Thursday, October 20, 2016

Exploding life yet to be...

I've always believed that our experiences are opportunities to learn or grow or stretch ourselves. I've found in my own life I learn the most when I follow my heart toward the cause or person I am passionate about. It almost always turns out that the person or cause is simply an experience that allows me to discover some truth about myself or some lesson I need to learn. Sometimes that's painful. But it's almost always true if I'm honest with myself.

When I look back I've learned the most valuable lessons from some of the most bizarre experiences.

My friend John with schizophrenia I often write about? I thought I was helping him, when in fact, he helped me. I learned to see the goodness in a person with mental health issues. I learned to look beyond behavior. I learned how to quiet the noise of quirky behaviors or maladaptive behaviors to see his goodness and value and the true person he was. This lesson has given me the ability now to have established some of the most fulfilling relationships of my life.

I recently had an epiphany driving home looking at the beautiful fall trees here in upstate NY. I was noticing the vibrant colors and changes in the leaves. While I'm sad to see the warm weather go, it's in the dying off that I get to experience the beauty of fall and the rebirth in spring.

I started thinking on how, like the leaves, I have changed. I started thinking on how each experience I've had has helped me grow.

Tomorrow I'm facing a very challenging circumstance because of a cause I have undertaken, a person I love.

Because of this, I have found myself back in the exact room I sat in 5 years ago, fighting for that cause & defending myself from untruths. 5 years ago, it was a horrific and devastating experience. I so badly wanted someone to save me. Someone to help me. Being the youngest of 8, I think I expected to be protected. I expected someone to fix it all. I had no belief in myself that I could stand tall on my own two feet.

But I did.

I came out of the experience stronger. In hindsight, it was in the standing on my own two feet that I finally separated in many ways, from who I used to be.

And guess what?

I was fine.

The outcome of the experience was in my favor. I didn't need to be saved. And I've since realized no one could really save me and it wasn't fair to expect that. People can't give you what they don't have. I get that now. Our mother had died months prior and we were all grieving in our own ways. My family, like I, were doing the best they could. It reminds me of one of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes,

"We do the best we can. And when we know better, we do better." 

The anger in the room, though directed at me, wasn't really at all about me.

I realized driving today, 5 years later, that the woman walking into that same room tomorrow, once again to fight for her cause, to defend her name, is nothing like the girl that walked in 5 years ago.

I am 50 pounds lighter physically. I have a confidence in myself that is brand new. I feel completely in my integrity.

Most importantly, I have the deep belief that I have done all I can do, and no matter the outcome, I'm going to be ok. There's nothing that anyone can say about me that will define me.

I define me.

I also realize now that even this experience, while it has been extremely painful, is an opportunity to grow and learn a lesson.

It's an experience that is challenging me to grow in areas I need to, just manifested in the circumstances of my life. Through all the noise of behavior, I'm able to see a person's actions are really about them, not me. I can only stay in my integrity, defend myself, and hold onto who I am. I'm actually grateful for the opportunity to finally realize my own strength and my own goodness.

Maybe, that's what forgiveness is really all about? I don't know.

I do know that I wrote this poem a very long time ago about a barren tree on a cold winter day. It comes to mind today, as I stare in awe at the exploding life in the trees now before me and the exploding life now within me, even on the eve of a very painful day.

She Stands
She stands
Tall and strong
Colors gone
Naked branches
Warmed by the sun.
Her barren bones
Colorless tones
Stark and sleeping
In the snow.
Look at me
I am more
than this tree.
Exploding life
Yet to be.
But for today

She stands alone
Tall and strong
Colors gone
Naked branches
Warmed by the sun. 

Exploding life yet to be....

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dear Train Tracks Girl

I was emailed a writing prompt this week to write a letter to my 20 year old self. At first I treated the assignment like an actual do-over.

This is my chance to fix everything. This is my chance. 

In hindsight I put way too much pressure on myself. I finally sat down, let go, and just began writing from my heart. I highly recommend trying this. It felt incredibly  freeing once I got past the fear.

Dear Train Tracks Girl, 
Did you know that's what your daughters will laugh and call you when you're 44? You will have weaved your childhood stories in such a way as to even make the reality of screaming train whistles in the middle of the night being a poor kid living 100 feet from the railroad tracks, seem exciting and appealing. 
Oh how much energy you have spent on making sense of the nonsensical. 
You have spent so much time looking out and not in. You should stop that. 
If I told you at 44 years old you would wake up instantaneously like in the flash of a camera, would you believe me? 
What if I told you it was never all your fault? 
What if I told you, you aren't broken? 
What if I told you that it was never your fault that since the moment of your birth every single person was fighting over you? 
And moreover, what if I told you it doesn't matter if they are? It's not your burden to bear and it's not your job to fix everything for everyone. Not then. Not now. 
What if I told you, you aren't an object or a pawn or a possession to be used to hurt someone? Used for your spirit or your youth or your body? 
What if I told you?
As much as I want to tell you these things and so many more, I know you, train tracks girl. You won't listen. And that pisses me off sometimes. 
We like perfect, don't we? 
You'll spend way too long looking for a man to love you. To save you. 
You'll drink too much sometimes to numb your pain and stuff your fear.
You'll swallow hard and choke down the word "no", clinging to the safety of the illusion that "yes" gives you some kind of fu*ked up pretend power. It keeps you safe and protects you in the moment while it sneaks up from behind and slowly robs you of your real power and your spirit.
You'll go from unhealthy relationship to unhealthy relationship. It will take you 44 long years to lose the fear and finally start believing in yourself. 
But that same train tracks girl that won't listen? 
She'll become the same girl who stands up for what she believes in. 
She loves with every ounce of her being. 
She is sensitive. 
She is kind. 
She's been broken so she knows how to help others put themselves back together. 
She is adventurous. 
She is fun. 
She is a story teller. 
She is brave. 
She loves big. 
She dreams big. 
And in the end, she wins. She gets her spirit back. 
As much as I want to save you, train tracks girl, you will have to save yourself. I guess I'm just here to tell you, you will. When you're 44 years old you'll hear the screaming whistle and you'll get on the train with me, and we won't ever go back. 
See you soon, 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Meet Darcey, the Detourist

So today is a pretty important day for me. After 27 years, I finally found my voice to start telling my own story and healing my heart. Thank you to Huffington post writer and creator of #LoveMyDetour, Amy Oestreicher who published my personal story & written work here in her #LoveMyDetour series, a campaign inspiring people to flourish because of, rather than in spite of life's challenges, spreading compassion & encouragement around the world 💗

Click here to read my detour......
Meet Darcey, the Detourist

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Cracked Pot

I heard this story a very long time ago and it has been on my mind so I thought I would share it again.

Once upon a time there was a woman that lived far away in a small village. Each day she would make a long journey to get water from a nearby river. She carried the water in 2 pots, each on an end of a long stick that rested along her shoulders and back of her neck. The pot on the right side of her on the stick was perfect without any cracks and contained all the water she filled it with when she reached her home. The other imperfect pot was on the left side of her. It was older and had some cracks in it. After she filled that pot it would slowly leak water along her path back home. By the time she arrived home it only held about half the water she had put in.

One day while at the river the cracked pot said to the woman, "Why do you keep me? I'm so ashamed of myself. Everyday you travel the long exhausting walk to the river for water. And everyday I am only able to hold half of your water by the time you reach your home. I am old and flawed and imperfect and yet you still hold onto me. I am ashamed of myself."

The woman smiled and replied,"You are beautiful and just as valuable to me as the perfect pot. I have seen your cracks which is why I planted seeds on your side of the path back to my house. Do you see the beautiful flowers growing along your side of the path? Your cracks water the seeds & are the reason the path is so beautiful with flowers. The beautiful flowers I have cut and placed in my home were grown on your side of the path. They bring me joy & beauty every time I look at them."

This story touched my heart for so many reasons. I easily slip into wanting to be perfect. This is such an awesome reminder that our cracks don't take away from our value. Our imperfections are just as valuable and as much a part of what makes us ourselves as our strengths are.

It's a special gift you share when you can recognize the goodness and beauty in another person's cracks and the one-of-a-kind flowers that bloom because of those cracks that make your own life that much more beautiful.

Have a great weekend, you guys.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

When the student is ready...

Wisdom comes from lots of places. I feel like most of my life has been in pursuit of some kind of wisdom. I think I own every single self help book known to man. I'm a sucker for all the social media articles titled, "5 steps to this" or "6 steps to that"

I aspire to be better. Do better. Make sense of my past. Make sense of her past. Fix my future. Fix your future.

No bueno.

I do all of this knowing in my heart I can't really fix anyone. It's my need for control playing dress up in good intentions and it distracts me from dealing with the only thing I really have any control over. Myself.

Recently I've been thinking on where wisdom comes from. It can certainly come from a book or an article. Both can teach you new skills to improve yourself. You can also read about another person's experience and it can spark reflection into your own life. Which, by the way, is the purpose of my blog. My hope is that anyone who reads my stuff can identify with the feelings I share. I try not to focus on my circumstances a lot because really, my details don't matter so much. We're all on the same journey. We all laugh. We all cry. We all struggle. We all experience triumph, loss, love, anger, grief. It just manifests itself in different ways for different people. I try to write in such a way that regardless of my specific details, it connects me to you.

It's funny though. My most meaningful lessons and wisdom always come from the least expected places.

They come from my old friend John with schizophrenia who I visited every week many years ago, who taught me the power of kindness and that we are all connected, regardless of our illness, negative behaviors, or quirky ways. Underneath it all, we are more alike than we are different.

They come from the pain of training for and finishing a marathon. When I realized the power in one step at a time. I got comfortable being uncomfortable. I stopped running away from the pain and stopped looking back so much and eventually realized I'd stopped running from my past....And instead, had started running toward my future.

They come from 3 trips to the West Coast, when I had finally gotten myself to the furthest place, both physically and emotionally, that I had ever dreamed of as a kid.

They come from Mary, my sister with a developmental disability, who inspires me every day to choose happy in spite of all the challenging circumstances life continually tosses at her.

They come from the guy I met on my run with a traumatic brain injury trying to get himself up Main St hill with one leg in a wheelchair. I stopped & pushed him home, thinking I was helping him. When we got there he looked at me and said, "You. Are. Awesome." Little did he know, at that moment I had happened to be at one of the lowest points I have ever been & him saying that made a huge difference in my life.

Maybe I am good enough?

My most recent wisdom came while sitting under a tree drinking an ice cold beer. My life has been challenging lately in more ways than one. I'm in brand new territory and I often find myself questioning my strength to pursue my own happiness and dreams and stand on my own two feet for the first time in my life.

A couple weeks ago, I ran a 5K Brewery series race.  And ahem, I'm excited (and shocked) to say I took second place in my age group!!!! 

It was a crazy hot day and after the race I was sitting under a tree listening to the awards & having a very cold beer with a friend. We got chatting about our lives & something he said stuck with me all week. He raised up his hand in the air & said that now that he's independent and happy with himself, the bar is up here. Whatever comes next in life has to meet or exceed that.

It got me thinking about my own circumstance. I started thinking about how I'm finally starting to figure out what makes me happy. How I'm finally starting to raise my own bar. How I placed in a 5K race even though I had to stop for a bloody heel and even though it wasn't my best time. Imperfect. And yet somehow, I was still good enough.

It's funny how wisdom sneaks up quietly and taps you on the shoulder even when you're a hot sweaty mess drinking a beer under a tree.

"When the student is ready the teacher appears"