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. Life and Lotus .


“I am blooming from the wound where I once bled.” – Rune Lazuli

Holy Emotional Flashback Batman!

 When things like this come up in your memory feed two things can happen. It will either cause reflection, or, it will cause a crippling domino effect. For me, reflection is deep today.  If you had met me five years ago, when this screenshot was taken, you would have found the crippling, devastating effect.  I was still being triggered daily by the abuse. In that dark, murky mud, I never thought I’d come out healthy. I never thought I’d be able to bloom. No mud, no lotus. 

I have seen jewelry with the quote, “No mud, no lotus.” I never fully understood it. I knew the gist of it, the organic earthen side. The lotus doesn’t grow like most plants, dirt, water, sun, air. The lotus grows deeply rooted in murk and mud. It is surrounded by bugs, pests, fish, algae, and a deep, dark, dankness. Sometime around my 40th birthday (three years ago) a light went on and I fully recognized the correlation between life and lotus.

“The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud.” – Buddhist Proverb

The lotus gained its symbolism because its life begins deeply rooted that mucky, muddy pond. Even though it begins in mud, as it blooms, each individual petal is unblemished, unscarred from the the mire below. The lotus represents growing through adversity, trials, tribulations, and conflicts. The lotus represents the strength it takes to bloom in spite of, and when it blooms the beauty she shares with the world is indescribable. 

“A blessed state in which the individual transcends desire and suffering and attains Nirvana” – Buddhist Proverb

The word karma is from Sanskrit, where, fittingly, it refers to one’s work as well as one’s fate.  I could have very well ended up the murk and mud, being pulled under into the sludge. I could have listened to the horrible things that were said to me during the time of abuse. I could have believed the truth of my worth is held hostage in the echoing of those words. I just could not connect to who I was anymore, as I could only see myself through his eyes. “Toad”, “Worthless”, “It’s like putting makeup on a pig”, “Unwanted”, and so many more.

I was determined to overcome. I was determined to do the work and push my authentic self through his sludgy marsh. I was not his words. I was not his abuse. In that moment, five years ago, I was weakened by his constant attempts to suffocate me through social media and stalking. I wanted to wipe away anything and everything that defined me; my poetry, my artwork, my photography…. Me.

I am the lotus.

“My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents, and I lay them both at His feet. – Gandhi

In the five years since, I have worked hard on me; every single aspect of me. I am not perfect, but I am accepting of my flaws. I no longer reside in the suffering. I have moments where wounds reopen, but they do not overpower me. These wounds are areas seen that need additional healing. I ask myself, “What was the trigger?” and “What would be the best way to work through this?” I take the blood from my wounds and and form a new petal.  

I am the lotus.

Now, as I sit and reflect on that moment and move into mindfulness, I am amazed and proud of myself.
I have an amazing job.
I have a great little studio apartment, with relaxing Zen garden.
I have successfully purchased my own car.
My pugs are happy.
I am genuinely happy.

I am the lotus.

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. Disconnected Attachments .

Kondo

There has been a lot of discussion, negative and positive, around Marie Kondo’s “purging your life, decluttering your space” comments. “Get rid of anything that doesn’t spark joy…” has prompted a firestorm of meme’s in her honor; a lot of which are in mocking or attacking way.

As I sit back in my (yet again) new place, I think about this last move and the process of moving overall. It has taken this move, the 5th in two years, for me to identify why this is such a source of anxiety to me. It also took a discussion with my housemates to help me process further, and a comment from a friend who defined the root of my anxiety to finite detail. It all comes down to de-cluttering vs. attachments. So, I would like to offer another perspective on the sentiments Ms. Kondo has shared.

Before I go into the deep seed by the name of, “Anxietatem Inordinatio” that has been growing and taking root within my soul, let me share this last move to you. We received notice in January that our previous landlord decided not to renew our lease. Our lease was up at the end of March, however, we discussed with the landlord if we could be out a month earlier; she wanted to move family into her rental and we had an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up. We decided, that this time, this move, we were hiring movers. Such a novel idea, pay someone to move your crap for you. However, the reality is, you’re still responsible for sorting, purging, and packing your items. Thus watering the rooted seed that was planted deep within my soul at a very young age and spreading throughout my psyche with rapid strangling vines.

Packing. Sorting. Purging. . . yet again in my life.
Packing. Sorting. Purging.
Which should really read, “Water. Sowing. Sprouting… these suffocating roots taking hold of my soul again.” So the gist is, this simple act of packing is a huge trigger for anxiety. I was triggered. I was anxious, snippy, pissy for a month prior to “THE MOVE”.

As a child we moved A LOT. So much in fact, I believe in my primary years I attended every elementary school in the Kent School District. In my teen years, I was in/out of foster homes, lived with friends, never really knew where I’d lay my head or what crazy was going to uproot my false sense of security again. The only time in my life I can remember staying in one place longer than a year was during my marriage. I perfected the art of packing, purging, moving, and unpacking.  All of this relocation has carved a canyon in my soul that is filled with anxiety, disconnection, and depression. I learned transitioning into adulthood this way of life is my “norm”, it is just the way it is. I am now finding that the learned responses are not normal, my life just was not normal.

  • I learned that material things were replaceable, but never were replaced.
  • I learned that getting attached to material items only gains more hurt in the end.
  • I learned that people are easily to befriend, but hard to maintain friendship with relocation after relocation.

From these “norms” I formed rules.

  • If I haven’t seen it or used it in a year, donation or trash it is.
  • If it’s one of the, “…last minute items” tossed into a box, it’s probably trash or donation anyways.

Whoah… As a 42 year old woman (almost 43) the realization that that’s a lot of my life I haven’t retained, maintained, or stayed attached to. I’ve thrown a lot out, from pictures to people. A lot of youth who are in the system try to hold onto and keep any item that reminds them of their “safe place” or “home”. I was the exact opposite. I have mastered the practice of disconnect and not attaching to anything that’s “given” to me. It’s things that can be replaced, maybe. In a sense, I would like to defend Ms. Kondo. I fully understand what the sentiment behind what she was trying to teach, “If it doesn’t bring you joy…” I think that a lot of those who are mocking her for her statements on non-attachment are missing one key point, she’s Japanese and Zen Buddhist. Non-attachment doesn’t mean to dismiss all from your life and disconnect. It means to not allow materialistic items, negative relationships, or such own you.

I’ve compared life to a river. There’s no aspect of the river that’s permanent. The water that’s flowing is continually changing. The very edges and banks of the river are constantly eroding and sand is being carried away. If a big storm comes, and the water rises, the shape of the river can change. The water finds a new path and that becomes the new path of the river. So there’s not aspect of a river that’s permanent. Life is a lot like that. There’s no aspect of life that’s permanent. It’s when we get caught up in those moments of making things in life seem permanent that we run the risk of becoming attached. So when we attach to the permanence of things, then those things start to own us.- Noah Rasheta

In my possession are a few items that do spark joy, as Marie Kondo mentions, and has travelled to and fro by my side. I have a old school Mickey Mouse stuffed animal that has been mine since I was around 3. I kept a rocking chair that my grandfather won for me back in 1976, before I was born. I only got rid of it this year after major weather damage from being on the back patio. It was sad to see it go. But, it’s just a material item, the memories I hold of my Gramps is far greater than anything he’s ever given me.

I also have a handful of friends that have been with me since junior high (1989-1991) and seen the chaos that is my life.
Kevin, I love you to the moon and back. There is no question about that.
Veener Schliden, You’re my sister from another mister. I’d fight any dude for you.

1993 – THE BEST SUMMER of my life, downtown Seattle, WA.
The day McDonald’s never knew what was coming.

Overall, however, I find that things that bring me full joy in life are the things in this moment. As much as I collect items like Star Wars or Wonder Woman, I know that in the event I need to purge them, they can be replaced. I know that these materialistic pieces that are being donated will make someone else’s day, and I’m okay with that. 

  • My pugs on either side of me, nesting in bed, while I read or play on my phone.
  • Any and every time my son tells me he loves me.
  • A hearty laugh with my best friend.
  • Inside jokes that took 15 years to marinate and still tickle my soul each day.

Satisfying, comforting, and safe memories that are being made each minute of my day. These are the things I choose to hold on to.

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. Drops of Jupiter .

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Life is way too short to waste…
Make every moment count.

This is so easily read,  just as easily as it is to type. Digesting it, however, is like taking a spoonful of medicine without the sugar aiding it on the way down; bitter, grainy and really hard to swallow. 

Make every moment count. Well, what happens if you wake up 39 years old and realize there are only a handful of moments you chose in your life to make count? What happens if you’re facing death, a mere 30 years if you’re lucky? What happens when mortality, and that fact that you do only have one life to live, knocks the wind out of you?

You become me. Broken, but healing. Lost, but slowly finding my way. Cynical and jaded, reclusively hiding from the world; one book, one netflix program, one video game at a time.

All I can think about, right now at 2:20 a.m. on Thursday, May 28, 2015, is that I really lived this life wrong. I have made so many horrible choices that just flushed the best years away. Most of those choices were for love. They were for men who presented love in a package that was beautifully wrapped, colorfully attired, and perfectly alluded. I was always able to see the best in even the worst of cases. What I was seeing was this brilliantly presented gift, what others could see was a torn trashbag barely holding the contents within. Because I was seeking love. I was searching for it, harder than finding a hidden bedazzled, heart-shaped geocache’. 

Irony here. My favorite quote from the Bible, “Do not arouse or awaken love until she so desires.” Song of Solomon 8:4. I first read it sitting in the most painfully dull church sermon. I absentmindedly thumbed through the Bible, and it jumped off the page at me. I was roughly 17 years old. I was eye deep in bad choices; trying to find validation and love through sex. “Do not arouse or awaken love…” Simply put, “Bitch, stop pushing. Stop fighting to be seen and loved. Stop arousing life with bad choices.”

 Choices. . . that’s a heavy word. C.h.o.i.c.e.s; each letter weighs upon my shoulders like Atlas’ own sphere he holds up. Atlas, who was punished for a choice he made with his loyalties. Atlas, whose common misconception is that he held up the Earth. Atlas held celestial spheres, a globe shape with stars, planets, systems. Humans make wishes every day, almost as many choices are made as wishes. We wish upon those stars, those celestial entities that burdens Atlas. 

If I could time travel, I would go back to pivotal moments in my life where I had made wishes upon stars, and would tell myself to pay attention to my choices, and not so much my wishes. I would travel to those moments when I had opportunities to be a stronger, vibrant, intelligent woman. I would whisper sweet nothings in my own ear, encouraging me to just love me, for everything that I am. I would hold my own hand, pat my own back, and hug myself when times were too rough. I’d offer an encouraging word when the negative in my head takes shape from the shadows around me, pulling in the dark, while it looms over me. 

I would be my own lover, my own soulmate.  

I would do all of this so that I could enjoy being me without the additional hurt I’ve put myself through; by my own words, by my own thoughts, by my own choices. I didn’t follow my creative path, because conforming was expected. I am having a midlife crisis, with a body that feels 60 years old and a mind that never emotionally matured passed mid 20s. 

I love that I am getting to know me. I love that I am working so hard at healing, counseling, and reshaping my thoughts about myself. I hate that it has taken me my whole life to get here. I hate that it has taken suicide attempts, self hate, and the desire to disappear to realize that, by God(dess), I am worth

Every breath.
Every step. 
Every fucking heart beat in my chest.
And every good choice I will make for myself from this point forward. 

Because, I am thankful to wake up and realize my big bang is still forming. That I can still create a livable, viable environment in the next 30ish years.

This point forward, I do not want any regrets. I do not want to look back and see my choices were horrible from puberty to death. I want contentment and genuine happiness; even though I’m clinically depressed. I know that I can be happy. 

A few songs of solar systems, choices, and being okay.

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Pretty content.

It’s been a jump since I’ve written an entry; it’s what happens when life takes you by the horns, shakes the hell out of you and wakes you up. I am in love. I am in love with his spirit, his heart, his mind, his humor, his gamer geekery. I. Am. In Love.

Love   Never in a million years did I fathom being able to open that area of myself again.
Trust  I didn’t think it was possible to trust another, let alone myself, especially with matters of the heart.

There are so many things I’m finding that I am doing that seem so foreign to me, but I love doing them; such as being a ‘needy’ girly girl (as I call it).

He truly loves me for me… all aspects of emotion, quirks, and broken he hasn’t ran from. In fact, he’s really encouraged me to not hold those hot, fiery coals in; burning my insides trying to get out. I am learning that being completely and totally open, despite the fear of rejection, ridicule, hurt (which is what I’m accustomed to) is so cathartic.

This last  Sunday I had a total break down over the physical distance between him and I. Although at the time I couldn’t verbally say, “Dude, I’m going home tomorrow and that just bugs the hell out of me.” Instead, I got closed off, kind of internal, and started questioning the “What ifs…” He took it all in stride. He just slid closer to me, put his arms around me and talked me through it. He reassured
me that it’s normal what I’m feeling and it wasn’t going to scare him away. He reiterated that he was there, he’s going to be there, he wants to be there for me. snot_bubble_kid__zill_by_linkmatt1995-d45wgqbI don’t know what shocked me more, his reaction or mine. I didn’t stiffen or close him out. I just let him guide me through the fears, talking it out with me, and holding me. He never let go but for once… to get me tissue paper so I could blow snot bubbles a bit more discreetly.

The best thing about this; my mind, heart and soul are all in conspiracy.. “Do it, you can do it!” Instead of my normal, small voice in the back of my mind telling me, “You can’t do this.” This doesn’t mean I don’t have my typical demons trying to win over. Doesn’t mean I don’t have my moments of weakness chanting my failures as a reminder.

What it does mean, however,  is that my knight with dented armor, is just what my soul cried out for.  I hope we can continue to grow, communicate, love and be. Just.. Love. Trust. Be.

 

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Chaos to Cheerfulness.

leap-of-faith

He said to me recently, “Leap, I’ll be there with a net to catch you.” Oh incredibly big those words are… “Leap… Catch you…” What? You mean… put trust into another human being with my heart? Does he not know the impact they make on my soul? Does he not know the impact he makes on me?

My heart screamed, “DO IT!” But my mind, body and soul slammed the breaks like a fully loaded logging truck, causing a 21 car collision with the rest of my chakras, organs, and emotions. Everything stopped; entangling into a mess on my life path.

Leap. Just jump already. Do it…

In that collision… that mess of chaos… clarity whispered gently in my ear “You can do this you know.”  The heart, strength of it all, pushed through saying, “You can do this.” It’s that little voice I listened to. I am jumping. Just call me a Love Lemming.

I can see the last two years rush me like a quarter back; ready to sac and tackle at the moment of faltering. All the negative things said to me, all the repetitive chanting from the abuser, echo internally. I never fathomed being able to ever feel this way again. I fought against the flow, the organic natural course… it seemed so foreign to me. Little did I know his heart was in conspiracy with mine; speaking directly waiting for the rest of me to catch up. To quote my conversation with him (* swoon * …him… * sigh * ), “I was very much convinced that I was broken.; that my “mate picker” was really, horribly calibrated. And that I should steer very far away from the idea of showing affection, like, love and want to another. Or accepting it in return.”  I only held these beliefs because of what was drilled into me by the past.

This belief is all wrong. All. Wrong. Anyone is capable of learning the art of love again. Actually, I don’t even really believe that it is learning that takes place.

Love is always there. It’s one of our roots, our core values. You just have to learn to trust yourself, trust others, and not become hardened to the possibilities. 

 

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The One Thing You Need to Change to Accept Yourself

The One Thing You Need to Change to Accept Yourself –
copied from Tiny Buddha

 

Accept Yourself

“Serenity comes when you trade expectations for acceptance.” ~Unknown

I quit Weight Watchers this week, and I have never felt happier.

To be clear, quitting this weight loss program was not an act of defeat, nor was it an example of me running away from something difficult or painful. Cutting ties with Weight Watchers was truly an acceptance of self.

A couple of weeks ago I had a heart-to-heart conversation with a friend. I was feeling really down and I confided to him that not only do I lack self-confidence in nearly everything I do, I also seem to not like myself very much at all.

A voice in my head pretty regularly reminds me that I am not smart enough, funny enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, or anything enough in this life, so why bother trying.

As I explained all of this to my dear friend, I noted that I would never treat another human being as badly as I treat myself. I am loving and kind to everyone around me, but inwardly I am a mean bully. As I was saying it out loud, the whole thing seemed kind of ridiculous to me, but I didn’t know how to stop hating myself.

It was at this point that my friend said something that changed my life; he said, “Take a hard look at the things you think you don’t like about yourself. You have a choice: either learn to accept them for what they are, or change them. It’s that simple.”

At first his advice infuriated me. How on earth was I supposed to accept my flaws? I have spent thirty-six years perfecting my self-loathing, it seemed impossible to undo all of that hard work.

Turns out, it was easier than I thought it would be. After I got over the initial angry response to my friend’s advice, I started soul searching. I made a mental list of the things I have disliked about myself for nearly my whole life and examined each one, starting with the issue that has caused the most distress for me: my weight and body image.

For as long as I can remember, weight and body image have been an issue for me. I remember weighing-in in gym class in middle school and noting that I was not as small as some of the other girls in my class, but I also was not as big as some of the others either.

Truthfully, I have always fallen somewhere in the middle and would be considered average, but in my head I was never the right size or shape; I always wanted to be thinner, sleeker, and more toned.

Since my early twenties I have been struggling with weight loss; I would join weight loss programs or get into exercise routines with really high expectations: “This time I am going to lose thirty pounds and look like a super model!”

Inevitably, I would fail each time. I realize now this is not because I am a complete failure; it is good to have goals, but I was setting my expectations impossibly high. I was aiming to drop three dress sizes when I should have been aiming to just be healthier.

Alone in my bathroom, I stripped off all of my clothes. I stood naked before the mirror and looked at myself. I mean, really looked at myself. I wanted to see my body and acknowledge what I didn’t like. I felt that by doing this I could see the real me and finally accept who I am, flaws and all.

Here’s what I saw: my body is not perfect, but it is certainly not bad, either.

Regardless of its flaws, my body has withstood many challenges: I gave birth to two children, I ran a half marathon, and I can rock the thirty-minute circuit at the gym like nobody’s business. I also have some pretty cool tattoos, and even though I am no super model, I actually think I look good naked.

When I thought about it, I realized my body was actually pretty awesome.

It was then and there that I decided I needed to take my friend’s advice: accept my body for what it is. Sure, it would be pretty cool to have rock hard abs or to look like a girl on the cover of a fashion magazine, but by comparing my body to some ideal, I am overlooking what is truly great about me.

And so I quit my weight loss program, and as soon as I did, I felt amazing. No more feeling guilty about what I did or did not eat that day, no more hating myself on weigh-in day (no more weighing myself, period!), and no more telling myself I am not thin enough.

I will still make strides to be healthy (regular exercise, healthy portions, fruits and veggies), but now it is just to be healthy, not to lose thirty pounds or look like a super model.

My experience in truly facing my insecurities and consciously deciding to accept myself, my whole self, and nothing but myself, was truly enlightening; and it was freeing.

I challenge you to do the same. You don’t have to literally get naked, but definitely do so metaphorically. Strip away your impossible expectations and look at the amazing person you really are.

The next time the mean bully in your head tells you that you aren’t smart enough, funny enough, pretty enough, or thin enough, challenge what you are hearing. Change your story. Instead of comparing your “behind the scenes” with everyone else’s “highlight reel,” yell back at the bully and tell him or her you are awesome because you are you.

It doesn’t matter what size you are, you are still worth loving; so be kind to yourself and start accepting your little imperfections. You might find that once you begin accepting those things you think you dislike about yourself, those flaws are actually pretty great. And you are pretty great, too.

Photo by Marcos Dias

Avatar of Francesca Harris

About Francesca Harris

Francesca Harris is a mom, an aspiring writer, and a lover of life. She works full time in HR and attends graduate school part time. In her spare time Francesca also writes a blog for a local newspaper where she gives her opinions about books, music, movies, and more. Follow her on Facebook to read more of her writing.

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Stronger than myself.

I cannot express how much I really enjoy this quote. It was posted on my timeline (facebook) and it just settled into my mind. It’s perched there, like a wise old owl; knowing the strength behind it. I researched the quote and found it was from “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. I will admit, I have not read the books, but I have watched the movies; so if this is a wrong quoting please let me know so I can correct it.

Fear. My whole life I have thought fear is what drove me. I thought it’s what made me who I am. Fear of not surviving. Fear of my mother. Fear of turning into my mother. Little did I know what was really working in my soul was really hope. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for a brighter future. Hope. It truly is stronger than fear. 


I am thankful for my hope. I am also thankful for my fear. I believe, that even though one is stronger than the other, you cannot exist without the merging of both in your blood. Just like red blood cells need white cells to make the system whole; hope and fear entangle together as well. What defines the outcome of the person is which one they let rule their life. From this point forward, in an act of mindfulness, I am pushing my Hope forward a bit more.

So, moving forward with hope, one of my biggest “hopes” in life was to be published. That daunting task of actually getting my novel out of my head and onto “paper” (albeit, an electronic form thereof), has stalled me. It’s weighing on my shoulders. I am not under any time constraints, but I stress myself out with it. So, instead, I am going to focus on compiling and editing short stories and poems I have up to this point. Heck, I may even try to throw in some of my poetry.  My new hope is refocused into revamping the old to make it new.

Today, I am thankful for my creativity, dreams, hopes and fears. I am thankful I am who I was created to be, inner and outer layers.

I love when my dreams play hard to get. my passion finds it so damned sexy. 
The Universe and Her, and I #259 written by Christopher Poindexter

 

 

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Home and true happiness.

I think I finally found my place in life. I firmly believe I have finally found my “home” to plant roots into. I just want to state for the record, I am very thankful for my abuser, I would never have learned to appreciate who I am fully. I love me and it took many years to get here.

 
I’m loving my job, coworkers, even the patients (even the violent/angry  ones who came back and personally apologized for their behavior). My coworkers are so appreciative, complimentary, and really respect what I bring to the clinic. I’ve heard, “She’s kind of awesome, think we’ll keep her!”, so many times in the last month of me being there, it makes a gal just bloat with pride. We have a Kudos board in the break room, one of my co-workers posted a kudos to me. 

I just… feel welcome and wanted. I don’t see leaving this company anytime soon. I can honestly see myself growing and moving up within. I can see going back to school; they offer tuition reimbursement. I can finally finish my degree.

I love the town. In the next year I will be moving to the town I work in. It has a huge CoOp market, it’s very hippie, granola like. They have art walks, movies in the park, great food locations and the people are just incredible. It reminds me a lot of Olympia, WA… and I LOVED living there. I can’t wait to relocate. 

I am working on repairing my credit. I have it mapped out in payments from now until the new year. At that time, my credit should be pretty damn clean. I am hoping I can look into a rent to own situation. I want some land and tiny place to build into my own.

My son is finally coming into his own. He’s so happy being home with me. He loves his job. He is changing into an incredible young man. I am more than happy to have him stay as long as he needs until he’s fully sufficient and has pride in himself as well.

I’m really, just happy. Finally, inside my soul to my outer shell, content and happy.


The only things I need to make it come to full circle:
A group of friends. I have made a couple of female friends here. I can only go up from this point. I miss my friends back home. I miss girls day at Olive Garden. I miss the connections. It is another aspect of me I would like to fulfill. 

I would love to find a right place to feel fully involved in spiritually. I need something open faith and spiritually. I would love to find something that I can meditate and learn from. I feel that portion of my life is lacking. I need to feel full of spirit. I am just not connecting with a Christian following though. I feel that being content comes from internal springs and personal experiences, growths, etc.

I ‘m not worried about weight loss. I am not worried about that. I firmly believe that once my inner realm is flowing smoothly, my outer realm will follow suit.