My path is not for others to understand or critique. My path is not linear, nor clean. It isn’t in the least bit efficient to anyone else but me. So many times I have felt impatient, like, how is this the way when it is so hard and seemingly impossible to navigate? I would try to follow my orderly and super linear friends with admiration. Dying to be like them because life seemed so much better organized and in order. I have gone through this life on a messy, asymmetrical spiral of spiny bramble of thorns and itch causing leaves, and all things hard and impossible to follow. I constantly compared myself to others, and like all humans, I am conditioned to do what the masses do, and to strive for some sort of unrealistic perfection. I will no longer sacrifice my own heart and soul’s mission, or walk another path because someone wants to feel like they are in charge and that somehow, they deserve the validation more than I deserve to walk my own damn path. My energy gets bogged down by the needs of others, but the truth is, I don’t owe anyone anything when it comes to how I live, and what I do to maintain my wellness.
Springtime is full of living on the edge of dark and light
The joy of growing season and all of the vibrancy coming through with our northeast sun finally raising higher in the sky! The shabby brown leaves and burnt pine needles are giving way to green growth. I didn’t make room for the growth like I had intended to this year, and right now, I feel as though I am suffocating under a big pile of dead leaves. Like I am salamander, still wanting to hibernate, but finding it hard between the warmth of the tricky sun by mid day, and the seemingly — only by comparison- frigid cold at night. I will continue to grow, and thrive, and some of that is not in my control. Some of it is uncertainty, allowing life to happen, but it will happen. I do trust that I am being guided on this path, even if I feel that I am left exposed, and dangerously vulnerable in a cold and closed off world. All of my leaves that were my coverage were swept aside by some inconsiderate human who thought for sure they were cleaning out the clutter and making things better. That’s life and that’s death on this planet. So much chaos, and so much confusion. The hardest part of that is accepting that is what we are, and contrary to popular belief, we are limited. We can’t morph our physical form into the Creator or God, and have no faults at all. We feel inadequate and afraid because we were taught that we are only worthy of God’s love if we are good and virtuous. If we strive for perfection. But who says what is “good” or virtuous, but other humans? We have these expectations of our selves that are completely impossible and self limiting. As humans, our jobs are not to place limits on ourselves and certainly not on others, without first reaching a bit beyond the edge of our own limits, and striving, failing, and exploring. Our mind is unlimited and can go literally anywhere that we let it. And as paradoxical as it is (just like life), our mind will also try to limit us. We are born human, and our bodies that we get to live in, are vulnerable. It is our only job to feel into the boundaries of our bodies and to re-direct our limitless minds into what we need for this journey. When we spend all of our time doing things that we do not like or to make someone else in our life feel better (or worse), while not honoring our own needs, we are draining our own life force battery. We literally only have so much time and energy, and being mindful of how we spend it is the solution to so much peace in our lives. I gave up watching the news and scrolling for endless hours on social media. It was mostly because I felt anxious and sad all of the time, but the side effect was a peaceful heart, at least some of the time. I stopped habitually tuning into stuff that I have no control over about three years ago, around the time when I first began to deepen my practice of yoga and meditation. I need my alone time. The world goes faster than I am able to consistently go. I get swept away and I take on the energy of others when I am not fully present and aware. This is who I am, and why I don’t always say yes to social events. There are times when I need rest, and my brain needs to recharge. This is mental health awareness. It is not me, telling you a story of someone else who suffers or suffered from depression, and how everyone should feel bad and treat them without stigma. Or how they overdosed and or, committed suicide and no one saw it coming. I read a lot of posts about mental health awareness, being that May is mental health awareness month, someone declared. Every single day needs to be mental health awareness day. How do you feel today? What are you struggling with? How do you feel in your body? Focus inward, not on anyone else but you. We are all crazy, compulsive, addictive and have major healing to do. If you have the tiniest bit of self awareness, you know that this is true. When I go out in public, and happen to witness someone screaming at a sales associate at Target, over there not being in stock of something, I feel it. I feel that we are just trying to keep up, and it’s never going to happen. So we get angry and don’t check in with ourselves, we lose ourselves to the buzz of the collective highway of constantly doing. There is no fucking way we can live and go as fast as we do in this world, with all of the buzzing and bright lights and information being exploded onto us from all angles, and still be aware of our limitations, and also of what we need, and when we should rest. There is no way to have compassion for ourselves, and there is certainly no way to empathize with others. Awareness comes with practice, and it comes when we check our hearts with our intuition, and realize when we should stop and hug our loved ones, and when we need space to be alone. We cannot handle everything. We are limited, and every time we allow our bodies to slow down, and every time we engage in practices that slow down the mind, we are taking care of our own mental health, and replenishing our well within. We build our own walls to stay functional, to move faster, have more money, or whatever else that gets in the way of feeling. The closed heart club, in my definition, are the folks who consider themselves worthy only when they are doing, producing, and excelling, and less when they are feeling and finding compassion for themselves, and for others. Closed off, not as an intention, but because all of the noise of the world numbed them, and caused anxiety into what became a habit and way of life. Maybe our past pains and trauma have built these walls for us, and we are surviving. Maybe we are doing all that we can to not fall apart at the seems. If that is the case, please allow yourself to accept help, and allow yourself to rest. Do whatever you can to take it one moment, one hour and one day at a time. It is hard work to ask for help, but also, life saving and courageous. I feel this about every person I have ever met who has owned up to their need to improve themselves. This is why I think addicts who seek recovery are the most courageous people of all.
"I’ve never been able to understand the seriousness of it all, the seriousness of pride. People talk, act, live as if they’re never going to die. And what do they leave behind? Nothing. Nothing but a mask." - BOB DYLAN One of the strengths that I have in this life, is that I do spiral. I do pivot and wander. I have a tendency to step out of a rhythm from time to time. It’s like I can flow, but I have to go into retrograde sometimes. Turn the opposite way. I embrace change naturally. And I Spiral. This is different than regressing into old habits, or self sabotage because when I go retro, I basically feel like I just look into some of my shadows; my old dark corners that I was too busy or scared to get into before for various reasons. I step back in, to feel the feels, and then I return. I return with a new perspective somehow. This is very new to me. I was on self sabotage cycles for my entire life, living in polarity, and not coincidentally, diagnosed Bipolar 1. The more I avoid social trends and the masses, the more I step into my own soul, and its purpose while I am lucky enough to live here on Earth; the more open, clear and adaptive to new teachings and personal creativity, I am. For the first 33 years of my life, I conformed because I thought I had to. When I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder at age 23, after 5 years of manic episodes and hospitalizations, I was so scared! I followed what I needed to do to conform, survive and be in this fast paced world. I was too sick not to. I would not change how that happened, because I do not know that I would have lived if I did not accept help by going to therapy and accepting that medication was what I needed to get well at the time. It was not an easy lesson, and not without many relapses early on. My 20s were not a happy time in my life, to put it mildly. Now, I am maintaining my health through mindfulness and wellness. I allow myself to go into retrograde. I prioritize my self care, and if I do not feel drawn to something, I do not do it. More and more, I let my heart lead. I change my mind. In order for our heart to truly lead, we need to have boundaries for people in our lives. Many people who knew me when I was down and unsure of myself, are now gone from my life, or extremely hurt by how I prioritize now. We are distant, and I have no animosity there, but found this to be necessary. I no longer live from shame and duty to be the perfect friend, daughter, etc. That is tough for some to digest, especially when the relationship was entirely about trying to fix Julie, and about manipulation or control from the other, or about gossiping about others in order to avoid talking about our own feelings. Embrace your beautiful body, and allow your mind to take a break by doing mindfulness activities like yoga and meditation. Start small. It doesn’t have to be polarity that we live in. I spent 5 years not knowing whether I was schizophrenic, or some other type of crazy. And another 20 years of living out of survival from a diagnosis that crippled my heart, mind and numbed my spirit. I made it through, but with a fearful judgement that was a consequence of years of precautionarily setting the limitation on myself because of my diagnosis. There is only the way you feel on the inside. There is only your journey, and the path you chose to get there is completely up to you, if you only stop and listen to the signs and connect with your own beating heart, and your higher power, guides and God of your own understanding. If you pause enough, you will realize that you have Divinity within you. When I hear someone insult someone who is going through the pain of substance abuse, and all of the highs and lows, I pray for them and their judgment. As humans, we all have the capacity to release our self limiting beliefs that hurt ourselves and others when we judge them. It is Mental Health Awareness month, which is a great reason to connect with your own heart. I could give you a whole bunch of advice of how I connect to my own heart, which for me includes a lot of time meditating, breathing and practicing yoga, as well as time alone writing, walking out in nature, or getting into a sacred circle and drumming and singing to express myself in community. I process and sit in my emotions, and at times they seem unbearable. But I do not force myself to walk a straight line. I will not numb the pain. I do not promise that I am going to be productive every single day, and that I am going to do routines that hurt my body more than help it, just to punish myself. I always prioritize self care, and if that means I am not going to work, or I need to go to sleep early, that is what I do. My heart remains open, and actually opens more when I connect with others. This is one of the most beautiful parts of being human. When I take a chance and smile at a stranger who might not smile back. When I share vulnerable moments with people, and when they share their stories with me, my heart stays open. When I allow a pause to my busy day to feel and be empathetic to someone else. When I take a risk and tell someone that I love them. I do not have time left to get in arguments about whether I am right or if I am wrong because all I really have time to do right now is feel, unless I am working, which is totally different and there, and with conscious practice, I stay neutral in high stress situations. On my path, I am not meant to dive deep into why I am “right” and you are “wrong”. It is not my role to explain why you should do anything at all, and why what I am doing is better. I have already done that, and that part of my journey is over. I will write, I will dance, I will practice. I will learn more ways to connect with God, my guides and I will continue to learn and develop my gifts to share so that one day, I can truly help others on their path. I honor help that I get from mentors, friends, teachers and complete strangers who I never imagined would teach me anything. Mental Health awareness is something that I have every day. But you know what, it’ s not about the mental health label and diagnosis that I carry and used to wear as a self-limiting badge. I would introduce myself as Bipolar, before telling people my name. For me, being aware of how I feel every single day, is how I stay healthy. I could go back on medication, sure. If that becomes the only option, I surely will. But for me, I must continue to follow my heart, and intuition. I have moved on from survival to growth and thriving, but this requires maintenance and self check ins. Some days, I am miserable. I am so sad and hurt that I feel almost unbearable pain in my body. But, I connect in some capacity with my body, and then when I drop into mediation, which could be practicing conscious breathing, gentle movement with yoga asanas and kriyas, or it could be chanting, writing or wandering out into the woods and allowing myself to feel the Earth beneath my feet, and to touch the trees out in nature. Each time I connect with my feet on the earth, I feel in my heart of all hearts the unconditional love that our Earth provides for all of her creatures. When I feel sad and lonely, I know that She holds me and She loves me. There is no shame with unconditional love. There are many paths that you can take to get to the same place. You need to find it for yourself. And once you think you are on the right path, it is ok to check yourself, and ask if this is still the path, from time to time, or if you need to turn a different direction. The important part is honoring your own limitations, so that you can then honor the beauty within you, and tap into the well within you. Originally published on Medium on May 9, 2022