for being vulnerable enough to say it out loud.

Dr. Brené Brown will be in Nashville in August and I bought my ticket immediately! I can hardly wait to meet the woman that has helped to change my life, that has taught me how to be vulnerable, how to embrace my imperfections and that “authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” Shaking her hand and hearing her speak in person will be a true gift that I’m so excited to receive! If you haven’t read any of her work, start with The Gifts of Imperfection. Consider it a gift to yourself! (Or a gift from me!) 😉

I will end this blog with ONE MORE quote for tonight. It’s one of my absolute favorites:

E.E. Cummings

6/3/15 – We Must Change!

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“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling

I feel like every time I have posted a blog over the past 2 years I have started it the same, “Man it’s been awhile since I’ve written…”, “I need to get back to blogging consistently…”, “I really miss writing…”.

Well, here I am again, same old song and dance, and all of the above is true! It’s been awhile since I’ve written, I need to get back to blogging consistently and I REALLY miss writing! It’s not that I haven’t been inspired to write, especially seeing that Bailey passed away 6 weeks ago and she was always such an inspiration for me. I’ve wanted to write about her since that sad day on April 14th so bad, I just haven’t been strong enough yet. And there have been many days when quotes have consumed my mind, I just haven’t put them to “paper”.

But today, today I feel like it’s time for me to write. To address a topic that I’ve wanted to talk about for so long. A topic that consumes my mind on a daily basis and a topic that I have carried on my back like a 5oo-lb gorilla for most of my life.

The topic is broad and can probably be broken into a few topics that all tie together:

The Power of Words, The Power of Judgement, Self-Sabotage

Our news is constantly full of stories like how hot Caitlyn Jenner is as a woman, how fat Melissa McCarthy and Kelly Clarkson are, how perfect and beautiful the Duchess of Cambridge is after having her second baby and how Giuliana Rancic is too skinny. Every magazine on the shelf has a new diet to get you “bathing suit ready”, our first comment after seeing a picture of ourselves has to do with how fat or ugly we look and we edit the picture until it doesn’t even look like us and most of us can’t take an honest compliment anymore without cutting ourselves down. I’ve had it, I can’t take it anymore, and I’m GUILTY as well! But I’m DONE!

This will be one of the most vulnerable blog posts I’ve ever written and it’s way over due.

Words

This is so true…words are an addiction! Our society is addicted to words that are killing us all slowly. Words that we use to describe and judge others, words that we use to describe and judge ourselves are drugs that we just can’t put down, no matter how bad we know they are for us and those around us. We use them and use them and use them!

“Fat”

“Ugly”

“Too Skinny”

“Sick”

“Gross”

“Disgusting”

“Gay”

These are the words we use when we talk about others and when we talk about ourselves. We comment on the appearance of other people CONSTANTLY! We are consumed by it, particularly woman. We are AWFUL to each other! We poison one another with these words and they stab like knives. They leave permanent marks on the soul and they carry on in the minds of young girls, boys, men and women like Scarlet Letters, burnt on our skin for years and years.

Why do we do this to one another? Why is acceptance of ourselves and others so hard? Why must we label and judge by physical appearance and sexual orientation? What are we scared of? Why do we spread such hate? Deep down, I know that we all want love and acceptance more than anything else in this world. That’s a characteristic I truly think all humans share at their core, yet we continue to get our next fix on such hateful and powerful words.

Since I was little I’ve been judged by my weight, by the way that I look, the way that I dress. I’ve been called such hurtful names, thinking about them brings tears to my eyes as I type right now at 32 years old. I can remember specific moments from my past and with each memory I feel a pain in my chest and a lump in my throat. Why? Because these words were SO powerful! They HURT then and they still HURT now! I will never forget them and how they made me feel and continue to make me feel. I’m a grown woman, I know that I “know better” and that I need to “be bigger than that”, but it’s not that simple. As I grew up I began to define myself like everyone else did. I was fat, I was disgusting and I was ashamed of myself. Every day my mind is consumed by my size and my appearance. I can’t remember a time when I have truly been comfortable in my own skin since about the age of 12. It was around that time that I began to talk to myself like kids did around me….and I was listening.

Be Careful

Not only was I listening I was self-sabotaging myself. I hated myself and I was inferior. Now, at age 32, I’m in a relationship with someone who thinks I’m the most beautiful person in this world and I STILL can’t take a compliment from him. HOW ANNOYING!!! I’m over it! I’m over the tears, I’m over hating myself, I’m over all of the tabloids, the news, the judgements, the hate, the poisonous words! I’m DONE!!! I’m sick of not being comfortable in my own skin and I’m sick of being defined by a society by my waist size and my figure. I’m sick and tired of it dragging me down EVERY day!

This is going to take a lot of time because I’m addicted to this drug. I’m addicted to the words, the thoughts, the constant fear of the thoughts of others. But I have to train my mind.  I don’t want to discuss “How much weight ‘he’ or ‘she’ has gained” or “How much weight’he’ or ‘she’ has lost” or “How good or bad ‘he’ or ‘she’ looks”. These conversations just make me feel worse and worse about ME. It hurts! I have to change the way I’m living this life because over a third of it is over and I can’t carry this 500-lb gorilla on my back anymore.

NO ONE CAN. NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO. WE MUST CHANGE!

We truly are good enough just the way we are.

So, Caitlyn Jenner, you are a woman. Whether you are some people’s definition of physical beauty or not, you are who you are and hopefully finally comfortable in your own skin, and that’s what matters. I hope that so many out there can find comfort in your journey. Melissa McCarthy and Kelly Clarkson, you are 2 talented women and I commend you for your success and strength in such an angry and judging world. Duchess, you are a mother of 2 and a wife to the Duke of Cambridge and you seem to have such a beautiful soul, I’m sure Princess Di would be so proud, and Giuliana Rancic, you have faced personal battles many of us will never understand and have been successful in your career. You are a wonderful role model for young women in this country. To the young kid or even the oldest adult that is reading this right now, you ARE enough and you ARE beautiful the way you are.

And, last but not least, Lauren LaViola, you are a kind and successful woman who loves with a big heart, who is stubborn as a mule and who deserves a life of happiness, free of judgement. You ARE “bathing suit ready” right now, today at over 200lbs and a size 16, yesterday, and always! Your character is not defined by your weight or your external appearance and you too must change the words you use. You must stop judging others solely because you are actually, deep down, just judging yourself. You must change!

We all must change! We are bigger and better than this and we are capable of so much more! There are so many more important things to focus on in this world.

We must LOVE!

2/18/15 – Own Your Shit

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Elizabeth Gilbert shared this today on Facebook and I felt it re-share/blog worthy! Enjoy! And thanks to Liz as always!

“OWN YOUR SHIT”

“Dear Ones –

Oh how I love this drawing, sent to me last week by a friend of this page who knows me so very well, and who thought I would like it.

Hell yes, I do like it!

The artist is a woman named Carrie Hilgert, Artist . From what I understand, the character shown here is somebody named Myrtle, who, in the words of her creator, “doesn’t give two fucks.”

I love this character. I love Myrtle’s posture, her attitude, her self-assurance. “What Would Myrtle Do?” is perhaps not such a bad question upon which to base your life

One thing I can tell you about Myrtle? SHE OWNS HER SHIT.

You guys, for serious, it’s very important that you learn how to own your shit. At some point in your life, you really have to get honest about the weirdest and most damaged and most broken parts of your existence, and take responsibility for it all…lovingly, but unblinkingly.

Or, as Iyanla Vanzant puts it: “I know my crazy. Do you know your crazy?”

You gotta know your own crazy. Can’t own your shit without knowing your crazy.

For many years, I didn’t own my shit because I didn’t KNOW my shit. If you don’t know your shit, people, then that shit will control you and make your life into Crazy Town. Until you own your shit, all you do is make excuses for the madness that is always surrounding you, while throwing blame around like confetti.

By this point in my life, though, I know the worst of me. I know the triggers that make me into a temporarily insane person. I know my vulnerabilities and my pride. I know the stuff that makes me want to deceive, and the stuff that makes me vindictive, and the stuff that makes me insecure, and the stuff that makes me just flat-out mean and ugly. And I definitely know all my demons by their first names.

This is what therapy does — helps you to learn your shit, inside and out. This is what meditation is for. This is what recovery is for. This is what reconciling the contradictions of your life is for. This is what radical honesty is for. This is what the courage of truthful introspection is for.

Owning your shit begins to happen the moment you finally recognize that the common denominator in all your biggest problems is YOU.

Not them: YOU.

It’s a beautiful, humbling, necessary realization. It’s an education. It’s painful. It’s the beginning of adulthood. It’s pretty much the definition of maturity.

And then you take a deep breath and say, “OK, I admit it. It’s me. That’s my crazy shit. I own it. Now what?”

Then, the work begins.

You might or might not be able to change it, but at least you gotta own it.

That doesn’t mean abusing yourself: it just means taking accountability. Own your shit with love and perspective and self-compassion…but definitely own it.

Don’t worry if other people are owning their shit or not. That isn’t your problem. Just own yours. Keep your side of the street clean and honest, and rest of it is none of your business.

Just be honest and real. Like Myrtle. Who I freaking love.

Please do check out Carrie’s blog, too, where, JOY OF JOYS, you can order this as a t-shirt:

http://carriehilgert.com/2015/02/15/meet-myrtle/

Thank you, Carrie, for this fabulous creation!

Thank you, Myrtle, for being awesome.

ONWARD!

LG”

1/29/15 – Cheers, Parenthood!

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“Do you know what I told my kids every day of their lives? I mean, all four of them, whether I was angry or frustrated or sad or whatever, I… You know what I told them every day? ‘I love you.’ I wanted it to be clear to them, that’s why I told them.” – Zeek Braverman, “Parenthood”

March 2010, six months after the passing of my father, the show “Parenthood” premiered its pilot episode. During a time of my life when I have never felt so lost or so scared, this show became a place of comfort. Watching the raw inner workings of this relatable television family I found somewhere I could go every week and cry. An hour a week when I was allowed to cry and blame it on something else. An hour a week when I didn’t always cry because of what they were going through, rather I cried with them and let out my own tears that I fought to hold in from everyone around me, trying to hide my pain out of fear that I would seem weak. To many of you that will make sense. To many of you this may seem like the wrong way to grieve. But what I learned is that the word grief has no definition and no boundaries. Ever since that night in March, 2010 I have been one of the many that fell in love with the show and became a member of the Braverman family.

The ups and downs that this family has gone through over its six seasons on the air have been so real to me. I’m going to miss my Thursday nights with the Bravermans. I have to say that I’m going to grieve this loss like any other loss in my life. That may seem super cheesy to a lot of people but it’s hard to explain how many parts of this show have paralleled my own life. It has truly found its own special place in my heart.

So here I sit tonight, with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and a box of tissues, ready to say goodbye to a BEAUTIFUL show that has taught me so much and helped me through more than I can put into words. As Zeek taught us above, tell people you love them EVERY DAY. Make that very clear.

Cheers, “Parenthood”! Thanks for the unconditional support, for being a “friend” to turn to that wouldn’t judge me and for all of the tears over the years. I’m not sure I would have gotten “it” all out without you!