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

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.

Facing myself

Taking myself off social media this week was a bandaid, but it gave me time to think about what my real problems are. It turns out those aren’t easily solved in a week, not even with a lot of silence.

I didn’t realize until I tried to take some selfies today just how much I’ve been beating myself up. I’m not hung up on my looks. In fact my physical trainer, Angela, has to talk me into watching my form at the gym. It’s not that I particularly don’t like looking in a mirror… Oh, who am I kidding? I don’t particularly like looking in a mirror, and especially at the gym. I’m there for health reasons, but for health reasons it’s sometimes important to make sure you’re lifting correctly. Watching your form is, of course, not a matter of vanity. That was never my problem. My problem is facing myself, and yikes, have I been slacking on that.

I’m not sure why the first thing to go when I’m feeling down is self care. I suppose it feels self indulgent to take care of myself when I have a busy schedule. And after giving pieces of myself away all day, I have none left for me. I’ve been making an effort to get to the gym, but I haven’t been eating right. I haven’t been drinking water. I haven’t been sleeping, and I’ve worn the same Stevie Nicks concert shirt for three days. In fact, my entire diet this month has consisted of a combination of fast food, coffee, and alcohol. Crikey, no wonder I’ve felt like crap. It’s easy to spiral out of control, and I have. I knew my mood was dumpy, I just didn’t realize it showed so much on my face.

It’s not that I think I look bad in these selfies. If I showed them to my friends, I’m 100% sure they’d lift me up. My age has never bothered me. My weight has never bothered me. I am who I am. My real power is on the inside. But what bothers me is that I know I can be better. I can feel better. I can tell in these pictures how sunken in and tired and crappy I feel. If a picture is worth a thousand words, these pictures say: “girl, pull yourself together.” No further words are needed.

I wish I could blame this on a time management issue, adjust my schedule, and go on my merry way, but it’s so much more than that. I talked in my last blog about the physical/mental connection and it has me wondering… am I not taking care of myself because I don’t think I’m worth taking care of? Do I think I deserve these sunken in eyes? This constant fatigue? These negative voices beating me down? It’s definitely a possibility, because I do feel those things sometimes. Which came first, the physical or mental blues? They’re so tied together, I’m not sure I can tell.

I blamed my lack of self care on a busy schedule and poor time management. I didn’t realize until I was off social media those weren’t my problems at all. Am I a little more productive off Facebook? Sure. But I’m also a little more lonely. Is that a trade off I’m willing to make? Sometimes. Last week, it was a tradeoff I had to make for my own sanity. But other days? I’m not sure there’s anything to do on those other days but buckle down and do the hard work of putting myself first. Oof, that was hard to type, especially for a giver. But so often being a giver turns into being a doormat, and the difference between the two has a lot to do with that self care I’ve been neglecting.

Even though I know how much it will make me feel better, I can’t promise I’m going to wake up tomorrow fresh faced after getting eight full hours of sleep and immediately change all my habits. I can maybe promise to change one thing though, (one thing besides that concert t-shirt!) I can promise to take a step. And maybe that step needs to start on the inside. Maybe that step is believing I deserve to feel better. Maybe that step is just looking at myself in the mirror, all of myself, and accepting me for who I am. And from there, just drink some water 🙂

Frustrated with selfie taking, but my hair looks good!

In hiding

I have a blog I’m sitting on that I never posted. I have one I posted and took down. Lately, I’ve been feeling a little over exposed. A little “why bother?”

This feeling isn’t contained to my creative life. I have times when I feel that way in my job or in my relationships. Hell, in my whole life. The risk of putting everything out there is that everyone can see you. And when everyone can see you, you can bet they’re going to judge you. Is anyone judging me right now? No. But that doesn’t always matter. I’m judging me.

I’m not like other people. I don’t “fit in.” I don’t follow. I don’t always make sense, least of all to myself. One of my good friends calls me the biggest paradox he’s ever seen. I usually wear that as a badge of honor, but sometimes…

Sometimes I desperately want to fit in. I want a tribe. I want to belong.

I’m aware that’s middle school Amy talking. I’m usually much more independent. Much stronger. Much more accepting of things that come into my life and things that leave. Welcoming of that, even. Everything has its season and so on. And let’s be honest, I don’t want people in my life that don’t explicitly want to be there. I’m not proud of this but sometimes I make them jump through hoops to prove it. But no matter how many hoops I make people jump through, seasons are going to change. I can’t stop that, no matter how many knots I bend myself into trying to fit in.

I worry, though, that I’m speeding up that process by being “too much” me. While I know in my head you can’t be too much of yourself, somehow that message doesn’t always make it to my heart. In the last week I’ve accused myself of being too loud, over sensitive, annoying, tiresome, and a loser/failure/nobody. No wonder I don’t feel like being creative. No wonder I don’t feel like being exposed. Sometimes, just the act of being me feels like being naked in front of a crowd. Sometimes I am that middle school Amy, just begging people to like me. It sure doesn’t make me want to take risks. It doesn’t make me want to be seen. In fact, I’m struggling not to hide.

I shut down my social media pages this week, but it seems the struggle is more internal than external. I’m here, working it out in a blog that I may or may not have the courage to share. I’ll get back to being me in time, I hope. I usually do. I’ll get back to recognizing that those things I accused myself of actually make me the quirky and unique person I am. Maybe I’ll even like those things about myself? This blog post is a step, but the social media pages? They might have to wait a little while longer. The process of accepting all of myself is a slow one. For now, I’ll just have to settle on sharing a little part of me until I’m ready for the world again – or maybe until the world is ready for me.

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Part of being uniquely me is that I put up a Halloween tree this week

Bar = raised?

It’s been a couple years of zoom calls. I’ve met many of my best friends online, and I even have a business I conduct mostly there. I try to put my best foot forward, but sometimes I suppose I get tired of trying to look my best. Of makeup, and having my hair just right and lighting – oh, lighting. Sometimes that incessant shine of the ring camera gives me a headache, and my favorite meetings are the ones I can have in the dark.

Like my dreams, there’s a metaphor there. One of not being able to show your real self in the light. Of hiding. I’m guilty of that. Quite guilty. It doesn’t even need a metaphor to show itself. The face I put on in the daytime isn’t the real me. I hide things. I suppose we all do. Maybe I’m just exaggerating when I feel like my shadow self is heavier than other peoples. Maybe yours is heavy, too? Maybe we all walk around carrying these heavy shadow versions of ourselves? Maybe, even, mine is comparatively light? But I doubt it.

That makes those dark meetings, those real meetings, so much more important. I like to say I’m fortunate in the people I have around me but I don’t think that’s quite true. I’m mindful of the people I have around me, as much as I can be. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn says you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I think there’s a strong argument there in terms of the conversations you’re part of and the visions you’re exposed to. The energy. My five people are solid, if dark.

My last dark meeting was with my accountability partner. If you’ve followed me for a while you know that accountability is a broad term. We don’t just keep each other on track creatively, but Lisa has helped me when I’ve veered so far off the tracks I don’t even know where the tracks are anymore or what they look like. Sometimes it’s because those tracks weren’t right for me, so we make new tracks. Or, sometimes, we just sit in the dark for a bit before finding our way back. Sometimes, accountability is just keeping going. And so far, I’ve kept going.

But sometimes, accountability is raising the bar. Stay with me. Accountability can be scary.

My expectations for myself are pretty high, you might say unreachably so. Sometimes that’s more than okay. Dreaming is important. Visions are important. But sometimes I put that bar unreachably high so I can beat myself up for not reaching it. I’m good at that. No matter how high the bar is, it’s not good enough. Lisa has helped me realize that raising the bar might actually mean readjusting it. I’m not using the word “lower”. Self care isn’t lowering the bar. Not at all. But recognizing what I’m capable of? Organizing? Planning things out? That might be important.

The other part of raising the bar, (actually the whole point of this blog) is realizing when you raise your own bar you raise it for other people, too. I can’t control other people. I can control what I accept from them – and if you think I’m being flippant, or I think that’s easy, I’m not and it isn’t. I’ve lived my life as a doormat. It’s my baseline, and no matter how hard I push back I have the tendency to revert to it. Here, let me lie down flatter so you can walk on me some more. Oof. Raising my bar means getting up, and I’m not lying when I say it’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn to do.

I can’t tell you how. Raising your bar is going to look different than raising my bar, no matter how heavy that shadow self is. Mine? Well, it’s part fighting the urge to withdraw when I have any kind of feelings. I’m learning to let myself feel them. Letting myself express them might come later, but it will come. I hope, anyway. This is a work in progress. This week, in particular, I’m fighting whether to express myself or hide. There’s not a lot of middle ground. You probably think as a mental health blogger this comes easy. It doesn’t. You’ve probably had the experience of having your feelings invalidated. Maybe it made you hide? Maybe it made you develop a pattern of hiding? Maybe that pattern took over your life until it was suffocating you? In that case, raise your bar. However that looks. Maybe it’s changing the 5 people you’re around the most. Maybe it’s changing yourself. Maybe it’s getting yourself a Lisa and getting back on track. Or just sitting in the dark.

On the top of my journal page that day I wrote bar = raised? You’ll notice the question mark. I’m not quite there yet. But my bar is higher than it was last week. Hope you can meet me there.

My light was off last week

Seasonal depression

I tend to go hard in the summer. With plans. With concerts and days out and fun. It’s because I know my mood sinks when the weather takes a turn. There’s science behind it, something about sunshine and vitamin D levels. All I know is it effects me. And if I can start autumn off on a high, I always hope I can coast through winter. 

But I might be lying to myself about how the summer effects me, too. It’s not that I don’t love it. The freedom. The long days. The weather. Here in New England I appreciate not having to drag out a coat and hat and boots every time I step out. That time is coming. But summer has me wistful, too. 

As easy as it is to blame Mother Nature, I don’t think all my problems are seasonal. In between all those fun plans, I’ve done a lot of work on myself. I know what it takes to stay mentally (& physically) healthy, I just don’t always do it. Why? There’s a time crunch, for sure. There’s a seasonal component. But the real reason? The layer behind all those other layers? I don’t make myself a priority because I just don’t see myself as important. I’m a secondary character in my own life. I always have been.

I know what you’re thinking. Not this again. I’m thinking that, too. How many blogs am I going to write about worthiness? A lot, maybe. It’s not something I can turn around with just a few essays or counseling sessions. It’s not just that these beliefs are deep seated. It’s not that they’re seasonal. It’s that they make up the core of who I am. Maybe who you are, too?

It’s not fun to confront that part of yourself. In fact, it feels a little self indulgent. Who has time for this new age bullshit when I should be cleaning my house or working? Writing, even. Writing something less esoteric. Maybe something that could conventionally sell. I could be making something of myself. I could be making money. Or I could be watching tv. The world is literally made for you to prioritize everything else and avoid these hard questions. But if there’s one thing I can’t shut off about myself, it’s my curiosity. I’m going to open doors and ask hard questions, even if I don’t have answers to them. 

So what are those hard questions? It goes deeper than why do autumn and winter make me blue? (Though a worthy question to pursue, for sure). It even goes deeper than why is my self worth in the gutter? It goes right to the heart of worthiness. 

I don’t have an answer for how to make myself feel more worthy. Gosh, if I did that’s what I would be writing! But I tend to believe confidence goes a long way. In fact, when my kids are trying out for sports or interviewing, one of my best pieces of advice is ‘confidence is everything’. But I’ve never been able to internalize that. I’m not sure it’s something you can just tell yourself, but I also don’t think there’s any harm in trying. 

This morning, I’m writing down my goals through March. Some of them are concrete, involving health or writing. Some of them are, well… esoteric. Some of them are everyday goals to keep me on track. Some of them are lofty enough I’m not likely to reach them in this lifetime, never mind this winter. Some are even out of my hands, but there are steps I can take, and a confidence I can have not just in myself but the big picture and the plan and a higher power, if you believe in such. I do, though sometimes I forget. 

I’m hoping that keeping my focus on these goals will hold me steady, not just through this autumn and winter but beyond. It’s not going to rebuild my fragile sense of worthiness. I’m still working on that. It’s one of my goals, actually. But I hope that knowing I have steps to take, and believing in a big picture will keep me anchored through the colder seasons. Otherwise, it’s going to be a long winter.

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Some of the fun I’ve been having over the summer.

Red flags

I’ve been missing the sunsets. I’ve been missing journaling. I’ve been eating like crap. Sometimes it takes the bottom of a spiral to even realize you’re in one, and the view looking up isn’t always pretty. In fact, it feels like there’s a weight pressing down, keeping me from getting up. I believe technically that weight is called anxiety, or possibly panic attacks. It just feels like a weight. The weight of sadness.

I have this fun thing I do when I’m in that place where I reexamine every word everyone has ever said to me and play them over and over. Especially the ones that were hurtful. The ones that tweaked my insecurities. It’s a real party.

I always thought this was a toxic trait, but lately I’ve been trying to lean into these annoyingly depressive states, and I’m wondering if obsessing about these thoughts is trying to tell me something. Something more than just the sadomasochistic desire to beat myself up, which I am quite familiar with. I actually think somewhere deep down I’m trying to save myself more grief. Maybe, in some cases, I’ve lowered my standards too much? Maybe I’m around the wrong people?

I know you can’t hold everyone to every little thing they say. Some things are off-the-cuff, or said in jest, or without thinking. But some? Some hold a shard of truth, one that’s sharp enough to cut you again. And again and again if you don’t pay attention. I’m the type of person who believes the best in people until they go for the jugular. Even then, really. Here, let me slice another vein for you. Let me dig the knife in deeper, it’s not quite piercing my heart yet. A little to the left… It’s been 45 years of that. I don’t suppose I have to tell you how deep those cuts go. They’re still bleeding.

The better time to think about this is probably when I’m not feeling like trash, but it’s a cycle I’m having trouble breaking. Down and down and down we go.

You know those comments people say in jest? The ones you laugh at, but they’re not funny? I think they’re meant to be veiled insults. In the past, I was so desperate for connections I might have ignored these kinds of red flags, or blamed myself. You know what? They’re right. I am kind of weird/loud/annoying. I should just shut up/fit in/delete all my social media posts/go away. I probably don’t need to tell you, but that’s a pretty insidious way of thinking. And middle school, to boot. I’m too old for that bullshit. I can’t entertain “going away.” Not anymore.

I’d love to say I proudly wear being weird/loud/annoying, but I don’t. The things that make me stand out still make me insecure sometimes. A lot of times, really. And when someone tweaks them? Ouch. That can send me into a spiral, especially if that someone is a friend. But is that someone a friend? I know you can’t hold everyone to every little thing they say (can you?) but thinking back, I’ve never heard those comments from people I consider my good friends. That’s a small circle, for sure, but it’s a tight one. They’re the people I trust so much that if there’s something I need to hear, they’ll find a kind, tactful, appropriate way to bring it up and not a dig.

Those people who dig? Maybe you need me to tell you this – I know I sure need to tell myself – they mean it. It’s hard for me to entertain even veiled cruelty because I just don’t understand it, but they mean it. They know it tweaks your insecurities and they say it anyway. Why? For a reaction? Because of jealousy? To make themselves feel good? I don’t know. That’s sure not how I make myself feel good. And it’s not someone I want to be around anymore. I no longer need the connection that badly, at the cost of myself. I’m just learning it’s okay to pull away. It’s okay to shut doors. It’s okay to be weird or loud or annoying. In fact, it’s kind of awesome.

Those red flags are there for a reason, and it’s not to beat myself up about my perceived inadequacies. I’ve done that enough, thanks. It’s to help me figure out who gets a place in that inner circle, and who doesn’t. It’s to help me learn to value myself enough to close doors to places (& people) that aren’t serving me. And it’s to know I’m good enough, and worthy enough, to raise that bar. When I do, the right people will meet me there. I’d like to say I won’t worry about those little comments then, but I probably will. I am who I am. I forgive easily. I care deeply and I give too many chances. I won’t let the world change that, but maybe protecting my heart isn’t such a bad thing, either.

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My idea of a good time is visiting Stephen King’s house in Bangor. Sadly I was not invited inside 🙂
Sara gets me through these spirals ❤


I’ve always thought I’m a super sensitive person & have a tendency to overreact, largely because people told me that’s who I am. It’s just a joke! A stupid comment. Lighten up! You know what I’m talking about. Those little digs. Those little “funny” comments about your weight or your lifestyle or your writing, creativity, job…

I still give people the benefit of the doubt. I still don’t think they know how deeply those digs tweak my insecurities.

But sometimes, they do know, and sometimes they get the best of me. I’ve let a few of those comments fester this week. Whether they were meant to hit that way or not, they did. Maybe I am too much/annoying/not good enough?

For those people.

Not everyone is meant for everyone, and goodbyes are hard. So hard. But it’s also hard to let people define you by your shortcomings. Maybe that is what they see when they see me? That’s not what I need to see. And it’s not what I need to be reminded of. I’m never going to take risks if I’m constantly reminded of my mistakes. I’m never going to love myself if I’m looking through a dirty lens. Maybe those people with those comments are just not my people, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean some big dramatic exit. It doesn’t even mean I have to explain myself. Pulling back & setting boundaries is serious self care. It means I finally mean more than all those little digs. That I know where those digs come from, and I forgive them but I don’t need to entertain them anymore. It means I’m free to reinvent myself and embrace being chaotic, creative, and fun without worrying what people will say. And they’ll say things, I guarantee it. I just don’t need to listen.

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What it means to fit in

It’s funny how perception skews your memories.

I remember feeling like I didn’t fit in – which obviously wasn’t the case. It’s taken the better part of 45 years to recognize those feelings stem from inside. Self esteem. Confidence. A bit of insecurity. (A lot of insecurity!)

A lot of people go through that in school. I don’t think it takes most people until their 40’s to sort it out, but maybe it does. I’m still sorting it out, to be honest. I still second guess myself more than I want to admit. I still beat up on myself for mistakes. I still offer other people so much more grace and forgiveness than I’m willing to extend myself. I still fight the tendency to shut down and hide sometimes, and some days are harder than others. But I’m working on it.

If I could go back? I don’t think I’d change anything, would you? I had to learn these lessons, even if it took 40 years. I had to learn that it’s okay to love myself, even (especially) when I make terrible mistakes, because really – who doesn’t? And if my mistakes are on the more epic side, it just means I’m taking risks. I had to learn to love failure. I had to learn forgiveness and focus and perspective. I’m still learning that I’m just as worthy as anyone else, and that worth isn’t tied up in dollars or productivity or validation or likes, but simply who I am. I am worthy ❤️

I’m the same person as I was in these pictures, but these days maybe not hiding so much behind that smile. So many people have asked if I’m okay and the truth is maybe sometimes I’m not. But I’m so much better than I was then because I’m not keeping it all inside anymore. I don’t know if that’s helpful to anyone else or not. Maybe I’m just making a big fool of myself? But better to be an honest fool than to fake it. Better to live out loud than to die inside. I simply couldn’t do that anymore.

It’s not easy to live your truth and not be afraid of what people think but the other side of that is worth all the struggle. I hope, anyway ❤️