Yes, You Can

I often find when reading advice columns, what the writer most often seeks is permission.

Is it ok. Is it ok to feel bothered by this behavior after months of gaslighting to the contrary. Is it ok to leave. Is it ok to stay. I like this, does it mean I am broken. Am I weird for being this way, am I the only one.

This is a non-educated guess but judging from the epiphanies I see on social media this is common in therapy as well. Folks contorting themselves into different people, forcing themselves into triggering situations because not being bothered by them is surely something “normal” people do.

Is it ok to not be normal. Is it ok to just…not do this thing normal people do.

It is not lost on me that it is a strange post to be tied to a picture of a crispy-fried sunny-side up egg, but it happened to be my first one in years.

Why?

I detest anything but a completely set white, but I love a runny yolk. And I just discovered it is an Instagram foodie hack to simply…cook the whites first, then gently re-add the yolk.

Is this the most non-normal method of frying an egg I have ever heard of? Absolutely. Did I do just that and gobble it up anyway? Of course. Because I can.

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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

Desire and the #30Layers30Days Challenge; The Wrap-up

DAY 30 // START. STOP. CONTINUE.

Have your answers changed since the beginning of the challenge?
START: What do you want to start doing? What do you want more of in your life? What feelings, what activities, what energy? What baby step can you take today?

STOP: What have you had enough of? What are you tolerating or feeding into that is not adding value to your life? What area of your life is begging for more boundaries?

CONTINUE: What habits or trends do you want to continue? What’s been working for you? What can you do to ensure you keep it going?

 

I had no idea what I was getting into.

I jokingly nicknamed myself the “comment savant” a while ago. While I didn’t normally post or have a blog of my own, every so often on the blogs I’d frequent I’d leave a random gem of a comment so profoundly layered that people kept asking me why I don’t turn them into posts. “I’m only good for a genius comment once in a while, this isn’t an everyday occurrence, lol!! was always my response.

When I began this blog, I wanted it to be an outlet for me to learn to trust my hand. It had been a long time since I’d written freely-years-and I didn’t have a whole lot of faith in it. I didn’t know if I would have anything to say. I didn’t know where I wanted it to go. I just knew I’d learned a lot about myself in the year since I’d gotten out of a decade-long consecutive string of relationships and I had to get it out.

I originally did this challenge as a free-writing boot camp of sorts. I’d post the challenges that inspired me to write more than just the answers to the questions and share on my own time. Turns out I had a lot to say, a lot to learn, and even more to let go of.

As I look back and review the posts over the last 30 days, I honestly can’t believe they came out of me. But I am grateful for the chance to open up, and even more grateful for the people that came along with me. This was a great learning exercise. I saw patterns in my thinking that I hadn’t payed attention to before, found new challenges within myself to work on, and most of all let go of a lot of the need to have everything be “perfect”. Sometimes it just is. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can come together. Sometimes you need to just keep moving. Sometimes you need to be still. It’s been a great month, and I will likely practice with more monthly challenges until the year’s end.

And hey, you…thanks.

Conceived by GG Rene of AllTheManyLayers.com, the #30Layers30Days Challenge dares writers to dig deep with thoughtful daily inspirations meant to promote introspective thought and mindful journal practice. I will be posting my more inspired entries from the daily challenges. You can follow the #30Layers30Days hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, or follow GG Rene at @ggrenewrites.

The Monster; #30Layers30Days Challenge Day 27

DAY 27 // LURKING

What is the elephant in the room of your mind?  What issue, big or small, are you avoiding because you feel you don’t have the time or energy to deal with it?  Even if you don’t take action on it right now, writing about it will keep you self-aware.  When we ignore parts of ourselves, those parts act out in our lives in subtle ways.

 “I don’t think there’s anything I can do to shake your confidence.”

I guffawed internally. I was in the middle of airing out my grievances to a potential suitor, one of them being his spotty attempts to make plans. I had joked that his perceived reluctance to see me was giving me a complex.

I may have only been half-joking.

Whether it’s due to my wit or background in sales, somehow I have developed a reputation for being a person that holds myself in high regard. I have not one clue how that happened. Maybe it’s cause I save my crying for the shower? Maybe it’s because I save my complaints for my journal? Me no know. But what I do know is every day I am anxious about something, and it’s due to this irrational fear that I’m going to be found out. Because I’m really full of shit.

I swear, this is an actual thought.

I dance around relationships because somehow I think he’s going to realize that I don’t have that much going for me. I take pictures from the same side because somebody one day is going to figure out I’m not that cute.I don’t bring a bunch of people to my house because they will learn that it’s only 3/4 furnished. My house is 3/4 furnished because I’m certain I’m not going to live there long. I don’t plant my feet, I don’t claim victories, I don’t brag on interviews, I don’t charge as much as I should for my consulting services-all because I swear someone’s going to pop my big ass balloon after finding out all I’m filled with is hot air.

Does it sound crazy to you yet? Listen, I gotta get this out.

I am literally laughing hysterically as I type this. I know this is ridiculous. I’ve won pageants. I’ve spoken in public settings for years. I have a Miss America and over $100,000 worth of scholarships awarded to my titleholders in my history. I’m a damn good host. I’m a great cook. I was published at 16. I’m well-traveled and figured out how to do it on my dime. Everything I’ve tried to do I’ve gone in blind with zero experience, and I can figure my way through damn near anything. I’m pretty, I’m witty, I’m intelligent and I can prove anyone wrong that doesn’t believe it.

Except me.

It’s the monster under my bed. It’s what I go to sleep with every night. It’s what’s on my shoulder every time I want to put my foot down. It asks me how dare I have standards. Why should I ask for that. Why don’t I just accept what’s given. How can I think I deserve to ask for more. Why would he want to be around me, anyway. Do you really think someone’s going to listen to you. Every. Day. Every day. Every. Damn. Day.

Whew.

I don’t have a neat ending for this one, either…but somehow getting it out makes a world of difference. So, even if you don’t do it here, do it for yourself. Write down whatever the hell it is you think is “ain’t shit” about you. And read it out loud. And have a good belly laugh. Then dammit, move on.

And yes, I’m talking to myself, here.

Conceived by GG Rene of AllTheManyLayers.com, the #30Layers30Days Challenge dares writers to dig deep with thoughtful daily inspirations meant to promote introspective thought and mindful journal practice. I will be posting my more inspired entries from the daily challenges. You can follow the #30Layers30Days hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, or follow GG Rene at @ggrenewrites.

The Moments that Make the Difference; #30Layers30Days Challenge Day 26

DAY 26 // THANK YOU

Who do you want to thank for inspiring you?  Not necessarily your biggest fan like Day 13, but what person has had a powerful impact on your life and helped you to change in a positive way?  This could be a person you know or a public figure.  Either way, write a note of thanks to this person.

You don’t know me, but I thank you.

It was your passing conversation, that brief moment in time. It was a stray word, a throwaway blog entry, that last phrase before you said good bye. A breeze in your life but an event in mine. The smallest of gestures that reverberate in my memory. A lasting impression that barely made a dent in your day. The moments that made a difference.

You didn’t know me but I was the last stranger you spoke to. You gave me your family ring because you had no family left. And I kept that ring on my finger until I was brave enough to go back to my own family. And I rejoice, as you are now with yours.

You hadn’t met me but your musings helped me find my voice. And in finding mine, giving voice to others. You are far more impactful than you give yourself credit for. You will know this one day.

We’d just met but your drive sparked a fire. You asked “why not” and I looked at my life and realized I had no excuse. You’ll never remember that conversation, but it became a compass to lead me on the road back to me.

We’d worked together for the briefest of moments, but you lived life loud. You attacked every aspect of life with the same ferociousness and I remain jealous of your unapologetic nature. You made me go back when I gave up with one sentence, and my life was forever changed as a result.

To you I am one face in a sea of events you attended, but that evening you gave me your ear. All of you accomplished, degreed, prominent members of a society I may never live amongst. You listened to me speak on what I was most passionate about. It was my first major speaking event, and you let me fumble, gather myself and eventually applauded my efforts. I learned that day that everyone has something of value, no matter their station. Including me.

The biggest impacts on my life have all come from many small moments. Tears I’ve shared with strangers. Hands I’ve held with people I will never see again. For this I am eternally grateful. For this I thank you.

Conceived by GG Rene of AllTheManyLayers.com, the #30Layers30Days Challenge dares writers to dig deep with thoughtful daily inspirations meant to promote introspective thought and mindful journal practice. I will be posting my more inspired entries from the daily challenges. You can follow the #30Layers30Days hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, or follow GG Rene at @ggrenewrites.

Feels Like Home (pt. 3); #30Layers30Days Challenge Day 24

DAY 24 // HEARTSTRINGS

What do you want to change about the world? What cause or need tugs at your heartstrings the most?

 

Michael had always been an introvert I understood.

Intensely intuitive, often tormented by his ability to feel the pain in the world. Acutely aware of it due to his travels. Unable to find a quiet from the constant noise. Functioning at a constant state of burnout. Alone among millions. Out of place in his own home.

His death felt intensely personal to me because it reignited a fear I have had since childhood-that I will never rise above the noise and find a balance. That I would never find a place to “be”. That my place is somehow not here.

But like Michael I have always found a safe space with children. Specifically, children who feel as out of place as I do. He often surrounded himself with orphans, or child-stars weighed down by the weight of being their family’s sole support. He found joy in giving them a place where they weren’t alone or unique. And this is where my heart lies.

While others coo over newborns, I’m usually in the corner with the new middle child helping them adjust. I have always had a place in my heart for children in the system and hope to adopt an older child, or at least be able to mentor a few from youth through adolescence. I took great joy in my work speaking with and coaching through the pageant system and consider being a part of their story one of the accomplishments I can take to my old age. I can’t even write this out without getting emotional about it. But making the difference in one child’s life somehow makes the big world and all its ills manageable.

Conceived by GG Rene of AllTheManyLayers.com, the #30Layers30Days Challenge dares writers to dig deep with thoughtful daily inspirations meant to promote introspective thought and mindful journal practice. I will be posting my more inspired entries from the daily challenges. You can follow the #30Layers30Days hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, or follow GG Rene at @ggrenewrites.

The Power of Yes; #30Layers30Days Challenge Day 23

DAY 23 // LIMITATIONS & AFFIRMATIONS

Limiting thoughts have a way of popping up when we are trying to rise to our next level.  These thoughts tells us that we can’t do it, it will be too hard, or we’re not enough or we’re too much.  Do you think your personality, appearance or background holds you back? What kinds of limitations do you harbor in your mind?  Counter each limitation with a positive affirmation to reverse it.  

“A No is what you had when you started.”

I have a pretty extensive background in sales. For many years, this was my mantra. Whenever I was afraid to ask for something, afraid to take that chance or worried about rejection I’d always mutter “a ‘no’ is what you had when you started, so you have nothing to lose.” And I’m sure on the surface, it looks like a healthy way to approach life, right?

Maybe. Maybe not.

As I moved on and discovered pageants, a common theme came about as I was being coached, and later as I began coaching. See back then, I had the challenge of competing in a year where back to back Miss USA’s fell onstage during their International competitions. Every girl was nervous about their heels and their walk. I asked my coach, “how do I keep from falling onstage?”

“Well, first off, you’ve got to stop thinking about falling.”

We have a saying in the world of individual competition, “What you think of most becomes your reality; what you practice becomes your habit.” I, nor my girls, were ever allowed to frown or have a straight face when practicing, because when you’re on that stage or on that mat and your body goes into auto-pilot, all it will remember is what you’ve practiced. What you’ve focused on. If all you’ve done is scowl, you won’t remember to smile. If all you’ve focused on is *not* falling, falling is in the forefront of your mind.

So what does that have to do with anything?

I started noticing the same patterns I had in practice in my life. I had given “no” SO much power, it was becoming the most dominant theme. I’d apply for this job not because I thought I was qualified and could do it, but because I “might as well, a no is what I had anyway!” I’d meet someone nice and not expect or ask for anything because “I might as well just enjoy the journey since it’s gonna end eventually!” I had an immense amount of faith in “no”. I stared at every situation as if I had already been rejected and am earning a “yes”. I did not claim anything, hope for an outcome or wish for the best. I just prepared for the worst. A “no” is what you have, what you start with. A “yes” is what you hope or work for.

Now while this may seem to contradict what I worked to remove with my Lent post, hear me out here. My problem wasn’t my over-focusing on the outcome; it was the point where I started. I’d dig a ditch for myself, hop in it, and then exhaust myself climbing out just to get to zero. Getting to the “yes” became important because I was fighting against a “no” that might not even exist. Sound a bit backwards? It sure does to me.

Worse off, I was cancelling out some of the most important steps in bringing positive energy and karma into my life; desire. By expecting a negative outcome first I willed myself out of wanting it and declaring it to the Universe. Not a healthy detachment to the outcome, but an outright lie as to what was important to me and what I wanted. Expecting disappointment so it wouldn’t hurt as much. Life was looking everywhere for me and I was hiding beneath the shelter of my own apathy.

So today, I start with YES. I give power to yes. I bask in the glow of life and claim my desire for it. I start with success. I start with blessings. I start with the joy of the Universe. I give a voice to my desire. I am here.

Are you?

Conceived by GG Rene of AllTheManyLayers.com, the #30Layers30Days Challenge dares writers to dig deep with thoughtful daily inspirations meant to promote introspective thought and mindful journal practice. I will be posting my more inspired entries from the daily challenges. You can follow the #30Layers30Days hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, or follow GG Rene at @ggrenewrites.