A Note of Gratitude

Forgive me as the words spill out of me like the tears I can’t hold back. The past two days have been filled to the brim with reasons to cry, and I have. A younger me would have judged myself for the blubbering I’ve done over the past months, but forget it.

I am a different person now than I was before. Cells have been recreated, I have been hugged more, loved more, given more, offered more breaths of life to keep living and keep loving.

Why was I given more days to experience so much life, and breath, and beauty, when those not so far from my home, my community were not spared?

They wanted a night on the town– no different from my brothers and sisters right here in beautiful Long Beach. Long Beach, a place in which I have learned to become a better version of myself– my mind, and heart, and soul has been expanded because of this place that I chose on a whim, chasing after a boy.

But I look around me and I see how goddamn lucky I was to have followed that boy that broke my heart and tore me apart to a shell of a human so that I not only could rebuild, but so that I could be so closely connected to these beautiful people around me every single glorious day.

Everything is a gift.

Everyone of you is a gift to me.

Readers, friends, those who I will never meet– the vibrations of you matter more than I could ever comprehend.

 

And then, I am over here, experiencing what it feels like to be congratulated by my loved ones to put one foot in front of the other for three hours.

That’s not hard.

Sweating for pleasure is not hard.

Watching your community break down and cry is hard.

Watching your people argue over the definition of love and equality is hard.

Watching your friends feel pain and anguish over the fact that their neighbors might see them as less than any other human is hard.

Watching your people lose all faith in your country is hard.

Going for a long run is NOT HARD.

It was merely a lesson. A lesson that when we put limitations on what we are capable of doing, we can never change. It was a lesson that dedication and hard work can reap incredible results if you just don’t fucking give up.

We can’t give up on ourselves, and I know for a fact, that my brothers and sisters are so much stronger than I am on my own.

They have proven it to me over and over and over and over again and have given me a reason to run in the first place.

 

And although running is not hard, music is not hard, dance is not hard, and art is not hard — at least not in the way this ridiculous fight is hard,

I will run longer, sing more beautifully, dance with less conviction, and create with as much fucking purpose as I have in my tiny little human form because it’s everything I’ve got.

And if our steps, our struggle, our creation, our breath gives us a reason to celebrate who we are, then GOD DAMNIT we better do it.

Because that’s love.

I don’t care who you are, love is love, and we have the power to choose LOVE over hate and separation every day.

Every day we live is a chance to choose kindness and passion and love.

 

Thank you for inspiring me to run, sing, play, and create.

But more than anything,thank you for inspiring me to love greater than I ever thought possible.

 

 

How to Live Your Truth (Explained with Tacos)

Live Your Truth.

What the heck does that mean?

It’s such a complicated little sentence because truth (if we are speaking away from any religious principles) ebbs and flows for a person.

When I was eight years old, I wanted to survive on cold bologna sandwiches and hamburger helper until the day I died.

As a high schooler, I was convinced that by the time I reached my twenties, I would be living the high life in New York City on the brink of my first Broadway production.

As a young college student, I had intense disdain for all things that could even remotely be considered lazy, took 18 units a semester, had a part time job, a boyfriend, and an incessant need to do more with my life.

Fresh out of college I had physical and emotional trouble, and ached for socializing as much as possible.

Today I like to run 10Ks, and take naps so I don’t have to talk to anyone.

 

So when someone tells me to “live my truth” or asks “What do you want?”  I sort of cock my head to the side, shrug, and say “I don’t know. Tacos?”

My truth has become tacos.

 

There has to be a bigger question here.

taco-memes-full-of-tacos.jpeg

 

 

In all serious, the fact of the matter is that I (like SO many other people out there) adjust their wants and needs based on the expectations of others.

whatdoyouwant.gifnotthatsimple.png

 

Maybe it’s the recovering Catholic in me, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation:

A: What would you like to do?

B: I don’t know. Whatever you want makes me happy.

A: That’s not what I asked.

B: But that’s my answer.

A: Okay, I want to go watch a movie and eat pizza.

B: Great. I’ll do that with you. That will make me happy. (But I will silently be thinking about how badly I wanted to go to mini-golf and  have tacos. I will be distracted all night about it, and then I will start to get passive aggressive, blaming the other person for not knowing my needs that I never asked for in the first place.)  

 

This example is of course on a small scale, but once it becomes a habit, it ends up being applied to the big things in life as well.

Your religion.

Your sexuality.

Your marriage.

Your passions.

Your morality.

 

THAT stuff is your truth. That is the stardust inside of you that can’t be changed or altered, no matter how hard you try to ignore it. At some point or another, if you ignore it long enough, it’s going to explode out of your face and get all over everyone. You will want to blame everyone who has ever influenced you for the outcome of your life, but the fact of the matter is, you are the only one who has real control of your life!

So…

lets live our truth! Ask yourself what it is inside of you that you NEED to listen to.

Dig. Ask questions. Try different things.

Throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks.

DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR IT.

Share the things you discover about yourself. Those who love you will stick around and support these things. Those who don’t will fall away. But it won’t matter because you’re being honest about who you are.

 

Then put that sh*t into practice. Stop denying yourself and start speaking up.

 

It may seem trivial, but it actually does help to start by saying:

“I do not want pizza. I want tacos.”

 

iliketacos.jpg

 

It becomes a habit.

And then you learn how to ask for what you want.

And then you learn how to ask for what you need.

And then you learn how to know what you need, and declare that you’re going to go get it.

 

 

And then suddenly, we’re all eating tacos, and EVERYONE is happy.

 

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When the Fear Dragon Buries Your Dreams in the Dirt

When the Fear Dragon Buries Your Dreams in the Dirt

I have so many things on my body at any given time that remind me to stop being afraid.

I have a runners bracelet that says “Live Fearlessly.”

I have a necklace I wear almost every day that says “Fearless”

I have a tattoo on my left wrist that says “Courage, 1st John 4:18.” (This verse states “There is no fear in love.” I got that one after my abusive relationship in college)

 

I am very aware that I am constantly terrified.

And I’m trying to figure out what it is that scares me so much. I mean, I have the fear of people being upset with me. I am afraid of disappointing others. I am afraid that people will find out that I’m not all smiles, optimism, and kindness. I am afraid that I don’t deserve the job that I have. I am afraid that I don’t deserve to dream bigger. I am afraid of rejection. I am afraid of choosing the wrong “right” as I try to figure out my own right and wrong. I am afraid of being overweight. I am afraid of depression. I am afraid of being unhappy.  I am afraid I will someday be a terrible mother. I am afraid I won’t be able to finish my half marathon.

I’m afraid that I don’t deserve what I have, and that eventually someone will find out that I am not deserving of it, and it will all be taken from me.

 

Usually I use humor and creativity to deal with all of this.

But lately things don’t feel so funny or creative.

Lately it just feels like work. Being social feels like work. Talking about anything other than the mountain of emotion that I have buried myself under feels like work. I’m not allowing myself to have any fun because the fear has turned into imposter syndrome, which has turned into a belief that I don’t deserve what I have, which has turned into self-destruction and lack of motivation.

I like to think that maybe I’m just exhausted.

Or maybe I am selfishly trying to blame someone for these flaws… Recently I caught myself in a very ugly state, while I was watching some kids doing a wonderful performance, and my thoughts were “Wow, I wonder what MY life would have been like if someone gave a crap about how badly I wanted to perform as a kid, and didn’t berate me for wanting to do things that cost money outside of school.”

Now, of course this isn’t true, but somewhere deep down, there is a little girl in my heart who still feels like her dreams and hopes are not worth anyone’s time. She put them in a box and buried them, so they wouldn’t bother anybody. (Let me clarify– SHE put them there. It’s no one else’s fault.)

Now that I’ve learned this about myself, pulling that box out of that mound of dirt sometimes feels like the most difficult thing in the effing universe. I have to dig my hands into the dry, cracked, soil that has grown solid over time. I feel like I’m sobbing into the ground , screaming at my younger self for ignoring that box for all of this time. Meanwhile the grime gets under my fingernails, I can’t stop staring at this dirt, and while I dig, people in my life walk by, and get dirt thrown in their face.

 

That’s a very dramatic metaphor.

But it’s sort of what I feel like lately.

 

Every time I didn’t stick up for myself, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I chose to stay up late on the phone for the sake of someone else’s problems, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I put someone else’s needs before my own, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I watered down my creative ideas out of fear of judgement, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I lived according to someone else’s wishes and demands, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I didn’t ask for what I needed, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I chose to drink too much, and punish myself by locking myself in a bathroom, I put more dirt on that box.

 

Nobody else DID this to me. I let them do it, and thus I put the dirt there.

 

 

At the moment, I’m choosing to take the time so I can just pause, and write all this down. Earlier in the week I posted that “Get Money” quote on instagram, because I was in all of this pain, but didn’t have the time to feel it, give it the attention it deserves, and attempt to figure it out. So I used humor to deal. Sometimes, that’s the best I’ve got.

 

Right now, I’m tired of digging. I’m tired of trying to answer the question “What do you want?” because I don’t know how to answer it. I don’t remember what’s in that box in the dirt. I was always too scared to really look at it.

How do you ever know, really?  Maybe there’s nothing in it. If I learned anything from ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ and Dr. Seuss, the point is the journey, not the destination.

And maybe the journey doesn’t have to be all sunshine and rainbows.

And maybe that’s why I haven’t stopped digging.

 

 

Huh.

That’s deep shit.

(See what I did there?… Deep? … Like, ‘Dig Deep’?…No? MMk.)

 

 

 

Self-Deprecation: A Big Waste of Everyone’s Time

Something has been on my mind lately.

I know a lot of people that spend a significant amount of time self-deprecating.

“I’m just not that smart.”

“I wish my hair looked like yours.”

“That’s what I get for being short and fat.”

“I’ll never look good no matter how much I diet.”

“I mean, I’m obviously the least intelligent person in this room.”

“Could I be any more useless?”

“What good will it do if I try to communicate my feelings?”

“I’m not worth anyone’s time.”

(S/he says as s/he tries to backtrack the severity of this blanket, self-hate statement with a nervous laugh.)

My Response?

Shut. The hell. Up.

 

I refuse to any longer be the type of friend or family member that pats you on the head and tells you how pretty and perfect you are, despite how horribly you speak about yourself.

Do you know why?

Because I love you.

Because I believe we are so much better than just fishing for compliments.

I believe that there are FAR MORE INTERESTING things to talk about rather than our inability to lose ten pounds.

I believe that we are lovely, capable human beings who (just like every other human on this planet) may go through some awful times, but are courageous enough to put on their big girl pants and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

I believe that we spend so much time worrying and whining about what we aren’t,  that we don’t even get to scratch the surface of everything that we could be.

 

I am SO TIRED of this conversation. I’m tired of hearing it, and I’m tired of it being in my own head.  And you know what? Here’s the thing…

THE VOICES ARE ALWAYS GOING TO BE THERE.

There’s no magical little “off” switch that will suddenly make us feel perfectly confident and content. There will always be a time when we will feel like we aren’t enough. We will fall short. We will be forced to look at ourselves. We will fail.

So, we can choose to dwell on our failings, shamefully staring at our shortcomings OR we can use our failure as fuel.

Let your failure be your motivator.

So, maybe you’re saying “Jessica, the voices are so loud. I always hear them, causing so much anxiety and depression for me. They stunt me and make me feel terrible about myself. They make me want to quit my job and hide in a corner forever.”

I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve been there more often than I would like to admit. But I made the decision that I don’t want to be crying in a corner forever. I want to be useful to my community. I want to know what it’s like to feel like Superwoman. I want to know how to reach my full potential. I chose TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

For me, it’s running, writing, eating well, going to bed early, loving people as hard as I can, and laughing at myself.

Example: I used to hate the fact that I’m tall. Sometimes it is still a source of insecurity, but when it starts to bother me, I make a joke and say “Watch out, here comes the big gorilla” in a stupid voice  we all laugh about it.

The voices can’t control me if I am always aware that I control them.  

But that’s me. That’s my therapy.

For another person, it might be a different story. Maybe it’s taking up an interest like cooking, spending more time with kids, meditating, doing something useful in the community…(I’m a big believer in doing something charitable if you want to stop feeling like a Big Sad Screw-Up. It’s kind of impossible to feel like one when you’re focusing on giving.)

 

But, please. For everyone’s sake.

Find a way to get over it.

Find a way to start embracing the failure, and staring it dead in the face. If it’s something that’s really causing big problems to your health or your relationships, make a change.

Try something new and open your mind to different possibilities.

Ask yourself what you could be if you let go of the bull crap that clouds your head, and go become it.

It’s that simple.

You are in charge of the life that you live.

Whine a little if you have to, but find a way to get over it.

You deserve it.

How to Find Love: Step 1. Leave Toxic Relationships

Our hearts know when we are in a relationship that is unhealthy. But sometimes, we absolutely hate to admit it. We would rather drag out being uncomfortable with a person (and with ourselves) by sweeping things under the rug, or just pretending that the breakdown in communication doesn’t exist.

Maybe you have a ton of memories with this person. Maybe you’re connected financially. Maybe there is pressure from your family to stay attached to this person.

Maybe you’re just terrified of what it means if you cut ties.

 

All of this is normal. All of us have been through this experience of “trying to make things work” with that parent, that boyfriend, that spouse, that best friend, that boss, that sibling that is just KILLING us to be around for one reason or another. We make up excuses for that person, try to be understanding of their unacceptable behavior, and put ourselves second to a person that does nothing but cause us grief and suffering.

We put up blinders to their bad behavior and force ourselves to see the good in that person, even if that costs us our own sanity.

 

Why?

There truly is no point in staying intertwined with a person who only makes you hurt and angry. If you have done (and this is important) everything in your power to communicate your feelings with this person, and the message is not being received, then you just have to grow a pair and say good-bye.

Now let me touch on something for a moment—

Communicate How You Feel  

This is massively overlooked (particularly for those “Sweep-things-under-the-rug-to-avoid-conflict” types) when dealing with a toxic relationship. Sometimes the toxicity is growing in stench and thickness because the hurt individual isn’t communicating with their person to try and fix the problem. Sure, they’ll vent about that person to all of their friends and family, but they don’t go directly to the source, which only makes matters worse, and is terribly unfair to all parties involved. That being said, do not read the rest of this post until you have tried to communicate first, because it will do nothing for you. SAY SOMETHING.

Being quiet is the absolute worst thing you can do for yourself and your person if you are hurt. 

 

Now that that’s out of the way…

If you have tried to communicate and your message is not being received, you are not doing anyone any favors by staying connected to someone who is tearing you apart. (Unless there are children involved, then it gets complicated. But I am definitely no expert on this matter. I’l leave my opinions on this for another time in the future).

 

Now, stop being a martyr. GET OUT of the relationship.

Are you putting goals on hold because of this person’s opinions of you?

Are you compromising your health because of the senseless emotional stress this person is causing?

Are they dulling you? Making you worry about who you are? Making you question yourself and who you want to be?

Are they controlling you? Manipulating you? Lying to you?

Then, leave.

 

The best thing I ever could have done was get out of the relationships that were shrinking me. I had people in my life that made me feel small, that made me second-guess everything I believed in. I would be passionate and excited about a project, and get shrugged at or told it was a waste of time. I would feel sad about something, and was snubbed at for being to sensitive. I would ask for the person’s time, and they wouldn’t make room for me. I would compromise my own thoughts, feelings, and personality all to make this individual what I thought was “happy” when really it was just a big huge lie. It took a long time for me to figure it out, but the fact of the matter is,

When you lie to yourself, you can’t love yourself. And when you don’t love yourself, you sure as hell can’t love anyone else. 

 

I was making myself believe that I needed these individuals in my life. I believed that my worth would decrease if I was without them. I felt guilty for even questioning my happiness in the first place.

But in the months that I started to make room in my life to love myself, the toxic relationships started falling away like dominoes.

Not only that, but after some time, I learned (and am still learning) how to deal with the relationships that do take extra emotional energy. I can love these individuals, but not let them so far into my heart that it tears me apart. It takes patience and perseverance, but it is possible.

Part of loving yourself, is protecting your heart. And there is absolutely NO SHAME in needing to protect your heart. Anyone who truly loves you for who you are will understand and respect that fact. But you have to set the boundaries from the beginning. At some point, you stop and other people start. It is entirely up to you who you let over the wall of your heart. DO NOT GIVE THEM THE GATE KEY IF THEY DONT RESPECT THE WALL IN THE FIRST PLACE.

 

I made room in my life to love myself, and let me tell you, I have fallen into the greatest love of my life that I had no idea was fathomable outside of books and movies. Not only does this person love me for who I am, but he makes me feel more like myself than I ever thought was possible. And I never would have found him, if I didn’t learn how to eliminate the things in my life that were dulling who I am.

 

Everyone deserves to feel this kind of all-encompassing love. What an amazing world we would live in if everyone learned how to love themselves first.

 

 

 

 

When the City is Destroyed, Who is Supposed to Fix it?

Sometimes we argue with the people we love.

Sometimes the arguing happens so frequently that you’re wondering if it’s even worth trying to resolve issues with this person.

Sometimes disagreement becomes the only reality you have with an individual or loved ones. The problems just keep growing, tumbleweeding into new arguments, unresolved issues, and past faults.

Sometimes we want to blame someone or something for our unresolved issues because that is easier than looking within.

So we do.

We blame the person, the past, or the circumstances. We cling to the negative, because we are lead to believe that the hurtful parts of our lives are somehow a greater reality than the good things we are so lucky to have.

We point fingers, we scream, and we cry. Then when we get nowhere, we tell secrets or incomplete truths. We hold grudges that can last for years.

These massive problems in our lives our not just Sad Dragons on their own. They’re something bigger, something far more powerful. They’re more like a family of Sad Dragons that caught something cancerous. And because we kept feeding those Cancerous Dragons more fuel with arguments, anger, self-destruction, hatred, violence and ugliness they grew into something more powerful than us. They become these horrible mutant creatures living in a pestilent cave, only coming out occasionally to burn down villages. It’s not because they’re inherently evil. It’s because destruction is the only thing they know how to do. Anger and hatred breeds more anger and hatred.

We can’t tackle them on our own when they get this big. It takes a community, family, or group of friends to come together and acknowledge that the Dragons exist in the first place. It can be in a deliberate meeting, or it can be characterized by silent acceptance, but it HAS to happen or nothing will change.

This is not easy to do.

It’s extremely difficult.

We can’t expect everyone to acknowledge that these problems even exist in the first place.

We can’t expect everyone to take care of their Sad Dragons before they turn into violent beasts.

We can only hope for it.

But in the meantime, I encourage you to acknowledge what is in your control. Take a good, hard, look and see what exactly your Dragon is doing.

Have you neglected it? Fed it? Encouraged it? Loved it from a safe distance?

How are you taking responsibility for yourself, so that you can be a wellspring of love, rather than a pool of negativity?

Are you spending time looking within, or are you expecting someone else to do all the work?

No one can do it all alone. It takes a whole village to undo damage done to an entire city.

But it starts with you.

#SorryNotSorry

Lets talk about apologies!!!

Common apologies from friends:

  1. I’m sorry I can’t go out. I have a family to take care of and require me to act responsible.
  2. I’m sorry I can’t eat carbs or sugar or alcohol right now. I’m working on not feeling so sick lately.
  3. I’m sorry I slept in later than usual. I’ve been so tired and stressed out lately.
  4. I’m sorry the dish I brought to this party is not all organic. I was pressed for time.
  5. I’m sorry I’m not up to date on all of your favorite tv shows. I have other things in my life keeping me occupied. Like my job. And my family. And like, my passions.

Common apologies from colleagues:

  1. I’m sorry I don’t understand the task, and would like further clarification.
  2. I’m sorry I’m sniffling and taking so much cold medicine. I woke up very ill and figured i should still come to work.
  3. I’m sorry, but I feel I may be a victim of sexual harassment in the work place.
  4. I’m sorry I didn’t bring you Starbucks. I did not realize it was my responsibility.
  5. I’m sorry I’m late. There was an accident that could not have been predicted.
  6. I’m sorry I am not passionate about this job and I am looking for work elsewhere.
  7. I’m sorry I need time off to spend some time with my family.
  8. I’m sorry I have been so sleepy at work lately. I am very stressed in my home life.

Common Apologies I have heard myself say:

  1. I’m sorry I am tight on funds and cannot spend extra money. I am in between jobs.
  2. I’m sorry I would like to take this time to express how I am really feeling because I feel like it matters to this relationship.
  3. I’m sorry I have been exercising a lot. It makes me feel better about myself and helps me be more productive.
  4. I’m sorry I can’t eat cake and ice cream. I’m working on being my healthiest self.
  5. I’m sorry I have a specific kind of personality. I am a diverse woman with a lot of passions.
  6. I’m sorry I no longer believe the same things that you believe. My experience has led me to feel otherwise.

Now… Go back up to these lists. Take a look at the statements, and remove the “I’m Sorry” from every single one of them.

Now they have just become factual statements, explaining needs, boundaries, passions, emotions, and things we should NEVER have to apologize for.

Why do we feel like we have to live in a head space of constant apology when it’s unnecessary?  Who are we disappointing by having needs? What are we afraid of? Are we just avoiding the responsibility we have to our own hearts?

If we go around our lives saying “I’m sorry I believe in this moral code,” or “I’m sorry my body is shaped this way,” or “I’m sorry I have this passion,” then we are NEVER allowing ourselves to carry out our fullest potential. We are stopping ourselves from our divine truth for the sake of other peoples’ ideas of who we should be, or just merely out of fear. STOP IT! LIVE YOUR TRUTH!!! (I mean, don’t be a jerk either… like, don’t go around chastising anyone for living out their truth as well— They shouldn’t have to apologize for who they are either. It goes both ways, mmk?)

I am currently learning about what it truly means to live in a way in which I only need to apologize if it truly is necessary. An apology should be meaningful– used when we are truly and deeply sorry for a terrible mistake. But, in the meantime, if I stay true to who I am, stick to my own morals, and chickety-check-myself-before-I-rickety-wreck myself, I will never have to wander around my life saying “Im Sorry” for my own existence. It’s REALLY HARD. But when I commit to it, its extremely liberating. It makes goals seem so much more attainable. And frankly, it makes living joyfully a breeze.

I encourage you to catch yourself the next time you apologize for something silly. See if you can give the statement “I’m Sorry” the actual meaning it deserves. You just might be able to set yourself free from something big.

Until next time, friends!

From ‘Sad Dragon’ to Straight Up ‘Evil Demon Beast’

I’m a big believer in giving yourself a break when it comes to depression and self-deprecation. Humans are complicated creatures with varying emotions and mental states, and so sometimes less than ideal things will happen as a result of these emotions. However, if we’re lucky, we can learn to self-reflect and do everything in our power to be our best self for ourselves and for others.

So let’s say you have become pretty adequate at self-reflection. Let’s say you’re on a path to knowing yourself better than you ever have before. Let’s say you’re a pretty damn good person with a good heart and a strong moral system.

And then, for whatever reason, things go awry. Your Dragon takes over. You let Him get fierce beyond all belief, you listen to His lies, and you act upon them. You allow yourself to go to negative places about who you are and what you mean to people, and you become someone you don’t recognize.

You become destructive. You hurt people. You hurt yourself. You make yourself sick from your own actions. Finally, once the destruction is over you find yourself in a circle of rubble, strewn about by your Dragon’s chaos.

So what do you do?

I’ve been there. I’ve stared at that rubble from my self-war, totally dumbfounded that I was capable of such awfulness. It’s an awfully strange place to be because suddenly you have choices; choices of what the heck to do with all of that mess.

Some choices I made included:

  1. Sitting in the chaos and just bathing in it. I accepted that I am the Sad Dragon and I celebrated it. I metaphorically announced to the universe that I identified with the Dragon and there’s no going back.
  2. Numbing myself to the chaos and pretending it wasn’t there. Some great numbing agents include copious amounts of vodka and whiskey. It’s pretty amazing– when you’re so drunk from alcohol your brain can’t comprehend anything except it’s drunkenness, and your emotional pain goes away. (Somebody’s gotta be making money off of this concept somewhere… )
  3. Claiming the “I DESERVE IT” lie. This is a typical Sad Dragon whisper. It’s the little voice that tells you you’re WORTH getting an enormous hot fudge sundae instead of a healthy meal. It’s the voice that says you’re allowed to binge watch Netflix for 8 hours on a Saturday because you partied too hard the night before. It’s the voice that says you are above everyone else because you struggled over something. It’s Sad Dragon bullshit. “I Deserve it” is the lie that takes the place of the truthful sentence “It’s ok to mess up once in a while, but I want to be better than this.” They are very different messages. (I think I dislike this choice the most)
  4. Staring at the rubble and crying in disbelief and total, utter sorrow. This was the choice of acceptance. It was allowing myself to feel the despair once the high wore off.
  5. Drying my eyes, cleaning up the rubble, and apologizing to it that it will never look quite as pristine as it did before. Asking forgiveness, but not expecting it, and then walking away so the space could heal from my Sad Dragon’s hissy fit.

Now, in a perfect world, I wouldn’t let the Sad Dragon get as fierce as it did in the first place. In an almost perfect world, I would have jumped straight to choices #4 and #5. But that’s not what I did. When a person really messes up, it’s extremely tough to dig into acceptance and get back to the way life is supposed to be. It’s a process.   Everyone’s process is different, and I would never judge a person for dealing with their Sad Dragon’s hot mess in a way that works for them.

My only Soap Box Advice is This: DO NOT LIVE IN THE FALSE REALITY OF CHOICES 1-3 

Those choices are of pain. They are choices of loneliness. They are choices of letting the Sad Dragon win. Then, the Dragon becomes not just a cute Sad Dragon that hangs out with you sometimes, but a terrifying demonic beast that will just continue to widen the circumference of its chaos.

Clean up the mess, apologize, and don’t look back. YOU ARE BETTER THAN YOUR CHAOS.

In fact, you are BEAUTIFUL. Now go on and get yourself a good nap, a green smoothie, and some journaling so you can heal faster.

Learning to Love Your Butt

Learning to Love Your Butt

My Butt and I… we have been through a lot together. And I’m going to be very honest. It’s taken me a long time to stop feeling so self-conscious about it. Because here’s the thing. Its BIG.

It’s always going to be BIG. I could get all the way down to a tiny 125 pounds, and my hips will still be super wide, and I’ll still probably carry most of that weight in my butt. I’m half Mexican– it is what it is! It will always jiggle when I jump-rope, and it will always bounce when I boogie. (Yeah, alliteration… WHAT!?)

But this used to be a really big issue for me. I remember one night when I was about thirteen years old, I sobbed on the floor because I came to the realization that my hips were always going to be wide. I could no longer fit into any of my jeans, and I made the choice that my life was over.

I had nicknames all throughout high school from my stupid friends (Biggie, Backshelf, Round Thang.. none of them were very clever) and I despised the attention I got for my butt. I remember pretending to laugh when I walked into my friend’s room and she started playing “Fat Bottomed Girls” by Queen and yelled “THIS SONG IS ABOUT YOU!” Nowadays I find that funny, but as a teenager, it made me writhe.

I wanted to do anything I possibly could to get super thin so I would stop being so embarrassed by my Butt— (I.E. giving in to the Sad Dragon.) But no amount of dieting or exercising made my butt get any smaller.

Jump forward about ten years, and you will find a woman who no longer cries about her butt. I thankfully have learned to love my butt for a number of reasons.

LIST OF REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD LOVE YOUR BUTT: 

1.  Potential mates (for me, DUDES.. mmmm) love it. Maybe not every guy out there is a butt guy, but there is absolutely no denying that there is a large population of people who love dat booty! And the big butts are here to give their love a destination.

2.Your butt allows you to look super cute in A-line dresses. You know the dresses that get really snug in the middle and flare out at the bottom? Your butt is what makes that flare happen. Thank your butt for the flare.

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Thanks, Boo-tay! Without you this dress would hang limp!

3. You get to eat more! To fuel your butt muscles! The gluteal muscles are the biggest muscles in the human body because it has to keep everything from the hips up totally erect. That’s a big job and it requires fuel! So eat a plateful of deliciousness and realize that you’re allowing your butt to work to it’s full potential.

4. Because the gluteal muscles keep the body up, they help you climb stairs, ladders, and jungle gyms, they are also known as the “Anti-Gravity Muscles.” So, basically your butt is a super hero. You’re welcome.

5. DID YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY? YOUR BUTT IS A SUPERHERO!

6. It aids vocal power. I had a voice teacher way back when that said I had a good shape for vocal projection because my lower half was large enough to create powerful vocal vibration. Now, I don’t know if this is science…. but… Beyonce. Think about it.

7. It aids in pushing out babies. Ever heard the phrase “Child-bearing hips”? Your hips, your curves, your lower half allows your body to be capable of bringing life into this universe. Now, I’ve never had kids myself, but I’ll be damned if this wasn’t one of the most (if not THE most) magical thing about being a woman. Say thanks to your Anti-Gravity Super Butt because it is a huge part of giving life.

I’m sure you wonderful people out there can think of more reasons why your butt is excellent. Or why your thighs are excellent. Or your abdomen. Or your eyes. Or your hair. Or your feet….. The point is, loving your body for what it allows you to do (and not just how it looks) is outrageously important. Give that body part that you dislike some credit. It’s a part of you, and it helps make you who you are. Love the crap out of it. (See what I did there?)

Until next time, friends.

I-love-you-with-all-my-butt

Fear, My Dear Old Friend

Fear, My Dear Old Friend

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Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to take a class at The Second City, Hollywood for free at their open house. I took a two-hour Musical Theater Improvisation Class. (I also like to call it Heaven.)

I shared the afternoon with about twenty other wonderfully brave individuals who wanted to explore one of the most terrifying art forms ever created.  It takes a specific type of weirdo to be able to get up in front of a group of strangers and sing a song that has no established melody, no established words, and no established story. You have to make it up. You have to trust that the people around you will support and contribute to your song. And the only way to learn or get better, is to get over your mental road blocks, trust yourself, and recognize that you are not going to die. And it is TERRIFYING.

Now, I have been lucky. I have been fortunate that my life and my training has taken me to this point. This point in which I know that getting on stage, choosing a character, and trusting myself is a better choice than letting fear take over. I have been lucky that I was taught to fight against my nerves, and to ignore the concern of whether or not I will be “good enough” on stage. But that took a lot of practice and patience.

That being said, I have been having so much trouble watching my peers, colleagues, and friends give in to their mental roadblocks on stage. I have been watching many performers lately in classes, auditions, and karaoke nights, succumbing to their fear. I can see in their eyes the message “I DO NOT DESERVE TO BE HERE,” “PLEASE GET ME OFF THIS STAGE,” “WHY AM I NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO SHARE THIS SPACE WITH YOU?”… And thus, the story becomes about those messages behind their eyes. The audience’s experience (if they are supportive) is being on the edge of their seats, hoping that this individual succeeds in getting through to the end of the scene, rather than the story the player is so desperately trying to tell.

Furthermore, I keep seeing this fear-mentality in people who are not performers as well. People who are too afraid to go for a new relationship, or talk to a stranger, or quit the job that they hate, or end a toxic relationship, or go on a trip to see new things. They always seem to come up with a reason why they are afraid, or why they don’t deserve that thing they want to go after, which is really outrageously silly.

Why do we do this to ourselves? And not just performers, but people? Why do some people with strong Sad Dragons walk into a space, or approach a new situation with deep inferiority? Most people with these types of Sad Dragons can tell you why.

“It was my upbringing.”

“It’s just in my blood.”

“I’m destined to be a depressed person, so there you go.”

“I’m going through a lot right now, so I just feel self-conscious all the time.”

“I’m not smart enough.”

“I’m not pretty enough.”

“I’m not talented enough.”

“I’m not thin enough.”

“I AM NOT ENOUGH.”

I empathize with these statements. They’re in my head all the time too. And these statements can either be speed bumps, stop signs, or straight-up brick walls in the way of a person’s joy. There’s no way on this planet I could have gotten up to sing improv if I listened to all of the voices in my head, and accepted them as truth.

My solution? Practice Accepting the Inner Monologue of the Sad Dragon, Noticing it’s Presence, and Using it for Motivation to Move. 

Negativity and self-doubt ARE in your head for a reason, but they don’t have to be manifested into a Stop Sign or a Brick Wall. Let’s explore further.

Let’s say you have a mental roadblock with running your first 5K.

Sad Dragon: “I will never be good enough to pull this off. I am too unhealthy and I will never have enough motivation to look as good as everyone else out there. I tried once before, and I’m going to fail again, so why try?” 

That’s some nasty mind-language. How can you change it?

Step 1: START THE THING. Put on your running shoes and go outside, even if you feel like crap about it.

Step 2: DO THE THING. Start moving. Even if it’s just a walk. Just go.

Step 3: SAY HI TO THE DRAGON Acknowledge your Sad Dragon’s monologue in your head. Say hello to it, and try to separate your emotions from it. Remember, you are NOT your Sad Dragon. It’s just one little piece of you.

Step 4: DONT STOP DOING THE THING  Keep moving.

Step 5: THANK THE DRAGON Give that sad language a mental hug and THANK IT. Offer it some GRATITUDE for being there to give you the motivation to get outside and try something that’s hard. (Because remember, you’re already outside, aren’t you?)

Step 6: CHANGE THE DRAGON’S LANGUAGE (This is the tough part, so be patient with yourself.)  The hard part is to switch the language in your head. “I acknowledge that I don’t feel as healthy as I would like to be, and that’s why I have these negative feelings about myself. But I signed up for a 5K which is a step in the right direction. I am so glad I took this chance on myself because I am giving myself an opportunity to grow.”

Step 7: LEARN AS MUCH ABOUT THE THING AS YOU CAN Do your homework, and find new ways to improve and get motivated. For this case, get a new running app, subscribe to a blog, or find a super fun race you can do with a buddy.

Step 8: KICK SOME ASS Run your race and watch change happen.

Never EVER EVVEEERRR let fear or self-doubt stop you from running after something that you want or need. No matter how small that little thing is, you will never get to sing your song for others if you’re too scared. Your voice matters. So give your Sad Dragon a hug, tell it to speak the right language, and give yourself the chance to sing your face off.

Keep training, my friends.