A Note on Getting Sh*t Done

Hi from my bedroom, and a happily exhausted me.

I’ve changed how I perceive errands and chores, and the mental shift has made my life experience so much more pleasant.

For example, I say to myself, “I get to go workout today – yay!” This feels so much better than, “Ugh, I have to go workout today.” Simply changing how I interpret my daily tasks has made me feel like a cute, well-dressed go-getter and not like a stressed-out, always rushed, millenial.

The only downside (and is it really a downside?) is that I must let go of my old identity as somewhat of a lazy lady. I preferred to sleep in past 9 a.m. because I loathed my chores. Now that I see my chores as special tasks that make my life exactly the dream I want to live, it is easier for me to bounce out of bed. I feel exhilarated at the thought of knowing that I can achieve two or three relevant tasks with today’s sunlight.

It helps me personally to have a reasonable to-do list, which makes the perfectionist in me think, “But what will I do to feel worthy?” I have to remind myself that my best is enough, and to simply give each day the best that I am capable of giving. Surprisingly, my best gets a lot done, without the stress of being a perfectionist. For example,, my road rage has definitely improved, and anyone who lives with rush-hour traffic knows this is a life improvement for sure.

Once I finish my three main chores of the day, usually by 12 p.m., I am ready to wind down my day with some yoga and a meal. I feel so grateful to know that anything I didn’t accomplish today I can surely do tomorrow,  because I know I am capable of getting things done, and I feel thankful for the privilege of getting my sh*t done.

 

Pearl

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Burgess Falls

My faith

Is a gorge,

Gravitational.

Water falls,

Rushes,

Down the path of least resistance.

I am infinite,

Like a waterfall.

We exist together,

Beautifully,

Harmoniously.

The act of pulling water

Into me,

And never filling up.

Delicious life.

In Defense of Bad Days

I had a hard day yesterday, and I can’t blame other people for my cloudy disposition. I acknowledge that certain moments triggered my feelings of anxiety and fear, but the feelings themselves were my own. The frustrating thing about self awareness is taking responsibility for all aspects of myself. Self accountability is the key to manifesting the life I want, but sometimes awareness, especially on hard days, feels torturous.

I make my hard days even worse by being overly critical of myself when I am experiencing rough times. When I am struggling with my anxiety, my overthinking ways, living in the past (even if it’s one second in the past) or the future (attempting to exert control over a non-existent future, fantasizing), I know I should still be gentle and compassionate, but I feel irritated with myself. “I know better,” I think to myself harshly, “than to overthink and feel anxiety!” I know I am capable of feeling those uber-bright, super-positive vibes, so when I can’t find the bright side, I feel like a failure. I feel wrong and ashamed of my current state of anxiety, of overthinking when there’s nothing the matter, and I bring myself into an even lower state.

Instead of being hard on myself for having a tough day, I want to start saying, “Well, this is where I am today, and I love myself.”

‘When shit hit the fan, is you still a fan?’ – Kendrick Lamar, “Mortal Man,” To Pimp a Butterfly 

Codependency is a need to control. I’m facing my codependency toward other people, but yesterday I realized I also need to address my codependency, my obsession with control, toward myself. I need to accept myself in all my moods, not just the good ones, and when (not if) I find myself in a negative mindset, I must allow myself to exist without judgement and simply let the feeling pass through me, like a gust of wind.

I am struggling to release the false concept that if I can control myself, then I should be able to be in a great mood all the time. But the reality is, I can’t – there are some days where I just feel extra tense and I find it more difficult to relax my mind, and that’s okay. I’ve realized that being a full human being means accepting bad moods just as easily and thankfully as good moods.

I’m still having a hard time making sense of this, because a part of me still feels that I can and should simply control myself into being happy, all the time. But that idea leads to low self-worth on my part, because as a human, I do have bad days. When I rag on myself and try to manipulate myself away from feeling *all* my feelings, telling myself to be happy so that I can be worthy of life and love; arguing with my higher power to prove to me that I am still loved, I get sucked into a looping vortex of self-hatred.

I must consciously pull my brain away from the fear that says, “I knew it – good things aren’t meant for me – I am weak, failed, shameful. I should be able to control my mood into the state of positivity that I was in just yesterday, but I can’t, which confirms that I do have something to worry about, that I do need to feel concern.” It’s a deeply insidious thought, surely meant to protect me in some way, but it is in fact woefully unproductive and is a form of self-sabotage.

The Four Agreements, an amazing book by don Miguel Ruiz, states that I should do my best every day. Duh, right? But the critical part, at least for me, is that my best changes from day to day. Each day is unique, so my best on Monday will look a little different and feel a little different than my best on Friday. I remind myself of this concept when I am having hard days, because my best may not bring me to a point of elation as it does on good days; no, on bad days, my best may just be keeping myself steady.

I choose to be thankful for the rough, challenging times like I experienced yesterday. I am thankful for the tough days in the same way that I am thankful for the good days, and I choose to see them all as a part of the Yin and Yang of my life. Good days are not a reward for being perfect, and bad days are not a punishment for being not good enough. I choose to simply accept the happiness, and the sadness, as they come to pass, and release them with appreciation back into the Universe. I make this choice out of a deep trust in my own capabilities and in my higher power.

Accepting tricky days for what they are, without negative self judgement, allows me to stride into this day free from self-hatred and self-doubt, and instead be open with hope, and freedom to delight in Sunrise.

If a Tree Falls…

I used to believe

Pics or it didn’t happen.

If no one hears it,

That tree didn’t fall.

Now I see

Myself.

I witness.

Myself.

At first it felt lonely,

My own eyes not being enough.

But as my self love grew,

So did my ability to exist,

Unfiltered.

Unwatched.

Unseen.

I affirm,

I am enough.

Every time I see

Myself.

Codependency, Self-Sabotage, and Self-Worth

 

I’ve made progress in my recovery from codependency, but lately, I’ve also witnessed the regression, the moving backwards, the self-defeat and the self-sabotage that is erasing the progress of my recovery. I am writing this piece to address the ways in which I sabotage my recovery, and address the low self-esteem that makes self-sabotage a bad habit in my life.

I’m at a point in my recovery where self-sabotage is my greatest obstacle from progressing further. I am tempted to take a big step backward, back to my comfort zone of painful codependency and drug addiction – back to where I was comfortable. I’ve been thinking about what triggers my desire to bring myself backwards, and why I want to halt my own progress.

Will Williams writes, “Lack of belief in ourselves — the feeling that we are unworthy, or destined to fail — often goes hand in hand with self-sabotage, and this link can be hard to break. ”

I find that it is my own lack of self esteem that makes it very difficult for me to progress farther along in my recovery. I find it is easier to shrink back into self-defeating lifestyle choices because I am used to it.

I feel sad to realize this about myself, but I am determined to have compassion for myself and my struggle. I am able to become aware and to accept the fact that I have low self-esteem. Improving myself is really hard, partly because I have trouble believing that I am even worth the effort it takes to improve.

Self-sabotage is basically a cycle of bullshit. But, on the bright side, regressing in my recovery has me asking thought-provoking questions, questions that are leading to tough and complex answers. Do I really want to recover? Do I really want to be happy? Why do I act actively block myself from getting to my goals?

Answering these questions has shown me that I am person who has low self esteem. Good things, like recovery, trigger my deep sense of worthlessness. I self- sabotage to avoid feeling good things at all. It’s sad to admit, but I have a comfort zone of feeling shitty. I can accept that low self-esteem and worthlessness has been my state of normalcy, and changing to a more positive, active mindset is something I have to accept as something that I *do* deserve. There is a part of me that believes I am unworthy, dear reader.

For a person with low self-esteem, moving forward in recovery is triggering. “This feeling of confidence isn’t meant for me!” I tell myself, feeling around for that familiar pit of sadness and loneliness that has been my safety blanket for the past fifteen years. I spent my childhood becoming tolerant to a certain level of terror, and now as I recover, I miss the familiarity of being in a state of high emotional tension. And as I recover, I begin to realize that the sadness and despair are nowhere to be found. Where is my safety blanket of anxiety? Where is my comfort zone of emotional pain?

I logically know I am worthy of a good life, but unfortunately I have a body and a brain that are programmed against self-actualization and self-fulfillment. I have a system that is more comfortable running on high anxiety and low self-esteem, versus high self-confidence and low, manageable anxiety.

And this is when the self-sabotage begins. This is when I reach for drugs again. This is when I bring myself lower, bring myself back to the comfortable shit-hole feeling that feels so much more familiar than the feeling of confidence.

Healing my low self-esteem feels unsafe and scary. If I climb up the mountain of confidence, there’s a chance I may fall, that I may get hurt and maybe even die. If I stay at the bottom, although I may be sad and lonely, at least I can control the fact that I am already low as can be.

The fact is I’m at the point where I am doing well, and there is a chance that I can succeed and even win my goal! This is the point where I self-sabotage.

There are three main reasons that I self-sabotage:

1. I self-sabotage now because my family of origin devalued my own happiness, so I internalized that I am not worthy of happiness. When I become aware that I am successfully recovering, doing good things for myself, and feeling happy and confident in my capabilities- something can’t be right! Time to self sabotage. I self-sabotage because I am programmed to believe that my happiness is incompatible with my life. I self-sabotage because I internalized the belief that my own needs and wants are “worth less.”

2. I self-sabotage because I hold a false belief that my happiness is only valid if I have external validation. Sure, I am doing great for myself, making decisions and choosing positively – but what does it matter if no one is there to see it, to confirm it? If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it even make a sound? Time to self-sabotage: time to find a romantic partner to witness my success, and give me permission to be happy! Getting into a relationship so that someone else can validate my growth is a form of self-sabotage, because once in a codependent relationship, all my attention goes to finding meaning in the other person’s approval.

3. I self-sabotage because achieving my goal means that I have a responsibility to maintain a level of success, and even to reach a newer goal. I feel afraid of the future, which is out of my control, so as I find myself making progress toward a specific goal, I self-sabotage in order to avoid ever reaching it. If I stop myself from achieving my goal, I never have to bear the responsibility of maintaining a level of success, and I never have to set newer goals.

Writing this out, I see that I am my own worst enemy. And I feel slightly hopeless that I can ever overcome my childhood programming. It feels like a very uphill battle. And it is, dear reader, it is an uphill battle. And not you, nor a partner nor a friend, can do this work for me. Recovery is something that I have to face alone, terrifyingly alone.  I am solely responsible for addressing my self-sabotaging tendencies.

The great thing is that I know I am worth it; I truly believe I am worth it. I do deserve recovery. I do deserve to feel fulfilled and happy. I deserve to be free and to work toward my dreams. I deserve to go to sleep sober and wake up and stay sober all day, and go to sleep sober again.

I hope to get through this day sober. I hope to build my confidence and release my desire to self-sabotage throughout this Gemini Moon cycle. I know that if I take it one day at a time, one moment at a time, I can reach the full Moon stronger and freer and more full of self-love than I am at this moment. I am worth it.

Banish Bad Habits with the Waning Moon

I intend to banish that which no longer serves me during this waning moon. As a menstruating person, I take extra care to notice the way in which the moon’s phases mirror the monthly tides of my own system. Like the moon, I grow to full during ovulation, and wane back to darkness as I descend into my period. This month, the waning moon is going dark just as my monthly cycle draws to a close, signaling an end and also a new beginning.

Banishing work is necessary, negative work. It is destructive willpower. It is the dark part of the Yin/Yang symbol. Banishing means creating new balance. It is a conscious shedding. Consequently, the negative work of elimination makes way for new growth and new flow. I focus on accepting the work that I did over the past thirty days – the ups and downs, the lessons and successes that were all part of this past month. Chipped off and roughed down, there were parts that caused imbalances in my life, and now, during the waning moon, I consciously banish those things.

Banishment work is not glamorous, in my experience. As puking up bile or scrubbing grime off the bathtub, the waning moon is a time to get in awkward poses in order to do necessary work. It’s time to scrub in the corners of the room, releasing the grit.

I love how banishment work leaves me feeling lighter, more buoyant and more positive. I feel positively about acknowledging dead things, and choosing to turn them to compost.

I imagine myself a dark, deadly, destructive Queen during these times. I am Maleficent; I overlook the Kingdom and I fearlessly see that certain thought patterns are outworn, and I sentence them to death. Off with their heads!

There is a certain amount of PTSD that comes from living as a woman in a violently patriarchal society – a society that scorns women’s power and does much to annihilate the confidence and bravery that women need in order to act powerfully in our lives. That being said, I have feared my own power and the promise of punishment that comes from using said power in service purely of my cunt self, and no one else. But I am brave in the face of fear. I even inspire fear in those things that no longer serve me – I am capable of destruction and demolition. I am Hecate, Goddess of Death and the Crossroads.

I feel it is critical to do this banishment work in a just, and loving way. Love. I banish for love for myself, for the love of my needs and wants and visions, for the love of God and their lighted Way, for the love of humanity and love of spending a lifetime on this earth. Love. In love, I say goodbye to that which does not serve. Thus, I feel things leaving me peacefully to die; its lessons have been learned. I lay a part of me to rest. RIP.

I am alive to carry on without the past versions of myself – me, as I was. I say goodbye to that version of myself. She was warm, spirited, and she did the best she could to bring herself to happiness. She worried very often and lived in a state of constant fear. She coped with her pain through drugs and illusions of control. She avoided her true feelings. She feared being strong. She was loved by me and by God. She is gone now, because I lay her to rest.

Here are a few things that are of no use to me:

  1. I banish thoughts of what others think about me or feel about me. This month I had to make choices, and I did so with recovery from codependency in mind. I acknowledged that this life is my own, solely, and I gave my self permission to act based on my own wishes. I risked feeling like a “bad” person, and I risked upsetting people that I care about, but I did make choices based on my own visions of my life, regardless. I feel proud of my decisions and I feel thankful that things actually turned out fine – the sky did not fall. Other people were fully capable of managing their own feelings and lives, and I was indeed free to live my own life the way I wanted. With all this said, I consciously banish the old and familiar habit of constantly considering other people’s needs and wants. I banish the desire to control the feelings of others around me. Rather, I take control only of my own needs and give other people the dignity of taking care of theirs. The habit of thinking about other people’s thoughts has *never* served me, and I wasted much time living with that bad habit. Today I joyously release the habit of thinking about other people’s thoughts.
  2. I banish negative thoughts about other people. I recognize that I diminish my life experience when I allow other people, whom I cannot and could never and will never control, to have influence over my feelings. For example, I often feel irritated when people make loud movements in public spaces (like the library where I am sitting now). But I see that holding on to irritation and focusing on the feeling of annoyance is totally unhelpful – I cannot control how other people move their bodies, for goodness sake! The Serenity Prayer comes into play often: I ask for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. I cannot change the fact that I do not control other people, and though my feelings of irritation are valid and real, I choose to banish thinking negatively about those around me. I take responsibility for my own feelings and behaviors, and I know that if I release negative thoughts about those around me who may or may not cause me to feel irritated, I improve my experience of day to day life.
  3. I banish the need to control the present moment. I allow things to just be. I allow moments to come and go in perfect timing. I release the compulsive need to control each moment. I realize that some moments are boring, some moments are funny, some moments are just moments that require no explanation or interpretation. In releasing the need to control each moment of my existence, I feel my body relaxing. Instead of feeling tense, I feel like I’m floating down a stream in an inner tube on a bright summer day. I release the need to control this moment, because I never was able to control it anyway, and clinging to the desire for control hinders my ability to relax and enjoy this beautiful, messy life.

Much will be abandoned, much will be left to non-existence. The next thirty days is full of untold stories and unfelt experiences. There will be much to learn and new information to process, which is why it is important to make room now.  I separate the wheat from the chaff.

This process of banishment is not linear, and it will progress fully over the next days and month. I will tend to my ghosts. This time of waning moon and banishment work is worthy of time, attention, and respect. I take my time to say goodbye.

Addicted to Worry and Illusions of Control

I’ve been doing *the most* lately. And it’s been great, it’s been lovely, it’s been scary, it’s been empowering. The trend has been positive, overall. So why is it so hard for me to stay in a state of joyfulness? Why is it so easy – comfortable, even – for me to provoke my mind into a state of worry and anxiety?

I think I’m addicted to worrying. As a codependent in recovery, I accept that I struggle to maintain illusions of control, when the truth is that I am in control of so very, very little. The things I’m in control of start and end with myself: my thoughts, my words, my behavior, and my actions. That means that I have to take responsibility for the fact that when I find myself drifting into a thoughtful space of happiness, watching the raindrops fall against the Central Public Library windows, I tend to re-focus my thoughts on things that make me feel scared and worried.

I’m realizing that I’m more comfortable being stressed out than I am being relaxed. In the words of Amy Winehouse, what kind of fuckery is this?

I wrote about it in my journal, the way I always do when something is bugging the crap out of me, and I came to the conclusion that I am struggling to accept my lack of control. I have this flawed belief that if I find something to worry about, some mental scab to pick at, that I am in control of things. Wrong! It sucks to realize this about myself – that I sabotage the rare but increasingly frequent moments of real happiness and centered joy by thinking about really random, unrelated things that bring me back to a place of worry.

Anhedonia is a word that means “reduced ability to experience pleasure.” I learned about anhedonia in Jaron Lanier’s book Ten Arguments to Delete Your Social Media Accounts Right Now (Does wordpress count as social media? Uh, I’ll deal with that later.)

It refers to the overall loss of joy that addicts feel when they are in the cycle of addiction.  Essentially, the addict returns to a source of pain in order to find pleasure through the addictive substance. It’s a vicious cycle that from the outside does not add up, but it make sense as to why addicts stay addicted to something that literally brings them more unhappiness than happiness, overall.

In my case, being addicted to worry means that as I try to recover from my cycle of codependency, the anhedonia (reduced ability to experience pleasure) is hella prevalent. Sitting here watching the rain, I feel joy in the beauty of nature, and I feel pleasure in the mere fact of being alive. I see a person on the rooftop of the building across the street, and he looks so tiny up there, staring at the same rainstorm, and I feel pleasure in this shared experience.

I aim to be able to experience these simple, private moments of pleasure for longer periods of time and with greater ease. My codependency brain knocks on the door of my pleasure and says, “Hey, remember this worry that you have? I got it right here for you – don’t forget, or something bad might happen!” It’s just control patterns taking different forms. As I improve my self and my life, my addictions to control (rather, the illusion of control) are feeling – how should I put it – left out. Pretending that I am in control of so much has become so normal, that when I try to live in a less controlling and more trusting manner, the old control patterns ratchet up to Level Ten Anxiety.

How dare I feel joy when there is so much I could pretend to have control over through worrying and fretting? Who am I to experience a moment’s peace when there are a list of things that codependency brain has for me to feel anxious about?

It’s sad, really, but I’m glad to at least be aware of these self-sabotaging tendencies. At least now I can try to combat them, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to go full minutes, and then full hours, maybe even full days in a state of trust.

I want to emphasize that I know worry and anxiety will always find me, and that’s okay. But feeling worried is just that – a feeling. And feelings are transient, like the wind. I want to be mentally strong enough to let feelings of worry wash over me, and wash away, leaving me at peace to enjoy each day.

Rewiring My Brain: Adventures in Neuroplasticity

It’s been almost a month since my first trip to New York City, that dream-scape city of my dreams. I sat in a bookstore called Shakespeare’s and wrote about rewiring my brain the way an explorer navigates a new trail. You see, I realized that I cannot continue to follow the same worn-out mental paths and expect to find a new, fulfilling oasis. No, the same path will lead to the same, stale, worn-out places in my mind.

I am brave enough to admit to myself that I’ve gone as far as I can go using certain routes.  But if I am used to following old familiar paths, day after day, how the hell do I find a new path?

adventure_2

That’s when I realized, I have to learn to forge new mental pathways. This is the concept of neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to change over time. The truth is that my brain gets stuck in certain neural pathways that keep me reliving the same tired ways of existing, like that episode of Black Mirror (no, that other episode of Black Mirror.) But neural plasticity shows me that I have the opportunity (the responsibility, really) to re-make the pathways in my brain in order to achieve a better quality of existence.

 

adventure_

I’ve been an adventurer lately, wandering down new neural pathways, creating them bit by bit. It helps me to change my brain patterns by imagining that I’m a lone explorer, charting new territory.  Here are six steps that I’ve noted to help me take advantage of my brain’s ability to adapt.

Step 1. Accept that the current pathway is flawed, and will not get me where I need to go. I find that this is the hardest step for my fragile human ego, because it requires me to do something that tends to make me feel really crappy: it requires me to admit that I was wrong.

Step 2. Choose to turn off the worn, familiar path. This step is tricky because the original (flawed) path seems like the only path, and this is kind of true, because in all reality the new path does not exist (yet). Note: this step is only doable after Step 1 is fully achieved. I don’t recommend jumping past Step 1 without deep introspection and self-reflection, because otherwise I find myself lost, and I return to the old path with a vengeance.

Step 3. Pause. Use intuition. Pray. Meditate. Feel past the fear of leaving the flawed path – recognizing that this discomfort is part and parcel of taking an unfamiliar turn – and listen for the new, better directions. Besides the constant discomfort of the unfamiliar, does this new path feel okay? Does it feel better, does it feel sustainable?

thinking_02

Step 4. Keep hacking at the dense growth of what will eventually be the new path. Use the machete of the mind to hack at the bushes and brambles, thus forming a fresh route. The first, second, third attempts at Step 4 feel damn near impossible, but not quite impossible. Remember to rest. Go slow. Sleep. Eat. Try again later. It doesn’t have to look neat or feel familiar or even good. Remember that, and if it’s too hard to remember, go back to Step 1.

Step 5. Place guideposts along the new path. Place signs saying “Road Closed” and “Turn Back” and “Wrong Way” on the old, flawed path. Place signs saying “This Way” and “Keep Going” on the new, unearthed path.

Step 6. Trace the new path as often as possible. Soon it becomes the familiar path, and eventually, the only path. Simultaneously, allow the flawed path to become overgrown and forgotten.

I believe that by following these steps, I can rewire my brain toward positive, life-altering, world-altering change. Rumi_quote

What the Torta Kid Taught Me

I remember seeing the Vine of the little boy who opened the fridge to realize that someone ate his torta (sandwich). I posted the video below, if you haven’t already seen it. The expression of pure despair in the boy’s voice struck a cord with me, because it is the sound of losing something that he could never, ever get back.

I found the video personally horrifying because I related his emotions about a sandwich to my emotions about my life. I was, and am, familiar with that feeling of “holy shit, someone came in and snatched up something that I set aside for myself!” Some call it FOMO, or fear-of-missing out. Some call it plain old jealousy. I call it seeing red and feeling sick at some great, cosmic injustice. The torta kid hit me in my feel zone because when I saw the video, I realized that is exactly how it feels to watch other people follow their dreams and think, “that could have been me; that should have been me.”

I empathized with the torta kid because I felt unable to follow my dreams of being a writer, and it seemed like the feeling of “someone ate my sandwich” was inevitable. You see, I thought it was only a matter of time before I was looking back on my twenties and screaming not at someone else, but at myself, for not eating the sandwich of life when I had the chance.

Often times it is no one in particular, but society in general, telling me that I need a certain level of income stability, or health insurance, or retirement savings, or else. It’s a boogeyman mentality, and I was a slave to it for the better part of my young adulthood. I chased my college degree, and then I chased a monogamous relationship, and then I chased a steady office job. And all the time I was chasing those things (things that certainly were not my dream of being a writer,) I was running, running from some imaginary failure that always seemed to be lurking.

You see, I recently quit my 9-5 job in order to dedicate more of my time to writing. I’ve gotten pretty mixed reactions about my choice, ranging from “you’re insane” to “you’re doing what I should have done 20 years ago.” Honestly, I’m keeping one of the Four Agreements and taking none of it personally – neither the good nor the bad reactions. At the end of the day, people react based on their own preconceived notions, biases, and personal experiences – not because they have any knowledge about what my future or present holds.

Now that I’m freeing my mind, bit by bit, I often feel afraid. I’m scared that I will fail to earn enough money to survive. I’m scared that I will get into some terrible accident and I will be indebted for the rest of my life to pay for the cost of saving my life, sans insurance. I’m scared that I’ll be sixty years old with no savings. These are legitimate fears.

But, dear reader, do you know what I find more scary than any of the above? You guessed it: the feeling of “alguien se comio mi torta;” the feeling that someone else ate my sandwich, that someone else lived my dream while I lived out some bullshit simulation of life – that is my nightmare fuel.

I would rather be challenged to trust in my higher power and in my own capabilities, challenged to hustle to stay out of poverty, challenged to scrimp and save to get by, than to live a life that is not oriented in every way toward achieving my dreams.

I believe I have a purpose here on Earth, being in this body, with this brain. I believe in that purpose, and I believe that I can take care of myself despite all the odds. Damn, I’m getting chills writing this, because it is the realest thing I’ve done. I’m choosing to sacrifice my materialistic stability for the chance to succeed as a writer. And I don’t  know what that success even means, but I know it starts when I follow my dreams.

Flying, Falling with Style, and Living Free from Fear

I’m writing this from somewhere in Harlem, New York City. I had to get away from my friends for a while because I felt overwhelmed by everything – these present changes, the future, the past… It felt like so much, too much. So, I did what I do best – went to a nearby cafe, got a dirty soy chai, and started writing. And, like a hail Mary,  what I wrote feels like it saved my life.

The reality is that following my dreams into this deep, dark unknown feels fucking terrifying, on multiple levels – mental, physical, and spiritual.

The truth is, I am in free fall right now. And I’m noticing that there’s a stark difference between falling afraid, and falling with faith. Falling with faith means trusting that I’ll be fine wherever I land – that there will be soft pillows, or that I will land on all fours like a cat. And then there’s falling afraid – full of fear for my fragile bones, which might shatter upon impact. Falling afraid fills me with a hopeless longing for the ledge from which I’ve just leapt, and a longing for that old, comfortable stability which is slipping further and further away every second. Falling afraid feels like I’m in an endless nightmare spiraling toward doom, waiting and hoping to wake up.

The difference between falling afraid and falling with faith is simply a difference in experience, not a difference in action. Let’s face it – I’m falling either way. But the perspective, the experience, the mindset of the fall makes all the difference in the world. It’s the difference between falling, and falling with style. I’m realizing that if I can manage to fall with style, I’m essentially flying.

Buzz Lightyear, one of the main characters in the Disney movie Toy Story, showed me that flying is simply falling, but with style. Buzz believed, at the beginning of the movie, that he alone possessed the power to fly, and he learned the painful, devastating lesson that he is, in fact, just a toy, capable of nothing more than flinging himself down a flight of stairs to his demise.

But something happened in Buzz’s mindset as a result of realizing that he was indeed just a toy: he was able to develop a faith in something bigger than himself. It is this humble faith that allows Buzz to take the biggest leap of all when he attaches himself and Woody to a rocket in order to make a last-ditch attempt to catch up to their beloved Andy, who is speeding away in his mom’s minivan. Buzz knew that he was a just toy, breakable and fragile as anything, when he jumped that day. He did not know for sure that he would make the goal, or even survive if he did, but he leapt into the unknown anyway!

If you’re familiar with the movie Toy Story, it was Woody who originally called Buzz out for lying about his ability to fly. But in that last climactic scene, Woody exclaims gleefully, “We’re flying!” and Buzz replies, “This isn’t flying – it’s falling with style.” And lo and behold, they land exactly where they need to be, at exactly the right time.

True bravery is knowing that flying is an illusion, accepting that I was not born with wings or feathers, and jumping anyway. Bravery is to know that I am only human, fragile and weak, but to leap regardless, to leap and believe that there is a chance that I can achieve my goal.

Falling with this type of faith feels as if I am flying.

That’s faith. That’s trust. That’s divinity inherent.

I’m in tears with the understanding that I have faith not in my own control, but in my ability to leap into the arms of the Universe. I have faith in the Universe’s ability to wrap itself underneath me and transform me into a winged, soaring beast.

I want to be in this state of falling with style as much as possible. And I don’t need to be capable of flight – I just need to be able to leap, and to trust.