V is for Vulnerability; Finding Strength in the Cracks

 

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ~ Brené Brown

What is the last true, authentic feeling you had?

The last time you felt something fully and gave into it; when you allowed yourself to be washed over with emotion? Now…what was that feeling, exactly?

If you are anything like me, that last feeling was pain. A pain that likely came about during the attempt to avoid a situation, goal or desire for which pain was a possible outcome. A pain amplified by the knowledge that if you were going to feel it anyway, it could have been time better spent. A pain that tears down, but does not rebuild.

So tell me…what was the point?

I wasted a good many years being invincible. Never let them see me sweat, never a moment of weakness. Never let them see me want, need, desire. My muted anger became my muted happiness; my steel resolve my prison. Muffled reactions silenced my prayers; my calm grayed my world. The Universe and the people around me reacted to what I projected; calm, even, just enough. I watched in silence as others received what they asked for aloud. Suffocated under the weight of responsibilities piled atop another as I never seemed to need help. But even as I sank, I refused to let the cracks show. Until one day, I broke. And as I fell apart, the light came out.

I showed up. Raw, broken and needing-and the Universe met me right there. People in my life showed up. Bit by bit, my strength showed up. Not the veneer of invincibility I once had, but a resolve-a forward propellant. Did I all of a sudden start winning? Nope. Not even a little bit. But things meant for me started peeking out and making themselves more visible. Opportunities became clearer. Loved ones began to pay attention. People and situations that stayed long past their expiration date began to fade away. Bags began to fall. Help began to appear when I needed it. Light beamed through the cracks and I became brighter.

I have since learned vulnerability isn’t as much about showing the cracks as it is about filling them. If you never have a need, it cannot be filled. If you cannot express a desire the Universe will never tune in. If your ambition stays on your vision board and never shows up with you to work the same goals will be on that board next year. If you never tell them what you ache for they cannot give it to you.

So today, as this month comes to a close and your layers have been peeled away, pray out loud. Put it in the Universe. Tell them.

What are you afraid of?

Write the Letter.

Tell her she makes you smile.

Ask your boss if they have five minutes to chat.

Tell him You need more.

Make that phone call.

Dance.

Desire.

Live Out Loud.

It is only through the cracks that light can shine.

 

**This post is part of The Layers of Self-Discovery Tour created by GG Renee of All the Many Layers.  Follow the tour through the blogs of 26 women exploring the complexities of womanhood and self-discovery from A to Z.  Click here to keep up with each post and enter to win a giveaway package full of goodies for your mind, body and soul.  #LayersAtoZTour

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The 4 Before 40; #NaBloPoMo Day 24

DAY 24// If babyhood is spring and young adulthood is summer, which age do you consider to be the start to the “autumn” of life?

I once had a boss that was everything I wanted to be at 65.

Over the course of her life she enjoyed a personally fulfilling career for which she was born to do (seriously, she was great at it), a lovely marriage to a husband supportive of her demanding (and entirely self-inflicted) work schedule, an exciting love-life post-widow-ship and so many stamps on her passport you’d think she was a diplomat. She has traveled down the Colorado and Amazon rivers, rode elephants, donkeys and camels, and has a particular multi-continent love tale that would make Joan Collins blush.

Mind you, none of this occurred before she was 37.

So while I don’t exactly rest on my laurels, I’m not super-obsessed with what I might be missing due to the passage of time. Which is why I rarely make “lists” such as these. However, there are a few things I would like to check off my list before the start of the “fall season” of my life, if nothing more than to be properly prepared for the fun to come:

Give my inner child the fun she has long deserved- As a product of the South Bronx, there were a few things I missed out on in order to um…stay safe-mainly, outdoor play. While we did get the privilege of attending summer camps, I unfortunately didn’t get much of a chance to try all the activities you need weeks to learn and practice-like riding a bike, roller-blading and swimming. And while I could likely live the rest of my life just fine without ever learning…I don’t have to. So why not now? Besides, bike riding is a fun date. Speaking of which…

Go on a couple’s road trip- I know what you’re thinking with this one but trust me, I did it in reverse-all of my super-dope travel stories are solo trips! Grand Canyon, Acadia National Park, Amsterdam, backpacking in Central America, all were adventures I took on alone. And while they were fun and fulfilling…I’d like a few stories for which I don’t say, “oh, you had to be there”. I want to get lost, take a few cheesy photos, have a candle-lit dinner or two and share an inside joke. But in order for a road trip to happen I’d likely need to…

Make use of this damn license- While it’s a long story I will likely expound upon, the short of it is I learned to drive and obtained my license in the middle of a very hard time. I was not in a condition to be on the road so once I moved back to a city where I didn’t need to drive I never took it back up. And every time I have to ask someone to drive me somewhere I pinch myself for not continuing to practice. So it’s definitely one of the most important to me, getting back on the road as a healthy individual. And lastly…

Embrace my creative-As we speak I am packing to move to another apartment, and I came across my old container of work. There’s a half-finished book of writing, a notebook with script ideas, a sketchbook, and ballet shoes. I don’t know when suppressing this side of me became a thing, but it is something I’d like to go back to. Maybe as we get older we “put childish things away”, but if I’m indulging my inner child and my inner impulsive I might as well go full-throttle, no?

So that’s mine! Anyone have any lofty goals for 40?

**This post was also inspired by my boo over at Now a Word or Two! Check out her list!

**Photo Credit: DeviantArt

The Color of Change; #NaBloPoMo Day 21

DAY 21// Orange is a color that people either hate or love: tell us how you feel about it.

I once knew a man who assigned everything a color.

He dreamed in green; he made music to yellow, if he was bored it was blue, and his favorite color was orange. For he was a man in constant motion, and orange is the color of change.

Conversely, I’m not a giant fan of orange. I think it makes me look a bit sallow, to be honest. But that’s why we keep people around us that are different, isn’t it? Balance.

As a man in motion he has long moved along. But every so often I wonder what color his life is now.

Because, as fate has a sense of humor, my present life is bathed in orange. For Orange is the color of change.

**Photo Credit: DeviantArt

The Nail; #NaBloPoMo Day 20

There was a young man walking down the street and happened to see a old man sitting on his porch. Next to the old man was his dog, who was whining and whimpering. The young man asked the old man “What’s wrong with your dog” The old man said “He’s laying on a nail”. The young man asked “Laying on a nail?, Well why doesn’t he get up?” The old man then replied “It’s not hurting bad enough.”

Source | Les Brown

I wish for the blanket of comfort to be ripped off my naked body.

A state of restlessness so disconcerting, so all-consuming

I have no choice but to transform.

To be Reborn.

I wish for Desire so disquieting

That the Universe has no other choice

But to Listen; To hear, see my need

My screams, piercing

Pure, blinding, explosive Truth

A soul naked, vulnerable and raw

A Change, inevitable.

I wish to be shaken, rocked

Tested, broken, Shattered

Tempered.

Emerging anew

Armored with Authenticity, unbreakable Truth

Fierce and fearless Love

Open. Growing. Movement. Forward.

I wish for the blanket of Comfort to be ripped off my naked body

A Pain Unbearable

A Diamond Emerges.

**Photo Credit: DeviantArt

Whose Deadline is it, Anyway? #NaBloPoMo Day 13

DAY 13// Do you work well under pressure when it’s crunch time?

So… I’m a bit of a procrastinator.

As I write this I’m staring at a pile of unfinished work, an unpacked house with an impending move, midterms around the corner and two writing challenges!

**pours fifth cup of coffee**

While it’s no secret that INFJ’s are prone to bouts of scatterbrain and will put off change and conflict for as long as humanly possible, I can’t quite blame this tendency on a character trait. Whether a date or a due date, the one thing you can count on is me sliding into home covered in dust at minute :59. I decided to dig a bit deeper to find out why, and I didn’t have to look far, as I follow Julie Morgenstern on twitter!

According to Julie there are four main reasons you’re not getting things done: the task is too big, you have anxiety over the task or what comes next, or you work better under pressure.

For me I find it is a combination of two; I tend to look at things big-picture, so big projects seem overwhelmingly large instead of just a series of steps. Also, I’m a bit of a perfectionist and waiting until the last minute takes the pressure off the finished product-after all if it isn’t perfect I can always blame my lack of time instead of my actual performance!

So if you find yourself stuck like I did, here’s three small steps I’m taking that you can, too:

Finish ONE thing- Sometimes keeping all the tabs open on your tasks is like trying to stop the tide with a teacup-so you give up and turn to Pinterest instead! Put away your phone, close all the tabs except one, and give yourself a time limit to finish-it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be done. Bask in the glow of it for a few minutes-then, do it all over again!

Allow yourself a shitty first draft– Progress over perfection, folks.

Break down your day into manageable chunks-no matter HOW small– I literally got to the point where I had to work in 15-minute blocks of time on a singular task to keep myself from getting anxious. I took my biggest project, broke it down into tasks, then broke the tasks into separate appointments and tossed the list. All I saw was my next “appointment” instead of the 15 more tasks on the list-which made me breathe a lot easier.

What about you? What is your biggest time-drain? Are you a “perfect procrastinator”?

Photo credit-DeviantArt

#NaBloPoMo Day 9: ‘Tis the…Cuffing Season?

DAY 9// Is there any fall flavor that turns your stomach?

When I think of fall I see cider, warm pies, long walks and foliage.

You know what I don’t think of?

A mad dash to find a warm body for the winter.

Affectionately titled “Cuffing Season”, the first cooler breeze signals the hunt for a partner with whom to share the covers on the cold nights ahead. Not to be confused with actually looking for a partner, cuffing season is strictly meant for light seasonal companionship. Now, while I’ve always thought it to be a joke, it apparently is serious enough to warrant articles…

Like THIS one.

And THIS one.

And even a “SURVIVAL GUIDE”.

Like…when did this become a thing?

Maybe I’m taking this too seriously, but I can’t help but wonder if we are so starved for genuine connections that we will use a season to entertain any ol’ body..just to have one around. Or hey, maybe after the last few trying months we need something fun and frivolous to take our mind off all that freedom fighting. Who knows? But personally while this fall “flavor” may not necessarily “turn my stomach”…I’m not a giant fan of casual connections. So I thought of a few things I’ll be making a mad dash for instead:

MY HEALTH:

I’ve spoken before on how much of a toll this year of change has been taking on me, and lately the stress has manifested itself in not-so-healthy eating and sleeping habits, and reduced exercise. Instead of hibernating for the colder months, I usually take that time to cocoon myself in the gym and home inventing healthy yummy dishes so I emerge better than ever for the spring and summer! Fall is a great time to re-commit to your health and fitness routine.

MY SCHEDULE:

Many successful and artistic people I admire swear by a strict, and rather boring morning routine to start off their day with a clear head and a clean slate. Having a set routine at the beginning of the day allows your mind the freedom of chaotic thought, where great ideas are born. I figure I can start any time, so why not now?

MY CRIB: 

I have developed a bit of a reputation as the girl who always looks like she’s ready to leave. This year will see me moving into a new casa (more on that later) with plenty of decorating and hosting opportunities!

MY BUDDIES:

I’ve. Been. Horrible. Getting acclimated to new environments takes a strain on my “interaction battery” so I’ve been shunning events and invites lately. Like, a lot of them. Like, “girl, are you alive?”-level hibernation. So if I’m going to be putting myself out there, I’d rather do it with company I actually enjoy. And who knows who I’ll meet along the way?

Stag Series: My Favorite Date (#NaBloPoMo Day 7)

DAY 7// Tell us about your favorite autumnal edible treat.

When was the last time you took yourself out on a date?

And WHY isn’t this a tradition, hmm?

Hands down, my favorite “first” date is a dessert date. A guy took me out for cupcakes once and I never looked back. It’s stress-free, there’s no obligation to make it long, you don’t have to dress up or act pretentious (it’s cheap) and you can always keep the date going if it goes well!

If you’re wondering…it didn’t. But the seed was planted.

Since then I have made a dessert date with myself a bi-monthly tradition. Just me, a cute-but-comfy getup, a book (or the Kindle-app on my phone) and a big cup of coffee. And as such, I’ve acquired a few haunts that I consider favorites. One of my absolute faves is Betty Bakery!

Located a few blocks away from the Barclays Center on Atlantic Avenue, Betty’s is a cornucopia of confections, a haven of yum. While their specialty (and main business) is elaborately designed special-occasion cakes and custom pies, they supplement this with a small front where they sell more portable treats, such as homemade Twinkies and single-servings of their pies and cakes. And while my summer is filled with sweet mouthfuls of their excellent key-lime pie, from October on?

It’s all about the Pumpkin Pie with in-house whipped cream.

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I can’t even describe this not-too-sweet, not-too spicy perfection laid upon the flakiest of crusts. Ice-cold, warm, a-la mode, alone with coffee, topped with meringue, I have literally eaten every version of this pie they have ever made-and I’m a sweet potato pie lover! It’s so good I don’t share. Don’t you ask me for a bit of my pie, dawg. Get your own.

It’s my absolute favorite treat, and my favorite date.

How about you? Any favorite solo-date traditions?