Themyscira

After many days of smoke, waking up in our new apartment (which we’ve named Themyscira) and looking out over the town with all the brick buildings, pretty homes, trees, birds, and clean air coming in the windows… I felt… still. I was going to type “good” or “at home” which would both have fit there accurately as well. However, growing up the way I did, “home” isn’t as strictly defined by the building I live in like with most people so it didn’t feel like the best word choice, and though it was a “good” feeling I wanted to be more precise. I felt still. Not exactly peaceful, but more like a feeling defined by the lack of other feelings. When I analyzed the feeling, as I usually do these days, I figured that what I was feeling was a stillness that had replaced the former constant flow of efforts going into trying to get to a place of stability for us. Before I was always working toward sustainability, always striving to reach the next checkpoint that meant I was measurably closer to this goal. So no matter how many good things were happening, there was always the striving always the grind. A feeling of accomplishment with each step closer, but never feeling safe enough to rest. Not until we are safe. Not until I have a career that will support us. Not until we have our own home. Not until I can provide for us independently. Not just yet… never yet-

Until now ❤

I woke up this morning in OUR apartment. Themyscira is our new home. I LOVE this apartment!! It’s pretty with original wood floors, beautiful bathrooms, a huge walk-in closet, and a big kitchen island! It has pretty views and enough space for a home-gym. It also has a rooftop deck for us to enjoy (which we already do)! It is also ours. The minion and I have only lived in our own place once for about 10 months just before nursing school. It was great, but I was still broke and couldn’t truly sustain it long term (which is why we had to move back in with family when I started the program and had to work less hours). So for 9 years minus 10 months (for the minion) and for 30 years minus 10 months (for me), we have lived with other people. I went from my parents home, to her dad’s home, to my parents home, to her dads home, to my brothers home, to her dads home, to my other brothers home, to my parents home… until now. Themyscira is ours. So we can style it the way we want and make it our home.

Today the minion and I spent the morning at a friends house learning to make homemade huckleberry pancakes and enjoying time with a good friend. We came back home and walked in and there it was, that feeling again. Stillness.

I believe that this will be an entirely new chapter with an entirely new season of growth for us. Themyscira is named after the Island of the Amazonian women that Diana (Wonder Woman) came from. Themyscira was where Diana was raised up into Wonder Woman. This was her home, her training ground, her family life, her genesis, the place her life’s foundation was built. This Island was unseen and untouchable by the outside world around it. It was not like anywhere else in the world, like Diana herself. Though I fancy myself a sort of Wonder Woman, the analogy holds for me more in that this Themyscira will be where my daughter (my Diana) grows up. Our home that is hers while she grows will be where she is raised up into her full self. It will be her training ground, her family life, her genesis, the place where her life’s foundation is built. This will be where we conquer our next challenges, face down our fears, and learn to be strong, brave, and good.

This season feels different.

Prayer and meditation lead me to think that this season holds something special for us. I can feel it inside my mind and soul… something powerful happens next.

Don’t get me wrong, our previous seasons of healing and redemption were powerful in their own way for sure. Rebuilding a foundation of self and soul and life is powerful indeed. But what I am sensing now is a season of power. This is where we learn to run fast and fight hard and live intelligently and love wildly.

And I am so game.

The Wolf You Feed

I am always looking forward. Always. It is something that I have always naturally done, and learning to be fully present and in-the-moment has had to be more intentionally developed in me. Where I am right now in life, the future looks great. I am on a good solid sustainable path and I like who I am and I like where this path leads. That being said, as I focus forward I also know that to have the journey play out as I foresee, I will have to continue growing as a person. People often assume that inner growth is seasonal or optional, like after a relationship breaks and they wallow for a bit then connect with someone new; this is often inaccurately seen as “growth”. Similarly, how we often think that with this better job, or this new home, or this new relationship, or this next New Year, or Monday, or the weekend… We assume there is rest and everlasting happiness on the other side of ______. I have come to realize that a truly great life is attainable, but that each step forward- each phase of life- will require a different (better) version of yourself than the last. That whole, living 90 years or living 1 year 90 times, thing. Continuous growth is a requirement for true happiness.

There is a part of me that is bothered by that fact.

Part of me that wants to have done enough and be able to just relax and get comfortable here. Part of me seems to always be trying to settle and stay and get cozy and stop striving. Looking around at others I am betting it’s a very normal thing to give in to that desire that wants to lull us to sleep; to stagnate. Maybe it isn’t some complex psychology but actually just our brain’s nature to choose pleasure over pain? Working out hurts, so just grab a blanket and the remote and enjoy life huh? Hm.

Another part of me however, is stronger now than it used to be and it demands more. Not in an insatiable way but because it seems to truly believe I can do more and have more and be more. More of a lot of things. More healthy, more knowledgeable, more kind, more patient, more effective, more caring, more adventurous, more peaceful, more wise… so much more.

Why stop here?” it asks.

Look around you. Comfort, settling, ease… can you find anyone remarkable in a life of stasis?”

No.

I’ll be real, I am not someone who believes that the majority of people are special or good or worthwhile. Sorry if this disrupts your own world views, but I believe the majority of people are unhappy, unintelligent, and unremarkable. Not to say that they will always be, or that they’re worthless, or somehow less than. Nor do I hold that because they are unremarkable they don’t deserve respect. I respect everyone I meet, not because of who they are but because of who I am. Most people are unremarkable. Just relaying an observation. I have however, been able to meet several people that are remarkable. Not always in the same ways or for the same reasons, but remarkable in that they are different from the majority.

I met a nurse a year or so ago that seemed a little unique at first, just because she was very intelligent. She is an ISTJ 😉 Getting to know her I realized she was remarkable because she always gave her best, had good intentions, was always learning, held herself to high standards of care, and did all of this despite what others said of her or what the pressures of her coworkers would prefer of her. She stood steadfast to her own standards even when asked to slow it down a bit since she was making the others feel less than. She remained kind and focused and efficient and accurate even though it made her unaccepted in some social work circles. She refused to be less so that others (who had chosen stasis) could feel like more. Instead she spent her free time helping young nurses learn pharmacology and pathophysiology and proper nursing skills. She read stories to those who were sick and lonely. She encouraged her coworkers to be their best and empowered her students to believe in their best selves. She is remarkable.

I also know a remarkable young man. As an ENTJ he had always been an alpha socially. Not always beloved but always respected. I have known him a long time but seeing him grow into a remarkable man has been a privilege. He is remarkable because he is always learning, always asking the hard questions, always seeking true understanding, always trying to be a better man and a better dad, always striving for more, and never willing to settle to suit those around him. He has learned to harness his aggression and focus it on his objectives and not those in the way. He has taken the time to accept the power and effectiveness of true kindness, respect, and humility (not easy for an ENTJ). He too has been on a journey of growth and refuses to settle for mediocrity. Like my other friend… this makes him both respected and distanced socially because he is unlike the rest, and that makes people uncomfortable. So though he’s the first they’d want by their sides in an emergency, they can’t be around him too long without questioning their own selves, and that doesn’t feel good. He is remarkable.

I know a truly remarkable ENFJ (who is also a nurse =). She too is always growing and learning and working to be her best self. She is remarkable because she is always focused on others needs and authentically aims to meet them. Not from some psychotic need to make herself valuable to others or to give her some codependent identity to feed from, but because she genuinely cares for others and wants everyone to be as happy inside as she is. From her I learned to respect kindness in an entirely new way. There’s a counterintuitive power to her kindness. Being kind truly kind in an often harsh and cruel world is not weakness or immaturity (as I once thought) it is strength. It is strength that allows her to be treated like dirt by a patient and go unflinching into their room time and time again with the genuine intent to make them more well and more comfortable. It is strength that allows her to wholly forgive others for hurting her. It is strength that allows her to actually wish well for those that underestimate or belittle her for her gentleness. It is strength that causes her to reject the constant pressures to do and feel and be just as bitter and miserable as the rest are. She is remarkable.

I am lucky enough to have met these and a few more remarkable people, and I am thankful that my journey has taught me to even be looking for them. The goal though is to learn from them all. I too, am remarkable. I too am always learning and growing. I am obsessed with personal growth and development. But I got here because my life had become something toxic and unsustainable. I decided to start pursuing inner growth because I felt I had to. I got clean because I had to. I got out of my marriage because I had to. I got counseling to do the work to fix my emotional chaos, because I had to. I went back to school because I had to. I became a nurse because I had to. I researched personality psychology because I had to. I adopted better parenting techniques because I had to. I can do anything I have to do, afterall. But here I am now emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and financially stable…

For the first time, I could stay right here and have all of mine and Charlie’s basic needs met.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs, scalable vector illustration

Our basic physiological, safety, and love/belonging needs can be met with all I am and all I have now. But both esteem and self-actualization require continuous growth; maintained health. Homeostasis. I do have all of these stages of the hierarchy of needs currently. I have high self-esteem, a reputation of integrity, strength, freedom, and a desire to become my best self. But I also know that I can’t keep those things and remain here as I am indefinitely.

Like the physical body, true living requires homeostasis; the condition of optimal functioning for the organism. We should aim for a sense of harmony in this crazy life. A way to come back to ourselves after chaos hits, which it always does and always will. A life with balance, harmony, equilibrium, stability… homeostasis. When using this analogy I think the word optimal best describes how I relate a well-lived life to the term homeostasis. Living organisms thrive within their homeostatic environments; they change and adjust to chaos as needed and then return to their optimal functioning. Similarly, a living person can only thrive within a homeostatic life; adjusting to chaos as needed and then returning to their optimal living. Following that analogy, meeting and maintaining all of our needs should allow us to live an optimal life.

My point here is that I don’t have to keep working toward more. There isn’t abuse or chaos or pain or poverty to push me to do more. I can stop striving and be mediocre and fit in well and still have most of our needs met. There is nothing now to force me forward. I guess what prompted this post was fear of some sort. Fear that maybe I can’t do what needs to be done without an external force. Fear that I will drop the ball this far into the game. Fear that with all of the responsibility of raising Charlie and providing a good life for us and keeping us on a sustainable path, I might not choose to keep growing and I will fail us. Fear that I will get tired and choose stasis. Fear that I will settle for a mediocre version of myself, and that it will teach Charlie to do the same. Fear that I will never know how great a mom, nurse, writer, and woman I can be, because I gave in and allowed myself to be lulled into a painfully average existence; where I survive better than most but know nothing of thriving.

I’m afraid. I do not have to keep growing in character. I do not have to keep learning. I do not have to get my nurse practitioners license. I do not have to get a book published. I do not have to put my work into the world for the public to judge. I do not have to get out of my comfort zone and build deep friendships. I do not have to spend time every day exercising. I do not have to save money to be safe financially. I do not have to keep working my issues and uprooting faulty conditioning in my psychology. I do not have to move from where I am right now ever again to survive. I can stay right here. I can rest.

But to live my optimal life I cannot stay here. To raise my daughter to live her optimal life, I cannot stay here. To have a life that gives back someday, I cannot stay here. I cannot stay. I will not stay. I will fuel the part of me that knows the value of growth and the detriment of stagnation. I will stop feeding this immature fear that responds to the pressure to stop here. I will stop yielding in social moments that allow me to shine because it might make me less liked. I will learn to be authentically kind, humbly empowered, and unapologetically focused on growth, no matter who it unsettles. I know who I am. I know how most people live and I know that with all the power I have I will fight to live fully. I want us to live full, passionate, empowered lives and that just doesn’t happen by default.

I must keep growing.

Stasis is something reserved for death, and I am choosing to live fully. Optimally.

Save Your Pity

What I don’t see is people thriving within their own lives.

I don’t see people truly relishing their freedoms.

I don’t see people soaking up natures gifts.

I don’t see people enjoying their careers.

I don’t see people honoring their bodies.

I don’t see people drinking to celebrate their life’s accomplishments, but to drown their worries.

I don’t see people spending and saving with intelligence, but rather borrowing to maintain lives they can’t afford.

I don’t see people savoring the limited years with their children, but instead anxiously surviving the chaos they’ve created.

I don’t see people walking in peace, but usually all bound up by their anxiety.

I don’t see people taking the time to go inward daily and cultivate their minds and hearts with intentionality; I just see them striving and hoping things don’t suck too badly by default.

I don’t see happy couples; not in almost any context.

I don’t see posts of true joy, but often highlights strategically gathered to maintain their public image.

I don’t see functional families, but chaotic units of unhealthy minds all striving for control.

I don’t see people growing old together in unbreakable relationship and unity, but often just people cycling through one shitty relationship after another, or worse, a couple together for many many miserable years.

I don’t see people teaching their kids about personal growth, development, autonomy, and self-responsibility; we can’t teach what we don’t know, after all.

I don’t see people taking regular self-inventory to check for unhealthy patterns, faulty-thinking, biases, or dark emotions, no. Most are too unaware to even know to go inward and uproot the weeds that grow by default; a simple meme about the ignorance of others should give them a false sense of where they stand socially, which will help their facade to themselves.

I don’t see people filled with passion or purpose. Most people don’t even recall how it feels to be moved by something real.

I don’t see people teaching their family and friends how to live full, powerful, beautiful, meaningful lives… because most people stopped believing that was realistic a long time ago.

I am sorry if this post depresses you, but follow me for a moment…

I am currently living single. I parent an eight year old girl by myself. I have overcome addictions, a toxic marriage, abuse, poor conditioning, poverty, and now my college degree. I am on a path to conquer an eating disorder (I am overweight), debt, my practitioners license, raising an incredible human, budgeting intelligently, and writing my first book series. I live on purpose and I am always working on myself to improve and grow. My path has continued to improve since I became intentional and intelligent about my life’s path about 5 years ago. My daughter and I are about to FINALLY leave my parents home and the plans are fucking BEAUTIFUL!!

That being said… When I sense pity from other people because I don’t do things the way they believe they should be done, I am always confused.

People have shared their “sadness” for my being a single-parent.

People have told me I should never have moved in with my parents and should have gotten a “good job” ($15/hr) until I can remarry and have a larger income for the home.

People have shared how they’re so impressed by all my hard work, but pray often that God would send me the man He has planned to take care of me and my daughter.

People have even assumed silly things, like assuming I’d be sad or bothered by their mention of a marriage or a love story. I suppose their assumption is that I would begrudge them theirs since mine didn’t work out? So not who I am.

Obviously, this is being written in a moment of light frustration, but I am not angry. I just wish people could more easily see me. It is uncomfortably ironic to me that most of the people I get this impression of pity from are people living somewhere in the list above. So even though they’re not happy, they pity me. I wish they could understand my experience and see how far I’ve come. I wish they could know how much inner work I’ve done and how empowered its made me. I wish they knew the values needed for this equation. I feel like they know the variables of “she got out of a bad marriage” and “she got her degree” and “she is raising that girl well” but that they don’t know their accurate values. Which means though we are all watching the same things happen, the end result to them is somehow not enough. It somehow will never equal a great life in their eyes because I am single. If only they could understand the deep values behind those variables, maybe they’d come to the same sum that I have. Maybe then our answers would match.

I left a truly terrible relationship. I left. I was stuck and scared and alone even in a marriage, and I got out before it was too late for me and Charlie. I am free. To know the true value of that you’d have to see it from my perspective. I was stuck in a life I didn’t mean to create for us. One of broken hearts, toxic cycles, psychological abuse, and shattered glass…literally. But now…

I. AM. FREE.

I also finished school and got my nursing license. I completed nursing school and passed the NCLEX and became a nurse! To know the true value of this variable you’d have to know how it feels to work 18-30 hours a week at 12 bucks an hour, while spending well over 40 hours a week on school, and raising a child; for FOUR years. You’d have to know how truly terrible nursing school is. You’d have to truly understand how it feels to have BARELY enough to get by. You’d have to know the shame of asking your parents to live with them. You’d have to understand how it feels to say “we just can’t afford it” to your kid for many many many things along the way. You’d have to understand what it feels like to look your kid in the face after a long shift and reject their need for your time because you still have homework to do before bed. You’d have to have felt the profoundly disturbing state of scarcity that poverty instills in a broke parent. And then you’d have to know what it feels like to look into the future plans and likelihoods and see it change from scarcity to abundance; to see profound limitations for your child one day and a wide range of opportunity the next! I can take care of us now. I can. Just me. We will be ok because I have us covered.

I. GOT. US.

& to address that last quote. I am raising an amazing young woman. I have become a great mother. I am not proud of some of my early days as a parent, and I make some mistakes still, but I have become so proud of the mother I am today. I am raising this incredible kid and it is so purely an honor that I find myself wanting to continue getting better at it. I want her to have the best of me, not the rest of me leftover after a series of dissatisfied days. But for you to truly understand the value of this, you’d have to first know what it’s like for people who grow up without a loving intelligent parent. Most people are raised by one or more parents that live in the ways I described at the beginning of this piece. Unhealthy psychology, broken hearts, faulty thinking, toxic patterns, profound mediocrity, and no deep understanding of how to love themselves or their children. Parents that don’t know how to care for their own hearts and minds and so cannot adequately care for their children’s hearts and minds. Creating many adults feeling that their parents never understood them, never spent adequate time with them, never spoke their love language, had constant conflict of interests & perspectives, or worse- things like the parent being so broken they inflicted pain on their kids too. To understand my perspective on this you’d have to first know how crucial it is for a child to be unconditionally loved; how important it is for them to be taught HOW to think, not what to think. I am always growing. I have come to believe that living a remarkable existence requires that we maintain a state of constant inner-growth and self-development. That will allow us to parent (as well as live) from a place of wholeness and fulfillment and understanding; which in turn allows us to create a life for our kids that cultivates wholeness and fulfillment and understanding in them as well. I think this is love at its best & love is everything for us. This is love that I am raising her in.

THIS. IS. LOVE.

I have never experienced this level of living before. I have never been to this place. Emotionally, Psychologically, Spiritually, Educationally, Vocationally, Relationally, and Intellectually. This is a whole new level of life for me. I am so happy with the path I am on. I am so incredibly thankful for my life and the journey. I have rebuilt us a solid foundation and the life we are building on it is one of purpose, provision, and passion. I am so full of life. I feel so excited about our future! I continue giving my best and over time my best keeps getting better!! So to think that somehow anyone out there can look at my life with pity?! BLOWS MY MIND. Please dear one… save your pity. I am whole inside and on an amazing journey. I don’t know that I will ever choose to partner with someone else again, but I am whole as I am; in a way I think few ever find. So few that it’s not something most believe in at all. But I am whole and happy and building a great future and enjoying the journey… and I can’t name even a handful of others I know to be this happy.

Can you see me now?

I am here.

I am a writer.

The kind that has yet to complete any piece for submission to the rest of the world. Nonetheless, I am a writer.

Starting without a clear plan or path before me, I write.

I began thinking of all the reasons to write…surely having something of importance to say to the world should be the highest reason? Only for me, I am not completely sure that I have anything of great value or importance to say to the world. Pulling back from my limited perspective I see that ultimately our impact as individuals is miniscule in the scope of the universe and all known existence. Stardust they call it all. Stardust they call us. Stardust they call me. Perhaps I am.

So why to write then? What to write then?

Art is expression of the experience of living. We live on a planet with so many living things, yet the human is the only yet that longs to make their experiences known. Artists convey thought and feeling and story in their work that we might see their experience, relate to their experience, know that they experienced, know that they were.

I am an artist; I write. I write to make my experiences known. Maybe not so much that the others know of me, but that I might truly know myself. I do long to be known, but first, by me. Sometimes I write to understand my thoughts and my emotions. Sometimes I write to get things out. Sometimes I write to release the fist I hold; as if I have this wild creativity inside me that would otherwise flow out from me. A creativity that the daily routine has no need for, so I hold it in. I shut it down and hold it back until the calm quiet moments when the routine has been satiated and needs nothing from me now, and I can release my hold on this natural current of creative energy.

Out. It seems to want out. It isn’t enough to think the creative thoughts through. Offering these creative articulations a place inside me to flow in simulation is not enough. These articulations- this creative expression- It wants to be used, to be expressed, to be known. So, I am letting it out. One piece at a time. I expect that much of it will be less worth the time to read, and that some of it will leave a profound impact on its reader; I have no way of controlling which becomes which. My job is merely to create a space to sit periodically and release the fist and make the articulations known.

I am here.