To Those Who No Longer Recognize Me…

I’ve been through a number of physical, emotional, personal, and spiritual transformations lately. And yes, all at once.

It started slow, like a trickle. But then it hit hard, like a waterfall. I eventually had no choice but to simply throw myself over the falls and hope for the best. To give up the land I was standing on for the rapids below. And to allow myself to drown so that I could breathe again in my new nature with a newfound sense of my own power and a commitment to respecting it.

In the past whenever I’ve ever transformed, I feared people saying “I don’t even recognize you anymore.”

That simple phrase used to wreck me. I used to think I was disappointing them. I wondered who I was to get too far out of the norm they saw me in. I worked hard to fit in. I wanted to be accepted. To be liked. To be loved. To be admired. To prove to myself and others that I could get along with everyone. To prove to myself and others that I was special because I was universally loved.

I needed the external validation.

I don’t anymore.

I didn’t realize that was a way to try to control me. I didn’t realize that I don’t owe anyone anything, let alone making sure they’re “comfortable” with my presence. I didn’t realize how I would hide major parts of myself to simply become what other people wanted me to be. I didn’t realize I would even pride myself on being someone who would go along with whatever you wanted, losing myself and my own preferences in the process.

But now I do. So now I say this:

If you no longer recognize me, you never actually saw me.

It’s not entirely your fault. I was a master chameleon. I naturally built others up and made them believe I was their favorite person to be around because I made them feel interesting and funny. I needed to be around others in order to prove that I was worthy of companionship. I didn’t believe I was enough on my own, so I became very good at attracting others to me.

I was afraid of my own light. It was bright and powerful. Anytime I shined before, I was told by the world around me to be careful. I was told to tone it down. I was told it was too much. I was too much. In order to survive, I had to keep it under wraps. I didn’t have the power to protect myself from those who wished to dim it. So I dimmed it myself.

But I have the power now. I’ve discovered it during this transformative and incredibly difficult time on my own. I’ve listened to myself in the silence and trusted what I heard.

I am enough. My light is not something that needs to be covered or caveated or condensed. It is what it is. I am who I am.

I am more myself than I have ever been. The young me that thrived before the conventions started shackling her down has been slowly, and painstakingly freed from them. When I realize one still has a hold of me and that I have more growth to do to be liberated from an agenda or a narrative that is not my own, I am grateful that I recognize it. And I remember all the work I’ve done to get here and the power I have to overcome it. Then I give myself grace, space, and patience to work through it and let it go with the rest of the remnants of my past self that I unconsciously took on.

There are plenty in my close inner circle who still see me. In fact, because I shine more brightly now, they see me more clearly. But I know there are those who won’t and who don’t. And I have accepted that’s the way it is.

Too many people spend their lives so concerned with conforming to what others want or what they believe they “should” do, they lose their inner purpose in the process. They never remember their own light.

I won’t be one of them anymore.

As long as I like myself and I work on myself and I listen to myself, I’m okay with the outcome. I know there will be people who are attracted to that energy and others who are repelled by it. I also know that I am not on this planet to constantly listen to other people’s opinions of what I should be doing.

I have other things to do. Come along or move along.


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Nextdoor Famous

I recently became the number one post on Nextdoor.

I’ll sign autographs for anyone who wants one.

If anyone is unfamiliar with Nextdoor, it’s basically a social media app for your neighborhood with the slightest amount of accountability. You have to put a name (it doesn’t have to be your real one). You have to be confirmed that you live in a certain area (I’m sure there’s easy work arounds for this one). And you can usually only see posts and information in certain areas, to keep it local (again…I’m sure with some savvy clicking this doesn’t have to always be the case).

It is a wild west of social interaction. Some people post pictures just to share. Some people post questions that could be easily Googled. Some people complain about menial or major happenings. Some people write helpful posts about missing or found pets. Others write depressing posts about their dead or dying pets. Some people just want to rant or be heard. Others scream friendly-yet-empty greetings into the void.

I’m obsessed with it in the same way I’m obsessed with French Silk Chocolate Mousse pie. I know I can’t control myself and that it has adverse reactions. But once in a while it’s the best thing in the world to indulge in.

For a little primer and a lot of entertainment, check out the Best of Nextdoor on Twitter.

My story of Nextdoor fame begins humbly enough, with a simply Ring video of a hard-to-describe animal caught in our driveway in the wee hours of the morning.

My post said (something along the lines of) “Let’s play a game: Guess this animal!”

Tons of people responded. Like almost 200 or so in a day…which, on Nextdoor, is basically viral.

What’s funny to me is how many people made this clearly joke game suddenly an aggressive way of finding critiques, either with the other people who responded or with my own video. There were accusations and criticism that the video wasn’t long enough. Or it was too blurry. Or it was too far away. There were people convinced it was one animal and angry that other people were saying it was another. It was a pretty even split between people just having a good time (as intended) or people getting incredibly invested and very quickly angry at the nature of the post.

It was a goofy post about a weird-looking animal. And yet…vitriol from some, and neighbor to neighbor anger from others.

Even with the seeming accountability of the app, this post to me encapsulated so much of what is wrong with communication apps and all anonymous internet interactions.

It’s that we lose sight of each other’s humanity.

And maybe it’s especially intense right now because many of us have been holed up in our homes without too much outside human influence with only the digital creations of tech giants who make money off of our attention (and we give more of it when we’re fired up, especially when we’re scared or angry). Maybe the fact that we don’t actively have to interact with people who disagree with us because we can always find people who agree with us allows our ego to feel even more validated to scream loudly into our echo chambers and dehumanize those who might disagree based on their own just-as-valid life experiences. Maybe it’s a whole number of factors, seen and unseen, that have led us to this point. I don’t know.

But I do know that I’m tired of it. It’s draining. For all of us. It’s not our true human nature. We both survive and thrive largely because we’re kind to each other.

Yet as we feel and get more detached from our communities, we feel more isolated from both mother nature and our true nature.

In short, we’re sad little selfish assholes. And free social media services who promise to help keep you connected and validate your human experience profit from our assholery, our narcissism, and our depression.

So maybe we call them out. And we change our behavior. We get offline and we look other humans in the face. We let go of our need to be right and once again engaged our innate curiosity about others, recognizing elements of our own selves in them. We start remembering that we are actually a part of this earth, and not parasites who can drain it of its natural resources supposedly without repercussions.

We slow down. We calm down. We change our pace and think outside of the box. That way goofy posts meant to be jokes don’t turn into a soapbox where people call each other stupid.

And to preemptively answer everyone’s burning question: The animal has been confirmed as a beaversquirrelracoonfluffyfatcat. You’re welcome.

Please Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself…

Welcome back. I say that to both you, dear reader, and to myself.

It’s been a hundred emotional years and a couple lifetimes since we last met. I was looking at my last post and thinking of everything that has happened since then. The timing of that last post was incredibly the end of one season. I just didn’t know it yet.

I was a frog in a pot on the stove, happily flopping around. Someone had just turned on the heat, but I didn’t even notice.

And I wouldn’t for a while. Until, you know, I boiled alive.

Ew. Gross. What a terrible metaphor, especially from a vegetarian.

I’d delete it if it weren’t so accurate.

As I return to my keyboard, to this intimate and yet distant relationship I have with you, my readers, I want to make you a promise: No more platitudes. No more generic, unsolicited advice. No more people-pleasing or qualifying myself.

I want to bring you stories and inspiration every week. I hope to make you laugh. I hope to make you think. I hope to pique your interest in joining me on my ventures off this site and elsewhere on the internet (and maybe even in real life!).

Mostly I hope that this adds value to your life and mine.

For me, I need to create. Writing and creativity help me express myself, figure myself out, and synthesize any number of ongoing activities and input that are happening in my life. It’s part of my DNA. And I love when my words resonate with other people.

I’ll share as much of myself as I can, being as specific and as entertaining as is possible any given moment. I’ll also be brief. If you want to join me for other places where I get more thoughts out, I’ll provide those. But that won’t be here.

This is brain snacks. These posts are meant to be read quickly and digested easily. And they’re meant to be delicious.

So thanks for sticking with me. Thanks for reading. And thanks, especially, for subscribing to this blog or my newsletter.

Let’s get back after it, friends. I’m ready.

That Little Voice

I was inconvenienced yesterday. It was minor but I found it annoying because it was very nearly avoided. Ten extra seconds and the next twenty minutes of frustration could have been avoided.

I wasn’t proud of my initial reaction. I was pissed. I was annoyed. I was resentful. I was heated. I thought the person who made a mistake was an idiot. I thought the company who employed the person was automated and didn’t care. I thought the customer service representatives I talked to were obnoxious. I was even pissed that they were using soothing tactics with me that were working. I didn’t like to be calmed when I wanted to be annoyed and angry.

I was pissed at myself for getting so angry. I was peeved I let my temper flare again. Unfortunately for my husband, he came home right in the thick of it and left again without plans to help. That didn’t bode well for him, as you can imagine.

I felt the tension in my body. I felt the “I have to everything myself” and “People are so stupid” pity party starting. I even lost my patience on my perfect pups and begrudgingly walked them with very little care for what they actually wanted to do or smell or sniff.

The whole time it was happening, I heard this little voice in the back of my mind saying “Make it a joke,” and “it’s okay,” and “it’ll turn out fine.” It whispered that there’s a bigger perspective I’m missing and a version of me that actually could ride this wave…maybe even – dare I say it – find a way to get joy out of it.

I resented it. I knew there was some truth to what it was saying but I just wanted to let it let me be pissed.

I don’t know about you, but I was often told that I’m overreacting. That I’m being too dramatic. My emotions were mitigated so much that whenever I felt something that wasn’t beautiful, I got a side order of shame served right along with it for even feeling. The fact that I express and manifest emotions differently meant, to some people, I was obviously doing it wrong. So I’ve rebelled in recent years and been very protective of my own self worth and the fact that I’m allowed to feel whatever emotions I am feeling.

So I yelled back at the voice and told it that I’m allowed to be this pissed and I’m allowed to go on a small rampage and take it out on the creatures I love most and it can eff the eff off. It just patiently agreed and reminded me that’s true but also that’s probably not the most fun use of my time. I listened but raged anyway.

The dogs and I went on a walk. Long story short, because of the walk and listening to that little instinctual voice inside me, I was able to fix the problem set out. I even did so pretty quickly and with help of a kind stranger. And now I’ll be able to leverage this problem into a gift.

I petty quickly let go of the anger and listened more intensely to that voice again. It didn’t gloat. It didn’t berate me. It didn’t say “I told you so.” It simply calmed me down and reminded me that there is another voice in my head now even when the old frustration patterns creep up. It’s okay to be mad. But you don’t have to be that mad for that long.

I’ve worked hard to have another voice in there. Hours of meditation, reading, self growth, spirituality studies…you name it. There’s clearly plenty of work to do because that voice wasn’t my go-to. The old patterns still took over. But having her in there and having a seat at the table gives me hope.

This morning, I made it a point to meditate for a bit longer than usual. Yesterday, it didn’t happen (shocking). I tend to run hot and move quickly. The best thing I can do is in the moments of calmness, cultivate that voice more and give it more empowerment and muscle memory in my bones. That way, if and when something goes awry again, I can increase its influence over my reaction.

In the moment, it’s not going to happen. But I can do it in the in-between moments.

That’s where all the juicy good stuff happens anyway.

Remembering Your Why

The same question has been popping up lately in my world. It’s come up in myself. It’s come up with people I think are successful. And it’s come up with people who are trying to find their big break.

That question is variations of “Why didn’t I get that?

When my peers get big – or even small – successes in their lives, I used to constantly ask myself (or the universe, whoever was more open to listening at the time), “Why didn’t I get that?”

When talking to people who are in early stages of their career or who are trying to figure out how to pursue creativity as a career, I’ll often hear then bemoan about people who are in similar boats to them who have found some traction. They’ll ask variations of “Why didn’t I get that?

Even people who are successful will look at others who have made different choices and wonder, “Why didn’t I get that?

It’s a natural question. We’re creatures who love to compare. But it’s even more potent at the moment in a world where we share more information than ever before, so it’s easier and more addictive to compare yourself to others than it has been throughout human history.

Though the question is natural, it’s not helpful. And the longer you entertain it, the more it will lead you down a spiraling path where entitlement and victimhood are unhealthily entangled.

The truth isn’t what you want to hear. The truth is, you didn’t get that because it wasn’t meant for you. It was never your thing. It was always the thing of whoever has it. And the longer you bemoan the loss of something that wasn’t yours, the more opportunities that could be yours pass you by.

The best advice I’ve recently heard about changing this same perspective into a more positive and productive one is from a person who is killing it in their respective field at the moment. They said their major mental shift came from thinking “Why isn’t the world giving me what I want?” to “What can I do to really make an impact on the world?”

Not to get all JFK on you, but ask not what your creativity can do for you, but ask what you can do for your creativity.

The more you lean into what you really want to do and the type of content you want to create, you start to inevitably become more unique. And the opportunities that are unique to your particular perspective and interests start to appear. And those feel more tangible and more uniquely you because you’re creating tangible things that are more uniquely you.

It’s about remembering your why. Why are you doing whatever you’re doing? Why do you want to do it? What is it that originally drew you to this world? What makes you stick around or keep coming back even when it’s difficult?

Once you understand and lean into that, your interest in comparisons diminishes. It doesn’t really matter to you what other people are doing because you’re not doing it for the outcomes they’re receiving. You’re doing it because of the reasons you remind yourself. You’re doing it for the purposes of really making an impact. You’re doing it because you love it and you need it.

Accolades are fine. But spending your life staring at the accolades of others and wondering “Why didn’t I get that?” seems like a boring existence, if you ask me.

And you didn’t. But you’re reading this. So I’ll pretend you did.

You didn’t get something because you did get other things. So recognize, embrace, and utilize what you’ve got and use it to make your unique mark.

Or don’t. I can’t control ya.

Interruptions

The more you learn about listening, the more you realize what a skill it actually is. It’s something everyone can do, sure. But it’s not something everyone is necessarily good at.  And I’m not just talking about listening with your ears. There are lots of ways to listen. Yet we often do whatever is the bare minimum and whatever is easiest.

Have you ever been listened to? Like, really really listened to? The type of listened to where you can feel it in your bones? Where when you’re done speaking or communicating (however it may be) there’s a pause while the recipient takes it in and further validates that you were really listened to and not just heard?

So many times in conversations we just wait for our turn to talk. We may be thinking of something or want to steer the dialogue in one direction, so we obsess with getting our thoughts out so that we can talk about the thing we want to talk about. It’s not listening. It’s patiently waiting for your turn to scream into the void towards a specific person who is also only hearing you while they patiently wait for their turn to talk.

I hope you get listened to. It’s a wonderful feeling.

I make it a point to listen often and as much as I can. I don’t always nail it. But I do make a consistent effort. And because I’m often willing to be more patient and listen more intensely than your average bear, I find myself often interrupted by people who are so eager to get their thing out, they can’t wait another moment. My usual immediate reaction is to defensively and interrupt them back to steer the conversation where I wanted to go. My other typical reaction is to quietly get frustrated and judge the person who interrupted me. Who are they, after all, to think their ideas are more important than my own?

But I’ve recently changed tactics a bit. I’ve realized that by getting frustrated at people who constantly interrupt and judge them, I’m wasting energy wishing for them to be someone they are not. Or I’m wasting energy putting too much clout into their thought process behind the interruption. As if they meant to do so as an outward act of aggression. Or by actively waiting for them to stop talking so I can get back to my thing, I’m wasting energy sitting on pins and needles rather than just going with the flow of the conversation.

So I’ve been making an effort now to stop wasting energy. Instead, I’m going to view interruptions as an opportunity. They’re a chance to actively work on staying present. They’re a chance to practice my flexibility and willingness to just go with the flow.

And they’re a chance for me, most importantly, to listen.

Wrapping Up My Year of Jesus

My birthday is right around the corner. Very exciting, indeed.

(If you’re not into astrology, that makes me a Leo and we love attention so feel free to wish me lots of happy birthday wishes because I will very much appreciate them. If you are into astrology, you already knew that.)

Anyway, this time about a year ago I decided I missed blogging and that I was going to commit to writing more. Though it took me a bit to settle on the general time of day and my favorite day of the week to let ‘er loose, I more or less held true on that commitment. I mean, I’m still here typing right now, aren’t I?

Oh, god, seriously, aren’t I? If I’m not doing that what on earth and I doing because I think I’m doing that… AHHHH!

I called this past year my “Year of Jesus.” I remember when I finished up the pictures and the post I was at an airport. The Philadelphia airport, I believe. At some point they all look the same. But I do know I was waiting for the others in my crew to show up so we could get rental cars and head off on our touring adventure.

This year, I’m sitting sipping (surprisingly bitter) coffee on my porch with my beautiful and newly-groomed pups around me. I have another solid 24 hours before I have to be on multiple airplanes and traversing multiple timezones for a prolonged period of time. I’ve somewhat purposely gone into my little shell to recharge before the trip.

So much has changed. But, then again, so little.

I’ve made a ton of small often incremental changes in my life. For several months out of this year, I was absolutely on top of my sh*t. But that motivation came from getting low and frustrated and feeling completely out of control.

I’ve read a lot of books. I’ve created some cool things. I’ve sold some project and completed others. I’ve failed and triumphed. I’ve probably made major decisions that will impact me in the future without even knowing it. I’ve ended relationships or cut off personal energies that don’t serve me anymore and don’t fit into the person I want to become. I’ve transformed completely yet so much has stayed the same.

I don’t yet know what I’m going to call this next year of my life. I was exited about 33 because of the whole Jesus thing. No matter what you believe, there’s got to me some sort of cool spiritual energy around 33 if that’s the age the stories of Jesus decided upon.

As I’m thinking about it, I was really excited for 30 because it was the start of a new decade. 31 was gonna be a rear up for 32 which I was beyond stoked for. And 33 was my spiritually transformative year.

But for this upcoming year, I don’t have a plan. I don’t have expectations. I don’t know what to expect and I don’t know what theme I’m going to approach it with.

Then again, right now I’m deeply interested in studying the Tao Te Ching and have been drawn to numerous stories and books about how to be present and simply trust in the flow rather than working against it. I’ve been actively trying to let my intuition take over while listening to the subtle movements around me and the opportunities that arise and how I feel while doing certain things to best determine how to be my happiest, most fulfilled self. And all of that study pretty much says the same thing: Slow down, be present, and listen… then let yourself go with it.

So maybe that’s the answer. Maybe it’s a year of flow. Of enjoyment. Not of taking off work, of course. But more of doing work that feels the most fulfilling. Letting go of judgments about work and choices and what happens to and around me. Simply deciding how I feel about something, trusting that, and leaning into it.

I guess the answer is there isn’t an answer. Now that the year of Jesus is up… I’m on my own. And I’m excited to see what I sage advice I have for myself.

Also, happy birthday to me.

 

 

Enjoying the Garden

I got a piece of advice recently that I’ve been absolutely obsessed with.

I don’t really feel like giving you the full context of how I got this advice. Not out of laziness. I think just out of boundaries. As my ongoing readers already know, I’m working on learning boundaries.

Anyway, I had sought out a person with more knowledge in a certain field than me and was asking them for help with various elements of something I’m working on. Yes. I can say that. That feels fine. And, it’s true!

This person was talking about a few creative projects I had been focusing on lately and they very casually reminded me of a wonderful lesson. They used a happy woman in the garden as the metaphor and told me that the woman in the garden isn’t out there yelling at her plants to grow faster. She’s simply taking care of their needs little by little. She’s not overdoing it. She’s not constantly replanting. She’s simply enjoying her time in the garden.

By nature, I am a very fast-moving person. I like to see results quickly. Even though I’m aware that the most dramatic changes in my life happened gradually, my natural personality likes to see something happen fast. And I’m sure living in a society that’s grown accustomed to immediate gratification at every turn certainly doesn’t help.

So the idea of a woman just enjoying time in her garden was so powerful to me. And the ridiculousness of her yelling at her plants to grow faster feels like it puts a mirror on my own actions and helps remind me to just be more pleasant and more present.

Yelling at plants is a waste of energy and goes against the natural order of nature. Why, then, do I insist on thinking that I, a human existing in nature, somehow can control my own circumstances and force them to go against the natural flow of nature? Like the woman yelling at her plants in the garden, all I’m doing is getting myself all worked up in a tizzy and frustrating myself while not allowing the plants to do their thing because I can’t just leave them be.

I’m not saying I do it all the time. But I certainly feel the impulse to do it often.

I’ve decided, then, to start simply enjoying my time in the garden. I can recognize the garden needs tending while not overdoing it while I also simply enjoy the seeds as they grow and stay present in the delights that the garden has to offer and the relaxation gardening can bring.

The feels good. That feels right. So that’s what I think I’m going to do.

When Something Is Hard

I had a conversation with a friend the other day about how many people like to complain about how hard things are.

Let me give you some context to help specify this very general statement.

My friend is very, very pregnant. Like, I was ready at any point during our conversation to drive her to the hospital if she started making a pained face. She’s about to pop. So she’s had a lot of conversations (some requested, most unsolicited) about parenting lately. It’s her first kid, so she’s getting all sorts of advice (again, most of it she’s not asking for). One of her closer friends had recently gone on a mini tirade about how hard it is to be parent.

As a woman of child-bearing age who’s been getting pressure for a decade to procreate, this is a refrain I hear a lot. I have dogs (I mention them often). People love to remind me how having dogs is so different and so much easier than having children (again, I don’t ask, they just offer this up as if I made the comparison on my own and asked them their opinion of it).

The most frustrating part about people telling you how hard something is, especially parenting (besides what I’ve made obvious in these parenthetical asides about people offering up opinions that nobody asked for) is the fact that they make it sound like hard is the worst thing you can do. And that you’ve never done anything as hard as this thing you’re about to do.

In a world filled with comforts, hacks, and affordable luxuries around every corner, I get why doing something “hard” gets more and more terrifying. But just because something’s hard, doesn’t automatically make it something you need to be afraid of or complain about or worry about. It’s just something different from most people usual existence (unless you’re David Goggins).

Childbirth, more than almost anything, remains incredibly difficult. Even with the advances in technology and increases in our ability to protect, track, and plan the birthing process, that large baby still has to come out of that woman’s body one way or another. There’s no hack for that (at the moment).

Yet after the childbirth process, you’ve created a freaking human life. You now get to enjoy and raise this kid. And yes, you’re going to have sleepless nights and goo in places you never expected and smell crap you never thought could come out of a human being. And that’s going to be “hard.” But you also get to snuggle with an innocent life form and hold its hand when it learns to walk and get butterfly kisses before it goes out to play in the yard and watch it learn to talk and run and grow.

Are you going to sacrifice all of that because it’s hard?

Okay, I’ve been harping on baby making for a second, mostly inspired by my friend who is probably in labor right now (you guys, she’s was SO PREGGO). But that’s not my point here. If you don’t want to have kids, totally cool. I’m not interested in a discussion about kids. I’m trying to make a point about what people think is hard.

Every morning when I get up in the dark and leave my warm bed and snuggly dogs (and husband) to do some mind clearing and head to workout, that’s hard. I don’t complain. It’s a choice I’m making that makes me an overall better human.

When I go to my hard workout class and my peppy teacher yells “Mountain climbers!” and my body starts instinctively kicking my own ass, that’s hard. I don’t complain about it. It’s a choice I’m making to improve my health and challenge my muscles to be an overall better human.

When I’m slogging through writing something and I don’t know what to say and I’m convinced I’ve already used every word in the English language and there are no more sentences that will come to me ever, but I’m only halfway through the project and I have to keep going because I’m on a deadline, that’s hard. I don’t complain. It’s a privilege to get the opportunity to create and do what I’m good at and add value to the world in a way that makes me feel fulfilled.

All of these small choices in my typical day pale in comparison to some of the much harder jobs other people have and the lives they live, and the choice they make to go to and improve themselves (or sometimes just get through them) daily.

Thank god no firefighter, military service person, police officer, construction worker, single mom, high-risk public school teacher, first responder, ER doctor, or air traffic controller was thwarted by someone warning them their job would be hard.

And those are just the choices we have. Hard things happen to us all the time. They’re inevitable. Complaining about them or worrying about them or wishing they were over doesn’t make them any easier or help them to go any faster.

The only trick to surviving something hard is just to do it. Once you’ve done one hard thing, even if it’s small, you start to get confidence that you can do something bigger and harder. And if you’ve been through something big and hard already, the hard smaller things feel more manageable.

Hard is what it is. It’s unforgiving, challenging, and unresponsive to your complains. So just do it. Learn from it. Survive it. Get through it. And your spirit will get stronger for it every time.

(And also maybe don’t offer a pregnant woman – or any woman – your opinion unless asked, k? Thanks!)

 

Choosing Calm

I’ve been called feisty more than once in my life. My temper used to be a strange point of pride. I’d think, “Oh, man, you’d better not cross me or you’ll see the wrath of a version of myself that I can’t even handle.”

Even though I didn’t always love that my emotions would take over (and quickly), I was scared to do too much to curb it because my crazy was also a large part of my identity. I liked that I was considered somewhat unpredictable and that I wore my emotions on my sleeve and felt those emotions really strongly (and often quickly).

But as I’ve grown up, I realized that those same emotions are utterly exhausting. And, like any bad habit, they slowly fester into something uncontrollable. They’re not a big deal when you’re younger and you have more energy to fight them back and recover from the temper tantrum. But as you get older, they really do wear on you. It becomes harder and harder to fight them off. And, because you’ve let them run rampant for years, they’ve grown in their strength.

In case I’ve lost you here, the “they” I’m talking about is negative emotions. Okay, we’re back on track. Good.

Anyway, it took a leap of faith for me to accept that maybe I could more consistently be calmer. I worried what that would mean for the empathetic feelings I wanted to feel and the ability to feel emotions strongly. It turns out, when I’m able to more regularly listen to my emotions from a calmer and happier state of mind, I continue to feel things just as strongly. I actually feel them even more strongly because I feel them with more clarity.

When a negative emotion starts to take over, I’ve done the work to see it coming and notice it start to take over my mind (and tense up my body). That doesn’t mean I’m always able to control it and keep it at bay. But I can at least see that it’s happening and a part of me remains aware of the situation. Plus, as a bonus, that part of me that is aware of the situation is able to start assessing what’s really going on, while the rest of me continues to temper tantrum away. By the time my calm(er) self has returned, it’s able to have a short conversation with the emotion and identify where it’s coming from.

For example, the other day I was worried about something that y dog may have ingested. It was unclear whether or not he actually ate this thing. And, if he did, the repercussions were likely not dire, just sort of uncomfortable and unknown. The moment I caught the (possible) act, I got really upset and frustrated immediately. In the past, I may have let those emotions take over and inform the rest of the day. Instead, I talked it out for a moment. I was able to stay calm(er) and start evaluating all the opportunities here. My husband (god love him) tried to tell me everything was fine and that I didn’t need to worry. That only made me angrier and I couldn’t figure out why. Again, in the past, I easily could and would have lashed out.

Instead, this time, he took the dogs on a walk (a smart move for him) and I evaluated what was going on. Once I figured out that my pup was in no major danger even if he did the thing I wasn’t sure he’d do, I asked myself what was going on. I realized it was a flare up of an old feeling of unworthiness that was festering again. I didn’t feel like I deserved the happiness that my dogs brought me. I didn’t “deserve nice things” basically. It took me a long time to find that hidden little brain thought years ago. But once I did, I’ve made sure she knows she’s unwelcome. I have to remind her of that when she pops up at various times (like in this incident). And the frustration that was directed towards my husband was because I felt like my feelings were being mitigated, which is a trigger for me. When he came back, I was calmer, clearer, and able to talk it out. All without having too much of a fit.

In a less complicated example, it took me a while to get a necklace on this morning. I kept starting to get frustrated and  starting to feel my temper flare up. Instead, I was able to keep the tantrum at bay by simply remembering, “Whatever. It’s just a necklace. Either it goes on or it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s easier than other times. Getting angry won’t help anything and it will only make me more tense and make this harder.” So I stayed chill and, several tries later, I eventually got it.

Calm doesn’t always come naturally to me. But the more I choose it, the more it knows its welcome. And the more I feel it, the more I want it around. It’s a pleasant cycle.

Maybe that can help you consider the same.