Thursday, January 30, 2014

Words from Wise Women: Frida Kahlo

I recently listened to a great podcast from Stuff You Missed In History Class about Frida Kahlo and was immediately intrigued by this cultural icon I had seen so many photos of, yet knew so little about. From her childhood and a bus accident that left her in pain the rest of her life, to her tumultuous relationship with her life-long love Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo lived a fascinating life. You can listen to it here

While I may not particularly agree with her politics, I think she was a strong woman with a will to do whatever she put her mind to. And she loved fiercely, without worrying what other's thought about her. To me, this is admirable.

I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.”

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”

I think that little by little I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive.

Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.

I leave you my portrait so that you will have my presence all the days and nights that I am away from you.

I paint flowers so they will not die.”

I love you more than my own skin and even though you don’t love me the same way, you love me anyways, don’t you? And if you don’t, I’ll always have the hope that you do, and i’m satisfied with that. Love me a little. I adore you.”

Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.

I wish I could do whatever I liked behind the curtain of “madness”. Then: I’d arrange flowers, all day long, I’d paint; pain, love and tenderness, I would laugh as much as I feel like at the stupidity of others, and they would all say: “Poor thing, she’s crazy!” (Above all I would laugh at my own stupidity.) I would build my world which while I lived, would be in agreement with all the worlds. The day, or the hour, or the minute that I lived would be mine and everyone else’s - my madness would not be an escape from “reality.”

Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic.

And you are not stupid. You loved a man with more hands than a parade of beggars, and here you stand. Heart like a four-poster bed. Heart like a canvas. Heart leaking something so strong they can smell it in the street.”

(Above graphic mine.)

Read more Words from Wise Women here.
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Monday, January 27, 2014

{Quote of the Week.}

We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us. But if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong. Why is this? Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way. 
But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness. And it isn’t until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems—the ones that make you truly who you are—that we’re ready to find a lifelong mate. Only then do you finally know what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the wrong person.
But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person—someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, “This is the problem I want to have.” 
I will find that special person who is wrong for me in just the right way. 
Let our scars fall in love. 
— Galway Kinnell
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

We're the gladiators.
A few posts ago I admitted that I had been in a (one-sided) fight with my therapist. The absurdity of this statement doesn't lessen no matter how often I admit it. But I was angry. Furious. Because of my own absolute stubbornness. And, because he wasn't saying what I wanted him to say, he was no.1 on my grudge list. Who do you talk to about irrational fights when the person you're in a fight with is the person you go to? You wait. At least that's what I did. A month. no, two months went by before I got over myself.
I went back because at the beginning of our sessions last year he recommended the book The Depression Cure, and after scoffing for a good nine months at the title, I finally caved and bought it. ($6 at Barnes and Noble, I had no more excuses. Bonus: it was written by a professor at my alma mater. It has to be good. ;))
This book, with its heinous title and all, has been a game changer for me.
Let me explain: I have suffered from OCD my entire life, but wasn't diagnosed until I was 14. You can read more about that here. It's an awful lot like the chicken and the egg dilemma when it comes to my depression. Does the anxiety cause the depression, or vice versa? I know my triggers, and I know that the two definitely feed off one another. It's a mess, really. But at some point, it doesn't so much matter as how you got this way, as it does how to cope and beat it.
So this book, with its horrible title and all, (which allegedly the author hates as well...), definitely gave me some perspective I had yet to hear or come across in my research of my situation--which millions of others suffer with as well.
It talks about lifestyle changes, minor ones at that, and certain foods and supplements and habits that can significantly lower your depression. Immediately I bought the supplements, Omega-3, and you guys, I felt results in days. Days. I've also started doing some sort of exercise, for at least thirty minutes, three times a week. (Yoga is my jam!)  
I don't want to get too into it, because let's be honest, I'm not the greatest at explaining why these things work, and how etc., but the author has done extensive research on it and is a medical professional--and a professor at my alma mater, remember?!-- so I'll just direct you to his wisdom...
Of course, I had to go back to thank my therapist for the recommendation, and, upon doing so, I had a really great talk with him. I guess he did make a pretty good point. Our (one-sided) feud is up! Hoorah! ;)

My second grade teacher liked to ask us,
“How do you feel today, on a scale of one to ten?”
Ten always meant I’m super, thank you
and one was always not today, Mrs. MacAuley, not today.
But I never liked numbers, they would always
twist and rebel against my mind so I chose
to speak in colors instead.

January third - I am the color
of mint chocolate chip ice cream
but I’ve eaten all the chocolate chips.
I am calm.

February seventh - I am a bruise of
blues and violets today. I think it would
be best if I sat by the window.
These are unhappy colors.

April eleventh - I am turquoise, I am magenta,
I am every color in the rainbow.

April thirtieth - I am gray, I am silent.

May first - I am orange, the color of melting
creamsicles on a beach in July.

June twelfth - I am as yellow as the school bus
that will bring me home to summer. I am free.

Twelve years later, I still use colors.
The winter makes me feel cobalt blue, the ocean
turns me a seafoam green. Violets and purples
leave me uneasy and scarlet is a fever of fury.
Some nights I drown in shades of navy, denim,
and cornflower but other nights I meditate in forests of
harlequin and shamrock.

But you,
you leave me a blinding white followed by a soft yellow:
the color of sunlight after a period of darkness.

-Kelsey Danielle, “A Diary of Colors” 


Important note: please don't start taking supplements without talking to your doctor and reading more and seeing if it's right for you. I don't want this to come off as though it's taken me from super blue to perfectly fine. Honestly, some days are worse than others. Some hours, even. And while I still struggle tremendously, these few lifestyle changes have made a difference for me. I truly hope they work for you as they have for me, and I hope their effects are truly as long-lasting as research has found. Additionally, I do take medicine, which I won't go into detail on here, but it is monitored extensively by my doctor.
And, if you're suffering please don't hesitate to reach out. Also, this post can maybe give you some resources to contact if need be.
Title of this post is a lyric from Lorde's Glory and Gore, because I am unapologetically obsessed with her at the moment...
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Undeniable happiness.

Munich. Oktoberfest 2013

The night this photo was taken was one of utter and complete happiness. I feel joy so often, daily, but this happiness, this happiness was accompanied by no underlying anxieties or jumbled thoughts rolling around in my head like a bunch of marbles in the background. It was one of the rare moments in my life where I felt I was where I belonged.

Midway through the tent's brass band rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody," --singing along at the top of our lungs, swaying back and forth with arms locked together--I could feel happiness that reached deep into my bones.

"This," I thought, "is a happiness I will always remember. This is a moment that will change everything."

And it did. It truly did.

So stumbling upon this photo last week on Facebook brought it all back.

But most of all, it immediately made me think of this post from the ever-so-enlightening Laura at Little Things and Curiosities...

"And then her heart changed, or at least she understood it; and the winter passed, and the sun shone upon her." -J. R. R. Tolkien
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Monday, January 20, 2014

{Quote of the Week.}

 "— In the distance you see snow-covered peaks glistening in brilliant sunlight. Your longing to reach those peaks is good, but you must not take shortcuts. Your assignment is to follow Me, allowing Me to direct your path. Let the heights beckon you onward, but stay close to me." - Jesus Calling

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Allow the sorrow to shake away.

Though I've been pretty much in a funk this week, I decided I wouldn't let that keep me down. 

I discovered an old "dreamboard," (a section of which is pictured above) and was blown away by how many of the things I posted came true. You guys, even more goodness happened than I could have imagined. I mean, I spent last Valentine's Day on one of the most romantic dates of my life, in one of the most beautiful cities I've ever had the pleasure of visiting, let alone living in for more than a year... and have I ever told you about that time I went on date in London with a stunningly charming chap back in 2011? I flew from Glasgow to London for 26 hours just for a date with him? Yes, this happened. Or the time a Danish man swept me off my feet in a beer garden, quite literally... he may have been in one of the pictures I featured in my summing up 2013 post. ;)

Needless to say, that board brought with it everything I could have hoped for, cut-out and posted, and so, SO much more. 

So earlier this week, while I was sitting in the doctor's office about to burst into tears, I reminded myself how flippin' much has happened in a mere three years. THREE YEARS. Holy moly. Imagine what is in store? For me? For YOU?! The world, my dears, is very much in our grasp.

I used to sing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" back in Sunday School and what truth that is. The difference between then and now is the fact I realize that He wants to share the whole world with us, too... so long as we loosen our grasps on what we think needs to happen and simply accept every beautiful thing and opportunity He passes our way.

What a beautiful concept. 

This week included lots of sleep (on account of the funk and illness); brand new sheets, which feel like Heaven; The Office on repeat; attempts at getting back into Yoga; heart-to-hearts with dear friends; meditation; reading this series; and, of course, lots of Kate Middleton fandom. She's perfect. ;)

I hope your weekend is wonderful, sweet friends. Make it wonderful. Splurge on some new sheets, wonderful lotion, and a lot of time to revel in what is, what has been, and what could very well be. And make a dreamboard! I certainly am working on mine. Erm, well, mine's more of a Moleskin format this time... will share more about that soon. ;) 


❝ Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place. — Rumi
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tackling joy.

First of all, thank you for all of your support since my post last week. From emails and tweets, to every comment with suggestions and stories of your own struggles, thank you. You have no idea how much your outreach has helped me.

I've come to peace with a few things since last week's rather rocky happenings. Mostly, that I do, in fact, believe firmly that everything happens for a reason. I tried to deny this the past few months since my return and it has been utterly exhausting. Mid-cry last week, in the middle of the night, I finally admitted to myself that as much as I yearned to, as much as I fought to, I would never be able to change how people treat me, nor how things might unfold from other's behavior. However, I am in charge of the following: my behavior, and my reactions to what happens to me. That's it. The rest lies in the Universe. God. Etc. And holy moly, accepting this, realizing this, coming to terms with this... what a relief. I feel as though a literal weight has been lifted from my shoulders. But I have also started to realize how much of my own happiness relies solely on me.

So I've started trying to take care of exactly that: Things I can control. I spent most of the weekend watching movies I've been dying to see, writing lists of what makes me happy day-to-day, writing, focusing on my health, and meditating. It sounds all to lifestyle magazine-ish, I know, but it's been a game changer. My therapist, who, if I'm being 100% honest here, I hadn't seen for months because I was "mad at him..." even said he could feel that I had made a sort of breakthrough. You guys, I was in a fight with my therapist (unbeknownst to him). If that's not a sign that I hit rock bottom, I don't know what is.

So here I am, feeling admittedly better. Of course this feelings comes in ebbs and flows. Some hours, minutes really, are better than others. But the most important thing is I am here. I am not in bed giving up. Because for far too many days that's exactly where I was, exactly what I was doing. I am here.

I'm currently taking time to do things that used to make me happy, and it's one of those things where forcing myself to do them reminds me of how much I enjoyed them in the first place. Pinning, yoga-ing, reading... it feels good. Your mind has this ability to build on your unhappiness and convince you joy no longer exists. Try not to let it fool you. Joy is there. It always has been. It is our job to tackle it. Make it ours again. No matter how much our mentality may oppose this notion.

Beyond this, I'm back to keeping lists on what I hope for this year... last time I did this -- kept a physical list -- everything I wrote down happened. Just putting that out there. ;)

I've always been a believer, and I am realizing that I always will be. And I'm OK with this. Overjoyed, really.

❝ I still get very high and very low in life. Daily. But I’ve finally accepted the fact that sensitive is just how I was made, that I don’t have to hide it and I don’t have to fix it. I’m not broken. — Glennon Doyle Melton
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Monday, January 13, 2014

{Quote of the Week.}

"I do believe in an everyday sort of magic - the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.” - Charles de Lint

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Friday, January 10, 2014

This new year.

New Year's Eve 2013.

If I said things were going just peachy at the moment I think you could probably sense the fact that isn't true from 10 million miles away. Things are tough. Yes, I have a job I am beyond thankful to have. Yes, I have family and friends that love me. Yes, I have a place to rest my head at night, a place to escape the plunging temperatures. 

But when your heart is heavy and your mind is racing with anxieties, it's hard to take a minute to enjoy much of anything. Especially when you try to focus on your breathing to deter panic attacks that are always one small trigger away. It's pretty scary. And the fear climbs on and clings to your bones like its your koala baby and its life is dependent on its ability to latch onto you. Maybe a parasite metaphor would have been more appropriate...

Here's a inconclusive summary of my mind as of late:

I miss Munich. I do. I wish I could have gotten my Visa. What if that was it? What if I won't find my dream job again? What if I'm supposed to be there, but I am here? What if I could have done something? Where is my life going? Why is everyone else so calm? How are they? There's obviously something wrong with my mind. I'm always a thought away from a full-on panic attack. I am bad at life. I miss him. I can see he wouldn't miss me. Does he? He might. Does it matter? Is this as good as it gets? Was that taste of my dream life just God being cruel? Do I really trust that everything happens for a reason? How can other people be so good at this life thing? I can barely function. I need to exercise more. That would help. I need to change. I need to figure out my life. Everyone else has it figured out. What can I do? I miss them. I want to tell everyone who has been hurting my feelings lately that they have been doing just that. But I can't. It's my own problem. I'm too sensitive. I miss Munich. I wonder what life would be like if I were there now. I have to stop analyzing everything so much. I haven't heard from them in a while, I bet they are mad at me...I need to change.

I think exhausting is too simple a word. 

Maybe you feel the same way? Or have you before? How do you get by? And, I'm truly stuck on this notion: Do you believe in fate? Do share your wisdom!

❝ … always rub honey into wounds instead of salt. ❞-- Meggie Royer
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Monday, January 6, 2014

{Quote of the Week.}

“This is one more piece of advice I have for you: don't get impatient. Even if things are so tangled up you can't do anything, don't get desperate or blow a fuse and start yanking on one particular thread before it's ready to come undone. You have to realize it's going to be a long process and that you'll work on things slowly, one at a time.” ― Haruki Murakami
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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Nuala O'Faolain on the art of writing a memoir.

I hadn't heard of the Irish writer Nuala O'Faolain until last November when I happened to grab her audio book Almost There by chance at the library. I've always wanted to write about so many personal things, more so than I share here, but have had numerable reservations about the whole thing. She addressed so many of the specific concerns I had about the writing, and she convinced me it is worth doing, if not for someone else, than for yourself. I'm beyond grateful that I was nudged in this book's direction on the shelf a few months back. What a way life has about answering our unspoken questions. The cherry on top? After hours of listening to her read in her beautiful Irish accent, I feel my accent skills might just be improving.
Memoir is, surely, a genre that leaves a lot of blood on the tracks. Unless it is completely solipsistic, it involves reporting on other people who have real lives. And the autobiographer knows in advance that there is going to be an afterlife, when the people within the book read it. It is therefore, of all seemingly candid forms, the one most likely to be shaped by diplomatic necessities. If I were the biographer of an autobiographer, I'd be very interested to discover what they felt they had to clear out of the way before telling their story. 
Novels are complete when they are finished, but the memoir changes its own conclusion by virtue of being written.... I was not at all the same person , when I handed the manuscript over to the publisher, as I'd been when I began. A memoir may always be retrospective, but the past is not where its action takes place.
The words it chooses to describe relationships are another development in those relationships... that I do not understand other people as they understand themselves... I am one person and other people are themselves, and not what I have decided they are. I see the beginning of some kind of learning about how to be a member of the social world in these realizations connected with writing a memoir. And that sliver of clarity was part of a wider clarifying of the muddle in my head.  
...And then my friend said three words to me and the three words were words that changed my whole view of what I'd done. They were words that made me want to look after what I'd written as if it were part of me, like a child. She had leaned across and and said three words that couldn't be more ordinary, but they had stopped me apologizing for what I had written and made me want to get the best life I could for it. And the three words were "Stand by it!"--and then when I've said the words, there's been a gasp of understanding. They're words of real power.  
It took decades to learn how to talk myself into believing, every time I went out to do a job, that I would not fail... 
I found journalism hard, like a relationship that is always hampered by misunderstandings... I was always made uneasy by the three-way relationship between the journalist, the situation written about, and the reader who believes that what he's reading is somehow a neutral account of the situation. Perhaps a need for greater truthfulness built up within me. I know it was a liberation to turn to relative honesty of memoir and then, fiction. 
A lot of journalists I've known have been working on other kinds of writing and it's assumed that this is because working with words is their field, but I think it's because even the best journalism is emotionally unsatisfying. The conventions of journalism are oppressive to the honest self.  
...and writers are the nearest thing to the human community has to spokespeople. 
We're in this together, this getting through our lives, as the fact that we are word-users shows.  
Where I wrote, that was where I made my best effort to be a thinking person, able to get older every day without being pulled down by apprehension, looking forward, or regret, looking back. 
Writing has brought me up from underground. I've been my own Orpheus. 

I am trying to find where to watch Nuala the documentary, but have failed miserably in finding a copy? Anyone happen to know where I might stream/buy it? 
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