You’ll never know…

…until you have actually and fully been there.

Until you have actually walked this road in a way that leaves the soles of your shoes worn out and developing holes, and your feet blistered and bleeding twice as much as your heart pumps through you and until you have not only seen but had no choice but to actively participate in the sights and scenes DAILY, because there literally was no one else, for so long that you feel like you’re in a Stephen King novel, no – you will never know what it’s really like.

How it can wear you so thin that it nearly destroys you, the way water seems to work like acid and melts cheap toilet paper.

How it can tear you down to a level that you, as compassionate and kind a person you are or try to be, think, “the next time someone tells me I should smile more, or I should look on the bright side (which is what? That eventually she’ll die and I won’t have to do this anymore?) I’m going to punch them in the face.”

How you start avoiding people because you’re sick of their hypocritical judgments and comparisons, OR the way they pretend to understand when you know good and well they have no clue so you just stop talking about it and pretend it’s easy and everything is fine…

100%. Until you’ve done it, you’ll never understand completely what it’s like. I shared a lot of our journey. Even then it was only a fraction and what I did share was picked apart by completely irrelevant, inexperienced people. But I will keep sharing this until we have real reform and raise the standard of care for caregivers and their loved ones with dementia. (Thank you, Martina.)

When my mom died, it broke me. It wasn’t the grief that broke me, it was the RELIEF that broke me. Because I had no idea what to do with it. And I felt guilty for feeling it in the first place.

Finally being able to breathe and stop and rest after SO LONG of being a full time care giver going between two homes and three people (wait, four – but I never really thought of myself, lol) and dealing with doctors and being sick myself…?

THAT almost killed me.

I’m not exaggerating or trying to be dramatic or draw attention, which is what people always love to say when you share thoughts like this (which reallllly doesn’t help so just shut up because that kind of thing can drive someone over an edge you will never understand when they’re grieving loss after caregiving).

I just finished writing a whole chapter about this. Maybe I’ll share it via my blog… For now, here’s the thing I want you to know and remember:

If you’re in a situation like this or are grieving after a situation like this, know that you’re not alone. Know that there ARE those who see you and feel you because they’re there, too, or they’ve been there before.

I pray not one of you ever has to go through it (or go through it again).

If you are forced to go through it, I pray you get the resources you need (financially and otherwise) sooner than a month before your loved one dies because the only thing that finally saves the day is hospice.

I pray if you do face this situation, you have less people than more coming at you with what you need to do and how you need to act but NEVER actually doing anything to help you do what they think you should do and regularly acting the same way you’re acting despite not being in your shoes and instead having everything they could ever want or need.

And I pray that if you ever find yourself in those shoes, you give yourself grace and you forgive yourself daily, before the day begins, for the fact that you’re never going to be perfect. You’re not going to get it right and keep your cool and manage your emotions well EVERY DAY. You’re just not. Period. So accept it and be gentle with yourself and just keep doing the best that you can. You’ve got this. You really do. You don’t think you do or feel that you do, BUT YOU DO. 🙏💜🙏

And if you’ve never been there at this level and never have to be? I pray you don’t take that privilege for granted. Because you ARE privileged.

💜💙💜

How I Mom

This is how I “mom.” My mom “mommed” like this a couple of times in my life and now that she’s gone those couple of moments are the ones I remember the most. Reading this reminds me to do this for myself more…sometimes, we forget – especially when we don’t have anyone reminding us. This is your reminder.

Do good. Be gentle. Be compassionate. Be kind. Do all those things for yourself and for others. Have a beautiful day.

XO.

~C.

____________________________________________________

The whole world paused this morning. Do you know why? Because an 8 year old’s tank was empty.

The boys had already started their school day at their desks and I was preparing to leave for work when I noticed my littlest standing in the bathroom wiping his face.

I paused at the door and asked if he was okay. He looked up with tears silently dripping and shook his head. When I questioned if something happened, again he shook his head.

So I sat on the side of the tub and pulled him in my lap. I told him sometimes our heart tanks feel empty and need to be refilled.

He cried into my chest and I held tight.

I asked if he could feel my love filling him up?

A nod, and tears stopped…

I waited a minute…

“Has it reached your toes yet?”

He shook his head no…

“Okay man. We will take as long as you need. Work doesn’t matter right now. School isn’t important either. This right here, is the most important thing today, okay? Filling you back to the top. Is that good?”

nods

One more minute…

“Is your heart full of mamas love now?”

“Yeah…”

looks in his eyes

“I see it shining in there, you’re full to the top, and you’re smiling!”

You may not be 8 – you may be 28, 38, 48 or whatever- but ALL of us run on empty just like he did. His week was so busy and so full and his little soul was just dry!

We all have to pause, and take a moment to refill with the good things. prayer, sunshine, laughter, friends, hugs. Refill your empty, or you’ll find those emotions (tears, anger, snappy words) overflowing with no reason why.

Take a moment. Refill. It’s the most important part of your day! ❤

~Jennifer Lemcke

Another Spirit Dream

From my dream journal (01/12/22), for those who don’t believe that working on your spirit self and spiritual focus opens doors for a spirit to communicate and that you can actually hear them:

I have never been a skeptic because as a child I always had experiences and while the belief system I grew up in called that, “evil,” I never stopped communicating. I never stopped hearing or seeing. I never stopped believing. In fact, they believed it, too – they just contradicted themselves with double standards like, “spirits are evil,” but, “we worship the Father, the Son (let’s be real, SUN), and the HOLY SPIRIT.” No, I never “let it be,” I just learned to be quieter about it. I have, since my mid-20’s, learned how to speak up again.

My Daddy came to me last night. I didn’t want to wake up, if I’m honest. I never want those dreams to end. They’re few and far between as I continue to heal and grow, so I savor them. This one was different than most, and thankfully not the recurring psychological nightmare that I had for months after he died and that still comes around every so often.

In this one, we were in some strange, very flat place that reminded me very much of the plains, and there were animals everywhere. My father loved all animals, so it makes sense that he would appear in a spiritual way surrounded by them. It was like a cross between Kansas (not “Wizard of Oz” Kansas, more like agriculturally beautiful Kansas) and Noah’s Ark. Very weird to me, that, because my dad loved woods and mountains. “Whatever,” I thought, just being so happy to see him.

He apologized for some things – namely leaving me with the burden that was mama after he died, gave me this motivational speech about not beating myself up anymore and knowing that she was happy there (she was quietly waving from the background, which would in life be be quintessentially my mom if my dad was around) and that my hands had been tied in both situations.

He told me that I had actually fared much better than I imagined that I did. That was something I had needed to hear specifically from him since my mother died, though I hadn’t realized it until I awoke from this dream. I have dealt with a lot of guilt since my mom died, surrounding that. He told me that I was in a place most people don’t find themselves in when he died – young, career and goal driven, raising a child, and managing my mom (which he knew about when he fell into this coma, but hadn’t told me, and I didn’t realize it until she died and I found and read things he had written) while he was, for lack of a better phrase, literally rotting away in the hospital bed.

Bit of backstory: his feet were dead (literally) and about to fall off (metaphorically) when I signed to remove life support. They were scary and disgusting to see – they were freezing cold, solid blue and black because of his kidneys shutting down, and they’d stopped dialysis because they were getting ready to move him to another unit to remove life support, AND YET THEY WANTED TO AMPUTATE THEM.

In this dream he laughed his truest laugh, which had a deep, guttural beginning and ended with a more high pitched, fast paced giggle, and he said to me that he heard me say to the doctor, “are you out of your mind? What’s the point in that? You’re an idiot if you think I’m going to approve of you chopping his feet off when he’s about to die anyway. Why don’t you go fix somebody who can be saved instead of trying to rip off more money from my family and his insurance company? He fought to make it this long with both of his massive, size 15 diabetic feet and he’s managed to keep all but a single toe. You’re not cutting a damned thing off except this ventilator tomorrow so that he can finally be at peace.”

He quoted that to me verbatim, and thanked me for standing up for his feet, semi-pun intended because he was goofy like that with his dad jokes. I forgot I had even said that to that doctor, but upon waking I remembered it vividly and I remember being so angry that they wanted to argue with me about it and my mom wasn’t there. You see, she wasn’t there most of the time after the first day, but I had left only once (even showering in the shower of his CCU room) and when I did leave that one time, I didn’t want to.

It was only because she had asked me to come back to their house to get things FOR HER so she wouldn’t HAVE to leave that I had left, and then she left anyway. She would come for a couple of hours a day. She almost slept through his passing and J had to force her to understand what was happening. I was FURIOUS. I realize now that it was because she was already sick with the late-early stages of dementia then (hence the stuff I later read that my father had been taking notes on), and that’s why the doctors pulled me aside to that cold, dreary “counsel room” with her and told me that I had to make all the decisions and tried to explain that to her. Terrible experience.

I remembered the anger at him not taking care of himself better, in my eyes just willingly giving up his life and that somehow meant he didn’t love me as much as I thought he did. I remembered believing that if he’d loved me the way he had made me believe he did, he wouldn’t have treated himself so poorly. Flash forward to the last couple of years and what I have put my own son through with my health. That’s a bitter pill to swallow.

I also remembered something I didn’t consciously know existed: the resentment I had toward my mom because she thought he was just sleeping and left him for two more hours and when she came back to check, he had seized and stroked and there was no bringing him back after that. They tried. I pushed them. I argued. But I finally had to accept that they couldn’t fix his brain and he was never leaving that CCU bed. After five excruciating days of denial, I had to let him go, and I had to make that decision alone. I realized that I was SO ANGRY at my mother for being the reason we were there and for being sick and making me have to choose.

For what it’s worth, here I will insert the inspirational realization I had and the absolute fact that NO MATTER HOW IN CONTROL YOU THINK YOU ARE OF EVERYTHING IN LIFE, YOU ARE NEVER IN CONTROL OF ANYTHING. PERIOD. END OF STORY. More on that later…I digress.

I remembered so many things when I woke up, details I think I had purposely blocked and I think my dad triggered them on purpose, even though they are SO difficult to think about, because after all of his preaching (sweetly) to me in the dream, he said to me, “when you wake up, turn on the radio and don’t you stop singing, girl. Don’t you DARE avoid the one thing that makes you feel true purpose just because of some certain things you might hear that hurt you! Let the hurt drive you!” He was irritated about that because music had always been our most powerful bonding agent (again, upon waking and considering it, I realized I haven’t made music in three or more months)…and then he sang to me.

I knew he was getting ready to leave me then. He always sings to me right before he leaves me in dreams. He sang the bridge of this old song called, “I’m Moving On,” by Rascal Flatts. There is one lyric that is supposed to go, “And I have made up my mind that those days are gone,” but he sang it, “Girl, make up your mind that those days are gone.”

“Well, I’ve been working on it,” I thought, “but anyway, point taken.” He somehow remixed into “Let It Hurt” as he turned and was walking away. He was apparently on a Rascal Flatts kick (yeah, he listened to stuff besides WDJC – a local Christian only radio station – when my mom wasn’t around…he listened to EVERYTHING, especially musical theater stuff).

Anyway, so I turn on the radio – yes, an actual radio app and not Spotify or Apple Music on shuffle – as I was getting coffee ready and guess what song was playing and barely into the first verse when I chose the radio station and it finally tuned in? Yep. ⬇️

So, there’s that… I listened intently, and of course I shed tears when that certain part of the song arrived, and I sang it just like he had, using the rewording of the lyrics he had used. I went on with my day. I say with it for a long moment.

I showered, I did a few things in the bedroom and moved on to the kitchen where I washed the dishes and cleaned the counters (I do this ritualistically every morning and most nights, now that the kid is older and dirtying so many dishes with his “bottomless pit” eating habits…). And then, I sat down to write this. I listened to the other song Daddy was singing/humming in the dream as he was leaving before I opened WordPress, and I took it in – as difficult as it is for me to listen to that song lately, for a number of reasons), and I cried some more. And as those tears flowed, so did my words begin to…and here we are.

Grief is like a strange and living creature, and it’s grips are never ending once it touches you (though it waxes and wanes in its intensity), but so are those soul connections that we think we can’t live without. Whether we lose them through death or living circumstances, the universe knows what it’s doing. That’s what you need to take away from this post. And, I think that’s where I’ll end this one.

Sit with your grief. Let it do its job. Allow yourself the gift that grief really is, even though you may not realize it’s a gift at all right now… One day, you will make friends with it. Eventually, it will cease to be a monster and become a friendly companion that helps you rather than tortures you. But you have to allow that transfiguration to take place, and in your own time you will…because it is an inevitable process.

I know that if you’re struggling with grief, you’re going to be ok. One day, if you just keep going, you’ll know it, too. You’ll look in the mirror and see yourself and just as suddenly as you didn’t recognize who you were seeing at some point after grief came, you’ll begin to see yourself again, and you’ll realize that all along your grief was there to help you. I know it may sound crazy, but I promise you, it’s true.

“May not be what you want, but it’s what you need
Sometimes the only way around it
Is to let love do it’s work
So go on
Yeah, let it hurt…”

Love to you all.

~C.

Don’t Grind.

Sunrise thoughts and a thing nature taught me a long time ago. Spirituality and self-discovery go hand in hand, and they work the same way: both are a never ending journey. Wax on, wax off. Learn, unlearn. Learn again. Change habits. Become, unbecome. Become again. Know better, do better. Love yourself, love others. Rinse, repeat.

And this idea so many people have of grinding? It’s insanity. Grinding is NOT what you need to be doing. The definition of grind is to wear away, to destroy. You are killing yourself to do what? Have more stuff that you don’t need? Make other people happy? Working to the point of taking care of yourself is one thing. “Grinding?” Totally different thing.

At some point, you have to decide that you’re going to enjoy what you have while you’re here to enjoy it rather than constantly want more or be dissatisfied in life. In fact? That is exactly why people are dissatisfied in and with their lives. That’s why people are not really and truly happy – “at the core” happy.

It is really because they are doing one (or both) of two things: holding on to what has long been over and carrying anger and bitterness with them in everything they do and doing the things they do for the wrong reasons, or trying to maintain a certain life that isn’t really living. A truly happy life is one that can maintain itself with just a normal amount of effort, because there is balance.

Grind yourself down with a constant focus on one thing – even something you love – and you will no longer be balanced. You will no longer be strong. You will no longer love that thing or that person. You will no longer be you. You will wear away every beautiful, unique thing about yourself and end up exhausted, aching, empty and bitter.

Sunrise.

Please don’t grind. Work hard, but don’t grind. Do more of what makes you happy. Do it from a mindful space and conscious heart. Awaken yourself to ALL that life has to offer. Pro tip: it’s not found in material things. It’s not found in excess. There is no such thing as security – any of us could lose everything in a single breath. No, it’s not something you can hold. It’s something you can feel, and it is found in the space between breaths. You can find it there no matter where you are or what you’re doing or who you’re with – try it, and you’ll see.

No matter what you’re doing, throughout the day today randomly become conscious of the fact that you are breathing. You can still be doing whatever you’re doing – just be aware. In that silent, focused pause between breaths, remember that one day that will be a permanent situation. One day, there will be no breath. One day you will CEASE TO BREATHE, and therefore cease to have that moment. This moment. Any moment. Every moment.

It might come sooner that any of us think, that permanent space between breaths. You never know… Appreciate everything. Even the pain is teaching you. It’s showing you what not to do. It’s showing you what your body needs you do, what your soul needs you to do, what your higher self needs you do.

Do good. Be gentle. Be compassionate. Be kind. Do all those things for yourself and for others. Have a beautiful day. 💜

Lesson From a Nope Rope

I believe this is a hybrid rattlesnake – the product of a timber rattler and a diamondback. I could be wrong.

So, this is raw. I never edited any of this. I have so much b-roll stuff from our hikes and stuff and I pick and choose bits here and there when I produce something. This is some of that footage that I came across when getting my stuff together for the project I’m working on.

I’m glad I came across this. I’d forgotten about it. It reminded of something about myself that I think a lot of people tend to misjudge. Don’t be led astray by my mostly nice, friendly, patient and overly kind demeanor. Don’t think I’m as ignorant as I might look. Don’t think I don’t know things just because I don’t say them out loud. I’m kind – not stupid. I am not afraid of much, not even poisonous snakes in the grass. Thing is, the worst snakes in the grass are people – it’s really the wrong phrase to use to describe a sneaky, lying, abusive human fool. Kind of an insult to snakes, if you ask me…

You see how calm this nope rope is? Maybe it just ate (doesn’t much look like it). Maybe it was a little cool (doubt it because I was sweating like crazy – this was a humid, warm July morning). Actual snakes don’t want to bother you. They really don’t. Maybe this dude just didn’t feel threatened by me. Animals rarely do. Only God knows why that is. But I can tell you this:

I wasn’t afraid of getting close to this guy, even if maybe I should’ve been, but I also was not stupid enough to try to handle it. No – I’m only that stupid when it comes to people. I never used to be the “once bitten, twice shy” type. I used to let them strike me and just forgive and pretend things were fine. I would give a person every reason to believe in me and make sure they knew that I still believed in them and cared about them. I would be willfully ignorant to the point that I was breaking my own heart.

But you know what people do? Even “family?” They don’t see that. They don’t see your heart. They don’t see your actions. They don’t see what you do for them because you love them. They just see what they want and take it from you and go on. Many times they don’t even need be provoked. They’ll strike out of the blue, with no warning at all – unlike this guy, who would have at least warned me. Thing with people is, you have to let them do it more than once. So don’t let them, because if they continually behave in ways that hurt you and refuse to respect you? They’re never going to change. Have no doubt – I have finally learned that lesson.

Today? Once bitten? I’m absolutely going to be twice shy. Still kind, with the same heart beating inside of me, but I’ll never trust you again. Once I’m done, I’m done. And if I ever reach that point with you, you have only yourself and your own behavior to blame. Just ask my father in law. His life wasn’t in vain. He taught all of us this lesson.

Lube Up.

I have had disappointments. Struggles. Moments that I’ve lost faith in what I used to believe. Oh yes, more than a few. Like most lives, mine is sprinkled with the moments that passed me by, the opportunities I only saw in the rear-view mirror, hopes lost in the fading light of what I thought would be my day. Yet, here I am. Here we all are, those of us still here.

It has not all been easy. It has never been black and white. It has never been that simple – perhaps that is why I dream of adding color to it all in my creative endeavors. But I am not defined by my disappointments, nor am I confined by them. I am shaped by them, changed by them, but never owned by them. It is in the learning that I am set free: free to try again, or free to do my life differently.

I’m an intelligent and logical person but I’m also an empath. I am what many from childhood and even up til now have considered wasteful. You know, the uselessness of having a head in the clouds or a heart perpetually full of feelings and passion that are all an unproductive, non-conducive waste of time. Those things are true, taken to extremes they can be detrimental…but so can the excess of anger and judgment and many other things.

It is through all of my own experiences – especially the difficulties and painful experiences – that I have learned how to authentically be me and to make my soul characteristics, both the darkness and the light of it, not just my way of living but also my way of EARNING a living – because to be a creator is MY PURPOSE. Others don’t have to understand or relate to that – they don’t even have to respect it…they’re consuming what I’m bringing to the table and not bringing a plate to the potluck.

We ALL have a soul purpose. The world needs ALL of us, with ALL of our different gifts. Don’t put people down or judge them because they don’t live the life you would choose for yourself. Thank them, instead, for what they bring into your life with their differences.

The world needs construction workers and emergency services workers and doctors and nurses and teachers and IT people and factory workers and farmers and truckers and on and on to help it to run smoothly. Of course it does. OF COURSE it does.

But do you know what it also needs that just about every one of those “essential” people consume like vitamins? The light of the artists – the realms of the writers, the musicians, the deep thinkers, the actors, the comedians, the magicians, the drawers of magical worlds and the painters of scapes in sound or in color, or both all at once – to escape to.

The world NEEDS the creators of comfort and escape to help the “essential workers” to cope with the stresses of their lives serving others. It needs the creators to help to invent and build the world, but also to help the world remember it’s inner child – the one that existed before it was told it couldn’t be itself and had match the rules that killed it’s true joy – and hopefully in some small way to help that inner child stay alive.

The world needs the dreamers and those brave enough to share their wildest and craziest ideas and creations to help the world see beauty and creativity, to find inspiration, and maybe, in some ways, to heal.

The world needs ALL OF US, all the time.

What has not worked for me in my life has taught me the depths of who I am. It has also taught me the limits of who I am. What has worked for me may not be for everyone but it has helped me to shine when I want to hide in the dark, and the broken parts of me and my past are not monuments made of stone, nor have they turned ME to stone. They are, even at their worst, portals through which I travel into a better tomorrow…or the hope that I one day will.

The experiences I have had and will have are the tools through which I create, through which I manifest and through which I show others (if not by word then by example) exactly what thriving – not just surviving – is.

Or, that is my hope. That is my goal.

That is my heart, and it just wants to make a difference in the lives of struggling people by sometimes making them feel less alone in their darkness by being dark with it but also by helping them to escape through the magic that sometimes pours out of me.

Our magics and our roles may be different, but it takes us all to make the world a happy and comfortable and interesting place to be. So don’t down the dreamer. Don’t loathe the lover. Don’t hate the hurt – because hurt people hurt people. Don’t damn the already damaged.

Don’t waste your time or energy playing the role of jury or judge because you’re neither. That’s not the job of a single one of us. We’re just here to do whatever we do best, whatever drives us and serves the world for the better, and to love – because love is the center of everything, even logic.

We are energetic, crystalline beings living in physical, 3D bodies. We are souls that are taking residence in a vessel so complex we haven’t even completely figured the vessel out yet. There was a time where there was very few awakened souls here on earth, and now many are becoming awake to these truths.

That is the purpose for all of us. We are here to experience this realm of existence while it lasts and to do our soul’s job in this realm to leave it better than we found it. What’s so hard about that? Apparently a lot – perhaps that is why we also need philosophers and psychologists and theologians and spiritual intellectuals whose jobs are to help us to sort through the two realities of spiritual and human existence.

The synopsis? Different types of people with different goals in life really aren’t meant to rub each other with friction causing constant lifequakes (pun totally intended). They’re meant to grease each other up, like lube, if you will, so that we can move more easily through the time that makes up our human life and actually EXPERIENCE IT.

Start moving with life instead of trying to force it to be a certain way. Creating your life is a process. Lube up already. Otherwise, life’s going to keep being rough and leaving friction burns in your soul. 🤷‍♀️❤️

The Mighty Oak Will Kill You

I mediated this morning on something that I told my child last night when he asked for advice about why someone in his life did what they did and about why it hurt him. I told him that this the person who had hurst him was not yet coursgeous enough to heal himself before he broke someone else, and that it hurt him because he cared about this person.

He depended on this person to not hurt him. He believed in this person. And for a child, that’s really scary and difficult because as a child you’re still learning to process emotions and understand what emotions are. It takes maturity at multiple levels to remain calm and to not hurt a child with you words. I suppose the same is true for adults – especially the way we treat and speak to ourselves.

So, I went on this very deep, very enlightening almost hour long soul journey with my own meditative backing track (coming soon, shameless plug) and it was one of those meditative experiences where you’re doing your meditative thing (eyes closed, body relaxed, going within your deeper, inner being and connecting with it) and it hurts.

It burns. It stings. It aches. Tears roll down your cheeks even though your eyes are closed. You feel every needle the porcupine of life has shot into you. But you keep going and you find yourself at the edge of your inner self and inner peace and you step into it, and you bathe in it’s light. While you’re there, you see things about yourself for what they are.

What did I see within myself? That being strong doesn’t require being fearless – it’s facing the fears that create the strength in the first place. That protecting yourself doesn’t require meanness, it requires patience and love. And, that being guarded and angry doesn’t deflect the things you don’t want to see as much as it blocks your blessings and wastes valuable energy and time.

This is hard. This process is one we are faced with numerous times in our lives. My son was faced with it for the first time last night, and I shared some of my experiences with him and it helped me to remember things that current shadows have been hiding: We learn as we go, but we don’t learn unless we put in the effort to do so.

We all know it takes more strength to be kind and to love anyway than to run. But if I didn’t run from my demented mother who randomly beat me with a cane because of her disease, if I handled that and still did my job as a daughter and in the role I was thrust into as her death doula…and I did it mostly on my own (because I was dealing with absent people and also still blocking spirit and blessings for so long), I can handle just about anything, right?

((Please note, there is a difference between running from yourself because of self-doubt and walking away from toxicity because of self-confidence. There’s always two sides to these memes. There’s always two sides to everything – and often a lot of gray.))

Personally, I am really struggling with a lot of negative and toxic emotions toward my body right now – and with a lot of negative and toxic energy surrounding me. The things my body and I have faced in the past two years have been unforgiving at times, almost suffocating at others. They’ve been so difficult, and continue to be in some moments. But that’s the thing. It’s moments. You learn to rest in the moments that you have to – especially in the moments that you NEED to – but not give up completely.

You learn to be ok with the fact that venting your fears and anger and concerns about things is NOT always “just complaining” and it’s not being ungrateful. It’s COPING. It’s figuring things out. It’s keeping your own balance. Because you can’t thrive in ANY way without balance. You learn that a response of kindness and empathy and gentleness is more powerful than a response of coldness and lack of depth.

After all, look at nature – what’s more beautiful and pleasant? The colors, the beauty, and the warmth of spring and summer and fall or the harshness and bone chilling cold of winter? Can winter be beautiful? Sure. But is it as pleasant and comfortable and conducive to joy? No – that’s why so many people struggle with seasonal affective disorder.

You very literally see that the people who told you throughout your life that you have to be good with yourself before you can be good with anyone else, and that you won’t have true peace until you do the work to heal yourself, was telling you the truth. You won’t ever find peace of mind and true and lasting joy in your soul until you learn to sit in the darkness and kill it with your own inner light and magic. And you have that. You ARE that. You are magic. You are made of literal “stardust,” for Christ’s sake.

Shine like you’re supposed to. Don’t let your circumstances and your old wounds or should have could have would haves or even the opinions and actions of others put out your light and stop you from sparkling like the diamond you’re supposed to become under pressure. If my mom’s stuff taught me anything, it was the harsh reality of that. Pressure and pain can grow you into a brilliant diamond or petrify you into a bland and plain stone.

Don’t let it be the latter. Don’t let your heart become petrified and your mind become stagnant. You aren’t here to be a rock, or you’d have been created as a rock that just lays there on the ground and does nothing. You’re here to LIVE. Not just survive, LIVE. In order to do that, you have to mind the diamonds – you HAVE TO DO THE WORK.

As I find myself struggling with my body, and with random triggers of mom grief (that’s a whole other blog) I’m not making the same mistakes I’ve made in the past and choosing to hide away or beat myself up (and thus, others). I’m going to continue to grow and one day I’m going to bloom, and y’all are all going to watch me do it. Actions speak louder than words, even as loud as words can be screamed.

I’ve been here before but I’ve learned and grown. After my last episode with my health, with depression and the thoughts that ran through my head, I’m terrified of only one thing: dying knowing I haven’t given all I could give or done the work I needed to do to live well and in peace and thus bring peace and joy to others. But, that work I can only do that for myself, with my own choices and actions. It’s a conscious choice we have to make over and over in our lives.

It was a conscious choice with a lot of conscious effort behind it to fight my body’s BS before, to fight depression, to fight my self doubt, to heal traumas and wrongs inside myself – especially around my mom so that I could care for her when there was no one else to do so. The shadow work had to be done. I took my little soul chainsaw and cleaned out the vines and the poison ivy and the dead trees of my past and my experiences and do you know what I find, over and over again? Baby trees. New growth that needs room to become.

There are stumps and scars in the garden of my soul that still feel tender sometimes but they remind me that I CAN heal and I have many times. The more times you go through this process, the more you learn to listen to spirit and see the signs and open up the natural spiritual gifts that we all have, the more you realize that nothing is ever in your control and that most of the time, when you stand like the oak, you’re standing in your own way.

You realize that when you break, that oak is gonna fall hard and it’s gonna crush anything in its way, and you’re going to be the one who has destroyed all the good you couldn’t see while you were fighting for more more more and fighting to look strong and hide your truth and avoid other people rather than to be your authentic self and to SHOW UP, for yourself AND for those you care about.

Vulnerability bends. Vulnerability can move with the moment – it can handle the pressure without breaking. It gives, it sways with the energy. And when the hurricanes and tornadoes and even the weight of the winter ice come, it can withstand them, because in reality? Softness is stronger than hardness when it comes to humanity and the soul.

It’s a metaphor we’ve been presented with eleventy hundred times in eleventy hundred ways in our lives: The oak is the ego. The willow is the soul. Don’t let your ego break you and those you care for. Don’t let your ego block your blessings and destroy your soul. Your peace and your heart (and the peace and hearts of others) are worth way more than that. Keep it open.

The more you give, the more you receive – even if it doesn’t come from where you are directing it. Life will surprise you. Let it surprise you with gifts, not problems. And remember, you create so much of both in the tiniest actions and choices you make.