luke-ellis-craven-222982This past year has been tough. Amazing in a lot of ways, but also challenging.

A little over a year ago, I uprooted my life, left my beautiful and supportive community of friends and moved across the country. It was absolutely the right decision for me and much of it has been wonderful, but it’s also been hard.

It has been lonely. Exhausting. Full of grief. I have felt unsettled and ungrounded. I still feel a bit lost and uncertain about where my life is going.

I know that all of this is simply part of the process of change and creating a life in a new place. I know that as time continues and I keep showing up, I’ll create another community, make new friends, sort out my personal and professional life and things will feel better. I have no doubts that this time of feeling lost and lonely will be worth it as life continues to unfold.

But sometimes the process really sucks.

The hardest part has been being without my support system. I mean, I still have them via the phone or Skype – but it’s not quite the same as sitting down with them in person, being in their presence, and talking. Plus, I really really miss the hugs!

Some days, when things are particularly hard, I doubt my decision to move and wonder what the ever-loving hell I was thinking.

But there is one person that I have met here that helps me stay centered. She helps me ride these waves of loneliness and uncertainty and doubt until I can remember to trust the process and stay on track.

I don’t really know her all that well personally. She’s my supervisor at work.

She knows more of my story, because, well, I’m the mother of two dead children who works at a facility full of pregnant and parenting young mothers. That causes quite a bit of my personal shit to come up.

I keep trying to pinpoint exactly what it is about her or what she does that feel so supportive and helpful.

The best I can come up with is that she sits with me.

She doesn’t try to fix it. She doesn’t pretend to have magic answers. She doesn’t try to change what I’m feeling. She doesn’t really do anything in particular.

She simply listens and sits with me.

That allows me to sit with myself and whatever I happen to be feeling in that moment. It helps me to take a deep breath and remember to trust the process.

And in those moments when she sits with me, the weight of all the grief and change and uncertainty doesn’t feel quite so heavy. I don’t feel as alone or lost. I feel heard and seen and supported. She lets me be me and be wherever I am.

Sometimes, what we need isn’t a quick fix. We don’t necessarily need anything fancy or elaborate.

Sometimes we just need someone who will sit with us.

She sits with me.

It makes a world of difference.

minding-businessWhat you think of me is none of my business.

This is what I have been reminding myself over and over again the last few days. It started with a conversation with a friend. During this conversation she stated that she felt I’d been depressed or sad for a while. That I wasn’t the playfully happy person I used to be.

I have to say, my first response was bafflement. I didn’t feel particularly depressed (and, believe me, I know what depressed feels like!). I would admit to feeling a bit sad for the last few weeks as the anniversary of my daughter’s would-have-been 11th birthday approached, but not overly sad before that.

When the conversation continued, I learned that this perceived depression and sadness was why we hadn’t spent much time together in recent months. And the bafflement shifted to hurt.

What was most painful was that I immediately started to make myself wrong and to doubt my own feelings.

See, I’m a happy person. I love my life and I am mindful to pay attention to the gifts and blessings that come into it. I feel a lot of gratitude a lot of the time. And, for the past 18 months or so, my life has also been one upheaval after another. Outer upheavals that include starting my own business, losing weight, increasing my physical activity, a change in my financial situation, relationship changes and most recently the process of moving to a new house. I’ve also experience many inner upheavals as I have worked to change my thoughts and beliefs about who I am, my work in the world, my finances, my body, my relationship with food, and much more.

So, perhaps there was some truth to what my friend said. I’m not the same person I was a couple years ago. I’m probably not happy or playful – not in the same way that I was.

I can’t be that person again. I’ve changed. I wasn’t wrong about my feelings. I am happy. I still love to play and joke around and have fun. I do it often. I laugh a lot and talk in British accents to my cat and make silly pictures in the flour I spill while making bagels. I love the direction my life is going and I love the work I get to do every day. I am absolutely clear I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I have amazing friends and family with whom I share a mutual love and adoration.

These last 18 months have also been challenging. I feel scared a lot. I feel uncertain much more than I would like. I feel insecure and unsettled and unclear. I doubt myself and my abilities at times. I sometimes feel alone and disconnected.

Sometimes, I feel all of those emotions – the good and the less-than-great – all at once. When I moved past the hurt and upset of this conversation with my friend, I realized that what she thought of me and how she perceived me was none of my business.

Because my business is how I see myself and how I feel about my life. I see myself as happy. I wouldn’t go back to who I was. These changes and upheavals are scary and uncertain and unsettling, yes, but I wouldn’t give them up for anything. I’m not completely sure how all these aspects of my life are going to unfold and that’s challenging for me. All of it, however, is part of the adventure.

It’s my business to live my adventure – ups and downs and everything in between. To be authentic to me, I have to let it be ok to feel all those feelings and live both the light and the dark of my life.

That may mean my friend might choose not to be around as I move through this upheaval-y stage of my life. It may mean she might not see the happy moments because she’s unwilling to be with me through the challenging moments. And that’s ok.

I’ll be with me. The me that is ever-changing and evolving minute-by-minute these days.

Because I like the me I’ve become. And I already adore the me I’m becoming.

The question is never “does XYZ person like or approve of me?”

It’s always “do I like and approve of myself?” Nothing else matters.

Be you. Do it your way. Mind your own business. 🙂

In other business news: I am excited and proud to announce that IT’S HERE!! My ebook “Sensitive Conversations: Talking with Kids about Death, Grief, and Violence” is now available for download on my website and on Kindle!! 

rollercoaster of lifeChange. It can be a doozy.

Ever feel like life can sweep in and pull your foundation out from under you?

That’s been my experience the last few days. There’s been shock and fear and grief and anger. Uncertainty, insecurity, and an achingly hurt under the grief and anger.

I’ve stumbled quite unexpectedly into a deep dive on the rollercoaster of life.

And I don’t like it.

As much as I am a free spirit, I do like having a few certainties in life. That’s not happening right now. (dammit.)

So, what’s a gal to do?

Well, after a couple days of allowing myself to experience and process the tumultuous emotions, I plugged back in.

I plugged back into the feelings I want to live my life by. Unrestricted joy. Freedom. Love. Connection. Trust.

Over and over, I’m asking myself.

Does this feel like freedom?
Does this feel like joy?
Does this feel like love?

Then if it doesn’t, how can I reconnect to that feeling?

The grief and fear and anger and hurt still come up. And I get to ask again,

Does this feel like freedom, joy, love, connection, trust?

Shifting my focus again and again and again.

It’s not easy. Not at all.

But it feels better. And I like feeling better, don’t you?

Feel better, beautifuls. No matter what.

changeWell, ok, not literally dying. My body and spirit are still trucking along together just fine.

My old self-identity, my ideas of who I was, that is what was dying in December.

December was a painful month. I’m not gonna lie. It was an annoyingly emotional and painful month.

Tears by the bucketful. Bursts of anger over little things. Aching loneliness. Utter confusing. Waves of fear. Moments of relief quickly swallowed by another dive into emotional chaos.

Ah, change. Fun times, huh?

They (whoever “they” are) always seem to make change sound so delightful and wonderful.

“Change your life!”
“Life your dreams – create a life you love!”
“Be the person you’ve always wanted to be!”

Now, I actually agree with these ideas. I must because that’s exactly what I’m doing. Changing my life. Going after and creating my dreams. Becoming more and more of my true self.

I wouldn’t stop for anything.

Yet few people ever seem to talk about the mess in the middle of all that changing.

That’s right. The messiness. The chaos. The “oh shit, what have I done?”

Yeah, that.

Changing our lives means we have to deconstruct the one we’re currently living. Creating our dreams means letting go of the security of the familiar. Becoming more means letting who we currently think we are die.

Welcome to the chaos of change.

Fortunately, this is temporary. And normal. Keep on truckin’ on and your world will eventually level out again – though the landscape may look vastly different.

I wish I could say I had special tricks to share for living through the messiness in the middle. I don’t, really.

All I can really say is hold onto your vision of where you’re going like a lifeline.

Have supportive people to talk with who know when to listen – and when to lovingly kick your butt.

Breathe. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Get fierce about your self-nurturance.

Don’t give up. Hold on.

Because, seriously, the life, the dream, the you that you’re moving toward (perhaps stumbling toward at times!).

It’s worth dying for.

messy emotionsI was talking with a friend recently who is going through major relational changes and challenges.  We were talking about self-care through the process and she asked my advice for ways to cope through the chaos of it all.

One of my suggestions was to simply embrace the mess.

This is generally the LAST thing any of us want to do in any grief experience or process of change. (My friend certainly wasn’t too fond of the idea!)

However, there comes a point in the process of change when there is nothing else to do but accept that things are messy.  Resisting the mess – the fluctuating emotions, the uncertainty, the tiredness, and overwhelm – is futile.  In fact, resistance intensifies the mess.

Embracing the mess, on the other hand, is freeing.  There is nothing left to fight.  The mess is there and until one stops fighting it and takes a good look around, there is only the feeling of stuckness.

Embracing the mess of change isn’t about wallowing in it or building a house to live in it.  It’s a road stop on the road of change.  It’s temporary.

When we embrace the mess, we stop and look around.  Questions to ask might be:

  • What’s going on?
  • What feelings are coming up for me?
  • What’s underneath those feelings?
  • What do I want to keep in this process?
  • What do I need to let go of?
  • What am I afraid of here?

And as always,

How can I love here?

Love myself.  Love this process.  Love the other person(s). How can I love?

Once we stop and take a look at what’s in the mess, gain a little awareness and clarity, and, yes, love the mess – it will clean itself up.  Maybe slowly, little by little over time.  Maybe suddenly, all at once. But the mess will clear. And love will still be beside you.

It always is.


Beauty+Life+You

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