Tuesday Choose Day.

I used to work with a brilliant woman with two young boys. Each week she looked forward to not having to worry about dinner on Tuesday. When I asked why, she told me it was Tuesday Choose Day, the day of the week that the boys could pick anything (within reason) that they wanted for dinner, and she’d just pick it up for them. No muss, no fuss. Tuesday Choose Day. I’m deciding to try a little experiment and apply this to my emotional, physical, and spiritual life today. Choose Day.

Recently I was bitter with someone in my life. A friend, someone I had become close with in a short amount of time, that I had told things about my life, that I had listened to, that I had laughed with, and shared my heart with.
This person then failed me, or so I believed. They didn’t come through for me the way I felt that they should have, and I was hurt. I fell into a pattern of blame, picking apart all of the reasons that made them wrong, all of the reasons that, in the end, pointed back to why they didn’t show up for me they way I wanted them to. Why didn’t they call, why didn’t they include me in their plans, why didn’t they tell me the whole story, why, why, why?

This went on for days. It gnawed at me, it made me feel inadequate. This morning, I woke up and made a choice to be grateful. My dear friend that has come to be quite special to me is in a shit, dark place. Lonely, insecure about the future, and searching for their own purpose and path; my friend is currently unable to give anymore of themselves than the bit they have offered up willingly to me. This is not their fault. Nor is it mine…and that is the most difficult part to accept. I want to fix things for them…but the fixing is not mine to be done, nor is my fixing anyone else’s. I have the choice here; I can accept the gift of their presence in my life with the full acknowledgement that I am not taking their friendship with the expectation of receiving anything in return, or I can leave it with them, and move on without it. The choice, however, is mine. The choice to allow me in, is theirs. I am choosing to stay. To love them, to laugh with them, to support them, and to offer myself up in any way I can to lift them up when they need me. They may reject me. They may decide that they don’t want or need me. Until then, however, I will hold the space for them because we all deserve that from the ones that love us.

Furthermore, this space of gratitude lead me to examine why it was this person chose me to reveal themselves to during this time in their life; as they were clearly not in a space to expand their social and/or emotional circle. As I ran through the attributes I have come to know about my friend, I saw myself reflected back in several ways. I saw the loneliness in their eyes shining in mine. I saw their beautiful laughter and light heart the same way I had been missing my own. I had on once occasion told my friend that they had a bold heart, but a tired soul…yet it was my own tired soul that didn’t hold the space for them when they needed it. I saw the desire for acceptance, for direction and grounded purpose mingled with a gypsy soul that feared strings and bonds that would attach us to the place we stood. I saw my own struggles, my own demons….and then I knew. I knew why we had found each other, and why our friendship had been as natural and easy as breathing. We were wanderers, never wanting to settle, but fearful of being condemned to wander forever. Though our circumstances were as different as night and day, we were the same in so many ways.

And I smiled, because now I understood.

I wasn’t bitter. I was afraid. Afraid of rejection. Afraid of being told yet again that I wasn’t enough. The truth was, I am too much. Too much for most…and with that truth comes the reality that I just might wander alone for a good amount of my life. Again, the choice is mine. I can be less, and never scare anyone away with my honest words and steady gaze, or I can be more, and I can continue walking forward, and hope to be joined by people who are unafraid of truth, who want to look through my eyes and into my soul the same way I see into theirs; people who are just as unwilling to accept less than life as an experience, not merely an existence. We are responsible for creating our own experience, everyday. What we allow in, what we choose to participate in, defines our experience, and that is entirely of our own design. We have to find the line that is transparency without taking on responsibility for another’s circumstances, and that balance is sometimes a difficult one. Often times we will choose wrong, and then we will feel the consequence of that choice; however, the choice was ours to make, and we made it for a reason. Breathe that in, and then breathe it out and let it go. I was responsible for inviting my friend into my life, for sharing myself, for hoping to receive something from them that they were not ready to give…and subsequently for my feelings of fear and inadequacy when I felt abandoned and invalidated. They didn’t do this to me. I did. As my friend pushed me away, and I struggled with they ‘why’ and the need to validate the situation…I found that the only thing I could do was be silent, and hope that my holding love and space would be what they needed. I needed to take responsibility of how I was processing my present; because it was entirely mine. My friend’s actions had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with how they were processing THEIR present. So often we wrap ourselves up in the reality of another to escape our own. Thing is…our reality doesn’t go anywhere…it just waits for us to come back, struggles, heartaches, responsibilities, and all.

Today, I encourage you to take a look at any relationship you may be struggling with, and ask yourself how that person’s qualities may mirror some of your own? What are their struggles, and what do those struggles really have to do with you? Are you levying unfair expectations on someone for a void that could be filled on your own? Maybe, maybe not. It’s worth the consideration:)Might just save a great relationship in your life.

With Heart,
H
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Shelby Leininger - May 6, 2015 - 6:40 pm

I love your writing. Very beautiful and raw.

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Breathe Again.

This week I got an email from a friend, and a client, who is at a crossroads. An excerpt from her email…

“I’m so lost and here I am at 35 and have no fucking clue who I am. If you pray, please pray for me. I’m leaving my job, security and money for my family in 3 weeks to find what makes me tick. I know you’ll appreciate this and am wondering if you ever went through something like this, where all your world turned upside down and you questioned everything that was “real” I’m so so scared but secretly excited. Any tips on “finding yourself?”

Woman. I feel you.

I’ve talked on the blog before about quitting my (supposedly) secure, relatively prestigious corporate position and about chasing and fanning your fire; but I haven’t talked much about what leads up to that…because that; in honesty, is the shit part. The dark part, the very unglamorous, unsexy chapter(s) that we have to live through to get to the fire within us.

When I left college to join the Marine Corps, I had no real marketable skills. I was 17, attending community college in hopes of majoring in music and literature…with no real idea of what I might do with that. I knew I loved to sing, I was good at it, and I loved to write, and I was good at that. The end. After a year of school and realization that I was indeed, directionless; I decided that I needed to get out. Out of school, out of town, out of the box that I had grown up in, comfortable, supportive, and beautiful as it was. I was never going to be more than I was that day if I didn’t break out and force the situation. So I marched my ass to my computer, signed up on the Marine recruiters website, and exactly one day later a handsome man in dress blues was standing at my dorm room door, waiting to tell me stories of faraway lands and magical opportunities. Insert laughter here….but no, he really did tell me those things…and I bought it hook, line, and sinker. Fast forward 5 years, a few deployments, many countries, 3 serious boyfriends (1 turned husband), 4 moves, and 1 shiny new black Ford Mustang later – I was ready to depart the Corps and move on with the life I had intended. The problem was, I still had no intention. After 5 years of non-stop movement, I had become an expert at my craft; and I enjoyed my work in the Intelligence field. It was a tangible, pat on the back for a job well done kind of work, and I was good at it. Therefore, upon discharge, I assumed it was only sensible to set out in search of a civilian career in the same field. The war was still raging, and civilian defense contractor jobs seemed to be a dime a dozen…but a move to the East coast to follow my husband’s career left me standing in a place I didn’t love, where I knew no one, and had no connections to the world that I had known. I searched for a year while trying my hand at full time horse training, and after 12 months of making no money and then selling underwear at Victoria’s Secret…I got the break of a lifetime. We were moving back to San Diego, and I got a call for a job interview. This firm I had honestly never heard of wanted to interview me for a position. I almost fell off my chair – and went to making preparations. I researched this company, and became more intimidated by the minute, this firm was the real deal…and I had never even been in the lobby of a place like this; how in the f*** was I supposed to fit in as an employee?

A long drive back to California and 2 weeks later, it was the morning of my interview. Fuck, I had nothing to wear. I was living with friends with my 2 dogs, they were destroying the backyard and all of my shit was in storage. I was literally living out of a suitcase and am pretty sure I didn’t even have a hairbrush at the time. So I borrowed one. I blew out my hair, and I took the last $600 in my bank account, and went to Nordstroms the morning of my interview…thank God it wasn’t until 1. I’m going to admit it right here, right now – that before that day, I had never shopped at Nordstrom’s. I had used the escalator a few times…I think I used the bathroom twice, because they were nicer that the ones in the food court. I had never shopped there though. I was more of an American Eagle meets the Gap meets the Salvation Army kind of gal…and what the fuck was I doing here? Getting a goddamn job, that’s what. I picked up the most beautiful three piece Tahari suit I had ever seen (still hanging in my closet), black pinstriped, and a pair of black patent heels that made me look, quite honestly, like a million bucks. My total was $409.38. I will never forget it. I had never bought an article of clothing that cost more than $40. I changed into it right there in nice Nordstrom’s bathroom, took the sticker off the bottom of my new shoes, and walked out of that place ready to run the universe…now I just had to find the place.

Fast forward again. Nailed interview, landed job, loved job, made friends, was promoted 3 times in 3 years and more than doubled my starting salary, something essentially unheard of for someone my age (I was 25). My work was consuming, and my private office and fancy clothes made me feel important…so did my excellent direct deposit every month. 4 years into my time with the firm, I got pregnant with Brody. I worked through my pregnancy while my husband was on deployment, and my co-workers all praised my dedication to the firm and our team. I was happy. I was also empty. My work was filling my time, but it wasn’t filling my heart. I left the firm on maternity leave, and then the news came that we would again be moving to the East coast. That winter I left a job I was comfortable in, that appreciated me, and that would have supported me financially for the next 30 years. My firm had no office where I was moving to, so I resigned, and found a position with a competing company.

The following year was one of the worst of my life.

My new job, though for another prestigious client for ridiculously excellent pay, was a nightmare. My co-workers hated me, the work was rewardless, and I felt dead everyday entering and exiting the building. To add, my marriage had seen better days, I had a year old baby at home, and no exit plan to support any of it. I would drag myself out of the house in the mornings when the nanny showed up, cry the 20 minute drive to work, and put on some mascara in the parking lot so that the no one would have the satisfaction of seeing how miserable I was. The truth was, they were winning. They were breaking me. I felt worthless, without purpose, and it showed. I was gaining weight, I no longer cared about my looks, my health, or my future. I couldn’t see past the black hole I was living in – but even so…I knew there had to be something else for me. This couldn’t be it, I wasn’t born to live this way. I had a million things to do, to see, to experience….and sitting there in my truck, pulled over on the side of the road, I wasn’t getting any closer to experiencing anything aside from another day wasted in my life, a day and an opportunity I would never get back. That day at work, my ‘superiors’, a man and woman about 10 minutes older than me with zero life experience, sat me down to tell me that my personality was keeping me from being successful, and that I would never amount to anything more than I was unless I made some changes and began emulating my co-workers mindless, drone behavior. They threatened to fire me if I didn’t start sucking ass and playing the game by their rules. I left the office that day wishing I was dead. Dead. Read it again. Dead. I had never in my life wished for such a thing. That day, everything changed for me.

A week later, in September of 2011, I secured myself a business trip to Seattle for some software training that would, in theory, help me with some programs I was running. I scheduled myself some extra time at the end of the trip; Seattle was somewhere I had always wanted to go, and I needed to breathe. The city was like oxygen to me, opening my soul up again. The music and life of the Market, the fresh food on every corner, the coffee, the people creating and composing and just living. My last days in Seattle were spent out on the Olympic Peninsula, tracing the 101 around the coast through Port Angeles to La Push. The second day, I started out early and drove up Hurricane Ridge. I drove the 45 minutes up a winding road through the pea soup fog that morning, having no idea that something so much bigger than me was about to be set in motion. I parked my rental, and lifted my eyes to the sight in front of me, and took in the first breath of the rest of my life.

I had never seen anything like it. I grew up in the mountains, and had always felt like they were quiet friends, like sitting in the rocking chair next to my grandfather on a summer day. The way they rose out of the clouds in front of me, standing in their magnificent space, unapologetic, unyielding to the elements. They were blue and white with snow, even though the hillside in front of me was golden with tall grasses. I sat down on the hillside near the visitors center, and I fell apart. I cried in the quiet of the heavens, and I asked God what the fuck I was supposed to do. Not being a religious person, I equate it to sitting in Zeus’s living room, if that’s something that works for you…that’s what it felt like to me. Here I was, sitting in the presence of the Gods and of Mother Nature herself, and I needed the universe’s help. I was so lost. Sitting here writing this, I can still hear the silence wrapping itself around me, whispering words of love, lifting me out of my darkness. The silence and the light of that morning lifted me off the ground, and I began to walk. I pulled my camera, a point and shoot Canon Powershot, out of my bag, and started photographing this landscape that was changing me on the inside….I didn’t know how yet, but I could feel it. I didn’t know what the direction was, but I could feel the fire burning. I photographed and photographed, falling in love with the way I could look through the viewfinder and see something so much more than a landscape…and then with the shutter click, I could freeze that, and look at it again and again. It wasn’t about creating epic photographs, the world was offering itself up to me, allowing me to stand in this sacred space and take her photograph without asking anything in return of me. I sat on the hillside that day and reviewed my images of those mountains..and I made a choice. This is what I would do. I would create things like this for people. I would create experiences, I would take photographs. Suddenly I felt a surge of purpose in my soul, and the darkness I had been living in literally began to lift like the morning fog, and the light streamed into my heart again, wrapping me up, telling me that I was still worthy, that I was still so alive…and that I was not the sum of my circumstances. The tears still stream down my face as I write this, because the feelings from that day are so palpable. That day in September, I made my way down the mountains to begin living the life I was born to live. I will not tell you I haven’t looked back, because it would be a lie…but I will tell you I have never gone back.

I went home and put my plans to paper. I had a small 401k from my old firm, and I cashed it out and bought my computer and it’s software, my camera, and my first 2 lenses. I had never even shot a DSLR before, and I began sitting up nights and during nap times reading articles and watching CreativeLive videos…and shooting at every opportunity. Entirely self taught and with no money, I launched my business and shot my first session for $100. That year I would shoot my first wedding for a friend for $400. That winter, during my performance review, I quit my job. I walked away and never, ever gave that place, those people, or that money a second consideration. It was the best thing I never thought I could do for myself.

It’s been 4 years, and here’s what I know for sure. I’m never going to be rich doing this work. Some people get rich, and that’s fantastic, but it likely won’t be me. I struggle every month and often rob Peter to pay Paul, I drive a truck with 200,000 miles on it, and you won’t find me shopping at Nordstrom’s…more like Target and TJ Maxx. There are days when I want to quit, when I am tired of not having any money, when I am tired of working at midnight, when I’m tired of wondering if I can cover that check I just had to write. Then there are the days when I walk into Starbucks to hunker down at the corner table and write…and I watch person after person breeze into get coffee during the ratrace to work each morning…looking disconnected and disengaged, and I remember standing where they were….and I am grateful for my simple life that is 100% by design. I’m 32, in love with my life and the possibility of the next day and the next minute, and I adore the human experience. I want to race through the world and connect with as many hearts as I can manage, and I want to feel, feel FEEL my heart loving and desiring until it bursts wide open, and then I will do it all over again. I strive to be honest, to give love and support to the few beautiful friends that have picked me up and held me close when I needed it most. I am a writer, a photographer, a healer, a teacher, a creator. I am an entrepreneur, and it is so exciting! I balance kindergarten drop off and pick up, riding and roping, and every so often cleaning my house with running multiple businesses. I shoot part time, I ride and train horses, and I am a licensed massage therapist. Each of those things feeds my soul. I create. I teach and connect with the one creature on Earth that understands me, everyday, every time. I heal the body and the soul. I bring people back to themselves, the same way the mountains brought me back to myself when I needed it most. When people ask what I do now, it makes me chuckle, because I honestly still don’t know quite how to answer the question. “Little of this, little of that I guess”, has become the standard…and right now, I’m ok with that. I’ll create art and literature and be with animals until the day I die, and along the way, I hope to allow the people that I meet to open their hearts and their souls to what is possible, to what is waiting for them if they only allow the light stream in through the mist.

I found a bio the other day that I had written for my company about 7 years ago. Reading though, I didn’t even recognize the person it spoke of, so I sat down to write myself another. Here is what I came up with. I would invite you friend, if you are searching…to do the same for yourself. Who are you – outside of a job, a family, a provider, a son or a daughter? What does the sky you’re reaching for look like, and what are the self doubts and fearful misgivings that are keeping you from becoming that person? Identify them. Write them down, give them names, and work on them….every goddamn day. Enlist the help of friends…real friends…that lift you up and remind you that you are so, so worthy. Write it all down, everyday, and week to week, month to month, look back and remember how far you’ve come. Keep your goals, and the fire that set you off in that direction, at the top of your menu at all times – because there will be times that you likely can’t afford anything else to eat….and that’s ok. It’s going to be ok. Enlist me if you need to, because that’s what I came out here to do….to bring every person I can up up to the table of life with me. The rest of your life is waiting. Fear not, for things you never believed possible are coming for you, if you will just take that step.

From my current self statement.
“In one run on sentence, I am a woman, a gypsy mama who cannot stand still yet wants it to be quiet and so loud that I don’t have to hear anything at all, I want to run on the back of the wind and race down empty roads and crash into other souls with every ounce of power I have, I am a teacher of life to a beautiful boy that is my greatest legacy, I am a horsewoman, born of english tradition and etiquette and finding my home in dirty jeans and boots and spurs and latigo and the sound of ropes feeding and snapping around horns, I am a creator of photographs and dreams and a seamstress of words and thoughts and endless analysis of the human psyche and it’s inspiration and wild forests, I am a lover of sex and intimate real talk, of all things dark and not spoken of in proper conversation, a lover of men and their beauty and a soul that has been destroyed by them, a strong body that would always rather be naked, a brazen goddess that will not tolerate disrespect in my world, and requires approval from no one. My priorities, my body, and my thoughts are as good as I need them to be, right now, and yet I will wake up tomorrow and be better and wiser than I am today.”

With so much heart.
H

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susie bloom - April 20, 2015 - 4:03 pm

all i can say is WOW you are amazing and beautiful and glad to call you friend! XO <3

Deborah - April 20, 2015 - 4:27 pm

So many things in this piece resonate with me as I travel grief’s journey, but this rang the loudest…”and took in the first breath of the rest of my life.” I am still waiting to take that breath.

Erin Miller - April 20, 2015 - 5:34 pm

Love love love this. I think I need to spend some time with you. xoxo

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The Fear Sessions 2.

Today is was said…..”I wish I could be more like you.”

For starters…no you don’t. You don’t want to live up here in this head. It doesn’t sleep much, craves coffee and sometimes alcohol at all the most inappropriate times, harbors plenty of self loathing that I am in a constant battle to take a baseball bat to, is a heart that hates to stand still and just wants it to be quiet and so loud that I don’t have to hear anything at all, a lover of sex and intimate real talk, of all things dark and not spoken of in proper conversation and an awkward goof of a girl that still carries the rejection of youth under her skin. You is a great place to be…and you should stay there. That said – there isn’t a more humbling, shake my ass down to Earth thing someone could say to me. Cause friends, the thing is, often I wish I could be more like you, whoever you are. In this little episode of the Fear Sessions, however, I’m going to rattle off a few items that I do just a little differently…why they terrify me, and maybe that transparency will give someone else the courage to test the waters as well.

I swagger, stroll, stride, run, and sometimes even trip….to the beat of my own drum.
I’m on no one else’s timeline in life. This is not always to my advantage, but it’s who I am, and I am coming into a really lovely peace with it. I’m not a big fan of social obligations, and ‘we should’s’. What kind of word is ‘should’ anyway? It doesn’t even roll off the tongue well. Say it 5 times. You’ll have a distaste for it as well. Should lives in the same dimly lit room as content, settle, obligation, can’t, and too-much. Sometimes I throw them some food by mistake, but I quickly slam the door and take to starving them again…because those miserable monsters deserve none of me. Does that make it easy to swagger to my own beat? No. I often watch others rolling with the flow, letting someone else call the shots and define their time, their plans, their life…and sometimes it looks….easy. Easier. Walking my own path has it’s many disadvantages. Since I don’t hold tight to obligations, sometimes I miss the mark on societal ‘good person’ things. I don’t often send thank you cards….even though I love it when I get one. I’m not good at returning phone calls, planning play dates, or long term planning anything, for that matter. I don’t always get looks of admiration for going my own way. Often, actually, I get looks of contempt. I’ve grown accustomed to it…and don’t take them personally. Each of us is swaggering through life at our own pace, in our own way, and some people just haven’t found their beat yet. It will come eventually, and in the meantime, they have nothing to do with me and my soul drumming circle. The majority can be intimidating, ruthless, and unforgiving. So can a heart full of regret for a life lived for everyone but yourself – because one day your kids are going to grow up and have their own lives, your friends are going to move away and move on, and your parents and your spouse are going to die. You’re going to be left with YOU, and the life and experiences that you chose. Think on that.

I don’t spend time wishing for things.
I just do them, because I will never be more ready than I am today.
Obviously, I wish I could fall into a cool million dollars. On the daily, however, I don’t sit around wishing for things I don’t have, can’t afford, or that are otherwise unavailable to me. If it is that important to me, I find a way to get it. If it isn’t, I let it go. People wonder how I support my lifestyle, have a couple of horses, and work for myself…and to this I’ll offer a very straight answer. I make it happen, because it’s important to me. I may have to work until I die, because I don’t have an extra dime to put into a retirement account each month. I also might die tomorrow…and I’ll die racing the wind and flying through this life with my heart and soul aflame. I’ll go down whooping and hollering and singing at the top of my lungs and feeling, FEELING until my heart bursts wide open, and then I will bleed passion and wildness and be born again. I may never retire, but I will never stop living the life I have dreamed to save for a day I may never even see. There are times I am rattled to the core when a friend mentions having 100k in their IRA….when I think, ‘I’m going to be poor and homeless when I’m 70′. For a moment, I consider throwing everything I have built away. I consider getting a job with good benefits, with a 401k, and setting myself up for the future. Then, I laugh…because fortune favors the bold, and I am nothing if not bold in my pursuits. Wishing is a waste of time. If you want something, find a way to get it. If you want to be wealthier, think bigger and work harder. If you want to be healthier, make better choices, for your body is the most important instrument you will ever own. If you want to receive more love, give more love. Live abundantly. Spend less time wishing….more time doing.

I am not afraid to walk away.
From a job, from a place, from a person, from a conversation…or from that word ‘should’.
So often, we feel like if we walk away, we are failing. “What will they say?” There it is again…the ‘they’. The opinion of ‘they’ invokes more fear, hesitation, and misery than almost anything I can name. I walked away from someone in my life once, someone near and dear to me; one of my very best friends. I walked away because they were not valuing me, and through their choices were essentially treating me like a piece of garbage in order to make their life easier. As if it wasn’t painful and miserable enough missing this person in my life, I had to answer to the ‘they’. ‘What happened? What did you say? What are you doing now? What will you do next?’ Now; I know full well that this person loves me the best way they know how, and in their mind, wants the best for me. Unfortunately, sometimes life gets the best of us. We are put into tough situations and forced to make hard choices, and someone gets hurt. This time, I was the party getting the shit end of the stick, and I was broken about it. So I had to leave, and not just leave a little bit. I had to detatch, cut off, and lose the limb for a while. I stopped speaking to mutual friends temporarily, some permanently, and even found myself putting my closest friends at double arm’s distance, because some of them were trying to walk a fine line in maintaining relationships with both parties…and I couldn’t…still can’t…have it in my life. All is not fair in love and war. Nothing is fair, and it doesn’t matter who, or what the love involves…you have to value yourself enough to walk away when the object of your love and effort is no longer valuing you. If there is something in your life that is not serving you, be it a job, a relationship, or a pair of jeans….get rid of it. If it’s a good job, you’ll get another one like it someday. If it’s a good relationship, it wouldn’t be treating you like garbage, and you need to stop lying to yourself. If it’s a good pair of jeans…the GAP is never going out of business. Invest in people, experiences, and things that FIT YOU. I will never look good in high waisted anything, nor will a person who can’t be honest with themselves look good with me. Hold onto what feeds your soul. Leave the rest.

I am not afraid to enjoy my life, and admit it.
Martyr.
Heard of it? I have been the world’s biggest one. Throwing myself straight into the trash can for everyone around me…and sitting and womp womp womping about it.
And then, I stopped.
I love my work. LOVE MY WORK. Everyday. I love my life. I love my family. I love that I don’t have to wake up at 5am and make a 2 hour commute anymore, that most days I get to wear jeans and boots and other days I get to dress up however my heart desires; that I can work from any coffee shop in the world and that I see my horses EVERY single day. I love that I only have one child, and that I can give all of my time and attention to him. I love that I’m married to a man that knows better than to ever believe that I’ll have dinner on the table at 5, or 6, or ever. I love that I drive a pick up truck instead of a sedan and that I show up to school pick up in clothes often covered in mud and sweat. We are constantly bombarded with ideas of servitude in life, and that if we’re enjoying ourselves too much, we must be living ‘frivolously’, and that frivolity in joy is something to be frowned upon. Down goes my bullshit flag. I know there are a good handful of people that think to themselves ‘hmf, she had that one coming’, anytime something less than wonderful happens to me. Here’s the kicker – they’re right.
I did have it coming – because this life is a polarity, and for every high, you will receive an equal low. For every success, you will have a failure. If you never try for anything, you can never succeed, you will never fail miserably, and you will ride the flat line of life for the long haul. I would rather die. This life is only happening one time folks. Today never happens again. Never, ever, ever. I’m not saying you need to drop your life and run off and be all Dances with Wolves or anything, but do SOMETHING today that’s worth your while. That’s just for you…that you would be proud to tell your great great grandchildren you took the time to do…for yourself.

This one’s for the ladies.

I don’t need a man.
Yep. Said it. Meant it. Don’t need one. For anything.
I can change my own lightbulbs, mow my own lawn, hook up my own trailer and build my own fire. I can frame a house if I need to, and if I get stuck, check it out….www.youtube.com. There is NOTHING that you can’t conquer with YouTube in your corner.
Men are so wonderful. I’m married to one, they’re some of my best friends, and I’m raising one. I don’t need one to validate my existence or do my heavy lifting though…and I certainly don’t sit around in my life waiting on one to be my missing puzzle piece. I did that once. Tossed things away for a man, thinking he was the missing link. That he would love me, and all of my fears would disappear, I would be whole and fulfilled, and never want for anything again…because he said he would always choose me; and he did. Until the day he woke up and chose someone else. In the blink of an eye.
Just like that. Coming full circle…I was left with my experiences, and the life I was choosing and building for MYSELF.

My lady tribe sisters, don’t wait your life away on a man…or a woman, or a Nordstrom’s sale. None of them is going to fill the space in your soul. They only person we’re guaranteed to spend forever with is ourselves. Buy yourself the damn flowers and chocolate…then you’ll actually get the kind you like. See the movie by yourself, or go with your friends. Take the vacation, buy the horse, buy the house, have the baby, take the chance. The partner for you will just make it more fun, even more adventurous, and share your love for your own soul swagger…and this person will be happy and thankful that you’re the kind of self loving, DIY in life goddess that isn’t sitting at home tapping your fingers waiting for him to facilitate your next move.

All of this perceived self assurance; yet I am still gripped everyday with the fear that I will one day wake up and realize that I have not realized my own life at all. So I will keep pushing the limits everyday, because I am worth it, and it’s the only way I know. I’m always happy to have you join me.

With Heart,
H

Deborah - February 18, 2015 - 8:10 pm

“…a heart full of regret for a life lived for everyone but yourself.” I get it. I am working on this one, learning to let go, to say “no.” It doesn’t come easy, this one, but I am trying. xox

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Soul Sessions // Hayley

New Love. There is nothing more exhilarating. Nothing that will cause the heart to race, the blood to boil, and the air to taste sweeter.
New love is the nutrition of our souls; be it the love of another human soul, the love of a new found passion pursuit, the new puppy you rescued from the shelter, or the new friend you made at the coffee shop that seems to be your long lost soul sibling. New love. It fires us up, makes us reach farther, want more, think bigger, dream louder. When love is new, all things are possible…and we forsake the consequences of ‘what if it fails?’. We don’t care….because in new love, failure is not on the menu. Only love. There is only love.

I have known new love so, so many times. I have fallen forwards, backwards, sideways, and upside down into the crystal pool of possibility and passion, for people and for pursuits, and most recently, for myself. New love is exhilarating to watch, and in the images below, I saw it.

Hayley is in new love with a boy…a boy I’ve known for half his life, making it all the more fascinating for me to observe. When she speaks of him, her soul dances the same way the grass danced in her images. She shines for him, of him, and about him, and it is so beautiful.

If it’s been a while since you’ve felt new love….go out for a drive today. Find the open road. Roll down the windows, and turn up the volume to some music that moves you. Put your arm out the window, the way you did when you were a kid and let the wind move around your body as you cut through the air. Sing. Chase the sun down, or up, or both. See that new love and all of it’s possibility is everywhere. Leap forward into the most exhilarating times of your life.

With Heart,
H

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The Fear Sessions 1.

Lately I find myself having the same conversations with people, over, and over, and over. I love this. I feel like it’s this beautiful way that the world is telling me ‘yes, tell them again. They need to hear it from you.’ These conversations are things I feel so strongly about, issues that I have struggled with, that I have STRUGGLED WITH, for months, for years, for a lifetime. Now here I am, ready and wanting to live transparently and authentically, in hopes to empower others to do the same.

A common struggle is that of identity. We all want one. Likely, we all have one. Mother. Father. Wife. Sibling. Child. Employee. Boss. Giver. Taker. PTA Mom. Party girl. The list of words we label ourselves, and each other with, is endless. For some reason; we exist in this space where something always has to be on top, something always has to be numero uno; and the rest has to get pushed down, be less important. We can’t be boss and mom and daughter and rodeo cowgirl and wife and creator and traveler and speaker and writer and coffee connoisseur and have all of those things be equally important to us, can we?

Yes, we can.

We are all afraid to admit that one thing is not enough for us. If we say that being a mother isn’t enough, or that spending time with our partner doesn’t fulfill our emotional needs, we must be admitting failure. That we have not chosen well, that we are not committed, and that we are in fact, shit. We listen to that voice that says, “Grow up, and commit. Settle down, you’re too old for this, and you will fail anyway.” And we do. We don’t settle down, we just settle. We tell ourselves that we are ‘content’ with the way things are, that it is ‘good enough'; and that we are lucky to have what we have, because someone to your left or right has it far worse, and thank god you’re not in THEIR shoes (did you hear about Betsy and her husband? They’re getting a DIVORCE. insert head shakes here) A little insight friends. Yeah, Betsy is getting a shitty divorce and had to move into a tiny ass apartment with her two kids, but Betsy is now working on her new Etsy store selling her awesome knit scarves and writing guest blogs for one of her favorite sites and having a cocktail with that friend she NEVER got to catch up with on the 2 nights a week the kids are with their dad. But she’s got no money in savings and no husband, so Betsy’s life must suck. Insert my head shake here.

I’m not flying the flag for divorce,(really) or vacating your relationships, and certainly not for leaving your children, dogs, or goldfish behind in your pursuit of a full life. I’m flying the flag of empowerment, of embracing that those things are all a PART of your full life. It took me a great long time however, to understand that it was OK that they weren’t my WHOLE life. For a few months I had to go without roping and riding one of my horses due to an injury; and I was broken. I was lost. Then for a spell I stopped writing; for I was afraid what truths I might say if I sat down and put pen to paper…and I wasn’t prepared to read my own story, much less share it. And I was broken. I was, again, lost. I was not full. Existing through the days, fine as appearances go, but dying on the inside. I was not living my purpose, and that is the greatest wrong we can do to both ourselves, and the world we live in. When we ignore our purpose, the things that call us and light us on fire, we forgo our contribution to the universe, and in turn ignore the stamp we are meant to leave on this life. I have met so many women who are stuck. Stuck in this space of ‘must’ and ‘should’ and these conversations about the things they would love to do but ‘well, I just don’t have time for that with x, y, and z going on’. I’m here to drop the bullshit flag on you. That’s an excuse, it is blame, and it is unaccountability for your own life. There is no reason you can’t manage x, y, and z and still do that thing you would LOVE to do. Further there is the conversation that takes it’s turn when I ask ‘what would you do, if you could do anything at all? What would you be? If life as you knew it stopped tomorrow, and you were no longer required to make dinner, or pick the kids of up from school, or work at your job that you hate – WHAT WOULD YOU DO?’ And often the answer? “I don’t know.” This answer comes from a place of self hate, of worthlessness, of ‘I am not good enough’. This answer is unacceptable and it makes my heart cry and beat the floor of my soul with it’s fists. You are good enough, and you are ready. Right now.

I can sit here at my computer, or stand in front of you, and speak about self hate because I have been one of it’s greatest victims. I am no stranger to mistakes. I make them daily, in my attempt to grow in my life and in my pursuits. I have made mistakes I am not proud of, mistakes that have hurt people, mistakes that have above all, hurt me – and I have learned from them. I have also punished myself, and been punished, everyday, for years, for the actions of my past. I have looked in the mirror and told myself I was awesome, all the while my inner voice of self hate was screaming ‘you’re a fucking piece of shit’, because once, a long time ago, someone said that to me. That said, my level of appreciation for people that compliment me on my seemingly never ending supply of confidence is higher than I can convey. I have always been confident in my abilities; but I finally came to understand that it didn’t matter if I thought I was the best business person, the best artist, the best horsewoman, or what have you – if I didn’t sort my attitude out, I would receive nothing different in this world than exactly what I was getting. I needed to sort out my attitude about myself, and what I was worth. To me. Not to anyone around me, not to anyone from my past or anyone that might be in my future. While I love every person that brings their light into my life, they do not determine my value. I do, and anyone that does not agree with my value is free to leave, without any hard feelings from my end of the table. We all have our struggles, and the only one you are responsible for is yours. Fixing someone else’s struggles will not fix yours, make you more worthy, make you more beautiful, smarter, younger, slimmer, or richer. It will make someone else more successful, and leave you exactly where you stand right this second. So why would we not choose ourselves?

I did.

I am saying out loud, fully acknowledging that this will not sit well with everyone, that it is, in my opinion, the definition of a sad life, to never have known what you might be if only you’d had the courage and self value to try. You can be all of the things you have wistfully thought of as you sit up in bed perusing Pinterest and Facebook at night, in your safe bed at your respectable bedtime in your functional pajamas. Throw it away. Cut away the things that do not feed your fire. Why do you need to keep them, because someonel else says so? Who says so? And why is this imaginary someone calling the shots of your life? Get naked, in your body and in your soul, and get emotionally honest about what, and who, you want to be. The labels and roles we give ourselves are not mutually exclusive, and they are 100% by design. Get into the drivers seat of your life.

As always, if you’d like to connect more about this topic or any other than I cover, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.

With Heart,
HG

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