Embracing the suck

I’m usually an optimist.

When I’m in a good mood, I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Forgiveness. Understanding. I even, at the best of times, extend that same grace to myself. I know we all make mistakes. Sometimes I can embrace that. Accept it. Even laugh at it.

But when I’m down… oof. I go all the way down. I question everyone and everything. Even things I was sure of the day before. I question loyalty. Friendship. What I want. My direction. My heart.

I used to hate this about myself. I’d call it a spiral and just hold on until it passed, but I’ve learned that holding on isn’t as effective as letting go. I truly believe most situations can teach us lessons if we’re open to them, and I wasn’t learning the lessons by plugging my fingers in my ears and screaming. Optimism is great and all, but maybe some things need to be questioned, and maybe it takes going all the way down to be able to look at those situations (or relationships) critically.

It’s possible not everyone deserves my grace and understanding, not all the time, at least. Maybe sometimes I just have to let go and embrace the suck? Learn what it has to teach me. The dark has as much to teach as the light, maybe more, and I might not be able to look at things critically when I’m whistling a happy tune. The dark might show me things I don’t particularly want to see, but I need to see. Not just in the areas of my life I’m struggling, but in a lot of different areas. Maybe what I thought was a spiral is actually an unfiltered, unbiased look at my life and relationships, and not through rose colored glasses. Not everything I thought I wanted passes muster. Not everyone I thought cared about me has shown it. Not everyone I’ve been pouring into deserves my precious time, energy, and attention. In some cases, not everyone I’ve loved has loved me back. In fact, maybe this dark is telling me I’m chasing the wrong things and people, and it’s time to turn around.

Ouch. No wonder I’m fighting it.

Not everything is this complicated. No doubt some of these spirals are just plain bad moods or pity parties. Those are part of life, too. Do they have things to teach? Not always, unless what they’re teaching is that tomorrow is a new day. That’s an important lesson, too. But sometimes it’s worth a deeper look into that dark. You might be surprised what you find there.

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Surrender 2023


I’ve been sitting with the word surrender as my word of the year. 2021 was focus. 2022 was commitment. I was dang sure 2023 was going to be passion. I was so ready to barge into 2023 on fire and light everything up.

But it wasn’t right.

I’ll be honest, I don’t spend a lot of time in silence these days. In fact, you could say I’m scared of it. I’d much rather follow my head than my heart, but that wasn’t serving me. So, I decided to do the scariest thing and spent an hour in a salt water sensory deprivation tank. I had no choice but to listen to my heart. It was all I could hear.

Without being too woo-woo, my heart had a lot to say about forgiveness. Specifically, I felt like I’d failed at commitment in 2022. That fire I wanted to light in 2023? Turns out it was burning behind me, but it was more like a dumpster fire than a rocket launch – and one that had been burning a long time. Commitment? When was the last time you saw me blogging? I all but dropped my business. I stopped writing (again). To be honest, I’m not sure when or in what order I’m going to pick those up. This is a step, but I’m not sure what the next step will be. I know I won’t find it forcing my way forward – like a bull in a china shop as my dad would say. But how do I let go of those reins? And what do I pick up instead?

There’s a lot to be said about vision and direction. I’ve done a lot of work on those things in the last couple years, but everything was starting to feel so forced. Like I was checking boxes instead of finding joy in each moment. What if I let go of my own expectations, and just feel my way through? That’s surrender to me, and it feels right. It’s not surrendering as in giving up. It’s surrendering as in letting go. Flowing. Trusting.

It’s risky. While I’m not a great planner, I do like to maintain some semblance of control and order in my life. Definable goals. Steps to get there. A calendar, even. A budget. But the truth is I’ve had all those things the last few years. Planners. Bullet journals. Goals. Steps. It’s a game I play every year. What if this year, I don’t play that game? What would surrender look like?

You’re looking at it. I quit this blog because people told me it’s too much. I’m too much. Undoubtably sometimes I am. But tonight, my heart had things to say. I’ve always thought this blog served a purpose. Maybe it’s time to follow that through, despite what people say. Despite my fears. Maybe it’s time to trust my instincts and just flipping write.

That’s what surrender looks like right now, at this moment, and I’ll tell you it feels a lot better than pushing myself to reach goals my heart might not even want to pursue. Surrendering is going to be a fight. It’s going to be a slog. I’m going to want to push back, with purpose and with fear. With objectivity. With logic. Emotion, even, sometimes. It’s not easy to let go of control, but I believe there’s something important on the other side of that. Me. My true self.

I don’t have time to sit in that float tank every day, but I’m getting better at finding little moments to tune into my heart and redirect myself in big ways and in small. What that will look like? I don’t know, but I’m willing to feel my way through and find out. Cheers to 2023!

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Seasonal depression

I live in New England. It’s starting to get cold here, and the sun officially sets around 4:15 though sometimes it seems dusky much sooner than that. It’s often dark when I go into work, and dark when I leave. Some days I don’t see the sun at all except through my office window.

Sometimes in the middle of summer I romanticize these short days sitting next to a cozy fireplace. I imagine getting books read and written. Projects done. Crafting. Hot cocoa – or maybe a hot toddy. Cocooning.

It’s not until I’m in the middle of the season that I realize winter isn’t as romantic as all that. I’m inherently an outdoor person, and I miss walking in the woods (it’s hunting season, to boot) and hikes after 4 pm. I miss leaving the house without a jacket, hat, mittens, and boots. I miss being able to get to the beach after work to pick up tiny shells or sea glass or just tell the ocean my problems. I do that, sometimes. The ocean is a good listener.

You can go to the beach in the winter, of course, but my hours are much more limited and I simply haven’t had the time to do those things or visit those places that heal my soul. The fireplace can be healing, yes, but that fireplace has its work cut out in the next few months. And I often don’t give myself the time or space to just sit by it like I do the ocean. It’s different when I’m at home. Sitting by the fire, I see a house that needs to be cleaned. Laundry that needs to be done. Dust. Dishes. They’re all staring me in the face. There are always so many “things” to do there’s just no time for cocooning, which I think is what this season is desperately asking of me. Pardon me, but my soul is crying out to “forget” the laundry (insert another f word there, if you will), and just sit in contemplation or meditation or prayer or blessed silence. Instead, in years past I put a log in the fire and pushed through. Even then, my house was never exactly spotless, and as for me? Well, I was losing in every possible way.

They call this feeling seasonal depression, but I wonder…. is it the season that’s causing my depression or am I doing that myself? It’s a question to ask in the stillness by the fireplace tonight – and I’m going to make time for it. In fact, I have to. It’s what the season is demanding of me.

Is it the season that's causing my depression or am I doing that myself?
Moonrise the last time we went to the beach in November

Show up with love

How you receive advice depends on a lot of things. Your season. The giver. Your willingness to listen. In the past I’ve been both desperate for direction and unwilling to take it. I’ll bet many people have found themselves, at one point or another, in the situation of not wanting advice at all but a quick fix. I wish it were that simple, but it’s usually not.

I asked my online followers what the best piece of advice they’ve received was, and I got wisdom that ranged from practical (don’t talk religion & politics & everyone stays friends), to spiritual (don’t worry about what you can’t control). My friends talked about the importance of perspective and kindness, the definition of success (definitely another blog in the making), how to manage finance and driving advice. All well-heeded. All important (especially that one about politics!)

I usually quote Dr. Phil in my blogs. He’s got some great advice, but today Mr. Miyagi is on my mind.

A quick internet search suggests themes of forgiveness, effort, and growth are most popular, and no doubt those things are important. In years past, I’ve struggled with a sense of self & purpose. I’ve struggled hard, and I leaned on “don’t give up” to get me through some some dark places. But the truth is, there are times you have to give up. Knowing when to dig in and when to let go – well, someone show me that advice. I’m not sure you can. It’s intuitive, but trusting your intuition? That’s up there, too. There’s something I’ve been thinking about lately that trumps all that, though.

Show up with love.

Someone gave me this advice in a roundabout way, and it never really left my heart. I was first introduced to this idea in Marianne Williamson’s “A Return to Love,” one of my very favorite books. You can’t go wrong by letting love guide your every interaction and decision, but it’s not easy. Ego gets in the way. Emotions get in the way. Pride gets in the way, and fear? Just look at Mr. Miyagi’s quote up there. Yes, if you’ve seen the Karate Kid 3, Daniel was in quite a pickle at this particular moment. It’s a dramatic example, but fear can guide even my small, quiet moments if I’m not careful. Fear can shape who I am. It has, actually. I’m trying to unshape that. How? How do I show up in my life with love?

There are a million answers and probably many, if not most, are better than mine. I can’t define love. Better people than me have tried since the beginning of time. I can take a stab at what love means to me, and what it means to show up with it.

It starts with being mindful of the present moment, not allowing the fears of the past or the anxieties of the future dictate what I’m doing. Daily meditations have helped a lot with this. Showing up with love involves checking in with my intuition and following it even if it’s telling me something I don’t want to hear. Your heart knows the way, and the way isn’t always easy or simple. In fact, I’d venture to say the right way is rarely either of those things, but worth it? You bet it is. Daily journaling has helped with this practice too, (thanks to Lisa, my accountability partner, for encouraging this practice!)

The biggest piece of all is empathy. Showing up with understanding and grace. Listening. Granted this is something that comes more naturally to some people than others, but the truth is even those of us who have it in spades forget sometimes. It’s ego again, selfishness… fear. It’s difficult to lead with those things when you show up by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Does this practice get me walked on? Sometimes. Is it worth it? Yes. Always.

I’m an intuitive, empathetic person, but the hardest part for me is showing up in my own life with love. Directing my decisions toward what’s right for me. Understanding myself. Listening to my intuition. Honoring my needs. Loving myself. I’m not sure why that’s so much more difficult for some of us than others, but if that’s you – I see you. And I encourage you to see yourself. To show up in your own life with love, however that looks.

One of the ways I show up for myself is for my health

Going inward

I go inward when I have emotions that are too much to handle.

That’s the reason my blog has been offline the last few weeks, (which is sure to mess with my algorithms, another gift from the depressive episode that keeps on giving!) Going inward is actually not as bad as a depressive episode, it’s a coping mechanism and not the worst one I’ve ever leaned on. There’s a lot of wisdom to be found when you tune outside voices out and listen to your own heart. For however long that takes, and sometimes it’s a while.

In the past, I’d disappear until I felt like myself again. But in that case, I was shutting myself down a lot more than I was being myself, until numbness took over. Instead of being the best of myself, I turned into someone I didn’t know, or particularly like. I let fear take over. I hid.

The difference between going inward and shutting down is so subtle I don’t blame people for worrying about me. In both cases, I’m offline. I’m not connecting as much as I was. I’m unplugged, even from the people, places, and things I was most involved in. The difference is subtle, but huge. In shutting down, I’m unplugged from those things because I don’t think I deserve them. In going inward, I’m unplugged from those things because I’m reevaluating whether they deserve me.

Yikes, that sounds aggressive even to type, doesn’t it? Especially to someone who’s spent her life doubting her own value. Does it make me sound like a huge b*tch? Good. It’s about time I learned to stand up for myself.

Part of what I’ve learned by going offline is that I’ve shouldered weight that’s not mine to bear – a lot of it, actually. I’ve taken the blame for things I didn’t do or cause. I’ve jumped in to fix things I didn’t break. I’ve assumed I was the cause for things I was just a bystander to, or worse – a victim of. I’m so desperate to keep the peace (typical Libra) that I’ve sold myself over and over and over.

So now, in isolation, I get to decide what to do about that. Do I want to go forward apologizing for being myself again and again? As Dr. Phil would say “how’s that working for ya?” Not good, Dr. Phil. Help a girl out.

I’m not, actually, in isolation. Part of going internal is knowing who you can trust, even (especially) if that circle is super small. I recommend a small circle, actually, because trust is so precious and hard to come by. I’m not looking for advice. A shoulder to lean on goes a lot longer than a lecture about what to do. Because the path, sometimes, is individual. Your heart knows the way, but sometimes your world has to be dark (& quiet) for that path to light up. Someone to hold your hand on the way, though? That’s more than invaluable.

That path? I don’t know where it’s leading me. I usually don’t write about things until I’m far enough over them I have some perspective, but in this case? Well, I don’t mind if you walk a while with me. Maybe you need to do some reevaluating as well. Those people, places, and things important in our lives will fall back into place, one by one. Or maybe they won’t and we’ll find entirely new paths. That sounds scary, but it’s a lot less scary than losing ourselves by shutting down.

Take my hand. I won’t let that happen to us this time.

my path this morning was filled with sunlight

Last resort

I was looking for a quote about force vs. flow, but I can’t find just the right one.

Maybe because what I’m really looking for is a reason to come back. A reason to write this blog post. I’ve been missing, you see. I was convinced, as I sometimes am, that talking about my mental health and what could be considered my personal problems was problematic and inappropriate. Oh, and my favorite – immature. Did anyone say those words? No, not so much. But I heard them nonetheless. So I did what runners always do and I ran, but I didn’t find what I was looking for when I was hiding. Sometimes I find a degree of peace when I’m alone, but often I stretch it out longer than it needs to be. Or maybe it doesn’t need to be at all? Could I be forcing my own isolation? I’ve pushed worse on myself.

As I dip my toe back into the online world, I’m hyper aware of places I fit in and places I’m trying to force. My balance is sometimes off. I push myself into myself places I don’t belong, then run from places I shouldn’t. Following your instincts can be a real b*tch, especially when your eyes are opened to old patterns. Why did I spend so long contorting myself to fit in? Why did I spend so long pretending to be someone else to please everyone and keep the peace? Why did I stay so small?

Because I was afraid to be alone.

But by doing that, I was isolating myself even further. I always considered myself the last picked friend – you know the one. The one who’s a great listener but doesn’t talk. The one who’s always on the sidelines. Who people think of last and only because there’s no one else around. No wonder I was expandable. I had no opinions or personality except what I reflected. I had no color. Why would anyone choose to hang out with me except as a last resort? I didn’t even want to hang out with me. I sold myself over and over again. I didn’t stand up for myself. I made myself as small as I possibly could until I almost disappeared.

Sometimes, in order to face your fears, you have to meet them head on. That’s not what I was doing by running. I wasn’t embracing my fear of being alone, I was numbing it by being in the wrong places with the wrong people in order to reinforce that I didn’t belong anywhere. It’s a b*tch of a cycle, I’ll tell you that. And guess what? Being alone would have been preferable. I’m aware of the irony, though I prefer not to call it irony. I call it growth.

And I’m still running sometimes. It’s a hard habit to break. But it’s broken, I think, by people who remind me that I belong here, on this platform. That my words have meaning. That I have meaning. Maybe that meaning is what I’m running from sometimes? Or maybe it’s just plain fear. Fear of being alone. Fear of being myself. Fear that I’m not plain good enough. I’m not sure how hard and fast you have to run from that, I only know I’m tired of running. Maybe it’s time to turn around and face it.

A long journey home

How many times have I sat before this screen and wondered if I had anything important to say? There are almost 8 billion people in this world. What makes me different from any one of them? What makes me stand out? What makes me think I have anything of value to add?

I love the idea that everyone has a gift or a purpose. But what’s mine? I think I might’ve been looking so hard that I couldn’t focus on what was right in front of me. I think they call this not seeing the forest for the trees, and… spoiler – this comes close to the plot of the Alchemist, one of my very favorite books. The journey back to yourself is the hardest, but like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, the magic has been in me all along.

There are times when I really, truly don’t have anything to say, or feel comfortable feeling it never mind saying it. There are times, even now, when I want to stay in hiding, and there have been times on this blog that I’ve gone the complete opposite way and shared some really difficult things. Things people don’t talk about. Scary things. The willingness to do that, to open myself up despite pushback (and there is pushback and fear, and even still some shame)… well, I wouldn’t say that’s a talent, or a purpose. I think everyone can do it. But everyone isn’t. So what does that mean?

Do my words matter? Does this blog matter? Maybe. Or maybe it’s another step. I don’t see my gifts or my purpose as a destination, but a journey. A journey, like Dorothy, back to myself. Will I find that magical purpose when I reach Oz? Will I reach Oz, and what will be there when I do? The only thing I can count on being there is what I learn along the way. (Again, props to the Alchemist here.)

I don’t think my purpose is as simple as one thing, but maybe we have a different gift and a different purpose for different seasons in our life? I sometimes wish I was someone who just knew I was meant to be a nurse and save lives, or a teacher and change them. But it’s never been that simple for me. Maybe it’s not that simple for you, either. Here’s the thing – being true to myself is as close to my purpose as I can get. That honesty and authenticity has sure put me on the right path, at least. But who is that? Who am I when I look in the mirror and try to align myself?

Well, it depends on when you ask me. Like everyone, I’m nuanced. But in my heart I like to think I’m kind, forgiving to a fault, a good listener, and a good friend. I’m creative and caring, even if I don’t always know how to channel those. I’m chaotic and passionate – often to a fault there, too. I’m a dreamer. Honest. Intuitive. Empathic. At my best, I’m in love with the world. At my worst? Well, I think you’ve read those blogs. The danger of being a person who embraces their feelings is being a person who embraces their feelings. All of them. But I won’t run from them. Not anymore. They’re a part of my journey, and if you’re reading this, they’re a part of yours, too.

I’m not a guru. My degree in history makes me patently unqualified to offer advice, except for the fact that I’ve been to those places, to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I’ve been on this journey to find myself and my purpose. To find a way to help and make the world a better place. And somehow, I’ve found it in me to write about it. Does that mean something? I suppose it has to.

All these years of seeking, and maybe my gift or my purpose isn’t something I have or something I’m seeking, but something I am? Maybe it was in front of me all along? It seems too simple, unless you think of it as a step. Once step on a long journey home.

Speaking out

I get such wildly differing advice when it comes to writing. Be honest butts up against staying in your lane. Writing what sells vs writing from the heart. Is my story valid? Is it helpful? Does that make it worth putting myself out there?

What is my story anyway, and should I be ashamed of it?

I might have been, some time ago. I’ll be honest, I came here today to delete everything that might potentially be embarrassing, but how do we learn we’re not alone if one person isn’t brave enough to speak up? I don’t think I’m brave. Stupid, maybe. A little naive. Maybe a lot naive. But I made a promise to myself when I started this to be honest. This isn’t a blog about recipes or tiktoks. It’s a blog about getting real. Largely the things I write about I’ve already dealt with, but not always. Things cycle back. I know that. Sometimes you’ll cycle back with me, and by putting this out there you know I’m willing to cycle back with you. Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I’ve found that staying silent hurts more than talking, even for this introvert. And if it helps one person? Well, then I guess it’s worth it. Is it?

I don’t worry what people will think as much as I worry I’m not getting my point across. I’ve gone past worrying what people think, but maybe I should worry about it? After all, I still have to live in this world with people who know me. This blog would seriously put a crimp in any presidential plans I have. Fortunately for me, I’m not planning to run for president anytime soon. And if I do, I am who I am. I struggle sometimes. If I can’t be honest about that, everything else is built on a lie. It’s possible to live within that lie. I’ve done it. But that’s not how you grow and that’s not how you heal. I can’t tell anyone else how to grow and heal, maybe you’re not even ready for that yet? But I am. And my growth and healing comes from speaking out, so that’s what I’ll keep doing.


Some days, I’d like to give my intuition a big middle finger. Today is one of those days, but I’ve worked too hard to do that. So instead, I’ll listen. I might not make the right choice, but I’ll listen.

You know the feeling when your heart and your head are at odds? Most of the time this manifests when I have a choice in my life. Quitting a job. Leaving a relationship. The big decisions are the spots where my head tries to nudge my emotions right out of the picture, but my intuition effects everyday decisions too, and they might be just as important. That’s what I’m tangling with today.

When it comes to decisions, practicality should win. Like when you’re leaving a job you should take into account pay and vacation. Benefits. All very adult-like things. The same could be said for the small things. Where to spend your time and energy. When to speak up and when to stay quiet. Trust. I call these things small, but they’re not small at all. In fact, they’re all-encompassing and while they don’t have the drama of a quitting or an ending, they can just as easily change the course of your life.

Does anyone watch Star Trek? One of the reasons I love the series so much – right from the very beginning – has been watching Spock wrestle with his human (emotional) and vulcan (practical) sides. I’m no vulcan, but I feel that. In fact, in the past, I’ve leaned into being hot headed. These days I fall to my practical side, but neither has left me in alignment. How to I balance my heart and my head?

That’s where intuition comes in, and man oh man… have I been cursing it. It’s been pushing me to not only step out of my comfort zone (you can do it), but to make choices and leaps of faith and trust that my head wants to protect me from. My head, my practicality, my vulcan side… they all want to protect me from being hurt, but they sometimes protect me at the cost of not feeling anything at all. At the cost of not taking risks. Not doing anything. Sure, that will prevent me from being hurt. But it will prevent me from soaring, too. It will prevent me from feeling. It will prevent me from being seen.

I’ve hidden behind that practicality for so long. I still don’t like to be seen. I’m a risk taker (ask my hiking friend Amy!) but only so far. I put myself out there, but only to the point where I can get hurt. What lies beyond that point, I wonder? What risks do I have to take with my writing, my heart, my very soul to go beyond that point? What must I put on the line? My intuition knows. It’s been pushing me and pushing me past that. It’s been pushing me to make decisions I don’t want to make and take risks I don’t want to take. I’m so afraid of what lies beyond them, but that’s where my heart is. If only it could take my head along for the ride.

Not everyone is ready for this level of risk. It’s taken years of meditation and seeking to even tune into these intuitive feelings, and in most cases I’m still not ready to take the leap. Thanks, but no thanks, right? Right now, I’m just listening, and it’s okay. But the more I listen, the more I realize I might be ready to take these leaps. Be gentle with my heart when I do.

Sometimes the biggest risks come with the best views

In dreams

Do you keep track of your dreams?

I do. I think they mean different things to different people, but mine are messages for sure. They’re veiled. They’re metaphorical. My mind is an f’ed up place, but I can usually make sense of them.

For years, I had dreams about high school. Often it was the first day of school and I was lost. I didn’t know where my classes were or my locker was… I lost my homework… I couldn’t find my friends. Super typical anxiety dreams. It wasn’t until I figured out what they were trying to tell me that I stopped having them.

What would you make of those? It took some hardcore digging to realize all the metaphors hidden in those dreams, and it was tough even for a writer who adores metaphors (maybe a little too much.) I thought maybe it meant I’d lost my path somewhere when I was younger, and I did. My dreams were trying to pull me back.

I suppose deep down I thought my past journey was a mess. The school I was dreaming about was my life. It wasn’t until I got serious about my path and my goals and my direction that I just stopped having that dream. Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of other messed up dreams. (Dinosaurs, anyone?) Usually they’re trying to put me back on the right track, too. That track is a hard place for me to stay on. Alignment doesn’t come easy to me. In fact, it hurts sometimes.

I mention this because I had a similar dream last night where I found myself in the halls of my old high school, and I thought ‘oh no, not this again.’ But this time was different. It was the last day of school, not the first. And everyone was cleaning out their lockers. I started with the same anxiety, but this time when I couldn’t find my locker, I plum walked right out. I remember pushing open those doors (they were blue) and the feeling of relief that came with it. I remember being followed by my friend Amy’s daughter Kylie (sorry, honey I think you are a manifestation of my past self in this dream! haha). She said “aren’t you going to come back and clean out your locker?” And I said “No, thanks!” and walked away.

While I appreciate the validation from my subconscious, I don’t think I’ve entirely walked away from everything I need to. I still struggle – greatly – with being a people pleaser. I still try to be everything to everyone and put myself last. I’m learning, and maybe that’s what this dream was trying to tell me. The path isn’t sticky. It’s not something I can put myself on and stay there, like the rails on the Epcot monorail. Like the trails I frequent in the woods, it’s easy to lose my way because I’m distracted, or see something interesting, or maybe, sometimes, because the path isn’t well worn and won’t show itself to me. Tests? Maybe. Some I’m going to fail. Some I already have failed, but with the help of dreams, I’m finding my way back.

My path ❤