Chapter Twenty: If It Makes You Happy

Let me just start by saying that two weeks ago I was empty and today my mind is blown by the things have taken place since then. So please, let that serve as a great testament that it truly does get better!

I never doubted it would.

Two weeks have brought upon transformation with my personal and work life. Maybe it was the full moon and the wonderful full moon ritual I was blessed to take part in. And maybe the Universe saw fit to shine down on me a little more than usual.

I can breathe.

These last couple of months have been full of bouts of being stuck and figuring out just what I’m made of. I’ve been a supervisor before, but I’m in a different setting now that pushes me beyond my limits. I’ve been tried and tried again. I have remained constant, direct, and immovable on things that have caused great push back. Y’all I’m stronger (in my Christina Aguilera voice).

In my personal life I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to do. What makes me happy. What I can make time for. And that is why this picture is important. While I’m still taking donations for a new camera set (via cash app using $plberry), I was able to purchase some lightly used cameras. I’ve discovered just how happy photography makes me. Playing with lighting and shadows. Catching nature in moments where it’s vulnerable and most beautiful. Man! Y’all I’m hyped. Yeah it’s not the best camera, but it’s definitely a start.

You gotta start something to be able to finish it.

I also purchased two film cameras that I’m going to learn to work with. They’re classic and I’m ready to take on the world!

These things make me happy. In the next couple of months I will be diving deep into guitar now that I’ve found a couple of people, and even a friend, who are willing to teach me.

Do things that make you happy! The happiness you create for yourself can’t be taken away. Do things for yourself, not for others. Make sure you’re okay before you make sure someone else is okay. Love yourself. All of you. Every crevice. Every flaw. Discover your passions.

Be unapologetically you.

Two weeks ago I was empty and now I’m so full I just may burst. Because so much is happening. I didn’t allow life to kick my ass. I acknowledged what was going on with me. I addressed it. I allowed myself to feel. And then I didn’t give up.

It wasn’t easy by any means. And it definitely takes practice. I’ve had to realign some chakras and meditate. Do some yoga and take time to myself to be by myself and acknowledge my issues. I had to rebuild the confidence that was slipping away and create some new tactics to deal.

If it makes you happy

It can’t be that bad

If it makes you happy

Then why the hell are you so sad?

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Chapter Nineteen: Sometimes I’m Empty

Sometimes it’s super hard to get out of bed.  Like no matter how much sleep I get it’s never enough.

Sometimes I don’t have much patience and am easily irritated.

Sometimes I just want to fill the space, the air, the molecules, around me with every inch of my body.  Because if I swell up enough I’ll fill the void of interaction.

Sometimes I just don’t have the energy to talk.  Or smile.  Or think.  Or do.

Sometimes I’m empty.

Like I have nothing to give.

And in those moments I fold within myself.  I scream on the inside and try to rationalize.  I try to make sense of what I’m feeling and why.  I try to figure out the next move.  I just need to feel.  Feel what?  I have absolutely no words and negative energy to put forth actions.

What am I trying to accomplish? 

I have no damn idea.

What I give you is real.  There are times when I fight the words as I type them because, why am I giving so much of myself?  

So sometimes I’m so quiet I forget I exist.

And this may be one of those times.

But I always, ALWAYS, have hope for tomorrow.

 

Be gentle with yourself.

Chapter Eighteen: I Choose

I don’t know what to call this phase of my life.  I’m rediscovering who I am and making the connection between the three parts of me.  Who I used to be, who I am now, and who I aspire to be.  I’m filling in the blanks with a pencil because, for the first time in my life, I truly understand that it’s okay to make mistakes.

Earlier this month I drove to Colorado.  It was so beautiful!  I mean the journey, the site when I got there, the way people live.  I had never experienced anything like it before.  I fell in love with mountains that I hope to one day climb.  I was amazed at how genuine everyone was.  I love my city, but anyone from Chicago (proper) knows that we tend to keep our guard up.  That says a lot because I’m always open to people until they prove that I shouldn’t be.  But even in this situation I realized that I’m not as relaxed with others as I thought.

The drive back is what really got me thinking.  

I am horrible at driving at night.  I have glasses but didn’t think it was necessary to get the anti-glare lens.  Everyone speeds twice as much and seems to know where they’re going.  It literally makes me anxious.  Now add that with being on foreign road with little to no lights.  

I was a little pressed to say the least.

There are all of these turns and hills.  At one point I literally hit the brakes because the road was curving and I couldn’t see in front of me.  It was as if the road was leading me to the pits of hell.  I was going to fall off the earth.  

But the road kept going.

Driving at night, for me, is like going through life.  I don’t always see the next patch of the road.  In fact, sometimes I feel like I’ve reached the end and if I take one more step it will be my last.  There are times when I slow down or abruptly stop because I don’t feel prepared or am experiencing too much stimuli to assess the situation.  Sometimes I go faster than I should because the path ahead is clear.

I’m learning to keep going.  Because being stagnant or turning around because of fear isn’t the life I want to live.

This week, I’m going to leave you with another song.  A song that has helped me over the last two weeks to really keep going.  A song that has helped me see the beauty of who I am and who I’ve been.  A song that gives me hope for the person I want to be.

Because you never know where life is gonna take you and you can’t change where you’ve been.  

But today, I have the opportunity to choose.

And I choose to be the best that I can be.

I choose to be authentic in everything I do.

My past don’t dictate who I am.

I choose.

-India.Arie

Continue to be gentle with yourself.

Chapter Seventeen: Be Alright

There’s always been those times when I needed a breather
When I might need a quick break from being the leader
Cause I’m just human, you gotta feel that
We’re all just here to learn and everyday we are put up to bat
If you feeling down, no you ain’t alone
And if you feeling all confused, no you are not on your own
Don’t stress, yeah we’re too blessed

Someone once told me babe when the tide gets high, you just get low
Hold your breath and take it slow
Yes I might get wet, I might get thrown
But I’ll resurface all on my own

I’ll be alright, be alright
Just go with the tide
I’ll be alright, be alright
I’ll be doing fine
Be alright, be alright
Just go with the tide

Life is full of ups and downs.  Lefts and rights.  Triumphs and defeats.  This could be happen on a small or large scale.  It all depends on the person.

I have difficulty, at times, with accepting my mental health issues.  I have anxiety, mild OCD, and an evolving form of depression.  There are days when I’m proud of myself for overcoming and pushing through the obstacles I’m faced with because of my mental health.  But there are also days when I’m “stuck” and don’t want to own it.  Because, at that time, if I own it then I feel like I’m labeling myself as unworthy of a lot of things.  I’m labeling myself as less than.

I’m more than worthy.  I’m far from less than.  Every day is a fight and as long as I keep fighting, I’m winning.

Today is one of those days.  You know how your day starts off bad?  For me it’s like everything is bloated and moving at a slow pace.  I can’t see past the current moment because I’m stuck in a mess of emotions.

It’s okay.

The Universe will give you want you need, and most times, what you want.  Whenever I’m in one of these moods.  Whenever I’m having this kind of day, this song comes on.  

Okay, first let me just say that Kehlani is life and you need some of her in your music library.  But this song is before she cut a deal.  This song comes from a real place.  This song reminds me that I’m human.  I’m allowed to feel every range of emotion.  I’m allowed to take time to myself.  I’m allowed to mess up.  But in order to keep getting better I have to also remember that life isn’t linear.  The most common theme of my blog, change is inevitable, will always be something I go back to.  So when I’m drowning, I have to learn to swim.  I have to learn to relax and float before life swallows me.

It will be fine.

A lot is changing for me right now.  A lot realizations are happening on different levels.  At any given moment, I may be a mess.  

But I’m not giving up.  And that’s what I want you to take away from this.  It will be alright.  You will get over and through whatever you’re going through.  And you aren’t alone.

Also, don’t forget to be gentle with yourself.

Dear No One,

I’m none of the things you thought I would be. You can say it’s because of you or you can admit it’s because I was never yours.

You planted a lot of hateful seeds. Like you tried to set me up for failure. But I spent my childhood building up a fortress against your attacks.

So thank you for being everything I didn’t need. For being everything I didn’t want. And for being the darkness so that I could find everlasting light.

Dear No One,

I remember wanting to be just like you. You were (hashtag) goals! I never really had anyone to look up to and it seemed that you entered my life at just the right time.

You were the best at everything and required nothing but that.

And then I came along lol.

I’ve never wanted to be the best. I’ve never cared to be the best. I never will be the best.

But that’s okay. I’m okay with being who I am. And that took a long time.

I love and respect you for all that you’ve done.

Maybe one day I will love and respect you for letting go.

Dear No One,

I remember hating you. I remember thinking you would mess everything up. Or maybe I would mess everything up. I had never had anyone like you in my life so I didn’t know how to adjust.

But you’ve remained warm and caring and always remind me that you’re there.

Thank you.

Dear No One,

I used to bargain with God. I used to pray for your safety. I used to ask Him to bring you back so things could go back to how they were.

Then I had to pray to stop hating you.

I get it now and I choose to believe that you did this out of love. Knowing what you could and couldn’t do, you chose the best option for me.

So now I don’t pray for you at all, I just wish you well.

Dear No One,

It’s been too long. Every year I search for you. Every year my heart gets heavy wondering if you’re searching for me as well. And every year that goes by are filled with tucked away memories I hope to share with you one day.

I’m sorry I didn’t fight for you. It took me too long to realize that children are anything but weak. That children can change the world. That children change people. That children are more than capable of making a difference.

I’m sorry and I will never stop looking for you and loving you.

Dear No One,

You’ve always been supportive and I’ve never had to question our relationship. Maybe we were really meant to be related. I’ve always admired you because you’re one of the sweetest and most outspoken people I know. You loved that part of you early on and it’s made you my sheroe.

Dear No One,

We were close. But the longer I stayed away the more we drifted apart. I needed your love, but I needed me more. So now when I see you, I recognize our history and that we may never have a future.

Dear No One,

I love you. I’ve loved you from the moment we formally met. I’ve loved you since the first time I saw you smile and heard you laugh. I’ve loved you from the beginning and I fought it because I didn’t want it.

You have helped me explore parts of myself I was afraid to even acknowledge. You have helped me stay grounded. You have taught me more things than I can count.

You are the breath of fresh air that I needed and free spirit I needed to help me explore.

If I have to lose you now at least I know what it means to love, be loved, and be free.

Chapter Sixteen: Keep Choosing Yourself

I've never really fit in with anyone or anywhere.  Today I'm totally okay with that.  However, when I was younger I clung to people and things that seemed to fit and accept me.  I refused to let go because it always felt great when I felt chosen.

Years went by with me feeling this way.  My adolescent years were crazy plus more crazy with a little crazy on top.  The internal struggle I went through, just to accept myself, was beyond tiresome.

We won't go to the dark places today.

Over the last seven or so years I've learned to be okay with who I am.  I've learned to make decisions for myself.  I've learned that it's okay to be weird (or as I used to say, creatively different).  Y'all I was weird before it was cool.  All this "in" stuff now used to be territory you did not discuss with others because you'd be labeled crazy real quick.

The more I began to choose me, the more people and things I realized served me no purpose.  I've lost a ton.  I've lost people who I thought would be there for the rest of my life.

The last two years have been especially hard.  I've gone back and forth with who I used to be and who I needed to be.  I was trying to hold on to -ships I knew weren't healthy.  I was holding in feelings and making myself crazy.

I lost more people.

It's a weird feeling to lose so many people and to initially panic but then realize you still have yourself so it's all good.  I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror.  I have to be proud of myself.  I have to be my biggest cheerleader.  I have to have my back at all times.  Yeah, it's cool if someone finds their way into my life, but I know that doesn't mean they're staying.  I have to be okay with that.

No more, people are here for a reason and a season.  That's a given.  What we need to learn is how to let go.  Let go of others without losing ourselves.

So we have to keep choosing ourselves.  It will make others angry.  It will make them leave.  It will make them give you ultimatums.  It will hurt.  It will hurt like hell.  But we choose ourselves today so that we don't regret it tomorrow.

Chapter Fifteen: Take Risks

I got a new job. Let me tell y'all about how it all went down. Let me tell y'all about how I'm sitting at work thinking about the risks I took and will have to take.

Guise. Take risks. Take all the risks, within reason.

In June I got a car. No, I didn't wake up and say, "Man, I need me a car." For a couple of months I had been talking about it. For a couple of weeks I was looking for a job. Every job I was confident in required me to have a car. Every job. I refused to go backwards sooooo I got a car. Happy Birthday to me!

So here I am, applying for jobs and then bam! I get a phone interview… on my birthday of all days. I'm psyched. I'm like bam, bam, bam!

The week I got back from New Orleans I had an in person interview. A week or two later I shadowed.

Y'all, I basically had the job.

But I had no idea there would be a waiting game.

I had to go through a background check and reference check. Easier said than done. The background was quick. The reference wasn't. There was miscommunication with who to contact and when. I was in limbo for almost a month.

All the while I'm wondering if I should just apply somewhere else.

So I had a rough day at work (the old gig) and took a day off. It was just before my "weekend" so it set me up to have three days off instead of two. Well I ended up taking an additional day off because I just… couldn't.

Y'all, it's totally acceptable to take a mental health day. It may not be universally accepted in the United States or within your company, but mental health is important.

Anyway, I returned and was called into the office for a meeting with my boss. She thought I had abandoned my job. She put me in the category of everyone else who says they aren't that person. I've never given her a reason to think I was.

So I sat there faced with the decision to put in my two weeks. I hadn't received the job offer I was waiting on, but I knew I pretty much had it.

So I took another risk. I put in my two weeks.

I walked out of there so confident. I was thinking about how I'm not appreciated. I was thinking about how I work in social services and it's a problem that I called off to take care of my mental health. I was thinking about my worth.

I was confident as hell!

So I went home and continued to float on this cloud.

The next morning I woke up freaking out! Why would I do that? Yeah I know my worth and all that jazz but what about my bills? I had just got a car. Rent was due. I filled out about eleven applications that day.

I was hounding the human resource department about the process and going back and forth with them with references and contact details.  I was put in contact with the head of HR and was told that she would personally look at things.

A week later, a week before my last week, I received a call with an official job offer.

I was excited and relieved!  In the back of my mind I knew I had the job.  I had known it since the first interview.  But to have confirmation is what I needed.

I took two major risks over the last two months and feel great about them.  I have to keep reminding myself that you can't just sit back and wait for life to happen, you have to make it happen.  Sometimes, as much as you want to plan, you just need to do.  I'm learning.

So I say with confidence, take risks!  Now, don't go out there and go crazy with it.  Take risks within your means.  Understand your situation.  Understand what you need and want and what needs to happen for it to all come together.

You got this!

 

sidenote: I wrote half of this post on my phone and the other half on a computer.  For all the people out there who are cringing at the inconsistent space between my sentences, I am too.  I'm just not going to go back and fix them.  I'm cool like that.