And so, I became free

Growing up, silence was a safety mechanism. As an adult, thanks to a couple of wonderful people, I’ve used that silence in more powerful ways while concurrently developing my voice in different ways. Last few months, I began to paint. Here are the last ones of the year.

I’ve been less afraid to be both vulnerable and assertive; to have my heart open and to be a badass (badassery in my mind, not quite there yet). I’m more trusting in myself to show my weaknesses so that I can grow. Pain will come, but so will love. I’d rather experience both than nothing at all.

2017 was challenging, but thanks to a lot of love I have grown so much. Here’s to 2018, filled with Hygge and imbibing and delicious foods.

Happy New Year!

Gratitude

I’ve heard a lot about “manifestation” in the last few years. The way it’s been explained to me  is that if you think of a goal or something you want and “put it out into the universe”, those wishes will manifest. Seems to be concretely tied with mysticism. Problem with this is there’s no true answer as to why you don’t receive what you wish for if that manifestation doesn’t work.

From experience, there’s a different explanation: Or perhaps better phrased, a more subtle explanation. Understanding what you have and having goals to work towards are key in achieving goals. What do I mean?

If you have a project you’re working on and you keep thinking of all the things you don’t have to achieve them, that’s time and effort you’re putting in to a negative abstraction you can’t change. Additionally, hoping for things to happen won’t always (probably rarely, at least from my experience) make things happen. This is more tied with luck.

Looking around, seeing the tools you have at your disposal, and figuring out ways to use those tools to achieve your goals is what will push you forward. Moreover, having a goal is important in keeping you focused. Those goals can change as you progress, but having a guide post that you reinforce in your mind will help you focus your tasks and tools to help you achieve those goals. This is where “putting it out there” may help you. Forming concrete ideas as to what or where you want to be will help you use what you have to achieve those things, much like a blueprint. It would be very difficult to build a tower without a blueprint.

What I lacked early on in my life, and what was especially hindering, was my lack of gratitude for the smaller things in my life. Having gratitude for what you have, no matter how little, will help you see the full potential in everything you have. Understanding potential will help you use the things at your disposal to their full capacity, even if it’s an unintended use (As a trite example, I use my pens all the time to secure my hair up).

Manifestation in-and-of-itself isn’t an effective tool. Just wanting things won’t (probably won’t, some of us are lucky) make it happen. Again this isn’t a criticism, rather an offering of an elaboration of an idea. For if your goal (whether it be a car, or career change, or whatever the case may be) isn’t happening, understanding why that isn’t happening will help you adjust. The idea that you just aren’t putting it out there with enough intention just isn’t a satisfactory answer.

Moreover I do not intend to criticize religion or mysticism. The world does function in mysterious ways that none of us can understand right now. However because of this, we should put ourselves in the best possible position to understand the world around us so that we can maneuver through. The way I look at it is I find it exceedingly helpful to “put it out there” so that my mind knows, but also everyone around me knows what I am working towards. You’ll find even the people around you like to help.

Additionally, I like to reflect on what is going right and what is going wrong in my life; I like to take lessons from everything that I can. For example, I am not religious in any way or exceptionally anti-religion. However one of the most useful meditations I have is from Christianity, known widely as the serenity prayer. I altered it to my world-view. It goes like this:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can’t

And the wisdom to know the difference.

In saying “grant me…”, I’m not asking someone to give this to me. Rather, I see it as a useful reflective meditation. I am using the phrase to ask myself to remember to have serenity, courage, and wisdom. In doing this, I’ve used my frustrations, insecurities, and fears less in reacting to situations and using my strengths to react to difficult situations. The difference is astonishing to reflect on.

How do I go about this? When I first started out with this meditation, I thought of all the challenging things that have happened in my life. What were the things I couldn’t change about my past? What were the things I could have changed? What lessons could I have learned from those mistakes I made? This helped me accept my past for what it was, forgive the people who had harmed me, let go of toxicity that was harming both myself and the people I cared for, and begin to trust myself more. Not just with making good decisions but also trusting that I’ll recover and learn from my mistakes.

As I’ve progressed, I’ve been able to move from the grander things that have weighed on me from my past and move into my daily routine. What about my day should I have serenity about, what should I have had more courage for, what are the lessons I can learn from the day?

Finally, I don’t want to make this seem as though this is my no-fail solution to success. The reality is, life is hard. No matter hard you work, how intelligently you put everything together, or even how lucky you are-you can fail. But that’s ok. What I am trying to do for myself is to put myself in the best possible situation to succeed with my ambitions. It may not work, but I’ll always know I tried my damn best every day. I’ll have some bad days naturally, but I hope these good ones will put me to where I want to be. In doing that, I wanted to share my experience and reflection with others. In hopes that perhaps my experiences will help someone else.

Depression 

 

For me, growing up with depression had a huge impact on my abilities to express myself in a clear way.

It was like my thoughts were drowning in the middle of a stormy ocean fighting to make their way to the surface to catch painful breaths, only to be thrown back down to fight again.

That time and constant struggle has passed. However, I go between two ways of thinking about the present:

On good days, I feel as though I’ve found a safe surface and I’m learning to breathe.

On difficult days, it feels as though I’ve given up on the struggle to come up to the surface; I have peacefully accepted that I’m going to drown.

Thankfully, the good days are more frequent and rigorous than the difficult ones.

I’m also grateful that even on those bad days, it’s not burdened chaos. I’m lucky in that my depression was related to my environment; for me it’s behavioral rather than biochemical.

Know that everyone deals with their struggles in different ways. Find comfort in knowing we universally share similar experiences-like joy or depression-but how you experience those things and the methodology of coping may be different than others. 

For some the road may be harder than others but you can’t control that. What you can control is how you deal with it.
It may be a little scary in that there’s no clear prescribed path or “cure” to follow, but I’d put it to you that it is also liberating. Don’t give up if one method doesn’t work for you. It may be that other roads will.

I hope your road will be an easy one. If not, I hope you find the strength to get through and enjoy the journey.