Some Inspiration, Vulnerability and Coping

Well this is the longest I have gone without a post! Life has gotten busy and at the end of the day I only have enough mental energy to write a quick blurb about my day in my journal. But, something amazing happened yesterday and although it was something small, it had a profound affect on me, rejuvenating me in a way and giving me the inspiration I needed for a post I could write from my heart. I started it yesterday so lets flash back to yesterday and pretend it’s not hump day.

I just had the most inspirational conversation with someone I see every Tuesday and only give a quick hello to as I am always rushing to and from therapy. I have wanted to talk to her ever since I stepped out of the elevator after my session a few months back and heard her singing. She has the most beautiful voice and she claims it’s because of the acoustics, or “bathroom effect” of the lobby but I beg to differ. I could hear the passion in the single phrase I heard her belt out. Today, however, I had a few extra minutes so I decided to ask her if she is still singing. Yes. I told her that she should do something with it, to which she replied, “I actually love to draw. That’s my thing.” She told me she likes to draw people and coming from someone who struggles to draw stick figures which means I can’t draw worth shit, I thought that was pretty awesome. I stated that she must be pretty good at it and asked if she has ever sold her art. Her response was much like mine was before I started this blog.

Fear. We are all afraid to put ourselves out there whether it is in our art – writing, drawing, singing, finger painting – or in our social interactions. I was asked out the other day by a really nice guy who admitted that it took many months of building his courage because I was pretty intimidating. Me? Intimidating? Oh no, no, no. Just a little rough around the edges. But he did it. He put himself out there and got over his fear, whatever it may have been. Just like I got over my fear of sharing my writing with whoever wants to read it. To hear my new friend say she was nervous of the reaction people might have to her drawing was very touching and hit home. I can tell by the look in her eyes and the smile on her face when she talked about her drawings that she produces some pretty damn good art. It was truly inspiring. I encouraged her to share her art with me. It’s funny what happens when you take a few minutes out of your day to talk to someone.

Back to hump day….so my blog has not seen any love in a week and a half and that bothers me quite a bit, but tonight I feel something brewing and it’s about inspiration, vulnerability and coping…all in one. Ever since my post Vulnerability of the Heart, it seems that everywhere I look I see vulnerability. I see it with two people I care about deeply that just broke up, I see it with a friend of mine who got stood up by a girl he was really in to and I see it in someone I work with that is struggling with a really shitty break up. I feel for all of them. I recently read a memoir by Laura Munson – ‘This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season Of Unlikely Happiness” and it was, to say the least, AWESOME. It was vulnerability AT IT’S FINEST. It was inspiring and it was eye opening. It showed me a lot about a little something we all forget about; coping mechanisms.

Two questions:

1. Why do we cope?

2. How do we cope?

In the three situations above I noticed a reoccurring pattern. All have shown me some sort of sense of rejection and an inability to deal with the individual differences in how people cope or more specifically, how the person they gave their heart to is coping. I have started to recognize that people act in certain ways that we don’t understand, not because they don’t care, but because it is their way of dealing with their own pain. I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard, “He’s already moved on”, “He’s already hooking up with someone else”, “He’s already dating someone else”, “It just doesn’t seem like he gives a shit about me or that we broke up” or the worst one of all, “I thought he loved me” – at least that was the case with me…but then again all of those were when I look back.

Then there’s the, “I worry”, “I think”, “What if” that go in front of all those phrases I stated above. Those are the ones that really seem to get us because it enters the unknown and as human beings we do not like the unknown; it scares us like no other as it presents itself as a lack of control and who honestly doesn’t like to control some aspect of their life? If you are okay with lack of control in some way, I would LOVE to meet you.

So we sit in our thoughts and beat ourselves up about it all, driving ourselves insane with worry. Wait. Stop. Breathe. What if we consciously and willingly accept that it is out of our control and that we cannot control what they have chosen to do once they have left us, once they have taken a piece of us with them? What if we are able to recognize that whatever actions someone is choosing to take or whatever actions we manifest that person is choosing to take, is their way of coping? So what if our significant other has already “moved on” or is dating someone else? I am not saying not to care, you’d be crazy not to care but as I have come to learn, you (myself included) do not know what is going through someone else’s mind, so why worry?

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Whatever they choose to do, whether that be that they’ve hooked up with someone two days after you broke up or started dating someone new after a week, it does not mean that they do not care or did not love you. (Or sometimes in the shitty circumstance, the person really did move on that quickly and really doesn’t care and that really hurts. BUT again, how are you to know what they are truly feeling?)

I remember lying in bed alone a few days after we broke up working myself up into a tizzy with tears streaming down my face and a gut wrenching pain in my stomach wondering if my ex was sleeping with or dating someone else. I asked a friend if they thought he was and that friend said that if he was, he’s an asshole and I don’t want him in my life anymore anyways because who would want someone that moves on that quickly? I remember thinking, why isn’t he hurting as much as I am? Then another more open minded and to the point friend said to me, “Get real, you have no clue what he is doing. He may be hurting just as much as you. If he is hooking up with someone already or is dating someone else, it does not mean he doesn’t care about you and that he didn’t and doesn’t still love you.”

We all want to be cared about and to be loved and when we suddenly no longer have that sense of being cared for, it tears us apart. Recognizing that I had no control over what he was doing and really, honestly having no idea what he was really doing, nor what he was really thinking, I decided to stop thinking about it, stop obsessing about it, stop crying about it. Granted there were, in fact, a few times after that I chose to think about it and was therefore in absolute tears stressing about it. Hey, I’m clearly not perfect.

Since then, through life experience, reading books, journaling and thinking a lot, I have changed the way I look at situations like that. I have decided to let go of my incessantly controlling nature and realize that whatever he chose to do post break up, was his way of coping with it. The same goes for anyone going through a break up. Maybe you know for a fact that person is sleeping with someone else or is already dating someone else but who are you to know what is really going through their mind? Just let go. Focus on you and what makes you happy. Focus on what you can do to mend your broken heart.

The more I chat with people who are going through break ups, the more I realize that most everyone thinks the way I was thinking. But the moment we understand that a person’s actions are just their way of coping, we suddenly (or at least I did) feel a sense of freedom, a sense of uplifting that takes the weight off our shoulders. For me it was reconnecting with friends, especially my girlfriends that I failed to stay in touch with, lots of crying, lots of cooking, lots of cookie consumption, lots of thinking and therefore lots of journaling and then the most blatantly obvious obsession being my high consumption of Malbec. I chose these things as my way of coping with an extremely painfully shitty situation because it worked for me. It freed up my mind to focus on the important things.

Jeeze. More talk of my ex. It changed my life. He changed my life. People change my life every day and I love to reflect and to write about it. So I end this post with this…

Try not to be afraid of fear, rejection, hurt, pain, ridicule. My fear is of being vulnerable, of letting people in to my life and into my heart. I am afraid of getting hurt. I am afraid of emotional abandonment. I am afraid of doing something wrong and being thought of as a shitty person as it wasn’t too long ago that I felt exactly that, shitty. I felt I brought nothing to this world. But I changed that. I try my hardest every day to accept my weaknesses and work on them but more importantly to acknowledge my strengths as those make me stronger.

Just like I encouraged my new friend to start by sharing her art with me, I encourage you to challenge yourself and make yourself a little uncomfortable by asking yourself what your fears are and what holds you back from truly living your life and being happy. Life is too short to be unhappy but it can also be too long to be unhappy.

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Vulnerability of the Heart

Disclaimer: Maybe it’s due to Valentine’s Day or maybe it is because I am flirting with an emotion in revisiting an area of my life I didn’t plan to revisit but this post is kind of heavy…and long.

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I have let someone back into my life that I am not sure I want to have back in my life. Weird, right? You might ask, why? Why am I letting someone back into my life who hurt me so deeply? Someone that I know, deep down, I do not want in my life. Someone who ran away the minute shit got hard and the minute life got real. Someone that left me drowning in emotions and enabled me to think that I was the problem. Someone that crushed my heart.

You might say to me, “Kara you’re an idiot. For everything you have said about the situation and for how strong you have been in moving on, for how far you have come, why would you willingly revisit that? You’re just as much a fool for letting him back in as he was for walking away.” (Yes I have been told that) You may have your words and your opinions about what I should and should not do in my life and in others. You may call me a hypocrite for months ago saying it was over, really over and being the bull headed Leo that I am yet now find myself talking to him again, doing a complete 180. In fact, a friend told me the other day that there was no way it was over between us, that we were like cat and mouse and eventually I would give in. I stood there confidently and said, “Absolutely not. He had his chance and he fucked up.” Yet where do I find myself? Exactly where I said I would not be, ever again. For the longest time, I had no desire to ever even speak to him again but now I find myself having given in to his persistence and allowing him a tiny place in my life.

His persistence is unlike any I have ever witnessed. “Ignore him”, you say. And I have. I did. For months. And I have also been very vocal about moving on and not needing that negativity in my life again. But then what if that person comes back and tells you they want you back? That they made a mistake and then starts to become the person you wish they had been when you needed them to be that person. You acknowledge it and then ask them to please leave you alone and they say they will respect that. But then a little over a week goes by and their persistence has you talking to them again. And in talking to them again, they have you witnessing their persistence in getting you back, in attempting to be that person you asked them to be. But that’s the thing about asking, you shouldn’t have to ask that of someone when you are in a relationship. You shouldn’t have to ASK that person to treat you better.

So his persistence. My vulnerability. I tend to put up walls. Writing is one of the few things that breaks down my walls which is why when I write there is an emotion flowing through me unlike any other. When I write, I feel with my whole soul. I am vulnerable right now, as much as I do not want to admit it because I see it as a weakness in some ways but that’s what this whole post is about. So here is my vulnerability. I am sharing with you an unedited journal entry. When I write for my blog, I edit it more than I care to admit simply because if anyone were to read (and a few have) my raw thoughts, I worry they might get freaked out. Yet here I am sharing it with everyone. There are two separate entries, one from this morning and one from 10 minutes before I started on this blog.

Here goes…

I sit here listening to Justin Timberlake’s song Mirrors. And every time it reminds me of the emotions I felt towards EX, that he was my mirror, that we are so similar, that he wanted to be with me as badly as I wanted to be with him. I listened to this song obsessively when it came out and I listened to it during my 1/2 marathon. It motivated me in a way, to keep trucking, keep doing my thing.

I prayed EX would fight for me and that if he walked away he would realize his mistake and do everything in his power to get me back. The emotions I feel when I listen to this song are so real, so raw.

 “I don’t want to lose you now. I’m looking right at the other half of me.”

 I was so in love with him. I think of him and those emotions every time I hear this song.

I could say I wish things didn’t turn out the way they did and that we didn’t break up because I thought I would marry him. But I would be lying to myself. Us breaking up was the best thing that ever happened to me. If we had not broken up, I would not be where I am right now. Beautifully content with who I am and where I am in my life.

With him trying to come back into my life it sparks lots of emotions. A small part of me wants him back. A flicker of light simply because its easy, it’s familiar. But then I stop and I realize I do not want him. I do not feel emotion when I see him. I do not desire him anymore. There is nothing left in my heart for him. He exhausted my love for him.

And this was what I wrote right before this blog post…

Music. It moves me, it moves all of us. Music brings memory to the forefront. Music brings things to our conscious that we may or may not want to feel. For me, there are certain songs that are keepers of my heart. JT Mirrors is one of those songs. As I stated before, the emotions that I felt and experienced when I first heard this song…the attachment I placed to the words of this song….the association of my heart and my feelings towards EX are forever latched on to this song, embedded in this song. I hear it and I am instantly taken back to the emotions I felt when I first heard it. I am reminded of why exactly I latched on so easily. I associated a feeling, an emotion, a powerful one at that, to this song. This song is my gateway to those emotions that I would otherwise like to suppress. But forever I will be reminded of what I felt.

From the moment I heard this song, I knew it was to be EX and my fate. He would walk away and regret it. I always knew this to be true. And now it has happened. There is just something so powerful in this song. I listen to music all day, so why this song? Why is this the one song that holds such power for me, such power to me?

There is something about this song that makes it seem as though no time has passed. It’s as if I am back running my ½ marathon last spring, thinking about him the whole way, for a reason I can’t quite remember. Maybe because I wished he was there to cheer me on but it was Memorial Day weekend and he was down on Nantucket partying all weekend. Sure we weren’t dating officially for very long but it still would have been nice to have him there rooting for me. The pain I felt, the emotional pain he caused me throughout our entire relationship. Fuck.

This song reminds me of every reason he and I should not be together. It pains me. I can’t type it enough. It pains me. Everything about US pains me. This song moves my soul. The emotions I am feeling right now I cannot quite put into the perfect words.

“You are, you are the love of my life.”

Listening to that over and over again during my ½ marathon almost seemed to help me. As I am writing this I am experiencing many emotions. The most prominent being that I want to text or call EX right now and tell him I cannot associate with him, I cannot have him in my life in any way shape or form.

He knows his power over me. He has come back during a very vulnerable state. I need help doing every day things and my hip has been in a lot of pain lately. Here EX comes swooping in trying to come back into my life, using this vulnerability as his way in.

I was speaking with Susan today about this and about the entry from my phone that I wrote earlier and this is what came about…

In talking to EX these last few days it is comfortable knowing that I can call or text him and he will answer. I even said to him that I wished he wasn’t going away this weekend because I wanted to spend time with him. I felt my vulnerable side coming out, felt that weakness for him, felt that wall breaking a little. But then I realized that I am simply striving to fill a void. With him coming back and saying he wants to be with me and doing and saying nice things and showing serious affection, it weakens me a bit because it reminds me that I was once in love with him and once did want all he is claiming he can offer. So I subconsciously let down some of my wall.

When I said to him, “I wish you weren’t going away this weekend.” A part of me meant it but then I realized that he is giving me the ability to create a void that ideally only he can fill. And it is then that I realize that I am lonely. I don’t admit this much out loud because I feel it signifies weakness but I am fucking lonely. Still being on crutches, still being so limited in every aspect of my life creates a sense of loneliness in me and who else would I want to fill that void but the man I once loved, and loved so recently? Who else but the man who is now coming back to me saying he wants to work on things, the man who is being nice to me in ways he wasn’t during our relationship?

I begin to give in to this so-called void, thinking he is the only one that can fill it but then I realize that it is exactly that…a void. And my next thought is why does that void need to be filled by anyone? I have been lonely before but there were no temptations to fill the void. Now, however, there is that temptation, that comfort of something so familiar that I still feel with every bone in my body. In trying to fill this void that has become ragingly apparent since I have let him back in to my life, I realize exactly what is taking place in my mind. It is simply that…a void. I do not desire him; I desire to fill that void. We as humans can only resist so much until we crack. I have been denying my loneliness; understanding that it is only temporary and it will go away but now that this void is staring me right in the face (maybe Valentines Day has something to do with it) I can do nothing but stare right back at it and wonder, is it EX I really want or is it a filling of this void that I really want?

And then we see vulnerability. I am vulnerable. So very vulnerable. 

I am vulnerable to the idea that he can be the man I want, or rather wanted him to be because of his actions as of late, because of his persistence in showing me he can be there for me. He sent me flowers today for Valentine’s Day. He never gave me flowers when we were dating. I texted a girlfriend and said that it kind of made me want to talk to him less. She asked me something that pointed out my vulnerability even more…”Do you really want him to leave you alone?” Shit. Do I? I had successfully ignored many texts from him, so why did I suddenly decide to give in again? Even after I had puffed up my chest, exhibited my “strength and sass” and gone on a rant about him leaving me alone…welcome to being human and for wanting a human connection with something you loved so so much. This is what you get for giving in to the deepest parts of your heart. Move on they say. I have. But I have done it in a very unconventional way.

If you have made it this far I commend you as this is LONG. But this is the most important part. I do not see myself as being weak or for being an idiot for “giving in” to his texts, as I put it, and talking to him. Putting myself in this position is putting myself into a gray area, a very dangerous gray area. I am a very black and white thinker. Either you are all in or all out. Make the decision. But life isn’t all in or all out. Life is fucking messy. In “giving in” to his persistence and speaking and seeing him again, I have discovered an area of strength that I had no knowledge I had. The strength in vulnerability. I have allowed myself to be vulnerable, it would be inhumane if I did not. And in this vulnerability I have been reassured that the decision to end our relationship was the right one. Does this mean I will say leave me alone and ignore him for the rest of my life? I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not.

All I know is that when it comes to the heart, to my heart, I jump in heart first, head second. Usually one comes up for air first – usually my head first – but in these last few days, both have come up for air at the same time. Both agree that this gray area was and is dangerous but still needed to be braved for the sole purpose of emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth. Call me crazy but there’s a lesson to be learned and strength to be developed every day and in every experience and I am not about to let my fear of vulnerability prevent me from developing that strength; even if to the onlooker my choices might seem “stupid”, “dumb”, “idiotic”, “crazy” or the dreaded “I told you so.” Being vulnerable is the only way we grow as people, both intellectually and emotionally.

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So I challenge you to be vulnerable sometimes. Allow yourself to take a risk emotionally. It might blow up in your face and make you wish you had listened to everyone else. Or it might blow up in your face and you will be happy you listened to you because that blow up made you realize the one final thing you needed to realize in order to gain some clarity on an otherwise extremely confusing emotional fuck up. Or it doesn’t blow up at all and you live happily ever after with your Prince Charming.

I on the other hand, am still looking for Prince Charming, vulnerability intact. 😉

This long road to recovery…

…is apparently going to be a longer road than I thought. I like to think in the past 3 months that I have been very positive (with some cynicism thrown in there) about my hip and all that entailed and I like to think that I have been even more positive since my surgery 5 weeks ago. It seems today, however, that I reached my breaking point. I cried…hard. I broke down.

Back tracking to the week following my surgery and I remember my biggest concern was if I was going to be able to maintain the positive attitude and outlook I had about this whole ordeal when I got back to work. For 9 weeks, the impending surgery was all I could think about and I catered my life around that surgery. I changed the way I thought about everything…whether it was food, wine, friends, family, boyfriends, sleeping, reading, HAPPINESS…you name it, my outlook probably changed and it changed for the better. I developed a strength within that I never thought possible. Then when the surgery happened I began to think, what now? For months, my life had centered around this surgery and now it is done, it is finally over with, so what now? What is my next focus and how can I maintain my bubbly, optimistic, positive self with my usual humor in making fun of myself and making light of a less than ideal situation? But what if I lose my spice for life? What if I go back to being Negatron?

My first day back at work was January 15th (8 days after my surgery) and it was a Wednesday which meant I had a 5:30 am client. She asked me Tuesday night if I was up for training that next morning and my response, “Hell yeah. May as well jump right back in!” I did 8 sessions that day and have since hit the ground running. I have never been busier than I am now and it makes me so happy that even on crutches I can work towards helping people get and/or stay happy and healthy.  I decided that I had no choice but to be positive about all of this as it is all quite comical in a way. I am a personal trainer on crutches that mind you, have Dora The Explorer stickers all over them…yes I am 27. I realized that there was not only no time for negativity and feeling sorry for myself but there was no desire for it. I need and want to be enthusiastic for my clients.

I was talking to a friend the other day about how I was trying so hard last week to complain about my situation (probably because that’s what Negatron would have done and for some reason I was starting to feel a bit irritable that day) but I could not, for the life of me, be negative. The words were coming out of my mouth but there was no merit behind it. I could not make myself even remotely stand behind the idea that my situation really sucked as bad as I was trying to make it seem in the moment I was attempting to complain about it (yes I have done some complaining but it is more just mocking myself). And then it hit me, I was not going to lose my spice for life. Hell I HADN’T lost my spice for life. I’ve been more smiley and laughing more since my surgery than I ever have been. I have legitimately been full blown happy. All the things I had worried about in the few days post surgery never even came to fruition. I have not asked,”What now?” since those few days post surgery 5 weeks ago.

And then another thing hit me. When I decided to make a conscious effort to be more positive in my life many months ago, it was exactly that…an effort. I had gotten so used to saying negative things and thinking in such a manner that it exuded a negative aura, and that in order to be happy, I really honestly had to work at it. I had to retrain my brain how to think so that the thoughts that inhabited my mind and therefore  my world, were positive. But now, it is no longer an effort. Being happy comes naturally now. Those negative thoughts no longer run free in my mind. It was a great feeling to have; to finally know I had control over my negativity.

But then today happened. This week is the busiest week I have ever had at Equinox. I had 9 training hours Monday, 7 hours yesterday and 10 hours today. If all goes as planned I will have 10 hours tomorrow and 9 hours Friday. Needless to say, my hip hurts…a lot. I tweaked it this weekend while I was cleaning which set me back a bit and put me back on two crutches all weekend (I had previously been cleared to use 1 as much as possible). Good news is that my PT said there was no damage to the labrum and that I had just really pissed off my hip. So I am back on two crutches for most of the day (I honestly don’t know why I thought I would be 100% off of them at 3 weeks…silly me). My legs are starting to (in my opinion) look like giant redwoods…yes GIANT redwoods. My abs are dwindling away and I have not broken a sweat since a week before my surgery which means about 6 weeks and for anyone who loves to sweat everyday, I hope you can understand how I feel. I am sleeping like absolute crap and am back to night eating which frustrates me beyond belief.

And to top it off and the reason I cried after my 10th session today was because my hip went into total spasm. Total, painful spasm which put me to tears. That was all it took after all this time. I had reached my breaking point. The hip pain I felt after that 10 training hours just killed my optimism. In that moment and throughout the next hour, I felt defeated. Hip, you win. I’m still on crutches 5 weeks out and after talking to my PT about when I might be off of them, all she could say was, “Because you are on your feet all day, your recovery is going to be a bit slower.” A bit? Great. So all at once, everything hit me. Negatron came back. I cried and cried. My frustration hit its peak. I honestly don’t even have the right words to describe how I felt, so I’ll just leave it at that and get on to the most important part of this all…

After I was done crying and feeling sorry for myself and feeling like I will never heal, I suddenly felt myself again. Even though I am in a high amount of discomfort as I write this post with my Cryo Cuff on (no pain killers unfortunately), I feel quite happy again and it’s not a forced happy. It is the genuine happy I normally feel because I am exactly that, HAPPY. I am not the brief moment of negativity that snowballed into a breakdown this evening. And I realized something tonight that was reinforced by my therapist and by some amazing friends. It is OK to break down. And I am going to quote one of my best friends here..

“Kara, love. You’re allowed to cry! You’re allowed to be frustrated and upset and ask for help and support. None of which I’ve seen you do really. Give yourself PERMISSION to be okay with being upset and frustrated. Cry. Bitch and moan. And then after that, give yourself permission to relax around it all. Ask for help, bake more [as if I haven’t eaten enough cookies the last 5 weeks], enjoy the non exercise 🙂 seriously. In the big picture this is just one small snapshot of your life.”

I don’t want to be negative about my situation because life can always be worse and in reality, I know I will heal and I know that my situation isn’t really THAT bad. I laugh about it when I can and I have Dora to hang out with all the time. The more I can laugh about my situation, the easier it becomes. But when I get overtired and the reality sets in that I can’t do the things I so desperately want to do, I realize that this does kind of really suck. It’s like cabin fever, except an extra long period of cabin fever. I’m 5 weeks out…it feels like an eternity and all I want to do is run and squat and jump…you know, FUN stuff…instead of pedaling at level 6 for 30 minutes on the upright bike, you know, the one with the huge, comfy seat and instead of my hip bridges on my stability ball. But then I realize, I actually am very thankful I can even do those things because at least its something.

There was one thing this whole thing has taught me. Patience. And after tonight, there is one more thing this whole thing has taught me. It is OK to get upset and to think that yes, this does kind of suck. In realizing this though, I also realize that I cannot let that overcome me, I cannot let that rule every day of my life. Negativity is not a part of me anymore. I enjoy happy and I know everyone else does to. So I take my momentary breakdown and I appreciate it and accept it for what it was…a release of emotions I had been holding in for a long time without even realizing it.

So as I set my alarm for 4:30 am, I think this…when all is said and done – hip surgery, redwood thighs, Michelin Man abs, chocolate chip cookie saddle bags and bingo arms – I love where I am at in my life and I do (and this takes some convincing) love my body. Love and appreciation of self means you can love and appreciate others and with Single’s Awareness Day approaching (Valentine’s Day), there’s no better time than now to be able to do that. ❤

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I sure do LOVE to dance!

 

Self help and happiness

I was chatting with someone for about 2 minutes the other day about settling in life and on happiness in life. He brought up the fact that his mother had just read a book I am sure you all are familiar with called The Secret.  I have never read the book but I do know that it references the “Law of Attraction” principle in that feelings and thoughts, may they be positive or negative, can attract events, feelings, and experiences as they affect one’s life, or in other words, your inner thoughts affect your outer emotions and therefore your physical world. Easy enough right? He went on further to say to me as he walked out of the room looking me dead in the eye, “It’s so ridiculous and so obvious, why does anyone need to read a book to know that?” (Normally I would have punched a person in the face for saying something like that but the analytical Kara took it as a blessing because it presented to me as a thought experiment and consequentially something to write about).

Ironically enough and something this person may or may not realize is that we don’t necessarily need to read a book to know that, but we want to. And you might ask, why? Why do we feel the need to read self-help books? Why are influential speakers like Anthony Robbins so popular? Why did I fall in love with Brene Brown after listening to her TED Talk on vulnerability? And then there is Eckhart Tolle. So why have self-help books and speakers amassed millions of dollars? According to this person I spoke with, we don’t need these external sources to know about happiness and positive thought and the search for help and meaning in our lives. But I challenge his theory, as I shall call it, because of one reason, the answer to why. People don’t ask that question enough.

Human connection. We as humans want and need a connection to someone or something. We all have struggles and we all have happiness in some way shape or form but to read about it outside of our own mind ignites something within us as humans; it ignites that connection and it comforts our soul, heart and mind because we now know that we are not the only ones suffering or as may it be, not suffering. Someone else has taken the time to put into words what we feel we cannot and that is the hardest thing to do; to put into words exactly what you are feeling and then to understand what you are feeling. So we attempt to create a connection to something greater than ourselves by reading something outside of ourselves. Now I write like a fiend so I believe that I am pretty good at putting my thoughts into words and I am in a pretty positive place in my life right now but even I feel the need to read self-help books as it inspires my own thoughts and therefore my writing. It keeps me on track.

In my desire to read more about real life struggles, I am currently reading a memoir by Laura Munson.

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This book has been sitting in my bookshelf with my other hundreds of books gone unread for longer than I care to admit. But something recently drew me to it and I am obsessed. It is about her struggles within herself during her potential divorce which I cannot relate to but what I can relate to is the reason I was hooked from the first page. And that reason to relate comes in the form of the possibility of losing someone you love and the roller coaster of emotions that ensue.

Laura (I’m going to pretend we are on a first name basis) talks about finding happiness within, about not fighting what she cannot control, not letting it ruin her inner being and therefore her life, about going to Italy and essentially having a rebirth into the younger version of herself when she did feel happiness and freedom from within. The manner in which she approaches her husband when he has nothing but hurtful words for her is truly inspiring. Her writing is epically (yes, epically) transparent. I feel what she feels. I get giddy every time I open the book to read more. She gives me something to relate to, she allows me to step in to some of the inner workings of her mind and I LOVE the mind and all that goes on inside of it.

The last few months have provided me with amazing growth within myself as a person, and as a woman. The things I believe in, the things I have realized about myself and about who I am, the challenges I have faced, the things I have overcome. I have always known that I needed to find happiness within myself as I had always depended on external sources for it but I didn’t know how. Those external sources over the years have been taken away and it left me with a feeling of emptiness and despair that I could not handle. It pained me. My most recent relationship was the trigger to finally step out of my own way and my own unhappiness to find what truly makes me happy and if you have been following my blog, you probably know by now what that is. When we broke up I was empty and defeated. Where was my happiness? Who was going to provide for me the happiness he did bring me at times? How am I going to be happy without him?

The other day my therapist asked me why I like it when people read my blog. The answer is simple and is the same answer I have already touched on. Human connection. Or rather the human condition. I didn’t have a legitimate definition for the human condition other than the search for meaning and connection to others, so I thought I’d peek at Wikipedia.

“It includes concerns such as the meaning of life, the search for gratification, the sense of curiosity, the inevitability of isolation, or awareness regarding the inescapability of death. The existentialist psychotherapist Irvin D. Yalom has identified what he refers to as the four “givens” or ultimate concerns of human existence – concerns with meaning, loneliness, freedom and mortality.”

Meaning, loneliness, freedom and mortality. Loneliness is huge. No one wants to be lonely. So we reach for something to bring us out of it until we can bring our own self out of it. I write in my journal and one day plan to publish parts of it just as Laura has done because I believe that it can help inspire people. My therapist was spot on with asking me why I desire so much for people to read it. Just as much as I feel they are connecting with me, I am connecting with them. It’s that Ah-ha moment we have, that light bulb that goes off in our heads that makes us say, “oh yes, this is exactly what I am feeling and this is how this person presented it to the world and how this person dealt with it on their own.” It inspires me, makes my bones tingle, ignites my soul, puts a smile on my face, allows me to know I am not alone, that others are not alone. I want people to feel the happiness I have learned to feel over the last few months. It is such an amazing emotion to feel that took me so long to figure out. I want people to read my blog because I want to share my struggles and my accomplishments at overcoming those struggles and that if I turned out okay, they will too. I want people to read my blog so they share their experiences and accomplishments with me.

Case in point, my Beat That Bulge blog about my eating disorder. I received many responses to that post simply because it is a hard topic to talk about that many people struggle with yet it is kept hush hush. I am far along on my journey with recovering from my eating disorder but there are others that are not. They look at me now and are shocked to hear I had an eating disorder and how it affected me throughout the last 6 years. The negativity that overcame me about my body was truly destructive. But now, thanks to amazing therapists, friends, family and many realizations about myself and the world around me, I am positive about my outlook on life. Many people were proud of me for being so honest about it and working towards overcoming it and that makes me proud to share it.

The responses inspired me and touched my soul. I want to to help. That’s it. Help people and help myself. I often find myself reading back through my blogs and my journal so to inspire myself and to remember what I went through and what coping skills I used to carry on when I felt I no longer could. For me, my writing is not a read one time ordeal. For me, my writing is my own self-help that I read over and over again. And I want and need that to survive.

We as humans need to read books that point out the obvious because for some of us, it is not so obvious. We feel so trapped in our own negativity that we simply need a kick in the ass to get out of it. And for others, it is obvious but we need a reminder that what we think of ourselves projects into our soul, onto our faces, into our body language and into our physical world. When something affects our soul, it affects the energy we present to this world. And that energy can change make things happen, positive or negative.

So I end this post with a quote by Napolean Hill…

“What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve”

If you can’t create a positive life on your own, take a moment to read about another’s struggles and accomplishments. Take a moment to read The Secret or to read Laura Munson’s book (or any self-help book for that matter) to truly know that what you put in to your own mind and soul is what you put out to the world.

On happiness

Happiness. What exactly is happiness? How do you define it or classify it? Where does happiness come from? I was recently in a discussion with my ex, yes my ex. Don’t judge. I had an extended conversation with him for the first time in nearly 3 months since we broke up. After ignoring texts for most of the time since our breakup, I decided that I might give being friends with him a shot. Before we actually met up in person we were having a discussion via text about life. He used to be a ski instructor in Vail and he mentioned to me on that bluebird sunny day here in Boston how it was days like that which really made him miss Vail beyond belief. Why? He said something to me that sparked this whole post…

“I just envision myself doing this (working a desk job) for the next 5 years and blinking like what the F just happened. Looking back and asking myself, ‘Why’? I am not sure the $$ is that important.”

People always ask that question, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years, in 10 years?” I have tried so hard to find the answer to that and every time come up absolutely clueless as how to respond. If a potential employer asked me that question, I might have to lie in order to make it seem like I think that intently about my future. PAUSE WITH WHATEVER THOUGHT YOU HAVE. I think about my future every day but it doesn’t exactly drive what I am doing right this very moment. This very moment all I am interested in is writing this post and since very recently most of my days I am more interested in my present than my future. That might be a bad thing in some people’s opinion but wait…

If there is one thing I have learned in life it is that no matter what you say about where you want to be in 5 years or how much you set up your life to succeed and no matter how hard you work, life loves to throw curve balls. I have experienced a few and I am sure you have too. Yes, you can overcome those curveballs and continue on the road you had set out on when you decided where you wanted to be in 5 or 10 years, and many people do. But is that life plan fulfilling? Does it bring you joy more often than not?

My response to him was of course lengthy. Oh and don’t make a judgement until you finish reading all of it.

“It’s not about the money. It’s about what makes you undeniably happy and (after being with him for a year I know this to be true) a desk job isn’t what makes you happy no matter how much money you are making. Not happy and lots of money or happy, happy, happy with a huge smile on your face more days than not and a little less money.” I proceeded to tell him he was crazy for not going back. He asked why…

“Because you LOVE skiing. If you’re asking yourself about how you will feel in 5 years and thinking you might regret not going back to Vail, maybe you need to rethink your priorities. You’re crazy for not being happy, for “putting up” with a job that you hate just because it will make you more money in the long run. What’s money without happiness? If ski instructing in Vail is what you love to do and provides enough money for you to live the life you want to live (including saving money for the future) and do the things you want to do then that’s all that matters.” I didn’t get much of a response out of him other than, “Yeah, I’ll think about it.” Sometimes I think I am too passionate about life and some people just can’t keep up with it.

Anyways, I am currently doing what I love but I never imagined myself as a personal trainer. If you asked me at 12 years old, when I had decided to pursue ski racing with all my might, what my 5 or 10 year plan was or where I saw myself down the road, I would not have said working in Boston as a personal trainer. When my dreams of racing on the World Cup and going to the Olympics came to a disappointing reality of NOT happening, I went to college and raced the collegiate circuit. I had a blast but when I graduated I was more than happy to walk away.

I graduated in May 2010 and for the first time since I was 12 I knew what I wanted to do, but it wasn’t 5 or 10 years down the road, it was 1 year later. I told myself when I graduated that in 1 year I was going to move to Boston and work as a personal trainer at Equinox on Franklin Street. I got hired at Equinox on Franklin Street in April 2011 and have been there ever since. I’ve never once made it about the money. I didn’t move to Boston and apply at Equinox or accept the offer of employment because of the money. In fact, I didn’t even hear my future boss when she was telling me about the pay scale simply because I was so excited about getting hired. If I wasn’t successful at Equinox and wasn’t making enough money to support myself, then yes I would leave but thankfully that is not the case.

But the most important thing is that I am working with people who help me grow every day as a person, who challenge me intellectually, who pick me up when I am down, who encourage me, who make me smile, who help me to become a better person. It hasn’t always been this way but after some serious soul searching I realized I am exactly where I want to be. I am a personal trainer that helps people lead healthier lives, I am inspiring people through my words and am equally inspired by other’s words, I am writing every day, I am growing every day and becoming more and more the person I have always envisioned.

My whole point is that in hearing my ex talk about not being sure if his current career is right for him, for knowing that his unhappiness in his job affects him negatively and did in fact affect our relationship, I can only hope that he does what makes him truly happy, what allows him to live the life he wants to live. I hope that in 5 years he doesn’t look back on the path he chose to follow and say, “What the F was I thinking?” But it is a risk he takes, it is a risk we all take for something we think we want.

So when I ask myself what I want to do or where I see myself in 5 or 10 years, this is my answer: I would like to have a job that I love, and sometimes of course hate, but that ultimately makes me happy, I would hope that this job that I love does provide me with an income that enables me to live how I want to live, I would like to still be writing whether it is just on this blog and in my journal or maybe have written a book, I would like to continue to be eating healthy and working out, I would like to just simply BE healthy, I would like to have a loving husband and if it works out I would love to have kids. I don’t know where I want to live or what job exactly I want to have because based on my life so far, I can easily say that life can change in a blink of an eye; interests change.

All I know is that I am living a life I didn’t plan on living 5 or 10 years ago and I am perfectly okay with that because it is a life that I love, a life that is allowing me to learn about myself and the world. A life of reflection and understanding of my failures and successes and how they affect me today. A life that has helped me grow strong and realize that the decisions I have made were the right ones for me, even though they may have been torture at the time, forcing me to drink a lot of Malbec, cry a lot and write non stop. 🙂

When I asked what happiness is at the beginning of this post, here is my answer: happiness to me is a feeling in my bones, a smile when I wake up. Sometimes we forget what happiness feels like because we have lost it for so long but once we have a taste of it again, we should never go back to what we now know made us unhappy. I forgot what happiness was for a very long time and now that I have found it again, found it from within myself, I am a strong proponent of everyone being able to find it.

So now I ask you: what is happiness to you? What does it mean and how do you know when you have it? Figure it out and make sure to do what makes you happy, it is the best choice you will ever make. When you get asked or ask yourself what your 5 or 10 year plan is, you might know exactly what you want but please don’t forget that whatever it is should (or at least I would hope) make you happy. Please, please don’t forget.

And because I am a teeny bit aggressive at times with my suggestions (I swear it’s simply because I am sometimes entirely too passionate about happiness)..

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PS. To everyone who listened to me cry about my ex, literally cry…the answer is no and you should know what I mean.

 

 

 

Cupid’s Undie Run

Picture this…thousands of people running around in their underwear in the middle of winter. And now picture this…thousands of children afflicted by a disease called Neurofibromatosis. It is a genetic disease that afflicts 1 out of 3,000 children and causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body causing blindness, deafness, learning disabilities and severe chronic pain. To help combat this disease, the Children’s Tumor Foundation raises money to fund research in order to work towards finding a cure.

Enter the Cupid’s Undie Run. This is an event held on February 15th in which thousands of people strip down to their undies and run around a yet to be announced course somewhere in Boston in order to raise money and awareness. Pretty awesome if you ask me. Who wouldn’t want to run around in their undies in the middle of winter?

Now given my bum hip, I will not be running…argh. But I will be there volunteering and being the best cheerleader I can be. I sooooo wish I could run and jump around in my underwear but the hip just won’t be ready for that. SO, in an effort to keep the theme (and the fun) rolling, I will be volunteering in only my underwear, but there’s a catch…

I will only volunteer in my underwear if I get at least 10 donations. Thats it, 10!!! I am that confident that 10 of you who read this will donate since I really, really want to be in my underwear at the event in order to feel like I am giving it my all. But I won’t do it unless I get those 10 donations. Come on everyone, I really want to be in my underwear at this event but I have to set some sort of goal in order to allow myself to do it! In addition, if I get more than 10, I will write on my stomach the name of every person who donates in order to honor their support for such a great cause. A picture will be taken and it will be posted on my blog so you will have proof of it!

Any amount helps as 100% of the money raised goes to the Foundation. So please donate to the run through this link:

http://hopecur.com/karacrow

 

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Remember: 10 people and I will be in my underwear for the entire event, more than 10 people and your name will be on my stomach…that’s it. Come on guys!