Just A Story

Cancer… My best friend has cancer. She told me via a Christmas card, which she dutifully sends every year even though I don’t answer most of them. Seven years ago since I saw her. We just moved into our current abode and there was no furniture yet inside aside from a couple of kitchen chairs.

No, we didn’t have a fallout or something. I am just like that. I am not adept at keeping connections. I burn bridges with or without reasons. She was actually my boss who decided it is better to keep your friends close but your enemies closer. Something with the husband. There was nothing there but it’s the thoughts that count. From there a genuine friendship has blossomed and since then I could do no wrong in her eyes. She fired a few employees including her own sister because they could not get along with me. She has forgiven me for all the trespasses I did against her person without me asking for it. The foolishness of the youth… Water under the bridge now.

She was a chain smoker. Now she has lung cancer. I called her immediately the minute I received the card and told her I was coming the day after. I bought a big bouquet of flowers I know she likes and rung her doorbell. Because I got a heads up, seeing her with a nasal cannula didn’t shock me but the color of her skin did. I thought those snow dwellers from the north in GOT were just the products of makeup techniques from efficient production artists but she looks exactly like them_ gray with a bluish tint as if she has been buried under the snow and been dug up just recently. Shocking!

She doesn’t have cancer. I misread the card. She has COPD instead and needs to have a lung transplant very soon. (what’s the difference) but there is no donor. She’s not even on the list. And even then, her kidney is not functioning properly to have an operation. Her face is swollen from too much cortisol. She said she had an open heart surgery a while back and has to take legions of medicines. I gave her a summary of my own woes, she told me I look good despite… The husband said I barely changed.

They are not the kind of people who will lie or flatter you for whatever reasons. No, they belonged to the near-extinct group of honest people who will tell you how things exactly are without offending. That’s why probably we get along just fine. They told me they encountered my ex and his girlfriend in the supermarket. I said it’s the wife, not the girlfriend. They gave me a look that said: whatever. And then the husband said when it comes to a wife matter, my ex did a few steps back instead of forward and my best friend said the new wife is a far cry from me and very, very different when it comes to appearance. That was a shock. I find the woman ten times more beautiful than I am, taller too, whiter and with miles-long legs. My best friend said if I find long legs (she has) an asset then so be it but not in any way it would help the appearance of the new wife. Then she ran out of words to describe her and I supplied them by directly quoting the mother of D. when she described the same woman: grey mouse, she said. My best friend jumped on that and added a few more of her own.

They would go on and on if I didn’t change the subject. It happened that I don’t agree with them. D. said it is because I have very low self-esteem. That when it comes to comparing myself to others, I always sell myself short. Maybe, maybe not.

Anyway, it was getting dark and I could see that our visit tired my best friend so I grabbed my coat and said goodbye. I will not want to exhaust our welcome. They complimented our fine carriage and we drove off.

I’m not sure if I am going to see her alive again. I am afraid that the next time we meet, she will be inside a casket. Sad but it’s the truth.

Another era about to disappear.

Getting old sucks.

Tangoing On In The Rain

“I strongly believe that we must tie our sanity around something (or someone). May it be your dog, a future event, past regrets, or current obligations. We must keep ourselves anchored so we don’t easily drift away into nothingness.”

Empty nest loneliness the importance of purpose faith human contact and the feeling of emptiness were all clichés and alien to me up until recently. Self- imposed solitude is different from_ I would not say having no choice because we always have a choice_ let’s say between a rock and a hard place, being able to choose without compromising one’s own self-respect integrity and dignity. I heard about loneliness in the elderly and social isolation and I thought I will never experience being lonely because I love and value my self-imposed solitude so much but lately I might be willing to admit that I’ve been wrong, or rather I underestimate the consequences of getting old and having illness that hinder not only the mobility but freedom in general and of course social contact. Who wants to burdens others with what’s wrong with one’s life anyway? How could you explain that your agenda is governed by what’s happening with you physically and mentally.  How could you say to someone that I could not meet you for coffee because I don’t have a circadian rhythm, I sleep when I am able to sleep and most of the time awake because of intense pain. How could you explain that? And even if they understand, you will never be able to find someone who is willing to sacrifice their schedules to fit and accommodate yours. Besides, it’s not humane to even consider asking that from anyone.

Someone who’s lonely finds it hard to reach out. There’s a stigma surrounding loneliness, and older people tend not to ask for help because they have too much pride.

Yeah, the pride… the pride… I’m guilty of the charge. I don’t want to impose  I don’t want to be needy. I don’t want to disrupt other people’s lives in order to enrich mine. I am afraid to ask in case they might say no. Yes, I am scared of rejection, aren’t we all? I’ve been on my own for so long I don’t know how to reach out. I am not sure if I even want to for the fear of what they might ask or expect in return. Silly I know but It is what it is, and it ain’t nothin’ else… Everything is clearly, openly, plainly delivered.

Where to tie my sanity around? I had a prospect a few months ago but it was taken away. I still have difficulties moving on regarding that setback. How about faith… I’ve lost my faith in organized religion a long time ago and I am not sure if I still believe in God. My faith in humanity is dangling on a very, very thin thread. What else to believe?

What else to do but makes the most of what little there is. On your own without bothering others.  Sometimes I wonder how much of my physical complaints are brought by loneliness and isolation and how much by stress. Strange that social contact stresses me more than isolation and loneliness that’s why I decided to isolate myself in the first place. Have you experienced walking in the city during the holiday season? Or even on weekends? Jesus! It’s murder out there! Yesterday I was in the mall in Germany and I ended up getting more stressed than ever I decided not to buy anything at all because I could not focus. Too many people! No place to sit at the food court. Queue in the parking garage. Chaos on the roads. Better to stay at home. And there, the circle is complete.

Back to square one.

And here I’m going to stop.

I don’t know what to say anymore.

Brain freeze.

Till next time.

Who Says That Only Trolls Live Under A Bridge?

We did for a while when I was a kid. Sort of a halfway house when my father was between jobs. It wasn’t that bad really. I didn’t dislike it. Only when the naughty kids in the neighborhood dropped logs from the top of the bridge during high tide and our little place and meager belongings became wet that I sometimes wish we were somewhere else. For the rest, I never recall feeling ashamed of our situation. Maybe because I wasn’t aware that time yet how important social status is and how much it affects how others see and treat you. Wealth, in this society, means respect. In my experience, people treat you better when you are rich. But when I was growing up I didn’t feel I was different than the rest. I did quite enjoyed it actually. Especially the freedom that comes with being dirt poor. More adventures to experience, more spaces to explore, less rules to abide. What could be better than that?

We left the sanctuary of the bridge after one night while my mother was peeing in the corner of our one-room abode, a large hairy hand suddenly burst through the weaved coconut fronds wall and tried to choke her. She was screaming her heart out and we just stood there doing nothing. How stupid is that? The incident caught us by surprise I guess. I don’t know. We were just kids and probably scared shitless. Help was called shortly afterwards. They chased and looked for the owner of the mystery hairy hand but without success. There were extraordinarily large footprints but no evidence who might have caused them. We moved to a barrack inside the fishpond the same night, and that was the start of another adventure. But that is for another blog post.

Soon.

Till next time.

10 Ways to Cope With Toxic Family Members

by Grace Furman

We all have family members we butt heads with over our taste in music, life choices, or politics. Typically we choose to put in the required effort to work through the problem or, depending on the issue, just smile politely and let it go.

A toxic relationship, however, is a relationship in which one person is emotionally and possibly physically damaging the other on a consistent basis.

Just because someone is a part of your family does not make this behavior acceptable.

Your top priority must be your own health and emotional well-being. If someone else is jeopardizing those, then you need to make changes to remedy the situation.

So how can you determine whether someone is toxic?

Here are some examples of things that toxic family members might do:

  • Constantly make demeaning comments
  • Be unsupportive of you if it doesn’t benefit them
  • Have an unpredictable and bad temper
  • Take advantage of your time, skills, or money
  • Emotionally manipulate you in order to control your behavior
  • Refuse to take responsibly for their actions
  • Make decisions for you
  • Display a lack of empathy toward others
  • Blame you and others for their own problems
  • Use violence or aggression to get what they want

Clearly, these behaviors create an unhealthy environment and can have many negative effects on your health and well-being.

If your relationship with a family member is toxic, the only thing you can control is your response. You must decide what to do in order to take care of yourself.

Here are 10 ways to cope with toxic family members:

1. Set Boundaries.

Determine what are acceptable and unacceptable ways for you to be treated.

Everyone is worthy of respectful treatment, yourself included. You deserve to be happy, healthy, loved, and safe.

Decide what your specific needs are and how others can or cannot treat you in order to meet those needs. You can then ensure that they will be met by implementing number two below.

2. Stand Up For Yourself.

When toxic family members cross the lines of the boundaries you set, you must stand up for yourself.

This can be scary and challenging, but it is important to be upfront and honest with them about your needs and expectations.

You can take charge of your life and the way you are treated by letting them know when they have done something unacceptable.

3. Stop Making Excuses.

Do not make excuses for someone else’s unacceptable behavior.

While they may try to blame you or others, the truth is that they alone are responsible for their choices and resulting actions.

When you make excuses for someone’s behavior, you are supporting it and allowing it to continue. If you have set reasonable expectations and been upfront with the family member, then it is their responsibility to act accordingly.

4. Experience Your Emotions.

Dealing with a toxic family member will bring on uncomfortable feelings and difficult emotions.

It is normal to feel anger, sadness, fear, confusion, and more. Instead of trying to push these emotions away, allow yourself the time and space to sit with them and experience them.

This way your body and mind can work through the feelings instead of having them build up inside. It can also prevent unhealthy coping mechanisms from forming.

5. Don’t Take It Personally.

This can be difficult, but try not to take a toxic family member’s words or actions personally. They clearly have their own wellness issues, and that is where this hurtful behavior is stemming from. It is a reflection on them, not on you. Believe in yourself and your worth regardless of anyone else’s opinions or comments.

7. Seek Help.

Dealing with a toxic family member is mentally difficult and emotionally draining, so it will be important for you to have sufficient outside support.

Share your struggles with close, trusted friends or family. Read books about coping with toxic family members to hear other people’s stories and gain further insights and strategies.

8. Practice Self-Care.

Practicing self-care is vital to mental health, and it becomes particularly important while going through an emotionally challenging situation.

Take time away from everything else to spend meditating, journaling, soaking in a hot bath, or whatever you enjoy most. It is helpful to implement daily affirmations.

Speak to yourself with encouragement and self-kindness. Focus on the positive by listing things you are thankful for each day.

Remember that your worth is not lessened just because someone else cannot see it.

9. Be Compassionate.

While challenging, it can be helpful to have compassion toward the toxic family member.

This does not mean you excuse their behavior though. It is simply a recognition that they are not inherently a bad person. Every human being is imperfect.

Their own difficult life circumstances or lack of skills have gotten them to this dark place. We all have our own pain that we are trying to deal with, and we all make mistakes sometimes. This is a part of our common humanity.

10. Cut Them Out.

If the above strategies have not helped to remedy the situation, you will have to decide whether or not you want this toxic family member in your life at all.

Ask yourself if you are getting more pain than joy out of the relationship. If the answer is yes, you may want to cut this person out of your life until they have shown the ability to consistently treat you with respect.

It could be for a couple of weeks or it may be much longer. If nothing changes, it could be permanent.


Relationships are built on respect, trust, and honesty. Everyone deserves these things. Just because a person is related to you, does not mean you owe them anything or that they can treat you however they like. This is especially true when the relationship comes at the expense of your own health and well-being.

Use the above strategies to build up your self-esteem and make the changes you need to ensure you can be happy and healthy. People can change which means that the two of you may be able to repair this relationship.

It will be hard and take a lot of time, but it can be done. However, notice that it is “the two of you.” Both parties must be willing to work together.

Unfortunately, in some cases, it is best to let the relationship go. After you’ve put in as much effort as you can, you will have to decide what’s best for you and your well-being.


Grace Furman is a writer and blogger at Heartful Habits. Heartful Habits is a place of inspiration for what Grace calls living mindfully and heartfully. She loves learning and sharing about wellness tips, natural remedies, beauty DIYs, green cleaners, healthy recipes, social issues, and more. Grace will be regularly contributing to Live Bold and Bloom.

Friday The 13th

I grew up in a very religious country full of superstitious beliefs you would not believe all the things people conjure up if you hear them. You can hardly pass an anthill without someone telling you, you ought to ask permission or excuse yourself for trespassing on a sacred place of some powerful mythical beings. Failure to do so will result in unforeseen circumstances/consequences ranging from a simple fever to_ name it, the only limit is your imagination.

I could write a book about the stories I heard when I was growing up. My mother was an expert storyteller when it comes to these sorts of tales. She told us about flying babies, goblins, centaurs abducting children, beautiful people being kidnapped by enchanted entities making them appear dead and replacing their bodies with banana trunks. She related to us how could we become invisible by simply stealing the hat of the grim reaper and how to acquire a magic purse that contains a hundred peso bill that keeps coming back after you spend it. Imagine…

People there believe in pontianak – the spirits of women who died while pregnant/ the ghosts of stillborn children among so many supernatural creatures that eat human flesh and organs and could shift shape. They believe in witchcraft and black magic and they say it is better to stay at home on your birthday or wedding day because venturing outside is equals to courting disaster. If you hear a Gekko making sound by the door it means someone is coming. Likewise, if you drop cutlery. If you drop a spoon the visitor will be female and male if it is a fork. If you smell the acrid aroma of an extinguished candle it means death. And if you let children kiss a doll before they could talk, there is a chance that they will become mute.

For all those silly notions people believe with all their hearts, what amazes me the most is the one surrounding conception. They say when a woman is conceiving she better be careful what she says, what she eats, what she likes and so on because whatever her preferences in food, in people or words might be will affect the baby in her womb. For example: If she craves for chocolates while conceiving or takes a fancy to someone with a dark complexion, the baby will surely be dark as well when s/he is born. If a pregnant woman criticizes or laughs at people with deformity, her baby will be deformed too. If she eats soft crabs then the baby will not be able to walk and if it is lobsters or shrimps, there is a strong possibility that the color and shape of the crustacean will appear on the skin of her baby as a birthmark. Things like that. I remember being in a heated discussion while on holiday back there because I asked them if I crave for plums while conceiving would that automatically means my baby will be dark when she or he comes out? They know I am married to a Caucasian. Imagine that…

I can go on and on about those superstitions my countrymen still hang onto until this very day but I will stop here. I think you get an idea already of what I want to convey.

How about you?

Is your country has similar beliefs?

How you deal with them?

Do you believe in those notions?

voodoo-spells3 (2)

Puppet Master

Let me be clear, my love is unconditional, but your presence in my life is not. The moment that you prove that your value of me does not measure up to my sense of self-worth, I’ll have no problem unconditionally loving the memory of you and moving on.

It’s called self-Respect.

Setting boundaries and refusing to be a victim.

It takes courage to say no.

No, I will not be your puppet.

No, I will not be blackmailed. Emotionally or otherwise.

No, you cannot use me.

No, you cannot manipulate me.

I am responsible for saying yes to what feels good and no to what doesn’t.

You don’t own me.

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Learning To Save Myself

I get so goddamn lonely and sad and filled with regrets some days. It overwhelms me as I’m sitting on the bus; watching the golden leaves from a window; a sudden burst of realization in the middle of the night. I can’t help it and I can’t stop it. I’m alone as I’ve always been and sometimes it hurts…. but I’m learning to breathe deep through it and keep walking. I’m learning to make things nice for myself. To comfort my own heart when I wake up sad. To find small bits of friendship in a crowd full of strangers. To find a small moment of joy in a blue sky, on a trip somewhere not so far away, a long walk an early morning in December or a handwritten letter to an old friend simply saying ”I thought of you. I hope you’re well.

No one will come and save you. No one will come riding on a white horse and take all your worries away. You have to save yourself, little by little, day by day. Build yourself a home. Take care of your body. Find something to work on. Something that makes you excited, something you want to learn. Get yourself some books and learn them by heart. Get to know the author, where he grew up, what books he read himself. Take yourself out for dinner. Dress up for no one but you and simply feel nice. it’s a lovely feeling, to feel pretty. You don’t need anyone to confirm it.

I get so god damn lonely and sad and filled with regrets some days, but I’m learning to breathe deep through it and keep walking. I’m learning to make things nice for myself. Slowly building myself a home with things I like. Colors that calm me down, a plan to follow when things get dark, a few people I try to treat right. I don’t sometimes, but it’s my intent to do so. I’m learning.I’m learning to make things nice for myself. I’m learning to save myself.

I’m trying, as I always will.

― Charlotte Eriksson

Only Dead Fish Go With The Flow

If you decide to just go with the flow, you’ll end up where the flow goes, which is usually downhill, often leading to a big pile of sludge and a life of unhappiness. You’ll end up doing what everyone else is doing.

And I thought if you go with a flow you will have a peaceful life, good neighbors and lots of friends. Everyone would like you and you will be happy. Take it from me who always swim against the current- not because I am dying to be different for the sake of being different (I would never do that)  it seems the only way for me to float- it’s never easy. You know… road less taken/traveled whatever.

One Lauren Alaina sings:

You won’t make yourself a name if you follow the rules
History gets made when you’re acting a fool
So don’t hold it back and just run it
Show what you got and just own it
No, they can’t tear you apart

Don’t follow anyone
March to the rhythm of a different drum
Why do we analyze, break out, and criticize the crazy ones?

Easier said than done you might say (Me, I would never claim that for the simplest of reason: I don’t know any other way) not following the herd not having a herd mentality it means you are on your own and I believe not so many aspire to be alone, isolated and outcast even for being who you really are. Pretending is easy and like I said peacefully peaceful. Again I would never know. It’s always chaos in my head and out there is like running the gauntlet. You are lucky if you make it alive by the end of each day. Cruel world they say. I strongly disagree. It’s the people who is cruel not the world. The world is beautiful. At least the part that cruel people leave alone.

I’m getting sidetracked again.

How about you?

Are you part of the herd?

A dead fish?

Or something else?

 

How Starved You Must Have Been That My Heart Became A Meal For Your Ego

When a narcissist says “I love you,” they mean that they love the way they feel when you work hard to make them happy.

They love how easy it is to take advantage of your generosity, compassion and kindness. They derive pleasure when they make themselves feel superior to you, and make you feel insignificant and small.

They love the feeling it gives them seeing you as emotionally crazy, weak, and vulnerable, as, in their view, your gullibility, innocence and childlike desires prove your inferiority and weakness.

They love how easy it is to use gaslighting or other manipulation techniques to make you do what they want. They love the feeling it gives them making you doubt yourself or question your own sanity. They also love the feeling it gives them making you feel “crazy” for asking and bringing up issues that they are not interested in.

They only care about themselves, and they love the way they feel when you carry all the load of the relationship. They also care about you in the sense that you give them something, so they love you for that.

They love the fact that your life is all about them. You solve their issues, fix their problems, and relieve their pain.

They love how easy it is to keep your primary focus on relieving their pain (and not yours!), and that, no matter what you do, you will never make them feel good enough, appreciated enough, loved enough, etc.

They love the way they feel when you are with them, seeing you as their possession, as a piece of property they own. They love the extent to which you improve their status in the eyes of other people.

They love the way they feel when you feed their ego, their sense of self-worth, and give your full attention to them. They love the power they have to make you work hard to prove your devotion, loyalty and love.

They love the way they feel when they are with you. As they tend to look down on and hate other people, the mirror neurons in their brain cause them to experience feelings of self-loathing; so they love that they can love themselves through you.

They love how easy it is to criticize you; criticize what is important to you, such as your religion, your family and your friends; and make you believe that you are worth nothing and that you have to stay with them.

“Since narcissists deep down feel themselves to be faultless, it is inevitable that when they are in conflict with the world they will invariably perceive the conflict as the world’s fault.”
— M. Scott Peck

“Narcissism is a grave condition of insecurity and desperately feeling unloved and unacceptable. An individual with Narcissistic Personality Disorder inherently believes they are ‘damaged goods’ and fears other individuals will discover the truth: that they feel powerless. Thus the narcissist invests a great deal of energy into ‘gaining the upper hand’, to hide feeling vulnerable, insecure and broken. When they are getting what they want, the charm is flowing and plentiful. When the charm doesn’t work the intimidation begins. Narcissism is categorized as an unhealthy level of self-absorption and a lack of empathy regarding how their insecure, aggressive and damaging behavior affects the world around them.”
— Melanie Tonia Evans

“Relationships with narcissists are held in place by hope of a ‘someday better,’ with little evidence to support it will ever arrive.”
— Ramani Durvasula

“Sadly, when many individuals realize that the narcissist is insecure and isn’t reassured, they try harder to love this person. Additionally, the narcissist blames his her behavior on something that you are or aren’t doing, and a hooked person we may try to ‘do it better’ or ‘get it right.’ Your increased efforts to love and fix the narcissist only lines you up for more abuse.”
— Melanie Tonia Evans

“When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.”
— Brené Brown

Often the narcissist believes that other people are “faking it”, leveraging emotional displays to achieve a goal. He is convinced that their ostensible “feelings” are grounded in ulterior, non-emotional motives. Faced with other people’s genuine emotions, the narcissist becomes suspicious and embarrassed. He feels compelled to avoid emotion-tinged situations, or worse, experiences surges of almost uncontrollable aggression in the presence of expressed sentiments. They remind him how imperfect he is and how poorly equipped. ― Sam Vaknin

Narcissists will never tell you the truth. They live with the fear of abandonment and can’t deal with facing their own shame. Therefore, they will twist the truth, downplay their behavior, blame others and say whatever it takes to remain the victim. They are master manipulators and con-artists that don’t believe you are smart enough to figure out the depth of their disloyalty. Their needs will always be more important than telling you any truth that isn’t in their favor..” ― Shannon L. Alder

“People with NPD have a strong need, in every area of their life, to be treated as if they’re special. To those with NPD, other people are simply mirrors, useful only insofar as they reflect back the special view of themselves they so desperately long to see. If that means making others look bad by comparison—say, by ruining their reputation at work—so be it. Because life is a constant competition, they’re also usually riddled with envy over what other people seem to have. And they’ll let you know” ― >Bandy X Lee

“Playing the victim role: Manipulator portrays him- or herself as a victim of circumstance or of someone else’s behavior in order to gain pity, sympathy or evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. Caring and conscientious people cannot stand to see anyone suffering and the manipulator often finds it easy to play on sympathy to get cooperation.”
― George K. Simon

“There’s a reason narcissists don’t learn from mistakes and that’s because they never get past the first step which is admitting that they made one. It’s always somebody else’s fault, a lawyer’s fault. Ask them to account for a mistake any other way and they’ll say, ‘what mistake?”― Jeffrey Kluger

You get discarded as a supply for one of two reasons: They find you too outspoken about their abuse. They prefer someone that will keep stroking their ego and remain their silent doormat. Or, they found a new narcissistic supply. Either way, you can count on the fact that they planned your devaluation phase and the smear campaign in advance, so they could get one more ego stroke with your reaction. Narcissists are angry, spiteful takers that don’t have empathy, remorse or conscience. They are incapable of unconditional love. Love to them is giving only when it serves them. They gaslight their victims by minimizing the trauma they have caused by blaming others or stating you are too sensitive. They never feel responsible or will admit to what they did to you. They have disordered thinking that is concerned with their needs and ego. It is not uncommon for them to hack their targets, in order to gain information about them. They enjoy mind games and control. This is their dopamine high. The sooner you distance yourself the healthier you will become. Narcissism can’t be cured or prayed away. It is a mental disorder that turns the victims of its abuse into mental patients because it causes so much psychological manipulation.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Narcissistic entitlement has nothing to do with genuine self-esteem, which comes from real accomplishment and being true to one’s own ideals. Individuals who feel entitled to respect without giving it in return, or who expect rewards without effort, or a life free of discomfort, are forfeiting any power they might have to shape their own destiny. They assume an essentially passive role and count on outside forces to make them happy. When what they expect doesn’t happen, they feel impotent. By claiming entitlement, they demand to live in the fantasy world of the one-year-old child. No wonder they’re enraged. ― Sandy Hotchkiss

“I found peace of mind when I walked away from small fights not worth fighting. I stopped fighting for people who gossiped about me. I stopped fighting for those who didn’t respect me. I quit worrying about those who wouldn’t value me for being me.”
― Dana Arcuri

Article from Optimal Positivity Quotes from Goodreads

The Story Of My Life

Sadly, there are people who will tell the world that you leave them, and they will say the reason behind the desertion, but they will not admit what they have done to make you decide to walk away from their lives. As they speak the truth that only themselves know about, they are also cleansing their names to wash off the wrongdoings they once made to you that really forced you to abandon the love and friendship you once shared with them.

—Ren Ednalig

hope_inside_heaven__s_tears_by_haamaiah-d5b0t6l 

It’s Okay to want to Live a Slow & Quiet Life.

How often do you question if the life you are currently living is the life that feels most authentic to you?

One of the biggest questions I’ve mulled over the last eight months is, “What kind of life do I really want?”

As I pick through the versions of the lives I’ve lived over the last 15 years, what I keep coming back to is a life founded on simplicity. The life that resonates the most with me was a time I lived on a 50-acre vineyard and farm. My days felt like molasses—a slow, steady, and sweet flow.

It was a life of less in many ways but full of so much more richness because I was away from the busyness of life that is easy to get caught up in. I had time to experience the slow beauty of what was around me, the warm, summer breeze weaving between the apple trees, the distance cries from my flock of sheep, and green grass as it tickled my feet when I walked in it.

Back in January of 2019, I started hearing a quiet voice in the back of my head, “simplify Amanda,” but this idea was counterintuitive to everything buzzing around me. Aren’t we supposed to want it all? Aren’t we supposed to “hustle” and “work hard to play harder?”

After a series of meltdowns brought me to make an appointment with a psychiatrist, I knew that I had to make some changes because the alternative wasn’t something I could afford. My health had come to mean something so different to me after I went through cancer two years prior.

Everything inside of me knew I was living an inauthentic life. One that was out of alignment with who I truly was.

So, against what felt like the responsible thing to do, I had a long conversation with my employer and cut back my hours, as the role was causing me a lot of unnecessary stress that I just didn’t have the bandwidth or mental clarity to handle. We also realized that the role I was in wasn’t one that allowed me to flourish. As he put it, “You’re an artist, Amanda, not a Project Manager.” So, in the interim, as I was “figuring out what’s next” I created a list of tasks that I would be able to focus on as I worked on healing my body and mind and explored some of my own dreams.

My ego-mind told me a lot of stories to feed my constant worry, but my heart and my soul felt a new sense of empowerment as I leveled up my self-worth and leaned into who I really was.

I know this isn’t always possible in every work situation. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to work from home for employers who value well-being; however, at some point, every one of us has to prioritize our mental and physical health. I tend to believe that if there is a will, there is a way, and sometimes you have to ask for what you truly want and deserve.

I removed email and Facebook from my phone. Yup, you read that right. I no longer get emails or Facebook on my phone, and I periodically delete Instagram.

At some point along the road of technological advancements, we decided that being available 24-7 was okay and healthy. I’m here to tell you it absolutely is not. You are allowed to have boundaries. You do not have to be connected all the time. I stand by this through and through, and I’ve felt healthier, happier, and more in alignment ever since.

I’ve also decluttered my closets and house about 10 times, getting rid of any and everything that doesn’t feel like me and my most authentic being. If I wear the same 10 articles of clothing every week, well, so be it. Nobody really cares anyway.

I had to get really present with my goals as a small business owner, as a creative, and an artist. It’s easy to be led to believe that we should want a life full of achievements, including stuff, but what kept coming back to me over and over was this idea of a simple life with just enough to keep me feeling like myself.

So, what if all I want is a simple life? What does that really mean anyway?

I had to let go of the story I created that I had to be some big-time #bosslady or build my empire. What I realized was I don’t actually want to run an empire. I want a life doing work that feeds my soul while paying all my bills and saving for a rainy day.

I want a life that allows me to create my art and write really well.

Something that supports me in paying off my debts.

A life that allows me to live in a way that feels like me, and provide me with the means to help others too.

But mostly, what I truly want is to walk barefoot in the grass with the ones I love, free from the constant pressure to be anything other than me. This involved simplifying my current life significantly.

The greatest change in my life, however, has been my recent decision to leave the Southern California beach town where I’ve lived for the past four and a half years and move to Northern California to live in a yurt on a goat farm.

During that time, I kept hearing the quiet whispers from my soul—it had been leading me the whole time. I feel most like myself on a farm and on land surrounded by tall trees and changing seasons, and I can’t afford to not live in a way that feels most like me any longer.

You see, I don’t think many of us were actually made for the hustle, “work hard to play harder” way of life as is evident with the rise of mental and physical illness in the more recent years. Despite being overly connected to a plethora of resources that are supposed to help us stay healthy, stay skinny, stay sane, and stay happy—all with the click of one of the five thousand apps on our phones—I think we’ve overcomplicated our lives and grown incredibly disconnected.

Simplifying my own life over the last eight months has made me more present to the fact that so many others are feeling called back to this way as well.

So, I’m here to give you permission. It’s okay to not want to build an empire. It’s okay to not want all the things we are told to want in order to be happy. And it’s definitely okay to be content just wanting a simple and slow way of life.

AUTHOR: AMANDA WHITWORTH

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An Open Letter To Those Who Have No Ambition, No Goals, And No Dreams

I get it. I get the feelings of emptiness, the feeling of pointlessness, even the hell of having given it your all and failed.

I get the unhappiness, the self-recrimination, the fear, the frustration, the confusion, and the sick irony that you know you would be amazing if the world made even just a little sense.

Because it’s not that you don’t have ambitions, goals, and dreams; those dreams just haven’t fit into the slots and boxes of old systems and preconceived notions.

You don’t even consider yourself a maverick in any kind of way. What kind of narcissistic fool actively thinks of themselves as a maverick? But, well, the world attaches a lot of silly stuff to ambitions, goals, and dreams.

You’re supposed to be type-A go-getter material! On the job, on the climb, networking, branching and leaning in and synergizing and earning plaudits before eventually winding up on the lecture circuit telling others in your field how they, too, can follow your path.

You’re supposed to reach for the moon, grab it, sell condos on it, then off to Venus for the next round of real estate.

But what if your ambition is simply to live? And by live, I mean experience each moment by being inside each moment, not with an eye for future benefits.

My guess is you’ve heard a variation of the “If he’d only apply himself, he could be a star” speech of concern from family and friends, which assumes that money and stature are your goals.

And because you’re not seeking those out, you’re circling the slow drain of impending failure, yes?

Listen to me now and hear me later: if you’re able to live without being a financial or emotional burden on others, you’re already doing something right. Hell, that counts as a huge win in a world which seems intent on grinding 99% of us into usable dust.

On the outside, it might look like you’ve given up, but on the inside, there’s a full-on war. Your mental forces would put Legolas at the battle of Helms Deep to shame.

And don’t act like you haven’t seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Samwise’s speech to the battered and exhausted Frodo has kept you going many a night:

It’s like in the great stories of Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?

But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.

Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why.

But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.

What looks like no ambition, goals, or dreams to the outside world is a battle to assert and hold on to your place in it.

So don’t give up.

Please don’t give up.

Ambition. Ambition has to come from inside you. It’s not poured into you, it’s not taught by a wise elder. It’s the answer to the question: What are you doing with life itself today?

Only Y-O-U make the effort to bridge the answer to that question outward. If you’ve momentarily forgotten that effort, let me ask this: What do you enjoy? Not just what do you enjoy doing, what do you enjoy, period?

Because whatever that is, it means you want to see more of that in the world. You want people to enjoy it just as much as you.

Somehow, what is inside you has to connect with that increase to make it out into the world.

The cliché is “sharing is caring,” but you do, you freaking care. You want to give people the moon, not for condos, but for the best walk of their lives.

The best ambition in the world is to somehow want to present the world to others in better shape than most find it.

Do you see now that your ambitions are about as awesome as awesome can get? Ennui is temporary; passion, that deep, soul passion, is not.

Some part of you wants to bring about that shared awesomeness. How do we do this? Surefire way: fuse that feeling that you’re gonna burst to an adaptive and flowing plan of action.

That synthesis becomes Goals.

Goals are attainable. Don’t let anyone tell you they aren’t. Don’t buy into the noise of hardship, disappointment, and failure.

The noise is hypnotic; it mires you to stopping points and unfocuses your eyes. The noise is an active deterrent; hardship, disappointment, and failure, however, are not.

There is no way to escape hardship, disappointment, and failure. No running from them. Not for anyone. No matter how well you’ve stretched, how tightly you’ve tied your shoelaces, and how well you know the landscape, you’ll trip.

So how about another cliché? Do you get up?

And after you get up, do you keep going or do you shuffle off to the side so that other runners can get by?

Do you feel foolish for ever having thought you could run?

Doubts. We all have a few. A lot. Guess what? I’m doubting myself right now. I don’t know that I have the tools, know-how, or depth of compassion to reach you… but I won’t stop trying. I haven’t given up on trying.

I suspect neither, have you. People looking at you might think you’ve given up, but they don’t see the wheels turning a thousand miles a minute in your head, trying to figure a way out of a maze of external expectations.

Maybe they’ve forgotten how much it hurts to fall while running, and forgotten that healing takes some time. Maybe they need a reminder that nothing’s over till it’s over. Maybe they need a hundred different comfortable clichés to use as elbow and knee pads next time out.

Maybe you do too.

Or maybe you want to think about who you are, where you want to be, and how to get there. It’s not impossible to do either one of those. You think about it every night. It’s called dreaming. When they say “We have a dream,” it’s just projecting our lives onto a bigger screen.

Basically: Who you gonna be, where you gonna be, and out of all those chances you’ve had to turn back, are you gonna hold on to one and say, “This is now me”?

A Hobbit sitting on the side of the road?

I think not.

That’s not you.

Not when you know there’s magic inside you.

Not when you know you’re a warrior.

Not when you know you have the potential to quest for things barely dreamed of.

Not when you know that if you’re smart enough to rest, you can run any distance ever thought of and that if you’re honest enough to know that you’re hurting, you take the necessary actions to heal.

Samwise didn’t give that speech to Frodo because he had some keen interest in danger and long, arduous journeys. His eyes were on the goal after the danger: home.

“Home” is wherever your sense of possibility and creation waits for you to settle down and dream.

So the question you have to ask yourself is, where do you live?

~Borrowed article from Conscious ReThink

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