In My Words

On choosing love…

It can be difficult at times to know what direction to take in our lives. Something that I have found to be true is that there are always two paths: fear or love. They do not always present to be this cut and dry. Sometimes one path presents as security (fear), while the other presents as a leap of faith (love). One path may seem safe, familiar, reasonable, in line with the status quo while the other will cause you to grow, to stretch, to open your mind, to invest in and believe in yourself in a way that you have never done before. There will always be internal arguments for both. You will hear voices convincing you of the rightness of their argument much like that of a political debate. The rub comes because the voice of fear is so much louder than love. It is louder in our thoughts, louder in our lives, louder in the world while the voice of love whispers to us as if carried by the whispers of the wind, and can often only be heard after we ask for it and get quiet inside and out to be receptive of its wisdom.

I find that it always boils down to love or fear. Sometimes the divide seems so imperceptible by our senses, and often it is almost impossible to detect with our five senses. If one holds fast to the intention of choosing love in all things, the universe will heed our call and conspire in our favor, the way will appear, often one step at a time, brick by brick. When our five senses are not enough to detect the way, we always have the option to become quiet and still and feel our way to the truth. This often takes much intentionality and practice as we are not in the habits of feeling our way through life. Society has taught us that feelings and emotions are weaknesses, frivolities, liabilities, nonsense. So it may take some time and effort to get to a place where we can feel anything in any perceptible way.  You can get quiet and still and decide to suspend judgement and commit to just feel what comes up with an open mind and heart. When you think about one path, notice what feelings come up and then do the same for the other. Again, this can often be difficult to perceive. If your choice is between two jobs or two geographical locations, you may need to not just feel what comes up, but ask probing questions and allow your highest self, yourself unaffected by the trappings of society or ego to begin to answer for you. How would it feel if I let this opportunity pass? How would I feel if I stayed where I am? How would it feel to wake up in that new city? How would I feel by remaining here?

It helps to be willing to notice any resistance that may come up. Resistance is not necessarily the same thing as fear. In fact, resistance often acts as the very compass that will guide us to our happiness, purpose, growth, joy, expansion. All good things lie on the other side of resistance. Our egos act to keep us small and safe so they set out to convince us that staying where we are is safe and will make us happy. While good intentioned, it is not in our best interest. And if we do not turn within and begin to shine a light on the thoughts that we have been listening to for a lifetime, we will in fact believe and follow all of this misguidance. We will be reactionary robots rather than creators of our own realities. Love is what we are all here for, it is our natural function as humans, but we have had it drummed out of us. We have a bad experience with love, and we curse it away for the rest of our lives. Love does not just represent the romantic connection with another, or the sentiment experienced in the familial bond. Love represents all things light: joy, compassion, hope, creativity, kindness, open mindedness, contribution, expansion. While choosing fear represents stagnation, safety, security, hate, close mindedness, waste, violence, etc.

Love is at the very basis of creation while fear is at the very basis of destruction. It is said if we are not growing, then we are dying. It is always a choice. By choosing and leaning into love, our lives will become a testimony and example of love and all of its inherent qualities. By choosing fear, we will be another statistic of a life not fully lived. Outer circumstances do not dictate nor justify our choices in each moment. It can often seem as if there is no choice, but that is only when we do not realize the extent to how powerful we are. We are truly reality makers. We can not only change our worlds, but the entire world. Powerful callings will demand powerful choices. Powerful dreams will demand powerful actions. The point of power is always within our direct control: through our perspective, our thoughts, our choices and our actions. Do not die with your music still in you. Do not believe the lies that you are without power. You, yourself are an entire universe. You possess the power to design that universe, and every increase in the vibration of choices, thoughts and actions that you make will simultaneously affect every other person in the universe. God did not create a bunch of helpless humans, he imbued our spirits with the very power of His Being. It is not something to be bestowed upon us, it is what makes up that which we are. Here and now with where you are and what you have. There is nothing that you cannot be, do, or have. No ceiling to the level of joy, love and impact that you can experience if you continually lean into love.

How it All Began…

 

So by now most of you know what happened with me physically, at least the quick overview of it all. I would like to again take a moment to thank you all for the outpouring of love and support. It means more than I could ever find the words for. When all of this happened, I knew it was bigger than I was. I wanted my suffering to be of service, and in that way, the loss would be lessened, and its value would increase my strength and conviction. What I didn’t want was to lose something so precious to me for no reason. I have always been full of pride, unwilling to show weakness in any way. And as we all know, they say “pride comes before a big fall.”

For some reason, I used to believe that strength meant the ability to take a beating, withstand pain, never getting attached and a million other flawed views. We all come to limiting beliefs in our own unique ways, and I don’t think the why or how are all that important in comparison to just realizing they are limiting and choosing a different way of being. Before getting sick, I was FULL of limiting beliefs, and I mean full of them. Its crazy to look back and reflect on myself before everything. I just want to run back and hug the hell out of my old self. I am full of love and compassion for her, as well as sadness and respect. I thought life had to be a certain way. I thought I had to be a certain way…I was rigid and inflexible. I was scared and lost. I believed I was alone, and that was the biggie. And it wasn’t so much that I believed I was alone. I had tons of people in my life, some really great people actually, it is that I was too proud to share with any of them the extent of what I was going through in my life. I judged myself for struggling, and therefore thought they would too.

We are only as sick as our secrets. Looking back, I can recognize how life was trying to offer me “smaller” opportunities to “break open.” The problem was my pride and my ability to take a beating. I should mention that as you all know, I have been a lifelong runner. It truly is in my blood. What probably few of you know is that I have for a very long time been an emotional runner as well. So when life began to unravel, I would just take the beating because I thought I was so tough, and then when it felt like I couldn’t take another blow, I ran, literally and figuratively. Fitness for me always played a very healthy role for me. I come from families riddled with addiction and depression, and fitness served as my antidote and for that I am truly blessed. However, it also became my hide out. It was where no matter what I was going through, I could go and excel. Rather than having to face the avalanche of my life, I could go there to feel good about things. And while that isn’t all bad, I can see that life was trying to bring me to my knees literally so that I could let go of all of my limitations created by my flawed belief system so that I could be free to truly live out my purpose and potential. I was the one in my way. And for those of you who know me well, you know I can put up one hell of a fight. While a great asset, it has also been a great liability. We are not meant to fight all things all the time. Surrender has its vital place. Peace is preferable to war.

So when everything was falling apart (which I can see was FOR my good), rather than surrender, I resisted and eventually ran. And when I ran, I made a series of fearful decisions coming from my flawed and limited viewpoint and belief system. It became a very dark and rapid downward spiral. In a lot of ways, it looked neat and tidy from the outside looking in. I have always been someone who chooses to have as good of an attitude as possible about things because I believe sometimes that is the only choice we have. However, I have come to realize that I have just chosen to skip all of the uncomfortable and messy emotions. I was recently told that I am a master anesthetizer. You cannot skip life, or hide from emotions or issues. They do not go away. You simply delay and intensify their eventual effects and lessons. And again, this can sound scary, but I believe it is all truly for our highest good. So when everything fell apart, I shut out all of the people who loved and cared for me and ran smack dab into a very uncomfortable lesson wrapped in the guise of a relationship. And while it wasn’t pretty, it has been a great teacher. That is the beauty of all of this…the seemingly worst things that can happen “to” us, if we choose to allow ourselves to see it, can be our greatest teachers and blessings.

Because I had shut everyone out and locked myself in, I had no idea what love should be because I had barred the doors to it. I was in this grand illusion that appeared to be like a funhouse mirror. You know you don’t really look how you appear in the crazy mirrors yet you are standing there looking at the skewed image nonetheless. And if you didn’t know better, you could convince yourself of its reality. I was in a relationship out of fear…which is NEVER a way to start anything or a reason to start it. And I couldn’t find my way out yet again because of fear. And because of my limiting beliefs, I took the mental and emotional abuse that came with it because I clearly believed I deserved it. I now realize that is because I gave myself that same abuse.

“The limit of your self-abuse is the limit you will tolerate from other people.” Don Miguel Ruiz

That is a very big and hard pill to swallow. That is what compelled me to share my rawest and greatest shame with all of you. I was embarrassed for being in the relationship, and even more embarrassed for the abuse that I endured. I definitely don’t want anyone to think that I am making myself the victim here because I am not. We were simply two people in a toxic situation that had lessons to teach and lessons to learn. Ultimately it served my personal evolution. I did not speak the truth about what I wanted or felt, and never stood up for myself. I believed that it was wrong to get angry, wrong to argue back, wrong to yell or walk away, or any sort of thing. I don’t like to consider myself a quitter so I stood there and took it day in and day out. That is what I thought love looked like although looking back, I can see that I knew better, I just couldn’t hear my quiet intuition over the war zone inside and outside of my head. Add a few layers of fear to the equation, and I had simply locked myself up and threw away the key. So that brings me to the point of all of this. And that is the part that still makes my spine chill. And sadly, the hell that I was living in was far worse than the VERY REAL hell that I experienced physically when my body failed me. And let me tell you, I do not believe they are unrelated. Again, being in a relationship of that nature had many very important lessons to teach me. The problem is, my stubborn ass refused to get them. I basically just told life to keep delivering blows, and I would take them on the chin like a champ. How freaking sad is that? Life is not supposed to be painful. It is in the sense of loss, change, etc which still does not have to be painful, but not all emotions we experience in life are supposed to feel like rainbows and puppies. If you are in emotional pain, there is a problem. If you are in spiritual pain, there is a problem. If you are in physical pain, THERE IS A PROBLEM. I was in every kind of pain, and I thought that was normal. How sad is that? It sleighs my heart every time I think about it. But it also convicts and compels me to share these skeletons in case there are others who are going through something similar. Please learn from my mistakes and spare yourself.

To wrap it all up, every time and in every way life attempted to show me where I was limiting myself, where I was going wrong, I just took the hit and ignored the pain, or ran in some way. I wasn’t sticking up for or advocating for myself and poison just continued to be spewed into me without any release. It makes me cry every single time I think about where  I was at mentally and emotionally and what I was going through. It makes me cry that I didn’t see a way out, that I didn’t understand how wrong everything was and lacked the self love and understanding to get myself out. It was like a tempest was brewing and eventually all hell broke loose. And once again, I wholeheartedly believe that this is something that happened for me rather than to me. I am far better for it. And it was like every single thing had been taken from me, and I had to begin anew. It began with a choice, a choice to finally get the lesson, a choice to believe this was happening for me, to believe that good would indeed come out of it, to choose happiness, or something as close to that as I could get from where I was at in any given moment. I had an insanely long road to climb, one I am still climbing. The greatest blessing was that I let go of the illusions and limiting beliefs (though that is a process), and I am choosing to live life in my truth, my strength and with love for myself and others. I am choosing authenticity, love and peace at all times and in all things. I made friends with my heart, something that I made a conscious decision to shut off and out years before even this when too many things occurred and I just couldn’t take it without shutting my emotions off. A decision that ultimately led me here. However now I have come full circle and made   best friends with my heart once again.

After I almost died, and before all of the surgeries, I knew that I had to get out of the situation that I was in, or that I could very well die. My spirit was sick, and I knew that in order to survive everything both physically and otherwise, I had to get myself into a better environment. I did this from a wheelchair, in complete physical, mental and emotional breakdown, but my spirit initiated a spark that got me started in the right direction. While I have always been very physically strong, I believe that was taken away from me for the more important aspects of strength to be forced to develop which ultimately are the types of strength that we can keep regardless of what happens to us physically. I hope that if there are any of you who find themselves in destructive situations that this would help you to find the strength to love yourselves and to do whatever needs to be done. In losing all that I thought I was, I discovered all that I am. There is always a way. God, life, the universe are all here to support you, but they will not force you. It is always ultimately up to us. But you are not alone. Much love, gratitude and peace. Namaste and God Bless. Me.

 

Filling in the blanks…

Those of you who know me, know I live Forward Focused. So often in conversation or when I speak, I will forget to mention that I lost my feet. While it is clearly a significant part of my story, it is just that…part of my story. It doesn’t define me, however I choose to define it. For the purpose of providing context, I will fill in the blanks.

I am a life long athlete, runner primarily and gym rat, fitness freak, wellness warrior secondarily. I once thought it was what I did, I have come to appreciate its who I am. You find those things out, when your world burns to the ground, you sift through the ashes and find what remains. That’s the beauty in “disaster.” I have also been a personal trainer and transformational coach most of my life. I was in school finishing my degree in Kinesiology and Sports Psychology, training for a half marathon, preparing for a fitness competition, and teaching my bootcamps when something just didn’t feel right. I knew I had not injured myself, but I was in extreme pain. One day I was sprinting up the convention center stairs in Irving, TX, and the next, I ended up in the ER with extreme lower back and hip pain. It was March 22, 2012.

In the hospital, they gave me morphine and sent me home believing it to be sciatica. On March 24, less than 48 hours later, I told my family that I was dying. They rushed me back into the ER, and I was almost immediately placed on life support. I was in organ failure, my blood pressure was tanking, my kidneys were failing, I had a heart attack, and they had to place me in a coma and pump me full of vasopressors keeping the blood localized to my brain and vital organs. I was not expected to live, and they told my friends and family to say their goodbyes.

After a week to two weeks in a coma and amidst baited breath, they said I just turned a corner one day. (I will leave out the majority of the details here, but I will share them in my book). When I came to, I recall the look in the eyes of the doctors and nurses. They could only describe it as a miracle. And they credited my heath going in. I was 118 lbs with little to no body fat. I was in peak physical condition. During my time in ICU, my weight ballooned to 160 lbs from fluid retention due to my kidneys shutting down, and I walked out at sub 90 lbs having lost 30 plus pounds of muscle. My body went from a masterpiece to a nightmare. I seized feeling like a human. I had to relearn all functions, and my mind could not grasp the gravity of it all. I had no context for something like this. I remember telling my boot campers that I would see them at boot camp that night. I did end up teaching boot camp again from my wheelchair when I had the strength to be in the world again.

I wanted a quick recovery, but this sprinter with long distance abilities in the physical sense was about to convert to long distance with sprinting abilities in the spiritual sense. It felt as if I had fallen off the edge of the world. Life was going on without me as if I had never existed. Time was flying by and I was baby stepping when stepping at all. During it all, I was too sick to endure diagnostics so they had to make their best guesses of what happened to me. It wasn’t until I went to get my bilateral below the knee amputation surgery that they finally looked at my right hip in depth (where all the pain had been all along). It was essentially destroyed from osteomyelitis, MSSA and septic shock. I had my amputation surgery on Nov 7, 2013 after undergoing limb salvage for nearly 18 months. The writing had been on the wall, but I needed to lay my head on the pillow without any doubts. When you have to take yourself like a lamb to the slaughter to have not only a good percentage of yourself removed, but the very instruments of your entire identity and form of self expression as well as provision, you need to eliminate doubts. In addition, there were many more dynamics at play of which I will speak about in my upcoming book.

After undergoing the amputation surgery, I was ready to hit the ground running, or at least quickly walking. The problem was that the original pain in my hip remained, and I wasn’t willing to consume enough pain meds to dull the pain becoming a prisoner to the prescription so I was a prisoner to the pain instead. If I would walk or rehab at all, I would end up in the fetal position for days. I had to wait to have my right hip replaced because I had to undergo extensive antibiotic therapy. They wanted to make sure they killed any possible latent infection before proceeding. During the summer of 2014, they did the replacement in two steps, two separate surgeries with antibiotics in between. I was what felt like a creature for years. The sprinter in me was screaming inside. The war horse wanted to run, and run FAST. Turns out, she had to crawl, and crawl slowly.

The thing is life rarely gives us what we want, but will always give us what we NEED. It is all happening FOR us even though it feels like it is happening to us. I believe that we each have individual purposes, that we were designed for a purpose and that life supports us in fulfilling them. We also have free choice. It is my greatest desire to live up to my innate potential, above all things. You could say it is my highest value. So life really delivered me a gift. When this all happened, when life as I knew it burned to the ground, I chose to step up. I chose to believe it was all happening for me. I chose to look for the good. I chose to allow it to make me better rather than bitter. I chose to be a victor rather than a victim. I chose to be grateful. I chose to be hopeful. I could have chosen the opposite. Sadly many people do. Though I am proud to be a part of a movement that demonstrates how the very thing that appeared like it would destroy us, actually can liberate us.

We are all living below what we are capable of. That is human nature. We haven’t even scratched the surface of what is possible. When we are called to life altering circumstances, we can choose to answer the call. Grit is a choice. And grace is always found in each individual moment. We never receive strength for the entire journey all at once. We choose it moment by moment. During the journey, there were many moments when I didn’t think I could go on. I wasn’t willing to end my life because that would mean quitting, and like I said, quitting is my greatest fear. However, I did ask God to have mercy on me by taking me out of the game Himself. He didn’t, and I thank Him every day for it. If only I could share with you what a sunset feels like to my soul. I carry deep scars with me, and I’m grateful for it, because I never take for granted the sanctity of life. There was a time when I needed all of the lights off and black out shades on my window. Light was just too great a contrast to the darkness that I felt. Now, I dance in the rays of the sun and salute the One who paints the skies. I have created the Phoenix Perspective to share with you how the fire is our friend, how if we allow it to, it can free us. Obviously the hope is that none of you experience pain and loss this extreme, however in pain, there is no comparison. Pain is pain. Pain and loss are guaranteed in life. We all experience it and we all struggle with it. I just seek to provide some context to it. To allow it to burn a little less hot, and to assign meaning and yes, even beauty to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our future.

We owe it to our children or our future children to overcome, to rise above, to live well. We often do not realize the extent to which our struggles, demons and limitations act as a noose around the neck of our children. It is one thing to decide to give in to our own addictions, weaknesses or fears, it is another when that choice stands to greatly affect our progeny. The learnings of our youth whether direct or indirect have a greater impact on our actions, choices or beliefs than we realize. “Actions speak louder than words” is one of the truest statements. As parents we can say do as I say, not as I do. However, children believe what we do.

My parents did a great job at counseling me about certain issues. Regardless of the state of their marriage, they taught me about what is important in a relationship. I remember my father making me watch marriage videos when I wanted to watch cartoons. They taught me that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real, that I could do or be anything in life. They taught me that I deserved the best in life, that God loves us, the importance of eating healthy. They did an amazing job of telling me what to do. Sadly, they were not always able to overcome these issues for themselves.

All of their right teachings could not save me from the struggles that I would inherit by watching them. Somewhere along the line, I absorbed many of the issues that they have struggled with for life. Even though I know better intellectually, I do not feel that I am worthy or that I deserve the best. No amount of convincing or intellectualizing can convince me otherwise. Although I choose often to act in spite of fear, I often keep myself from doing things that I want in life due to fear. While I tell myself that God loves me, and even know it intellectually, I do not feel it to be true emotionally. I know that failure is a part of success, I still fear it, and often avoid it.

While these things may seem small in and of themselves, all added together, they make for a life less than what we are capable of. Due to all of the counseling my parents gave me, I am at least aware of it and work to change it for myself. That is half the battle. Too often, people are not even aware of the beliefs that they continue to live out unconsciously. If we desire to teach our kids that they are worthy, able, capable, loved, that there is nothing to fear, that they are prosperous, smart, beautiful, etc, you must live that for yourself. If you want your kids to have the courage to fly, you must fly yourself. If you want your children to be surrounded with love, you must treat yourself with love and surround yourself with those who love you. If you want them to be fearless, you have to be willing to stare fear down. It is simply not enough to tell them. It is no different in giving yourself oxygen on a plane before you give it to your children. You cannot effectively teach what you don’t have for yourself. Our children deserve the best version of ourselves.

Surrender

I have come to see that my whole life has been about me. I go to the Lord with petitions of my heart. I come from a home where the dysfunction of others outshined any hopes and aspirations of my own. I did not know how to leave the dysfunction behind and seek out a life of my own. Instead, I always hoped the Lord would swoop in and save the day, delivering all of my unrequited hopes and dreams.

When the bomb dropped in my life, it destroyed every shred of a dream I once had. I know that no matter what, I am strong enough to “rise from the ashes…” The truth is, I don’t feel like I should have to. I feel like I deserve a break. But that is all about me. In reality, nothing is promised to any of us. I was blessed with the gift of life twice. What I do with that gift is mostly up to me. Rather than thinking about what I feel I deserve, I need to look to my Father. I owe everything to Him. For the gift of life, I owe it to Him to live well.

I feel the closest to wounded soldiers. However, they were living with the knowledge of the risks. Their sense of duty to God and country outweighed their fear of the risks. I have always thought scars to be badges of honor to show a life of taking risks, of working hard, of living well. Their injuries are in essence badges of honor. It feels like any losses they may have mean something…

I went from running coliseum stairs to a hospital bed to a wheelchair. While the wheelchair will not be forever, the scars and the trauma will be. I can only pray that I use it to make me rather than to break me. I pray that I use it to define my perspective. While I may not be serving my country,  I can serve my God and mankind. I pray that my life will make a difference and that rather than viewing things in terms of what I feel I want or need, that I will live to matter, to serve. I have petitioned to God for what I want. It is time to ask Him what He wants from me. He spared my life. It is a very real feeling to lay down and imagine what dead feels like…I had a glimpse of that, and it was more than enough.

It is my desire that we all learn to live well. That we not only live for ourselves in search of our desires,  but that we live in service of God and mankind. And that in the process we extract every ounce of joy available. Please stop wasting time sweating the small stuff. I promise you, from this perspective, life is far too short and precious. And cherish those who stand by you, and release with wellwishes those who walk away for they are blessing you with their departure. May God bless and keep you and yours.

The Paradox of Vulnerability

“…and that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength.” Audre Lorde

This quote drives me crazy as I have yet to tap into the ways in which vulnerability has made me strong.

There were many times in my life that I felt that I was more vulnerable than I would prefer. In hindsight, the vulnerability was in my mind, and most of it was due to choices that I had made. I am currently very vulnerable, and not something that I did to myself. But this isn’t about me…

God says when we clothe another, feed another, visit another in jail or in hospitals, administer to the least of His, we are doing it unto Him. And if we do it begrudgingly, it is almost worse than not doing it. Without having ever been in a truly vulnerable position, it is difficult to understand what it feels like. I have never liked allowing others to do for me because it has often been thrown in my face. Or I would put my needs out there only to have them ignored or denied. It is sad that this is the attitude we take with each other. Everything that we have and what we are is a gift from God to begin with…our time, our talents, our money, our means. So to do for one another while keeping record, throwing in each other’s faces, or doing it begrudgingly cancels out any goodwill we may have created.

“If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” J.K Rowling
“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely  no good.”  Samuel Johnson

“It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.” Hubert H. Humphrey

How we treat those who are truly vulnerable says much about ourselves. One could argue that is the reason we are here, to administer to one another, to make the plight of others a little easier. A dear friend of mine reminded me that helping others is a gift and a privilege for those who are helping. We could all benefit to stop and think before extending our hand to another. The greatest gift is to help in a way which allows the one receiving help to maintain their dignity. You can do this by refraining from rubbing it in someone’s face, not keeping score, helping before being asked (as most people hate to ask for help), going the extra mile…and to view the other party as who they are, not what circumstance they may be in.

Something that I have been guilty of is hesitating, or assuming that the person is surrounded by love, attention, help, encouragement or prayer. I missed out on the blessing of being a blessing. We see a homeless person on the street and assume that an army of people after us will be the blessing to this person. Maybe God had intended for us to be this blessing for this person. What if they needed to know someone saw them, cared for and valued them, what if we were their lifeline? Not only did we fail to impact their life, but we failed to have our life impacted.

This struggle that I have been through has been far darker than I could ever have imagined. I in no way am sharing this for sympathy, only to provide an example of what others may be going through, to challenge you to look for opportunities to be there for each other. You would think when you go through something so horrific that you would be met with compassion, love, understanding and encouragement. While I have at times received an outpouring of these things from so many via facebook and texts, calls, etc, there has for the most part been the opposite.

In a few cases, even my closest of friends have walked away because they did not feel I had given them enough rather than having compassion that I did not have anything to give. I have often gone without eating when I was alone because I did not have the strength or energy to cook for myself, or the means to fill the fridge, I have hurt myself trying to clean the house in a wheelchair. I have laid face down in my bed crying my eyes out doing everything I could to convince myself that this too shall pass. I have known the deepest level of loneliness…one where you cry out the hollowest, saddest sound that you do not even recognize it as your own. Again, I do not share this for sympathy. It is very difficult to show myself in such a vulnerable light, but I have hope that doing so will help others in similar situations to know they are not alone, or to provoke others to reach out and show up for each other. I would NEVER do anything to harm myself, but I have known that kind of loneliness, helplessness, hopelessness and desperation, and it scares me for those who maybe do not have the strength, faith or self love that I do.

Often it is the strongest who need help the most because they will show a brave face, and have the hardest time reaching out for help. It strengthens us to be a strength to another. And please do not pass the buck expecting others to come along…for all you know, you may be the last in line.

Poetically Powerless

One of my greatest downfalls in life is my need to control.  Growing up in the midst of chaos, it was the mechanism that I used to cope, and I have continued clinging to it throughout my journey.  When I do so, I am tempted to think that I am the most powerful force in my life.  While in many ways empowering, this can become a scary feeling when facing seemingly impossible and insurmountable circumstances.  It is then that I remember that God, or whatever you choose to identify with, is there waiting for me to quit swimming upstream, and to relinquish the reins.

It is wisdom to do all that you can to control your own circumstances, but insanity to try to control the actions of others, or the outcomes of our actions. Choose instead to be powerfully powerless. Do all that you can, and release the rest.  Life is meant to be enjoyed, not managed or manipulated. The attempt to control steals us of that enjoyment. Do what you can, say a prayer, and let it go with a smile…and then let it be…

Words as tears….

These words are my tears. Their purpose is not pity, but to purge that which does not belong or serve my purpose and direction. I do not have time for tears as I am steady in pursuit of something greater than the place which I currently stand. My circumstances do not define me, but deliver me to that which God has spoken into my heart. I travel light for that is the only way to truly arrive at such a destination. I keep that which can be used further along my path, toss that which cannot, and cherish my two most prized posessions. My photos and my words. My pictures are snapshots of moments which I will never forget and that enriched me in ways difficult to articulate, yet which can be understood in the moment that I view them. It takes me back to the smell, the feeling, the hope, the fear, the joy, the tear…moments which have carried, and often pushed me to where I am today, and more importantly to where I am headed. I may not be able to carry each relationship with me, but the moments, the essence of each moment, and the affect they had on me, live among my photos. My journal is littered with words…my words, your words…those which were written, and those which were spoken. I remember every syllable of hope, of encouragement, of belief, faith, and friendship, and I forgive those which sought destruction.  I remember your words when you believed in me although I did not. I remember the words of the moments that I would never choose to relive, and those which I would give anything to experience once more. I remember the look in the eyes of the deliverer, and the feeling of the receiver. My words are my tears, and they are my power. They speak for me when I cannot otherwise speak. They cleanse that which pains, and empower that which stands ready to be empowered. When there is nothing else for me to do, I let my fingers type, or the pen write, and I am transformed to a place better than where I currently stand, from where I am or have been to where I am going. Please accept these words as my tears.

The wall

“Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” William Jennings Bryan

In life, there are two types of people…

Those who walk up to a wall, believing it to mean stop, finding it to be too difficult to climb, lacking the desire to know or experience what is on the other side. Turning right back around to where they came from, happy in their comfortability, yet lacking. Or they take a detour, a seemingly easier way searching for that something yet unwilling to be uncomfortable in pursuit of what drives them.

Then there are the dreamers, whose dreams are more than thoughts in the clouds…to them it is a vision, a forecast of what the future holds if they put action behind those dreams, leading them to the fulfillment of all they hope and desire.

What makes us think we deserve greatness by accident, by lying in bed, watching daytime soaps? It happens, but what value is there in that? Quick fixes were not meant to last for there is no lasting change in us. A miracle pill does not afford us the blessing of growth, it steals our progression. Those of us who enjoy greatness, happiness, excellence as the fruits of our labour, find the deepest enjoyment. For in the process we are changed. It is the blood, sweat and tears that we remember, more than the moments of fame, the fleeting celebration. When we sit back and ponder, it is the miles traversed, the sleepless rest, the late nights, early mornings, tears cried, prayers uttered, the determination to face our fears, our limits, and to push, to climb the wall, to push it down. It is those moments when we are faced with deep fear, exhaustion, the belief that we can’t go on, can’t do or try anymore, but do anyway…that is the moment when we change ourselves, our lives, our reality, our future, our destiny.

Get up!

“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.”
Gandhi

I have a deep relationship with fear. Growing up, I feared anything and everything…oftentimes, I feared myself. On deeper levels, I had a fear of success as well as failure. Talk about damned if I do, damned if I don’t. As many of us discover as we set out to navigate life, we are knocked down…again….then again….then again….sometimes so many times that we forget we can stand. There is no way to prepare oneself for such events…other than to do things which we think we cannot do and committ to always getting up. We get fired…get up. We get diagnosed with an illness…get up. We gain a little or a lot of weight…get up. We get our heart broken…get up. We suffer the loss of loved ones…get up. We lose our way…get up…forget who we are…get up. You must get up. It is not triumph to get up when it is easy…that is practice. It is getting up when we are certain that we cannot, when we believe it to  be impossible. Triumph is refusing to be knocked out or defeated, and then rising against all odds.

I am in the fitness industry. It is as much a part of me as my DNA. Most of my life I was fit without perceived effort. I had always run, always played sports, always gone to the gym…I didn’t really know life without it. There came a time when I was knocked down in every area of my life, and fitness seemed like just another demand on me…something else to cause me pain. Then the weight became emotionally and mentally paralyzing. It had never been a part of my reality, I didn’t know where to begin…I knew intellectually how to deal with it, but I didn’t know mentally and emotionally. That struggle revealed a lot to me about fear and the role it plays in our health and fitness directly. We as humans probably fear change the most. Even more than the fear of unknown in terms of change…is the fear of who we have to become, what we have to do to create a positive change in our lives. We would rather life happen to us and deal with the circumstances than to create change for ourselves.  However, coming face to face with that dark place within us, that place that not only fears whether we can do the task, but the fear of living up to who we want to be in order to experience what could be…we would rather stay in the dysfunction, shy away from the task. We make it take far longer than it needed to because we avoid it, shy away, make excuses. All we need to do is make peace with our present reality, take the first step forward again and again…and committ to ourselves to get up no matter what tries to knock us down. It empowers us when we step up to the plate. Step up and then get up!

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.
H. P. Lovecraft