This morning I woke up in a bit of a fog. Dazey and tired, maybe from the gin and tonic I had last night, maybe from the Chinese food my love brought home, or maybe from the fun-filled cabin weekend with many friends and their adorable (although germ-distributing) kids.
I granted myself the indulgence of a delicious homemade hashbrown and tea, while watching an episode of New Girl followed by 3 more episodes of It’s Always Sunny. I laughed into the morning light, occasionally staring at the laptop and books I had pushed off to the side. Just one more laugh, and I will be fine, I told myself.
But it didn’t go away.
Maybe it’s Mercury Retrograde, I thought. The astrological cycle working against me. Maybe I’m getting sick. Searching for reasons, I poured a coffee (a rare choice for this avid tea-drinker), hoping it would be just the thing to kickstart my system. As it steeped, I waited. And just to kill time, I may as well meditate and complete my rituals, even though I don’t feel like it.
Without even sipping the coffee, I realized I had been looking for reasons and fixes for this uninspired mood that were external. But searching for blame and solution outside will not deliver the power I need to get started. Excuses only keep me from action.
It’s hard to admit that our answers could live inside of us because there is responsibility in that. No one else can make us look inward but ourselves. And even though I may be getting sick, and my circumstances are beyond my control, how I react and take action is all on me.
This is something we don’t want to face when feeling like shit, I know that. That’s why I watched 90 minutes of light-hearted comedies before I even got started this morning. But it’s time to realize that distracting myself is not going to help. It’s time to let things go instead of hanging on for the sake of drama. And it’s time to do the things I know will work, instead of letting the teenager in me win just by saying i don’t wanna.
It is interesting to watch people react to vulnerability.
Months ago, I made a little graphic for my website that says ‘it would be pretty shitty of me to ask you to share your life with me and not share mine with you.’ I believe this statement wholeheartedly. But was I living by it? No.
Not until recently, that is.
I have been working on fearless writing- sharing what’s in my heart without filter for how people will read it. Letting go of shame around my emotions is a critical part of the healing process for me. Without it, I would feel blocked in my throat and stagnant in my learning.
I declared first that I will abolish my debt in 2014 and it opened up a lot for me. I’m facing the depths of my spending addiction, trust issues and self worth. After posting my goal, messages flooded in from people inspired by my honesty and vulnerability. The messages read like affirmation for me to keep speaking up.
On a roll, I then wrote about my cloud; this angry little guy that hisses at me to succumb and give up. Last year it silenced me all the way into depression and I hid away. This time I won the battle, and wrote about it. It felt good to share my experience, my fuck-you to the shame that surrounds the dark bits we all deal with.
But this little piece of emotional vulnerability was not celebrated; it was met with concern.
The intention of posting my feelings wasn’t to depress you or cry for help. I want you to hear my experience so you can know you’re not alone when faced with struggle. Life isn’t all rainbows and kittens, and we shouldn’t deny the dark bits about us just because it doesn’t sound as good.
If my feelings were expressed through a song you would sing along. If they were written in a movie, you would watch. But somehow a writer speaking in first person strikes a different chord.
I ask that you hear me with love, not concern. Have faith that I have tools to support myself out my funk and that the best tool is self expression. Believe in me the way I believe in you, as naturally creative, resourceful and whole.
Despite my job title, I struggle just like every other human on this planet. I’m no better than anyone else. What connects me to my clients is that I’m not afraid to say I hear you from the depths of my emotion. Sharing is the first step to facing our problems and not feel alone.
I believe our challenge in life is to stay hopeful even in our darkest moments, not to be afraid of them. Just like the ghost stories we heard as children, dark emotions are fed by fear. If we are scared to face them- we won’t conquer them. Keeping quiet never helps, and celebrating honesty is the only way to create a community of acceptance.
I woke up at 2am with a cloud hovering above my bed. He was dark and gloomy, following me around like a childhood cartoon.
This cloud had been around for a while, I realized. Hanging back on surveillance, it waited for the right time to get closer. Last night it was inches away, and I felt the sadness looming cold and dark and heavy.
Nothing in particular had caused my cloud to form. It built slowly with every tiny doubt, collecting my negative self talk like little china cups, waiting until it grew big enough to attack.
The cloud wanted me to feel alone.
It pleaded for me to believe how difficult my goals would be, how much was riding against me. It threw tiny teacups of self doubt back in my face and they burned on my fresh skin in the dark of my bedroom.
This grey cloud’s thoughts swirled in my mind, buzzing and keeping me awake. I wrote, I read, I listened to nature sounds. Nothing seemed to calm me. It felt frantic and melancholy all at once, pulling me toward it, hissing how easy it would be to let go, stop caring, wanting me to sink in and release my hope.
I had no strategies to protect me last night, determined to break my distraction habits of wine, and sweets, and online shopping. I felt the cloud smile at my refusal to numb with common vices.‘It’s easier this way’ my cloud purred, ‘we can let go of responsibility and live together.’
I pushed myself to visualize light surrounding me, fighting off darkness. It shone dimly from the depths of my loving heart, working hard for every inch the grey haze receded.
I pictured a sword, slashing cords that attached me to my cloud, breaking the veins that were sucking me dry and stealing my worst thoughts to use against me. I slashed and I slashed and fatigue began to grow.
The buzzing thoughts diminished. The desire to isolate myself started to mellow. The silence of sleep rose up from my toes, relaxing my body bit by bit until I woke this morning anew.
This is not the last I will see of my cloud, he is part of me that will never fully disappear. His words are lies, I know that now. They are collections of acid tears, useful only when I am caught unprotected and alone. His battle strategy is out in the open, and I know how to fight back.
My job is to stay connected to light. To stretch my body often and write from my heart. To sit every day, meditate, ground myself. To visit the facts often and keep my perspective. But most of all, I must run toward the people who love me, even when I feel they are far away.
Depression is nothing to feel ashamed of. It’s a reality that exists in the hangover of extreme happiness. Whether or not we suffer from it’s loom is not a judge of character. I refuse to hide behind shame and let it win.
Yesterday I shared that I plan to be debt free by December.
My heart wants to share every step with you, yet I was too ashamed to even post the goal. It felt weird for me to admit that I had debt on the same website where I shared my services. I wanted my business (and me) to look shiny and perfect and debt is far from perfect.
My blog voice changed big time when I abandoned wordpress and started sharing on my own domain. I got careful about what I said for fear of a potential client being turned off by my honesty.
I now see that authenticity is more important. (for you, and for me)
It’s the same with goals. For years I wrote goals that looked good. These huge ambitions were rooted in possibility, yes. But were they realistic and at the core of what I really needed as a growing person? No. The same person who wrote those bullshit goals wrote some of the more careful blogs on this site, and I’m done with it.
Here I am, people.
I have debt. I talk to spirits and nature. I sometimes ask myself if I drink too much wine in a week. I believe crystals and energy work have saved me on numerous occasions. I forget to brush my teeth sometimes. I’m not perfect, and my business isn’t either. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to fake it any longer.
I want to share with you what it’s like to chase a goal that gives you stress farts. I want to have a safe space to let you know all of the shame I’m feeling about selling my condo and not being as far in life as I once felt I should be. And I want you to respond with the love and support I would give to you if you were going through the same things.
That, my friends, is what simple wisdom is all about. No drama, no story, no trying to impress. Just pure realness. Because after all, isn’t it just simpler when we’re not trying to hide?
I know without a doubt that we are all good people with good intentions. Sometimes things or thoughts or circumstances get in the way of those good intentions, and that’s ok. What matters is that we are willing to look at where our intentions don’t match our actions, and say we fucked up. THAT is where true character is shown. That is where the real ‘me’ lies.
Trying to be perfect is just a strategy for when we aren’t sure who our true authentic selves are. I do it all the time. Without facing it daily, we forget who we really are (and want to be).
But in those scary moments when we notice our desire to be perfect, or hide the truth- it’s time to get serious and say the thing that makes us want to puke in our mouths. And that’s just what I’m doing here.
So on that note…
I didn’t edit this piece in an effort to say ‘fuck you, perfection’ and be true to who I am. Any grammar issues, speling mistake, and plain ol’ shit that pisses you off in this piece are just my gift of authenticity to you. You’re welcome.
Little bubbles of anxiety have lived inside of me for over a month…
Surprise! You messed up your taxes and now owe the government lots of money!
Surprise! The deal you thought you had on your cellphone is in fact not a deal at all!
Surprise! You overdid Christmas!
Surprise! The job you thought you had lined up may not happen!
NO surprise the last few weeks have been riddled with sleepless nights and too much Netflix/candy (followed by boredom of Netflix and candy and obsessive workouts/meal preparation and back again).
I hesitated writing goals at New Year’s because I couldn’t see past the two glaring things I was afraid to tackle:
I will be debt free by 2015
I will not avoid things I’m afraid of in 2014
(…they kind of go together)
Even thinking of these made me break out in a cold sweat. How would I do it? Were they too materialistic and action-based? What about the hippie, energy-loving side of me? Were they the right goals to focus on?
I knew in my heart they were the right things to focus on, but I was afraid to even mention them. Share with people that I’m in debt? No thank you. It felt like the goal equivalent of going to work naked.
So I did what I know to do- avoid what I’m afraid of as the anxiety bubbles make babies inside of me. It took a 30-minute meditation, one too many earl grey’s and a little piece of cake for me to actually sit down and plan.
Because these goals were different, I decided to ignore all the rules every coach knows by heart. No workbook, no strategy, just a blank piece of paper and a pen. I mind mapped my way to the first big breakthrough in goal number two and in the end I felt like a genius.
My mind map showed two trends:
- I can do lots of stuff that people will pay for
- I need to let go of physical things
This was turning out to be a more spiritual goal than I could have ever anticipated. To let go of my debt, I have to embrace my self-worth and the objects I use to identify it? Shit.
I know I have some big steps to take in realizing this goal, and I also know I’m not going to hide about them. Letting shame keep me quiet will not help me here. So get ready, people- you’re going to hear all about how I am making money this year. Because I not only want to punch that debt in the face, but it would be damn nice to sip some fruity drinks on a beach with my sexy man at some point too.
LET’S DO THIS.
As I meditated this morning, I couldn’t help but obsess over actions. Which ones to take, which ones to avoid and what I needed to remember to do. My mind was a thousand butterflies fluttering each with different thoughts and I couldn’t calm myself.
I asked my higher self what all this was about, why I couldn’t stop my brain. One word came in response: trust.
And with that word my muscles melted. I let go of all sense of worry. I trusted that things would carry out the way they were meant to, and I got clear that my only job in the process is to sit and receive.
The feeling of worry that kicks in is like a small child. It’s like the moment I realize I can’t rely on my parents and I am left to fend for myself. Panic sets in, my brain starts to strategize and I can’t help but obsess, running around my head with armfuls of ideas and solutions and nowhere to put them.
That tiny child filled with worry forgets sometimes. She forgets that parents aren’t the only ones to protect and take care of me. There are forces larger than human life (aka the universe) who want me to succeed, want me to flourish, and know that a calm Jordana is the one who will do both of those things- not a scattered child trying to come up with human solutions to a universal problem.
So it’s time to let go. To trust. To stop worrying about everything and everyone else and start trusting myself.
Lately I have felt less than successful.
And I wasn’t even sure what that meant. I just knew it sucked. So I did what I always do when I’m upset and avoiding people and watching too much Netflix. I wrote.
What I noticed was that my measure of success was all off. I was using money to evaluate myself and my business, and all of my goals were monetary.
The funny thing about goals is once we achieve success, the ego wants more. Our measuring stick changes once we reach the top of a mountain. When that mountain is based on core values or something meaningful to us, wanting more is a fulfilling process. But when goals are based in material possessions, the warm fuzzies only feel good for a hot minute.
Picture goals like buckets that need filling. There’s one for ‘fluff’ and one for ‘stuff’.
The ‘fluff’ bucket is for love, and integrity, and happiness- things you can’t touch. The ‘stuff’ bucket is everything that exists in the material world- we’re talking money and facebook likes and tchotchkes.
Measurable goals can be created for each of these buckets and it’s important to have equal amounts of both.
‘fluff’ goals sound like “I meditate daily” while ‘stuff’ goals are more like “I earn $50,000”.
Let’s say you accomplish both of these goals, and you want to up your game next year. The difference between ‘fluff’ and ‘stuff’ goals are in the product that goal produced.
When the product of a goal lives outside of you (like money & things), it’s not forever. When that product lives inside of you (like happiness & freedom), no one can take your accomplishment away but you.
You see, ‘fluff’ goals are a practice. Just like that epic trip to Florida when you were a teenager, the experience changes you. It alters your perspective for the better. When we work toward ‘fluff’ goals, they are purely for ourselves and improving the experience of life.
‘Stuff’ goals satisfy a whole different part of us. Their intentions vary from impressing others to security, and come with a whole new set of responsibilities (like how to store the stuff you bought, or the process of paying off a mortgage, or how to invest the money you earned).
Now look at the relationship between the two categories. We need ‘fluff’ goals to improve our experience of the ‘stuff’ goals, and we need the ‘stuff’ goals to support the ‘fluff’ goals (because if we can’t afford to eat, then meditating every day isn’t fun at all). One bucket cannot exist without the other. Success is about working toward each set of goals equally, fulfilling balance in both instead of focusing on just one.
So once I realized this mind-blowing fact, what did I do?
I sat in a coffee shop on a rainy day and wrote in my notebook. I wrote hard, and I got clear. I balanced the shit out of both aspects of my life- spiritual and material.
I know now that if left on default, I will let the rest of the world tell me what to work toward… and all the material world only knows about is material stuff.
The fluff is up to me, because it’s generated from me. Abundance on the inside is just as important as on the outside. And I will never neglect the fluffy side of me again.
I want nothing more than to cuddle and love and kiss my little pup endlessly. I wish he could live on my lap and nuzzle with me every moment of every day. He makes me so happy and fulfilled and peaceful.
Then we go out in the world.
In the world, my little pup is frightened and angry. He yells at other dogs to stay away. When he is tied to me, he is unable to flee, and forced to fight. It is not the true him; it’s a persona created out of fear. I know all he wants is to feel safe.
This same pup who once was terrified of plastic bags on the street. The little man so scared on his first day in the city, the daycare owner held him under her shirt until he stopped trembling. This tiny guy who has always followed me around the house like an anklet and won’t sleep unless he’s burrowed under a soft blanket.
The world he lives in is reactive. Fearful. And what’s worse is I know my cuddles do the opposite of helping him.
This little guy has so much to prove, and so little confidence. He feels the need to scream his emotions, and gets jealous when our big guy comes to sit with me. He is terrified that bad things will happen. He lacks assurance that just being on this world means he is enough. He cries, longing for more. There is an emptiness inside of him that never feels satiated.
Sometimes I get so frustrated I want to scream. Calm energy, I repeat to myself. Those days, dog training theories feel far from reality.
If we walk the same path every day, he gets bored. If I don’t stop him half way through eating, he becomes obsessed. This tiny creature thrives in challenge. Slacking off one day is not an option. His actions call me on it.
He is better than he used to be, but nowhere near perfect.
This tiny dog tries so hard.
It’s no wonder he is mine.
For so long I relied on other people to see something in me, and it went something like this:
Them: You should apply for this job. You would be great at it.
Me: Oh, thanks!
My Brain: Drop everything you are doing and go for it
…It didn’t work out so well.
Part of the problem is that I didn’t listen to myself. I had forgotten my intuition existed, except when it was convenient (like deciding if I wanted to eat candy or not). And like everything in this physical world, if you stop listening to something, it eventually stops trying to tell you.
When I was a kid I always had the feeling that I was meant to do something great. I know all kids have this, but mine stayed with me through highschool. I had visions of myself on a stage, inspiring people. The only way I knew to get there was to perform- so that’s what I did.
I took music classes. I auditioned for drama events at the school. I went to karaoke every week to the point of having a nickname. Any way to get on a stage, I did it.
My stage became a classroom as more and more people told me I was great with kids and should go into teaching. That’s close enough, I thought.
I was wrong.
For a while I thought leadership was the way. Managing a large team of people must be just like performing, right?
Turns out people don’t like managers who think they’re on a stage.
What lives on that stage in my vision is deep connection. Not fame. Not status. Just spreading love and inspiration to as many people as possible. Moving someone to the point of tears. Making them see a new way of life for themselves out of words I have spoken. I don’t know how to do that with acting. Or singing. Or instructing kids. And least of all through leading a team.
I do know how to do that with speech.
Growing up, I didn’t know that my visions were real. I didn’t know to trust my intuition. I had to shut up for a long time so I could learn to listen and use the right words. Eventually, I learned to let my visions tell me what to do instead of the other way around. Let the process of discovery reveal itself. Stop trying to figure it out and please everyone.
Through every step in my path, my stage taught me to listen to my heart instead of my head. And I’m grateful that my vision has never changed.
Today the earth taught me it’s not about me.
I spent the morning looking out on the clear waters of Tobermory. As I watched and listened to the nature around me, I reflected on my interpretations over the last week. So often I jump to conclusions without doing my homework; like assuming someone doesn’t like me, when really they’re just having a bad day.
I looked down at the water and noticed something dark moving along the rocky floor. My instincts made me tense and jump back. Everything in me assumed it was some kind of animal or insect coming to get me when I realized…
It was a shadow being cast by a beautiful white dandelion seed.
How could I get it so wrong? What had created this reaction in me was in reality something beautiful.
My mind would have me assume the worst all the time, if it weren’t for my heart. It is my heart that takes a second look after fear, and finds the beauty.
There are rare days where everything seems to fall into place; you feel in the right place, at the right time. I dream of a day when I feel that all the time, but right now it’s not reality. Centuries of habit formation have me react with fear in order to keep me alive. I thank my brain for getting me this far. I also ask it to calm down and let my heart lead from time to time.
Fear in itself can be terrifying. It leads us to a life filled with unfulfillment; avoiding that which brings us happiness, joy, love. What I learned from the earth today is to take a second glance at things that cause a negative reaction in me, and look for love.
So many of us fear the reflection in the mirror more than anything else. We avoid great success because we think we don’t deserve it. We grant forgiveness for the flaws we see in others, but obsess with the parts of our bodies that aren’t perfect. We hate the people who it turns out- are just like us. We fear most of all, that one day someone else will see us the way we see ourselves.
We must grant love for ourselves before we can abolish reacting from fear. Because as I learned this morning, things that are beautiful can sometimes create that which we fear most.