How do you know if you're living up to your potential?
Well... would most folks who know you say that you're a good person? That you have compassion in your heart and kindness on your mind?
Who cares if you're LATE accomplishing the goals you've set for yourself?
Sometimes the best thing to do for yourself, is to remember that you need care too.
We all need time to rest, relax and rejuvenate for the next thing on our plate, whether it's about to be Monday again and we're starting the grind all over for the millionth time, or whether we need a project brake to help our voice become fresh and new.
"AAAAAAH! Whoooooooooooo..... okay, I can breathe through this.... this is fine... the pain will stop in just a moment..." Oh my heart -- the thudding pulsed in my ears.
Tears sprung unbidden to my eyes with the effort of biting my lip so I wouldn't moan in public.
"Oh no. Do you want some ice?"
"Sure, actually. Yes. Thank you so much!" I gasped out.
"I'm going to get you some ibuprofen."
"Oh gosh, that's really kind of you, thanks," I replied.
N and L were so sweet to rush over to help me.
Only I would completely bump my foot with a broken toe on the corner of the counter as my 2 year old rushed by, in an effort to avoid him stepping on said foot.
My hands were shaking as I hobbled over to the table with my plate of food. Sinking into the chair, I took a deep, cleansing breath.
"Darlin', how're you doing?" J asked, with a serious look on his face.
"I'm fine. I'll be fine, look, I'm eating," I mumbled back at him. He'd noticed my hands, trembling.
"Your blood sugar is low because of the pain and adrenaline, isn't it?" he murmured, his whiskey colored eyes peering down into my face.
"Yes," I conceded. Shoving a bite of vegetable sushi into my mouth, I began to try to focus on the salty, crunchy and creamy mix, instead of the throbbing tingle in my foot.
" 'CADO. Want more 'cado, peas!" My youngest implored me, his big brown eyes melting into mine, as his chubby little hands tried to slide my plate out from under my fingers.
"Okay Boo, hang on, I'll give you the whole top of this roll -- see? All avocado."
" 'Tanks Mama," he beamed at me.
"You're welcome," I said grinning back at him.
"Hey Mom, I'd like some chips please," S said politely, glancing longingly at the counter where the chips and salsa had been set out.
"I'll get it," said J.
"What do you think guys," I asked, "is this a tasty lunch?"
"YES!" was the unanimous reply. The boys were flushed and happy, though moments ago they had been shivering with delight, or perhaps from being too cold in the pool as the breeze picked up, and the rain began to roll in.
I fielded several well-intentioned questions about why I wasn't wearing an immobilizing boot; why I hadn't brought crutches with me, my answers all boiling down to the basic reason that I'm stubborn and I thought my foot would cramp in a boot, and that my gait was close to normal as long as I was careful with the way I put weight on my foot, and a boot would change that.
As for the crutches, they bruised my hands and my ribs, and as far as I was concerned they were simply replacing one uncomfortable inconvenience for another.
We finished our lunch and went upstairs to warm up, dry off, and pet L, N and J's dog Rey.
We read books and the kids played. We ate dairy free ice-cream, and I forgot about my foot for a while, as I was watching the little ones interact.
These summer days go by so fast; August is just around the corner, and before we realize it, it will be fall again -- my favourite time of year, but this year, very bittersweet.
My youngest will be starting school with his big brother, and for the first time in what feels longer than five brief years, I'm going to have days where I don't have my little shadows in small and smaller. In fact, they're more medium and small, going on big and bigger.
No matter what your inner voice screams, you are amazing.
Sometimes resiliency is a, 'fake it until you make it,' scheme, and sometimes you have to admit that you need help, because faking it simply isn't working.
Remember, despite your perhaps thinking you've already dealt with, processed, gotten past or through something, the universe has a way of bringing that old crap up again to remind you of a few things:
Firstly, that you shouldn't forget the lesson you learned through the hardship.
Secondly, there may be something you're missing that you need to deal with.
Thirdly, maybe things feel too familiar for a reason, and that's something to be aware of and keep in mind.
I've been struggling with a few things lately, that I truly thought I would never have to deal with again. In addition to that difficulty, I have quite recently had a new negative pattern pop up its nasty little head.
I did something that I don't often do: I asked for help and support. I admitted that I was not okay, that I could not handle my situation without help, and that I needed more support than I was currently receiving.
Sometimes keeping things to yourself is not the way to go.
Having said the above, if you're struggling with anxiety, depression, or other difficulties, asking for help can feel like an impossible task.
I am very lucky to have people in my life who love me enough to comprehend that when I'm emotionally or physically struggling or exhausted, that I need the reassurance that the person checking in, or asking how I am, really and truly wants to know my answer.
My partner understands this, and will press me to divulge all information and encourage me in a supporting and sustaining manner. If I am unable to deal with something, he helps me take the first steps.
Not everyone has someone in their life who is able to do that.
If you see someone struggling, or having a difficult moment, ASK THEM if they need assistance -- be it a close friend, an acquaintance or a stranger.
The number of times I have checked in with someone crying, or downcast --- and I'm talking about strangers on the street or outside my normal circle of friends and acquaintances, is TOO MANY to count.
Sometimes, all a person needs is a hearty meal to feel okay again, sometimes it's a hotline referral, or a simple handshake.
Sometimes it's a greeting, a smile, a cookie and an, "I see you and acknowledge your pain and your existence."
I try to carry snacks in my car, not just for myself (HANGRY is not a laughing matter, and low blood sugar or hypoglycemia can be scary) but for the homeless too, or anyone really, who could use a small act of kindness to remember that they're not alone, if only for a moment.
I'm rambling today, but my point is: ASK for help if you can, and try and have compassion enough to realize that sometimes it's not possible. Sometimes you have to remember when you yourself ARE OKAY, that someone else isn't, and they need you to instigate.
For anyone struggling with a longer, deeper, or more inescapable issue, please know that I send you love and support. Life isn't easy, and whatever you're dealing with, I wish I could take your pain and suffering away.
For now, I want you all to know that I am doing very well. My issue was quickly resolved before it became a permanent or much more scary fixture in my life, because I had the self-awareness to ask for the help I realized I needed, immediately. While I am still staying aware of my self-care patterns, and checking in with my center every day, I remain vigilant in my compassion and message of love and light.
Please, take care of yourselves, and if you can't, I hope someone sees you and is able to reach out.
Too many mistakes.
Too many people.
Too many calories.
Too many cars.
Too many times.
Too much force.
Too terrible to think about.
What about too little?
Too few friends.
Too few opportunities.
Too few dollars.
Too few volunteers.
Too little empathy.
Too little to understand.
Too little trust.
Having just enough:
In the middle is perfection...
Or is it mediocrity?
Just enough means life at its best, but what if you miss the mark?
How do you know you've reached the pinnacle of the successful stratagem?
What does the mean, mean?
Is it possible to balance the see-saw indefinitely?
Or will you be stuck motionless at the "just right," place...
Too much, too little and too late:
Life goes up and down.
There is no perfect center, except the center of your being, the space inside your soul.
Back and forth and good and bad, want and need and all one has... everything.
Everything moves in cycles, and if you stay stuck in the middle, you die.
Time won't stand still.
Living means movement, which means flux.
Even the breath in your lungs expands and contracts; perfection isn't met.
The stillness of motion is in the moment itself.
Keep moving, keep fighting, keep testing the rise and fall.
Don't hold a grudge like a weapon, especially against your own self's past transgressions.
Do take the time to remember the good things, and not everything the critics dismember.
Sometimes the old stuff resurfaces in the most unpleasant ways.
Things you think you've processed, that you feel finished with, once again arise.
There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the asshole in the room, and then sending them on their way.
It's never too late to start something you always wanted to try, or do, or experience, and it's also never too late to pick back up, that which you laid down years ago.
You don't have to remain trapped in what you thought was yourself; growth and change are going to happen, whether you like it or not.
Breathe in and out.
Take a look around.
Can you see me now?
I'm the lost and found.
Touch my skin, it's soft.
Hold my heart aloft.
Lead me to the trough.
Drink the drink I brought.
In each soul there lives;
Dark and light to give.
Only when, what-if?
Stop and see the trip.
You can make your way.
You can seize the day.
Mix the paint, it's gray.
You don't have to stay.
Every word has strength.
Take its breadth and length.
Notice what you think.
If your blood were ink?
Happenstance is clear.
Hindsight, fondly dear.
Your love brought you here.
Don't lose, fight the fear.
As the river flows,
Ask the wind, she blows.
Only "heaven," knows.
Time's out, nothing owes.
Note: I love my parents dearly, but I did feel ashamed being late to things -- it was very embarrassing for me growing up, and once I got my own car, I was only late if my alarm didn't go off, and usually not even then, because I tend to wake up early. I'm not three hours early, like my Dad, but I'm not 20 minutes late either (Momma). My preference is about 10 to 15 minutes early. ;-) The Sweet Spot. If I arrive exactly on time for something, then I feel late.
Fairytales are more than scary.
Sometimes I think they're based on truth.
Right now I feel like I'm stuck in a novel co-written by Stephen King and Margaret Atwood...
Once Upon A Time is the start for secrets and lies, and fascinating truths that certain readers despise.
Once Upon A Time, women were taught they needed rescuing; that speaking your mind was an offense punishable by death.
Once Upon A Time I was confident and felt that I had nothing to lose, because if they don't like my work, there's always another audition, and eventually, even if they don't like me, they'll get so tired of seeing me return with a smile, that they'll take a risk and give me a job.
Once Upon A Time I lost that confidence somewhere between sophomore and junior year at University, when I found out the guy I was head over heels for was cheating on me, and my heart broke for the second time in my life and I forgot how to believe in myself.
Once Upon A Time I walked around like a zombie and didn't believe the compliments, only the mistakes and naysayers and I was too skinny, and too lost to perform with confidence.
Once Upon A Time, my college voice teacher, an amazing woman named Adrienne, convinced me to sing opera and said,
"Wait a minute, do you think you don't have a voice? YOU HAVE A VOICE," She saved my life and reminded me of what I'd forgotten; that deep down, I LOVE singing, dancing and acting and that I have a voice worth listening to.
Once Upon A Time, I walked the line between self-doubt and the desire to prove myself to others, and the stubborn streak of 'why the hell do I care so much about their opinion if I love doing it, I won't stop,' and I STILL moved out of state and 'took a break,' even though half my heart didn't want to --- had to give love a chance.
Once Upon A Time, I went to an audition for "Kiss Me Kate," in Denver, and they were surprised that I could sing well without a microphone taped to my face, and they called me back, but I had to decline because I couldn't swing attending classes all day, rehearsals all evening and then studying for anatomy finals and getting no sleep to perform well at anything.
Once Upon A Time, I took up Ballet class again at Lemon Spongecake dance company and was loving it, until I mentioned it to a friend, who showed up unexpectedly to what had been my solo sanctuary. I dropped my mason jar of water at the studio entrance, and was so mortified and ashamed, that I never went back.
Once Upon A Time, I graduated from massage school, and got my heart broken again, and then met my partner and got married, and had two kids, and am now getting back to singing more than Disney around the house, and preparing myself to audition and act and dance again with the same 'nothing to lose,' attitude that made me so successful before.
Once Upon A Time I found out I'm an INFJ and that it's actually weird that I remember details about people and places so clearly, even if I haven't seen them in years, and that NOT EVERYONE re-plays their worst days from their life so far on repeat in their head at night. Like when I was late to dance class by 3 minutes because my alarm didn't go off, and my professor made me sit next to her for the entire class time, while I balled my obedient eyes out watching famous dancer 'Jack' teach Fosse (one of my all time favorite choreographers). When he asked me to dance, she said "SIT THERE," and he kept encouraging me and I wanted to join him more than anything in the world. Like Obedient Ella from the book "Ella Enchanted," I couldn't disobey my professor. Were I to get up and join, would very likely mean she'd probably fail me, or throw me out. After all, I was being made an example of and it all felt the same way it did when I was in First Grade and tortured by my teacher for being "willfully insolent," instead of the fact that my not understanding her was a developmental thing, that most teachers acknowledge. As for the college professor, I still sometimes wonder why she was so wary of me --- I just wasn't good enough, I guess. I HATED being late before that incident and I still hate being late. Maybe next entry, I'll write about why being late feels traumatizing for me, in and of itself.
Once Upon A Time, I am STILL working on forgiving my past self, and letting things go, and letting it be "okay," that I am not perfect, and never will be. I am who I am, and that's a soul working to do my best and be my best, which means never ending and continuous improvement.
I HOPE someday I'll be able to say,
"Once Upon A Time, I healed my old wounds and accepted that I am good enough and planning to get better. I profoundly love and accept myself."
I am lucky. I know love and joy and have support in my life. Even though I have a dark side, and sometimes I get lost in it; most of the time I thoroughly enjoy my cheerful disposition. I still live every day with humor, the most that I can.
Please remember to listen to people. For children especially, it is vital that they are heard-- they may not understand why they feel things so deeply, or why life can hurt so much, but if they know they're safe and loved, then they can access their resilience and continue to sink their roots deeply into the sacred earth, and stretch their green youth exuberance for growth to the sky!
Just... please, no matter who you are, please don't give up on yourself. If you find that you're thinking crappy, negative thoughts, and you cannot remember your self-worth or that you truly CAN do anything you set your mind to, find a friend who will take the time to REMIND you of that FACT.
As I used to say, (and still do) every single time I leave the theatre space (from age 11 through forever),
My feet sink into the lush, vibrantly deep green grass. It feels silky soft, smooth and cool to my skin; just slightly long enough to be considered overgrown, and my feet leave gentle imprints where my weight has bent the blades.
Don't forget to count the trees: 1, 2, 3...
The mist has risen again tonight; gradient fog, clinging to the tall rows of trees I walk between-- swirling around my limbs as I step lightly down the center of the cedar grove.
4, 5, 6...
Glancing up, I see the moon. Big, beaming and shadowy as wispy clouds float across it's glowing face, almost pulsing in the night sky.
7, 8, 9...
He is ahead of me.
10, 11, 12...
He dances in the hollow, between the night and the dawn, balanced on the edges of things.
The cedar trees tower over me on either side. I feel as though I am part walking, part swimming through a misty sea -- I can begin to see the outline of a person, standing ahead of me.
Taking a deep breath, I rise up on the balls of my feet, my toes bending at a 90 degree angle in demi-pointe, my arms raising up as I close my eyes and tilt my head back, with my eyes closed. A smile plays about my lips as I hold in sous-sous, sending energy out my fingertips, and down my feet into the earth.
He breaks into a loping run towards me. My breath catches because I can hear his feet thudding the earth, feel him propelling himself rapidly toward me. Air rushing past his strong body, I'm imagining his heart pounding slowly and steadily behind his ribs, but I keep my eyes closed.
Strong, warm hands grip my waist, then slide to my ribcage, as he gently lifts me into the air.
Our muscles work hard, but these lifts, turns, balances... this partnering, feels effortless. He smells like clean sweat, cedar, vanilla bark, and rain on flagstone.
Hours pass. Then, our pas de deux finishes.
He rests his hands delicately on either side of my face, his thumbs feather-lightly stroking my eyelids.
"Please open your eyes." It is a polite request, not a voiced order, so I do. His voice is rich and medium toned.
"I've never seen you before now. You're.... different than what I pictured in my head," I half whisper, nodding self-consciously.
His eyes are golden pools of bourbon with flecks of mica, and they seem look through my outer surface, deeply into the center of my being. His gaze is gently probing, curious. His skin is the deepest, blackest coffee bean. The curves of his face are graceful and strong, like his dancing, and he looks.... familiar.
"I know you. How?" He smiles, and puts a finger to his lips, as if to say, 'no more questions...' Glancing down at my feet, I feel the heat rising in my cheeks. Suddenly he's sunk to a crouch and is tracing the outline of my skin colour changes with his fingertips. It's a very light touch along those borders across the tops of my bare feet, and I shiver.
"You are different. I like that. I like that you're not hiding your skin. I hope you're embracing this.... Vitiligo. This change."
"I've had it since I was little -- honestly, I feel as though it should bother me, but it doesn't. It's just... how I look."
"Amazing, and... symmetrical."
"I suppose. Eventually, my whole body will be white as a ghost."
"Does that upset you?"
"Not really... I feel cool.... like a leopard who can change its spots. It doesn't change my heritage or who I am, it's just... part of how I look. Universal vitiligo, I mean. It doesn't change who my parents are, or my culture. I'll miss how my darkest freckles look against my walnut coloured skin, but I was born with strawberry blonde hair anyway. I'm used to looking unique."
"I do find the patterns of it, the contrast between light and dark exotically fascinating."
"How did you come to be here? Who sent your invitation."
"I thought you... ?"
"No. I am the partner. I lead the dance, someone else sends the second. How were you invited?"
"I found a note under my pillow. There have been three. Three notes to come here. Instructions to keep my eyes closed once I pass the 13th cedar tree... to dance blindly until beckoned to see."
"Ah. Curly handwriting? Sepia toned ink? Parchment fashioned from the bark of a Birch tree?"
"So, you know who sent me the invitations?" He paused, as if unwilling or uncertain that answering my question would be the right thing to say.
"Mmmm. Why did you accept?"
"I miss pas de deux. I miss... being part of a company."
"I'd like to hear more about that experience and the feelings associated with it. Now, however, we must part ways."
"Now that I've seen you -- I know it was you the other two times, the other two dances. I'd recognize you with my eyes closed, even though now I know what you look like."
"Appearances can be deceiving, but bodies -- movements, following and leading, heartbeats and quality of touch -- those never lie."
"Is there a way for me to write to you? To contact you?"
"You'll receive a different sort of invitation. You must go now."
"Good bye then."
"Good evening." He did a triple fouetté then took a knee and placed my hand on his heart for a moment. Then, he was gone, running back up the line and disappearing into the mist.
I turned on my heel, unsure of my feelings. Strange though my dreams may be, I'd never have previously believed that I could accept an invitation into someone else's, or an in-between place, or wherever we were.
Closing my eyes, I began to walk backward the way I came -- counting my breaths to 13, until the swirling fog began to rise up my body -- colder and colder. I felt myself floating away again, falling backwards, and when I opened my eyes again, I was safely under my old, worn cotton comforter. Staring up at the old stick-on-glow-in-the-dark stars I had put up on my bedroom ceiling on my 11th birthday, I sighed.
Tomorrow I'll finish unpacking. I'll move into the master bedroom.
Saying goodbye to my parents had been heart-breaking and the most difficult thing I'd ever done, but I couldn't keep pretending that I was all right. Sleeping in my childhood bedroom, waiting, as if they were going to come home any minute.
I'm 23 years old. I can do this. The funeral was 3 months ago. It's over. That was the hardest part, right? I can make this house less empty if I finish unpacking and sorting. Mom would want me to 'get on with it,' as she'd say.
Glancing at the clock; 1:11 A.M.
I grabbed Pride and Prejudice, from my nightstand -- Jane Austen would help me sleep. Help me forget that I was alone in my deceased parents' house, and engaging in strangely lucid dream fantasies.
Maybe I've been elaborately hallucinating.
No, if I was crazy, then how come I'd saved the all too materially real notes -- stuck them into the pocket of my day-planner to remind myself that I had something to look forward to. For now, sleep. Sleep would get me to the new day tomorrow-- or the rest of today, rather.
I'll start with the stars. It's time for them to come down, and fresh paint to go up. 'Nothing less expensive works to transform a room than a gallon of paint,' Mom always said. Yes. Tomorrow, the stars come down. The heavens fall. The earth moves. The sun rises.
Whooooooooshhhhhhh.... goes the air through the vents, making the hair on my arms stand up.
Looking over, I see the sleeping form of my oldest, his long legs curled to the side. The little one has kicked off his covers again-- too warm I suppose; though my fingers, usually hot, are cold as I type.
Kids grow so quickly; such a cliché to state, but quite true, nonetheless.
Curly heads facing the windows, unison breaths in and out -- they'd snuggle in their sleep and wake each other if we let them get close enough on our big bed.
Tonight is the Full Super Blue Blood Moon. What an incredible thing to witness. I haven't seen its full glory in person yet, beyond pictures, and perhaps I've missed it. After I finish my entry, I'll look.
I notice my chest feels tight, and I cough. Residual respiratory irritation. Yay. The flu season peaked for us over the Yuletide, and we're still recovering, all of us.
J isn't back yet, but I know I'll hear footsteps soon.
SHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhh... I hear the shower kick on, the rain head echoing in our tiny bathroom.
"Hey Darlin', you writing?"
"Have you seen my journal?"
"All three of them are on top of the bookshelf, on the left."
The little one rubs his face back and forth on the comforter, softly crying out and coughing. Time for snuggles, and for me to read my book in the darkly orange glow of our bedroom lamp.
I am grateful for this moon, and the energy it carries.
I am safe tonight, and I will never take my partner for granted, because J is a big part of my feeling of safety and coziness.
Maybe some day I'll scream about it from the rooftops; this marvelous feeling of comfortable, lasting, accepting of everything love.
I am glad that we found each other, every single time our eyes meet.
I remember once in my teens, telling my voice teacher Naomi, when she asked me if I was in love with one of my best friends, and whether or not I was okay with seeing that person date someone else:
"Maybe I am, but if it's meant to be, it will happen. I think finding even a single person that I can connect with is what's important-- regardless of sex or gender, or orientation. Sure I love him, and maybe it's romantic love, but even if I never kiss him, I'll still love him. I'm open to being in love with women too. Love never goes away; it's like energy-- it simply changes forms. I'm okay with waiting for the right person for me. I'm not losing anything by not professing how I feel to him, while he's in a relationship -- that's not fair. If we both end up single, at the same time in the future, then perhaps."
We did, and I did, and we had a great weekend of making out, and then reality set in and we returned to our lives separated by three states.
I'll always think of him fondly and love him as a friend. He was part of my finding myself when I was going through the second deep heartbreak of my life.
Love changes us. Each time we love, we learn and grow and get better at healing our wounds.
Love has many nuances, flavors, feelings...
The heart wants what it wants, in the moment and beyond, each wave paves the way for the next.
"You almost done?"
"Yes. How was your walk? Did you see the moon?"
"I did. It's big."
"I'll have to go take a look."