Start Your Engines, Get In Gear… And Drive.

Ready… set…

I get it. It can be hard to get moving. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, or perhaps it’s a project that as you mashing the pause button over and over. It may feel like every step you take is hit by 5 obstacles that either make you stop and reassess your direction, or just have you terrified to continue.

Don’t think.

Don’t do that to yourself. Whatever your mission, your venture, you chose this adventure for one very good reason or another. You probably had the best intentions when you sat down and thought “I’m going to do THIS for x y and z reason” and those reasons got you this far. Don’t second guess yourself. Pass go. Collect $200.

Start Your Engine

Starting your engine might seem like it takes a lot of work some days. I bet you it’s less the physical obstacles staling you, and more the mental ones that keep you on hold. If you remove the monkey mind (that beast who offers “what if?” scenarios in your head) and plow straight through into 1st gear- you will follow through. Promise. If you allow those worries to hesitate you, even for a second, it will take even more work to get you to move past. Those worries flooded your engine. Shitz annoying, right?

Get in Gear

Melanie Robbins had a great idea. Instead of giving yourself time to think, reasons to get out of bed and doing the things you set out to get done, she offers a handy trick of counting down from 5.

“5…4…3…2…1!”

This gives you the automatic fuel to JUMP, LEAP, COMMENCE. It’s almost a challenge, or a game. And perhaps that’s why it’s so effective. Instead of telling you why to do something (like a parent explaining to a child why carrots are good for you) it gives you an opportunity. It also takes away thought and leaves you with instincts. No time to worry. No time wasted. Just JUMP.

Drive

I’m reminded of the military. The military service men and women I know take orders without much thought or back talk. That obedience and discipline, and dare I say- trust in the process is commendable, honorable. If only I could bring that into my own life, right? Think about how they were trained: They were trained to honor their higher commanders, who were trained before them- and everyone was trained to push past fear and DO. We all can apply that advice somewhere in their lives– I certainly know I can! Try envisioning yourself as both your own commander and as an under officer. You set these goals for yourself, now your commander (you) is enforcing them and counting on you to see the orders through. Are you really going to say no? And if you do say no, is that truly honoring yourself and your desires?

Keep Driving

It’s easy to get distracted, easy to find reasons to pull off to the side of the road. Maybe you “need” to check your map. Maybe you “think” you missed the right road. In my own personal experience, I find that even if you did miss the road, if you keep driving, you’re more likely to find your way back on track than if you stop and overthink a route. And if you are truly lost, asking for advice and listening to people who know the route better than you is more worthwhile then sitting alone behind your steering wheel. Ask questions, listen to the responses, and determine the best course of action. But please, God, don’t hinder your progress by stopping. All that energy you could be using driving, is now stuck between your eyes, giving you worry lines, and there’s no sense wasting your life away worrying. Not when you could be out there, on an amazing journey.

So shut up and drive.

Medication Reflection- By Guest Blogger Sean Temple

Introducing a blog post by Sean Temple, for His Art is Heart!

  “How many times has someone told you to take a pill to fix something wrong with your body? It starts out small. We have experienced headaches requiring aspirin or ibuprofen to alleviate the pain. We have used salves to cure cuts quickly, remove tooth pain, or relieve sore backs and joints. Substances have greatly impacted our present reality, having us believe anything can be dealt with if only you find the proper dosage of a given remedy. Our physical forms have benefited greatly from medical discoveries and procedures…

but what about the mind?

For a great length of my life, I have fought and experienced mental illness. Often, many people cope with something mentally affecting them, and I knew I wasn’t a special circumstance to the vast dilemma of staying sane. However, we can never disregard that every person’s life is separate, and that they experience struggles differently. It took me a great while to understand this concept. I thought I was weak for not dealing with it properly on my own, and believed that everyone else shunned those who couldn’t cope. I receded into myself and repressed every depressing, sad, hurtful situation that occurred throughout my life.

Pills were always the first or final solution suggested to me by psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists. The truth is these pills remove the sadness and hopelessness, but they do not make you happy. Joy and excitement come from a personal standpoint I believe to be deeply rooted within our conscious mind. We may feel the affects of our brain giving us the right chemicals to feel happy and experience pleasure, but the underlying ability to initiate it comes from an emotional level. As such, conscious behavior does hold power.

Our will is a tool and asset;

If we harness it, we can change a great deal in our lives.

            Obtaining the strength of will I now have has not been easy. It has taken years of perseverance and tribulations that have tested me time and time again. It’s an ongoing process that I am challenged with on a daily basis. Some days are worse than others, and some days I hardly think about it at all. I feel every single emotion, every tide of anger, and every sad thought. I allow myself to accept what I am feeling as it is. I have learned to not simply repress it with apathy and try to forget about it.

By doing this, every situation has become a debate that I win.

Every negative self-perception is challenged by my consciousness. No matter what happens, I do not accept that I am worthless or that I must feel guilty.

“You don’t deserve happiness.” I am sure we could all list a handful of reasons why many of us might think this is true, but in all honesty, we as humans are not entitled to anything other than the essentials; I believe these to be food, shelter, water, and love. The world is not responsible for our happiness– we are. Once we learn not to rely on certain outside factors to make us happy, and instead find a silver lining regardless of the situation, we become more observant of the gain rather than the loss.

“No one cares.” As humans, we adapt. Most of us learn to cope with a situation and move on. I believed that family, friends, and those I loved would be sad temporarily and forget about me. As logical as it was in my head, I forgot to think it through completely. Many of us do feel pain and recover in time. When you get a cut or burn, the pain remains for a time, and then it dissipates; You heal. However, a scar tends to remain and always reminds people of why it is there. What about the process? Who or what put the cut or burn there? The idea is the same for attempting or committing suicide. People may recover, but they didn’t need to feel that pain in the first place. Loved one’s should not have to suffer because of someone else’s sadness and actions.

“Nothing has gone right. Why would it get better?” This was by far the hardest thought process I, personally, had to conquer. I was so used to everything going wrong that I couldn’t perceive anything going right. I assumed anything remotely good that happened was eventually going to end badly. Why bother, right? I forced myself to challenge that thought over time. I tell myself, “Life is a constant flow of ups and downs. It’s not supposed to stay up, and it’s not supposed to stay down the entire time. Be patient, and take each step, one at a time.” I learned to become more grateful for the small things. I enjoyed even just having ice cream for the day. I took a shower– wonderful! I ate today! I got up for work! Once we begin to appreciate everything that we do for ourselves, we can start moving on to bigger goals. We can change our lives around, whether it immediately or slowly. There is no set way in life to do things, as much as others may tell us otherwise.

Pills help our physical bodies, and I do not deny that they also help those who have chosen to take them for their mental health. We do have the option of willpower to aid us. It is not for everyone, but it is a possibility we should never ignore or dismiss. I believe the human mind is capable of many great things, and we can control our life without a substance controlling it for us. I am happy to know I struggled and came out stronger without pills. If you are in a situation where you have to decide to take pills for depression, anxiety, or etc, I recommend opening up to the possibility of trying a safe medication that can help you, but never feel pressured into believing you can’t cope without taking meds. If you can trust yourself, you can access that willpower. I believe in me, and so I believe in you.

Thump Away ‘Dem Feelin’s!

Here is the first ever Sunday Sessions with Sooz!!

I recently got back into the swing of things on YouTube. In the past, I used to upload vlogs and offer helpful tips I used in recovery to overcome debilitating anxiety, depression and eating disorders. There were over 200 videos up at one point. The insights I made drew attention and I was even contacted by OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) to be involved in a documentary at one point. The project fell through, but man it felt good to be recognized!!! Oprah? Oprah… calling me???

Ok, well, Oprah wasn’t, personally,  but that experience made me realize that people were seeing my stuff. A large part of me made the videos and posted them to track my progress and revisit tips I would need in the future. And I found that helping others helps me feel better.

However, in 2013 I realized that I wasn’t taking the time to really focus on feeling better, off camera. I wanted to have a professional career and worried that my past would come back to haunt me. Ashamed, embarrassed and feeling very vulnerable, I removed the majority of the videos that had helped so many men and women. For the next few years I allowed myself space to breath and re-center. I’m glad I did! Now I’m back with even more insight, and know which tips work best.

And man, I didn’t realize just how MUCH of my life was documented! I’m able to pull from the past, when I was at my worst, and share tips and tricks that helped me get from there to here! I’m forever grateful to myself for recording so much. I know at the time, I just felt compelled to write everything down, to video-tape my every move (even if it was cringeworthy.) and to turn my emotions into art.

Every Sunday I will be uploading a new Sunday Session with Sooz, which will cover a different topic surrounding depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Topics may be dark (suicide, self harm) and I am sensitive to those in different stages of their recovery process.

If there is a topic you would like to see covered or you have a question, be sure to comment on the video or send me a private message. Help me help you!

Let Loose, Get Kickin’ !

Swish

I always think of that one scene in Garden State, where Natalie Portman’s character says:

You know, back in High School I was a clown. I was in theatre, I was big (in spirit) and loud! I laughed, I danced, and I made weird noises… a lot like Natalie Portman in this scene. These days, I recognize how timid I am in comparison.

With fears centered around “don’t get fired”, “Make that money!” “be grateful, or else suffer!” It’s hard to live a life free, loose. It’s easy to fall into thinking about pleasing others first, because you have internalized society’s fears. It’s hard not to! We’re surrounded by it!

I miss those good old days though. Cliche’? I remind myself often that it’s a state of mind though. I am still technically that loud, slightly obnoxious teen who loved and lived life with open arms. Admittedly, I conked out in College. Depression and Anxiety set in, I missed my family and friends from high school dearly, and my sadness swept away my vibrato. I was lost for a few years, 8 to be exact. Then, I found the light again after years of therapy and realizing the light was always there, it had just gotten overshadowed for a bit.

I learned a lot from those dark years, and it deepened my understanding of the human condition for sure. My “empathy bone” (as I like to call it) grew, and I slowly learned the lost art of compassion. The biggest way to be compassionate is to first start with yourself. And every moment that I find myself thinking ‘I miss that lively girl I used to be” is every moment I could be living as the beautiful, matured, compassionate person I’ve grown into being. Yeah, Teen-me was a LOT of fun, and hilarious! And I still embody those traits, though they may be more subtle. I don’t need to beat myself up for NOT being the young, somewhat blissfully ignorant me. I can embrace this new chick; she’s pretty dope too.

And Ah, the memories! I have so many great memories to be proud of and so many more to create. Feeling sad missing the past robs me of the beautiful moments now, that will be just as memorable in 5 years.

Do not lament me, for I am still kickin’.

Marvel the Unknown

When I was 15,

52I snuck out of the house with my older sister one night to enjoy a full moon.

I believe it was Summer, and I had never done that before.

We were both good girls, obeyed our parents, didn’t do drugs, drink, and other shenangins. I didn’t even swear! But one night, my older sister came up with a fun idea for us, and I couldn’t say no. It seemed like innocent fun. We lived in a good neighborhood, surrounded by farms. We often left the door unlocked. The skies there were amazing, though I didn’t know to appreciate the view as much as I do now.

Now, I live in a city where the night sky is polluted by street lights and commercial signs. You can squint to try and make out a dot or two, but you rarely see the cascading array of individual stars that make up the milkyway like you can in the country.

God, I miss the country.

I appreciate the manmade lights for what they are, for who created them, but it’s all known. I know a person made lightbulbs. I know a person designed the shape of the sign. I might even know the cousin of whoever put the darned thing up!

But as much as I try, as much as I assume, preach, I don’t KNOW how the stars, the sky, the balls of gas, the infitinte galaxies out there popped into existence.

Aliens? God? Yamaha – er wait, Yaweh? Allah? Gaia? The Force?

Call it many things, it is all the same thing: Unknown.

Usually I hate the unknown. HATE. IT.

HATE! UGH! It’s terrifying!

Usually…

But when I look at the night sky, I can’t hate it. I can only marvel.

This photo was taken with a sucky camera, on a night with very little light, but it doesn’t matter. It still captures that relationship, that moment of human marveling the unknown.

Releasing the Judgey McJudgerson Within

nonchalance

I’m a Virgo. No, seriously I am. If you’re creepy, you may know my birthdate and try to correct me

“Nah-uh Susie, you’re a Libra! ‘Says so in my Glamour/Marie Claire/Cosmo/Whatever I read!!”

And then I would counter and tell you the grand story of how my grandfather was an astrologer, and there are two systems of astrology, Sidereal (where I’m a Virgo) and Tropical (the hazy, non-specific version that is in magazines and newspapers because it’s easier to lump people all together). I could interest you (or bore you) explaining how there are “cusps” and I happen to be on one. I could tell you how there are ascendants and descendants, a moon and sun sign, a this and a that. But just take my word for it: I’m a Virgo.

Now, that being said, I’m incredibly judge-mental and critical. This can suck- as I tend to be harshest on myself. And this can uber-suck when I aim my powers on others. Catch me in a funk and I am sure to nit-pick! Thankfully, I am well aware of my detail-oriented state, and I have grown very accustomed to breathing instead of blurting out statements like:

“He’s doing it wrong”

“She sucks at kerning”

“Are they completely blind?!”

Instead, I’ve decided to become a master of manipulation. The good kind. The kind in which I manipulate myself! It’s called….

PATIENCE.

I’m currently reading a book called… wait for it…

the power of PATIENCE

and it’s about, you guessed it:

PATIENCE.

(written by M J Ryan)

It’s pretty darn good so far. I find when I pick it up and read a short chapter, it resonates with what I’m going through- or perhaps that just means I lack patience all the time!

I used to be a lot worse. I’m definitely improving. Gotta’ give myself some credit!

But as you may be able to tell, I’m interested in the New-Agey hullabaloo.

(As in, yeah, I have a Level 1 certificate for Reiki! And I keep crystals by my computer at work to suck the bad juju and negative complaints up around me)

I’m all for understanding the subconscious, releasing my motha-fuckin’-ego, and embracing the noooooowwww (Eckhart Tolle style). That nit-picking part of me does not go away when I’m meditating, forgiving past shiznit, or wondering what pretzel sandwich I want at the gas station. It’s all me. All the time, it’s all me. I can decide one moment “Hey! I’m being patient and listening and breathing and letting the other person talk without overreacting to their unbuttoned middle button! Go me!” or I could still be me and say

“UGHHH! What kind of slob are you?? Can you not feel that your button is undone?? UGHHH my life is so affected by your nonchalance!!!”

Either way I react, it’s all me. So what “me” do I want to be? The boastful (*coughTRUMP*) version of me? Who doesn’t stop to listen to herself before she nitpicks? Or the slow, patient, thought out (*coughOBAMA*) me who’s relaxed as fuq’.

 

I made this post because tonight I was in a funk, and feeling nit-picky. I was on facebook- which can be the worst place to be when you’re feeling this way, because you want to share your opinion (very strongly) on everybody’s lives! So, I thought I would vent, learn, grow, and write about my personality flaw? strength? feature? To better come to an understanding.

Judgey-McJudgerson- OUT.

Oo-Rah? Oo la la!

2015-11-07 23.13.27

Yesterday, I had my first experience going to the Marine Corps Ball. My boyfriend, who I lovingly call a multitude of distinguished names (a few including Jaker-Bakers, Jaker-Bakerson, Jakey-Bakey) and I have been dating for almost a year now. He’s a Devil Dog, (no not THAT kind, THIS kind) and he’s a man. A man’s man. Which, in comparison, makes me really seem like a woman, a very feminine woman. It’s a fun dynamic, as I always viewed myself as a dorky, lanky theatre/art nerd. I’ve always been a guy-y girl, liking dinosaurs, and liking to play in the mud. I don’t shy away from stomping in puddles and causing destruction! However, Me-Likey a reason to get all dolled up and bust a move on the dance floor!

I first heard about the Marine Corps Ball almost a year ago, when I was out and about in the dating world.

I was dating a few men at the time, never really interested in anyone too much. Mainly, I loved meeting and learning about other people. Dating was a fun way to do that. Online dating made it so I could feel a person out before meeting them. Pre-requisites all in line, I’d agree to meet them for a drink.

But I guess the signs of boredom shone though. I started only meeting first dates at the same location, at the same time of night, and only for one drink. (What if we didn’t vibe well? No having to stick around for a meal!) I never tried to change up my game. I tried letting the dudes I met talk my ear off, because piecing people together, figuring them out was fun for me. Always a fan of analyzing suitors, I let them talk at me more than with me. If I could have broken out a notebook and pen and occasionally asked “Hmm, that’s fascinating. Now, tell me more about your relationship with your mom” without it being too obvious, I’d probably have done it.

But then this one guy.

I guess all it takes is one guy.

The first thing that pulled me into this guy, was his online dating profile. A typical selfie, in a typical bathroom, him making a Blue-Steel-esque mug. Oh, but his hot-nerd glasses… and what’s that?

A uniform.

Usually, I only dated between 24-30yo, and he was all of 21 at the time. I was 26.

But… but… the uniform.

I read his profile and it was well written, grammar executed correctly. Yay, intelligence! He was to the point, without being arrogant or too direct. He was warm, open.

And, I mean, uniform.

So i wrote him back, and thus began our weeks’ worth of messages. What I loved the most about our correspondence was he always talked about doing things. No “netflix and chilling” kinda vibe from this guy. “I’m volunteering for a Toys for Tots drive for the Marine Corps”. What’s that? Volunteering? Part of a community? Little kids? … Uniform?

So the time came when we had our first date. True to my nature, I tried the old routine: “Bar? Drink?” But he a threw a (much needed) wrench. “Can’t. Work.” So I was forced to change my ways. We met for coffee, in the early morning.

I still love reminiscing about our first encounter. Seeing him walk up to that Starbucks, right down the street from where I lived, watching as he grabs the door handle, and then he looks up and we see each other for the first time. Goddamn those blue eyes.

The first date went great. I won’t go into detail because if I did, this reasonably sized blog post would turn into a steamy romance novel. And honestly, we’re still writing the pages.

So that’s how I met this guy: Sir Jaker-Bakerson (I guess Jake for short). And soon after, he mentioned the magic that is the Marine Corps Ball. At the time I was working at a Vintage Clothing Boutique, and the idea of placing together an outfit, fit for the 1950’s, had me at Hello.

The day came that I found the dress. Occasionally, in my free time at the Boutique, I’d try on vintage weddings dresses (Oh- Like you wouldn’t!?) It was a dangerous game. I tried on a tea-length 1950’s champagne dress and it was awful! Because it fit me like a glove.

How dare it! Well, honestly, only my bank account was sad that day. The girl with a new 1950’s dress? Yeah, she was taking up residency on Cloud 9. True, I had only been dating King Jakely-Bakley-Noodles for a few months at the time, and I really wasn’t trying to place any pressure on the guy when I sent him the text- “Hey honey, I bought my wedding dress today!” with accompanying photo. But I was nervous when I sent it.

His response said it all.

“You look gorgeous, babe!!!!!”

I didn’t know when or where I would wear the dress. I just knew it fit me too perfectly and was too “me” to pass up. It sat in the back of my closet for over 6 months. Then, last week, the day came for the Powers of the Dress to shine:

“Jake-tastic-Bakely-boo… when is that Marine Corps Ball?”

“This Saturday.”

Insert My Panicked Expression Here.

Both Jake-leton and I went back to our apartment. I immediately went to my room, tried the dress on to make sure I still fit into it (Maybe it was a glove over half a year ago, but Major Jake-McLovin is a great cook and I’m a BIG fan of his meals). As I went to look in the mirror, I saw my boyfriend, buttoning his Blues, scrutinizing himself in the mirror as well.

“Are we both doing the same thing right now?” He asked, and we laughed. Both of us were concerned about looking Damn Good at this ball. Both of us were concerned that we had waited too long to prepare for it! And both of us knew Jake-on-the-lake was too good a cook for our waistline’s good. We both also noticed that, geez, if/when/(ahhh-it’s-bad-luck-to-talk-about-it) we get married, we’d probably be wearing the same attire we are planning to for the ball.

Amazingly, thankfully, my dress and his uniform fit even better than before. Apparently, Jake-le-cook is good at making delicious-addiction worthy food at a Low-Cal price. If an Umpire could narrate my life, he would have been throwing his arms out, down on one knee declaring the situation, “SAFE!“. *Phew!

So finally, yesterday was the day. Jakey-Puddin-Pie was in the ceremony and had to go in early to practice and set up. This meant I had to arrive at the ball unescorted: Me, myself, and I. I was nervous! I didn’t really know anyone going to the ball. But I loved the idea of Jakely-bibbly-boo getting to see the Big Reveal of my completed ball look as I walk down the hallway toward him.

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I arrived. And had no idea where I was going. Three events were taking place at the Convention Center that night, and I didn’t know where to go. Luckily, every Marine was dressed in their Blues, and so all I had to do was find a military man and tail him.

The women were gorgeous! Everyone went all out because it was a black-tie Gala event! I wanted to go up to everyone and tell them how beautiful they looked. They were so kind too. When I first arrived in the Convention Center, many women in long gowns were standing around drinking wine.

“Is this where the Marine Corp Ball is?”

One woman graciously took me under her wing and showed me the way. She asked where my Bakey-boo was and I told her he was in the ceremony. She made sure I got a drink while I waited and I was able to have company until he could meet me. It was very sweet and I’m so glad she spent time with me! Feeling cared for led me to reach out to all the other ladies there, strike up conversation, and make them feel as welcomed as I felt.

Jakely-biddly-boo-bear tapped me on the shoulder, and there he was! All crisp and clean in his majestic uniform.

Mmm… uniform.

The night was awesome. I met his friends, a few of which I had met in the past. We ate great food, Jakey-Fuzzily-Wuzzily attempted to salsa, and oh! A Master Sergeant playfully (though I’m pretty sure legitimately) tried to fight me. I think the heels I wore intimidated him. The dancing was my favorite part. Jakeley-Wakertons was really nervous about the ceremony, and as soon as it was over and he could let loose, he really busted a move on the dance floor. They played a lot of 1940’s/50’s music and we felt like we were back in a different era– we were both certainly dressed the part. I was the Prettiest Girl at the Ball. Well, ok, that’s what Jake told me at least. I know he’s biased, but I felt pretty damn special hearing it. And he looked so handsome

So I had a great time at the ball, some would say I had a …. BALL! Hah! Get it?

And this is yet another magical evening Jaker-Bakerson and I can reminisce about when we’re old, grey, and sitting in comfy chairs next to each other. I can see it now: I probably started the day off pointing out how messy the table is after he left all his stuff on it. He’d counter that I left all the lights on before we left for breakfast earlier that morning. I’d try to convince him to walk the dog and he’d begrudgingly do it, using the Lord’s name in vain under his breath, maybe tripping slightly on the carpet as he reaches for the leash. His stumble would remind me of the time he tried to master the Salsa that one year at the Marine Corps Ball and I’d laugh. He’d look at me like I was making fun of him for some reason, but in reality I just remembered how much I love him, and how trivial a messy table is in the big scheme of things.

16

“She is Me”

2007

2007

I took the job.

Ridiculously happy? Me? Ermmm YEAH!!! This new job solves so many problems in my life! Moolah! Opportunity for leadership! Creative development! It opens up a world of possibility! But man, is this a transition period. Following that pure joy comes realization of things I must leave behind. I did not comprehend how hard it would be to leave my current job. I have grown very fond of the atmosphere, positive music, encouraging bosses and fellow employees. My friends are there, mentors in life! And I fear that sense of loneliness as I part ways with them.

Yes, I will make new friends.

Yes, I will find other mentors.

Yes this job is a leadership position, with new opportunities- and yes! That can be scary.

This is all a good thing.

I am ready for this opportunity. I am hungry for it, even! I have realized the strength within me, my capabilities, and I know I can rock the socks off this new job. I believe in karma, and for years I thought I was being punished for choices I had made, actually a negative attitude I had trouble letting go of. But now I realize that I was doing it to myself. As my mom used to tell me (ok, yeah, pretty often) “Susie, you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face!” I was my own worst enemy. I was terrified, fighting for survival. There was no need for that; I was alive, I was capable of happiness and love. I created my own suffering. I was punishing myself, thinking myself small, weak. This perspective was self-fulfilling. I think therefore I am (err, was!)

But giirrrrllllllllLLLL, look at you now! And most importantly, look at the people in your life that stood by you as you found your way.

Gratitude.

Recently, it was Appreciate yo’ awesome Bosses day! At the retail job I work at, a customer was buying a gift for her boss and informed me of this. I knew it was a perfect opportunity to show my bosses, mentors, friends how I felt about them and how much I appreciated their patience, kindness, and support. It was even more apparent I should do something for them because now The End was in sight! How I would miss them! How they have helped me get to where I am going now! I am overflowing with gratitude.

So, I bought them gifts. I took the time to write letters to them, letting them know how their leadership affected me. I wrapped their gifts, folded their letters, all with love. I took my time.

I never really did that before. I never really put effort into wrapping a gift “What’s the point? They’ll just rip it open! Neglect the wrapping!” But at my sister’s baby shower, I saw a woman make a Tricycle out of baby supplies and it made me rethink that belief.

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Oh, wait… that’s creative! Time was put into that! I was so impressed!!

So what if I approached things differently? I knew I wanted to be more open with friends, family, hell– even strangers!– About the light I see within them. I wanted to encourage and support others as I have been encouraged and supported. Talking can be challenging for me, I get self-conscious, pull inward. However, writing and creating have always been my best forms of communicating. And what’s nifty is a creation hangs around, tangible, recorded. Spoken words can be floating, lost, forgotten, jumbled around by faulty neurotransmitters.

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Taking the time to take the time for others really made me feel good (and it’s all about me, right?). Writing those letters really solidified my future for me too. I’m moving on to a bigger job, more responsibility, and without my last job I would have never been prepared to take this on. I am forever grateful for that experience, for those friends. I learned how to treat everybody with kindness, patience, because I witnessed others doing just that.

Gabrielle Bernstein once mentioned a thought her inner voice mentioned to her. She was upset, taking her anger out on a poor worker behind a desk. She was mad at the situation, not the worker and suddenly she had the thought:

She is me

She instantly pulled back her anger, apologized, realized it was misplaced aggression and voiced her fears. This vulnerability, honesty, broke down the wall that her fear and anger were creating. The result? They both relaxed, were able to open up to each other, and create a harmonious interaction, even making a new friend!

I wrote that phrase down as soon as I heard it. It’s GOLD! Often we can place ourselves higher than others, or the opposite by putting people on pedestals. Each time we do this, we fail to see that person as equal, one of us. She is me. He is me!

The day after I heard these wise words, I applied it to my job. Each customer who came up to ring out, I practiced letting my guard down, placed my judgement of whatever they were wearing, or whatever look they had on their face aside, and did me. “She is me. I am talking to me.” I knew, on the flip side, I would have appreciated a genuine interaction with a sales associate. I am quirky, fidgety, I hum a lot! I used to view these traits as “abnormal‘ appropriate for scrutiny, but in reality, it’s just me! It gives me joy to hum, gives me joy to dance around, tap my fingers. If I can share my joy openly, that shit is usually contagious! I told myself each customer who came my way had that same joy, that same desire to dance and sing! They get it! And I Tore Down That Wall, released that leash!

And it was one of thee best day‘s I’ve had to date.

Not only did it help the other person relax, open up, tear down their walls– but it released my social anxiety. I was being me, and I was reaping the benefits! Learning about others, hearing their stories propels me, motivates me! If I clam up, censor myself and my feelings, I lose that opportunity to be inspired by the fascinating lives around me.

And who wants that?