Paper Boats & Forgiveness

You know those moments where you are in the middle of a terrible mistake? Where you are internally fighting to rectify it but externally frozen? In some way, we are halted, and the gravity of our decision is felt in the aftermath. Recently, this was me. And while I cannot go into details because of parties involved, just know that it sucked. It sucked knowing that in a split second, because of a momentary lapse in judgement, I made a left instead of a right. For the girl who spends her whole life making right turns, going the other direction felt highly uncomfortable.

So, there I was, in the middle of my mess. For somebody who talks an awful lot about grace, you’d think self-forgiveness would be something I’d be better at. I’m here to tell you that forgiving myself is a skill I have yet to refine. Among my other traits, I am a perfectionist. Because of my positions in both of my jobs, I take my responsibilities extremely serious, even in situations where the responsibility wasn’t mine in the first place. I forget that we each must be held accountable for our mistakes, that I cannot carry the weight of another’s decision as my own. Perhaps it is being the oldest or the way life played out that causes me to perceive the world this way. Of that part I am uncertain but I do know that falling is hard on me.

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When I fail, when I don’t get it right, or when I make the wrong decision, I most likely carry that for longer than needed. I wish I could turn that part off or find a way of extending that same grace that I offer to others to myself. Instead, I think. I am an over-thinker who has a whole lot of feelings so that can create grand stories in my head as to how I could have done better or why I made a mistake in the first place. It is not an ideal environment for recovering from a setback.

12698394_10153464610623763_2523441078320941151_oAll wounds, even those we created, need to heal. Our lapses in judgement need a second look from a specialist to figure out why. When our car suddenly goes the wrong way, we take it to the mechanic to understand the reason it veered off course. When we are flitting, fretting and freezing instead of standing up to do what is right, we need the knowledge to do better in the future. In large part, it is because we are human, which immediately makes us flawed. When placed out of our comfort zone, we have the tendency to want to fit in. Fitting in is easy. It’s the standing up when everyone else is sitting that’s more difficult. The shouting in a room filled with quiet. It’s turning your car to the right when everybody is telling you to go left.

We need to accept that doing right, even if unpopular, ultimately creates that which is more fulfilling in the long run. We can’t see it initially but it sets the trajectory for a number of choices further down the road.  That often isn’t a problem for me but getting carried away by the whims of the world is easy. You set your paper boat in the water, knowing it will go whichever way the water is flowing. And then, it might stop. Your little boat is in limbo, halted by a storm drain or branch, waiting to be picked up again. So you do. And this time you can set it down wherever you’d like. You could even take it back home if you wanted. Though it’s easy for your boat to be carried away, the course could change in any given moment.

Falling isn’t without consequence but forgiveness, especially of ourselves, can lighten that already heavy burden. It doesn’t write off the time needed for self-reflection or discussions with people who love us and want to see us succeed.  Knowing we are able to create the best version of ourselves each day is exhilarating. The forgiveness part, at least for me, is still tough to do. I am constantly working on it. But for now, I can pick up my little boat and set it on a brand new course. A new day, a new course and the chance to be the newest, better version of me than I was the day before.

 

Yoga Practice & Lessons in Grace

If you have glanced through my blog at all, you’ve probably noticed yoga plays a large part in my life. If not, well now ya know. I started attending a hot yoga studio (And also can I get an amen for those of us who can’t dish out $1,200 a year to be able to attend unlimited monthly sessions? Props if you can but this girl is on a budget. One day perhaps but until then I’ll buy my class pass when I can afford it and attend twice a week.) here in Spokane back in December and I’ve found that when paired with my home practice, it all starts to click. In a home practice, we can only go so far when we don’t have somebody to guide us in our form when going through the poses. And the same with a home practice. If we are not disciplining ourselves and bringing those concepts we’ve learned to our mat at home, then we fail to grow.

Lately, I’ve seen the parallels between my yoga practice and personal life. As you may have read previously, my relationship of over a year ended about two months ago. In the past, I would move towards unhealthy habits and decisions in order to deal with the pain. But now, I am finally able to see how far this rollercoaster of life has brought me. Every past heartbreak and pain. Every iota of hurt and self-doubt has pushed me to question, seek and discover that which has been inside me all along. I am worth more than I ever dreamed. I am stronger now than I’ve ever been.

But, the truth is, I did falter. I briefly yearned for and sought those whom have hurt me in the past. And then, a little voice inside of me said….”No.” The woman who triumphed in that period of darkness. Who lit the match on the house and almost walked away to watch it all burn, she was roaring. Because, she didn’t walk away when she wanted to the most. She fought and she thrashed and she gave it more than her all. Though the house had some damage, she was ready to rebuild. That is precisely what she did. Two years ago last month I lost my mom to cancer. At that very same time, I was badly burned by my first and most turbulent love. So yes, that woman inside me does not back down without a fight. Not without the struggle of reminding me of the goodness I deserve and how I am incredibly loved.

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My financial guru but even more so, friend

Similar to my yoga practice, I knew I was close to where I wanted to be but my form was not quite correct. I needed a push. I needed to ask for help. You know when you mess up and you really don’t want to tell anybody because the fear of disappointment feels so heavy? That was how I felt when I reached out to my friends. To my church. To the only people I knew could truly guide me in this time. But, I did it anyways. I walked in, head bowed, ready to battle for my heart, soul and self-worth. And the greatest gifts they gave me? When I was fully prepared to apologize and to bow my head in shame, the only feelings they offered up…..were those of love and grace. Two of the most powerful, life-changing words in human existence, if you ask me.

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It wasn’t necessary for me to carry all of this alone, not when so many others were willing to jump in. Who were ready to take some of the burden, to help me cut out the negativity and growth-hindering parts, and who were willing to love on me. Right now, I can see I have a rock solid foundation. I can look back and realize that stumbling doesn’t mean I have not grown, but rather that we sometimes need re-directing on our path. A little light or a friend to walk with us for awhile. Strength can lie in recognizing we are lost, asking for help, and taking corrective action to do better next time. Life is made up of small steps and occasionally, big leaps. It can happen all at once or day by day. Our growth is not measured by whether or not we falter but how we react after the fall. Will you stand back up, armor in hand, roaring and willing to battle for YOU?

I don’t know where you’re walking or how that looks. Where life has brought you or the obstacles that have been placed during your walk. What I can tell though is without a doubt the truth. It is true as of yesterday, today and tomorrow. You are worthy of two, beautiful gifts…..grace and love.

Happy Sunday friends. Make it a beautiful one.

When I Found Home & Healing

Surprise turn of events in more than one way. This seems to have happened within 2 weeks time and I did not foresee my life heading this way right now but that’s what happens when you give up the reins. I was approached by one of my dear friends from church about a residential mentor position. So, after applying that evening, getting a follow-up call that same week, interviewing the following week and then receiving the position 3 days after the interview, I will be jumping into this new experience. To add to this transition, my relationship of a year and a half has come to an end and while I am heartbroken, I’m trying to focus on this new course in the pursuit of growth.

This apartment….whew. When I moved here in the summer of 2015, I was not ready for such significant change and the depths to which I would experience growth here. This was my first apartment with a female roommate and not a boyfriend.

My bedroom floor? That’s where I would often find myself in a crying stupor, distraught over the loss of my mom and also terribly hurt by my coinciding breakup. I filled this room with my first bedroom set and new mattress. The mint green sheets I picked out from Target and couldn’t stop obsessing over. This room is where I hung the picture I painted on what would have been my mom’s birthday, the month she passed away. Finally, it was where I would fall to my knees in prayer, sadness, and depression at times. Crying out for peace, strength, and any other feeling except hurt. Did that happen? Eventually, yes. Did I wish it happened much quicker? Absolutely. Yet….if we rose so quickly after struggles, what would be the glory in rising after falling? That moment would just become another moment in a week in another series of days. So no, that part of the hurt and suffering is non-negotiable and I will never sugarcoat that pain. It was an awfully scary time but my people are good people so I owe a large part of my heart mending to them.

Let’s move on to the living room. It has some of my most favorite things. A short but sturdy bookshelf that weighs probably more than me, overflowing with books that I’m still searching to find room for or constantly sharing with others. The Papasan chair that I picked up just down the street from me. The couch where not only personal possessions have gotten lost (glad I found my iPod!), but people too. It was where I consoled my crying roommate as she told her break-up story that nearly mirrored mine and as she, like myself and my previous roommate, struggled to make our hearts whole again. Yes, this apartment has been a haven for those of us who were looking for a do-over, a new beginning after the tangled relationship web that was woven, and a reminder that we were not defined by those who broke us. It became a place to make those discoveries that had been lying within us. The lava needing the perfect temperature and circumstances before it could break through the cracks of the surface, destroying everything, including our old selves, in its wake. I had no intention of this place becoming the center of my healing. I thought it was simply a temporary stop before I landed elsewhere. I had no desire for anything resembling permanence, or semi-permanence for that matter because the idea of something lasting was nearly laughable. I had lost love and goodness from two figures I felt were going to be around forever. One left this world too soon and the other had no intention of building a life with me as promised. Permanence didn’t sound like what I wanted at all.

The kitchen is…..tiny. But tiny vessels can hold great memories too. Like when myself and two other young women moved my new-to-me dining room set consisting of 4 chairs, a large wooden base, and an equally large glass table top…..all by ourselves. It made it safely back from a 45-minute roundtrip excursion and I was so proud. That other time when our stove busted, followed by our dishwasher and then our stove once more (though not as badly but I am sensing a theme here). Or, not long ago, when I learned you can’t boil milk in a tea kettle on high because it will shoot right out of the spout, make a smelly disgusting mess, and leave you and your friends in fits of laughter. I’ve fed my friends here (and also been fed!), told stories over bottles of wine, and oh the dancing. The dancing has been one of my most favorite things to do in this apartment.

So yes, my apartment became more than I thought I would allow it to be. I feel I only knew the definition of home when I lived with my family and had yet to discover what that looked like on my own. Since moving out here, I have felt somewhat restless. Clearly, it was because some deep changes needed to take place in my life, such as letting go of that which was no longer bringing me happiness. And now, I can truly feel what a home can be. It can be permanent or not. Transient or ever-lasting. An apartment, trailer, or house. Small, large, or in between. A home allows for mistakes and messes. It lets you be your barest self in your search for grace. It doesn’t make you feel imperfect or unworthy but rather, it is a jumping point for something bigger. Maybe you glance down at the water below for a long, long time, debating if it’s right for you. Each time you discover something more about yourself, you step a little bit closer to the ledge. Then, finally, you close your eyes and jump. This is me, jumping off the ledge, with no certainty of where I’ll land but knowing I’ll be completely held in the process.

How I Found Peace in Being Alone…While Dating

I have been dating for the past 3 years. I mean, actual dating, not that college/Ross & Rachel from Friends on-again and off-again thing. Since the summer of 2012, I have usually had a serious boyfriend, with the occasional downtime in between break-ups. This was usually a 4 or 5 month period of time where I would put myself together and then somehow end up dating again. Granted, counting my current relationship, I have had 3 relationships all lasting a year or more. I generally (thought I) knew when I was ready to get back into the dating game again, or in the last instance, move half-way across the country for somebody. (No it didn’t work out and no I don’t regret moving to Washington. More about that here—> When I Made Room for Love (Again)) Life always redirects us in some way or another.

So, when I started dating my wonderful boyfriend last September, I struggled with being alone. I am so thankful for this man that came into my life because he has been an incredible guiding soul throughout this journey. I was alone quite often because my roommate at the time left and moved in with her boyfriend. Much of it stemmed from the fact that I had lived with guys I had previously dated, as well as the fact that I wasn’t sure I felt comfortable being alone so much. I knew I would eventually have to come to terms with the fact that solitude wasn’t a punishment, despite the fact that in those moments of loneliness, my thoughts could get me into trouble. They would consume me to the point that I sometimes didn’t know what I had gotten so upset about in the first place.

I found, in time, that solitude could be filled with moments I enjoyed. I dedicated more time to yoga and eventually, to running too. I was reading more than I had before. I found time to spend with my friends. I started making plans for my career and my future, with goals of becoming more serious about my writing. Sure, I’m not precisely where I want to be in all categories but the point is, I made myself a priority. Because, who is going to want to make you a priority if you can’t even do that for yourself? Probably not anybody you want to date.

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Photo Credit: latestthoughts via Compfight cc

So, I survived the loneliness I had so severely dreaded. In fact, I began finding comfort in it over time and made sure to let my friends know how important it was to have that time to myself. It was not easy to come to terms with how I used to appoach even the thought of being alone. None of us likes admitting our weaknesses or finding fault within ourselves. It’s a daunting task but also one that is required for growth and independence.

 

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”
M. Scott Peck

Despite the fact that nothing turned out how I planned upon my move here, I am glad life took the twists and turns it did. For the heartbreak that caused me to seek my inner strength that was there all along. For my decision to step up and say that I deserve more. For every broken piece of me that pushed me down, only for me to find humility in rising again. I found that others can push us to take responsibility for our own happiness but it ultimately comes down to whether we choose to make forward progress or to remain stuck. Solitude doesn’t need to be correlated with being lonely, but rather, as an opportunity for renewal. It is in our lonelinest and darkest hours where we can ask ourselves the toughest questions, begin to make changes, and set ourselves on the path towards becoming our truest self.


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Photo Credit: HurtQuotes via Compfight cc

 

 

When I Made Room for Love (Again)

I used to view love and relationships very differently.  I held firmly to the fact that “you only get one soulmate in this life.” I believed it with my whole heart. Until last year that is. When I came to the realization that the person I was fighting for, wasn’t fighting for me. Break-ups are messy and life is messier. This isn’t about how everything happened or who was to blame. The point is that I changed. My perception changed. And when I realized my worth, I started down the path towards true happiness.

The relationship had to end, there was no denying that. My friends knew it. My family knew it. Turns out, I was the last to know. Of all the places to end it, I chose during my friends’ wedding. Perhaps it was the wine or maybe it was seeing how happy the newly married couple was. I remember thinking, “That’s how it’s supposed to be.” Love wasn’t meant to be maybes and constantly wondering if you were a priority. In that moment, I realized I would always know with the right person. He would treat me well and there wouldn’t be tears. There would never be any doubt whether I was enough.

I was really a mess for awhile during the aftermath of the breakup. Especially since it was not long after the loss of my stepmom. The tears that came from that dark period of my life were filled with more hurt than I had ever experienced. I didn’t want to date. I didn’t want to fall in love. I didn’t want any of the madness that came along with a relationship. Well, the Universe didn’t care so much what I wanted. I started to have feelings for somebody who had only ever been a friend. He was really a sweetheart and always made me laugh. Not to mention the fact that we had wonderful conversations and enjoyed doing things together.  But feelings?! Gross. I couldn’t like him. Could I like him? OK, I liked him. There really was no way around it. We talked about where we stood and I knew I wasn’t ready for a relationship yet. He was understanding but I think both of us were unsure of where things were going to go.

So, he bought a one-way ticket to Columbia and didn’t know when he’d be coming back. Honestly, he had talked about it but I didn’t think he was really going to do it. (Although, I should have known because he’s always a man of his word.) My stomach sank and I was all kinds of sad. I was very good at convincing myself it was just because we were best friends and I was going to miss him, especially since he had been such a great support system for me after everything I had gone through. And then, I had to take him to the airport, where I was still convincing myself I was just fine. He walked inside, I got in my car, and cried. I cried because I knew then. I was scared I had let this amazing man wander into South America and I didn’t know if I’d see him again. Or if he’d even want to date me after he had already put himself out there.

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Photo Credit: sathishisaac via Compfight cc

Turns out, he did still want to date me. He asked me via Skype while he was in Colombia. (The time difference still causes disputes in regards to the proper date of said asking, but we’ll leave that for another day.) I was scared. Of course I was. But, I also knew I had to try. That I was never going to know if I let fear win. Nine months later, I can say this has been the healthiest, most loving relationship I have ever been in. And, aside from my relationship status, I am the happiest I have ever been. It’s been a struggle, finding that happiness again, but I did and it feels so good. I am more grounded, balanced, and giving, not only in my relationship, but also in life. I know that my happiness doesn’t lie in what we feel the world may perceive as success, whether it’s a career, a relationship, or what we own. But rather, it lies in me and what I choose to make of each day. The good looking guy I get to call my boyfriend? He’s an added bonus. 🙂

Peace with Your Ending(s)

Hi friends!! It has been a crazy and hectic week of travel adventures (and unfortunately some headaches!). However, I’m settled back home in beautiful, snowy Washington and loving it. Even if it is freezing! Being away made me appreciate home so much more. Looking forward to sharing travel experiences in an upcoming post or two! Wishing you all a beautiful and bright 2016.                    -Heather

One of the nights while I was on vacation, I had a dream about my ex. I realize the holidays can make it difficult to sort out those feelings of the finality of a relationship so I wasn’t quite sure how to interpret it. It wasn’t even anything worth discussing but the image of him in my mind had startled me. It sounds silly and trivial but I immediately went into my place of overthinking. I do that sometimes.

Later on in the afternoon, I asked my friend to make sure his family was alright because they’re from Texas and a bunch of tornadoes had touched down there. I was actually quite proud of myself for not initiating the contact. That evening, I gave some advice to a different friend who had been having dreams about her ex as well. She was just wanting to get some good sleep and put it all to rest. (No pun intended…I think.) One of the comments one of her friends had left really clicked with me. She said she used to have dreams like that and she felt it was her brain’s way of letting go and working things out. Whoa. Awesome sauce. Gold gem. Bookmark it.

Here’s the thing: The world around us is so set on telling us to move on after a breakup and while I absolutely believe in setting boundaries during this time, we tend to forget that the ending of a relationship also requires a grieving process. And a serious one at that.

Every shiny and wonderful moment you thought you had coming in your relationship was suddenly destroyed. Poof. Maybe it was a quick break-up or perhaps it was drawn out. It might have even been mutual. Either way, it really fricken’ hurt. And you know what? You have every right to feel everything associated with that. Nobody should tell you otherwise. You want to drink wine and watch Netflix with your BFF? You go right ahead. You want to start playing the field again? Go for it. You need to get in your car and drive across the country for clarity? Hey, you do you. No matter what you decide or how you mend your heart, just remind yourself that it will eventually be whole again. It won’t feel like it, honestly, for a long time. But when it does? That’s the beautiful part of it. The magic after the mess.

Find peace in your own time and in your own way. Don’t feel you need to go it alone or justify your decisions. Of course, take care of yourself and keep those positive reminders and people around. You are a magical, magnificent person capable of spilling that love onto someone else when the time is right. Trust me, you’ll know when that time is.

I could physically feel my heart get lighter that day while I was away. I’m aware that sounds rather ridiculous but I don’t really care. The pain of my last relationship didn’t envelop me anymore and I felt my heart making room for more love. Let it happen. Let it go. Breathe. Trust me friends, making peace with your past will only bring you one step closer to happiness in your present.