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Challenges: Our Very Own Freedom Fighters

The past few months have been a swirl of my one world colliding with itself like the front winds of a storm encapsulated in the form of one girl.  It’s been challenging and wonderful.  I’m at a point where I can be grateful for that and not at all intimidated.  It’s  great and extremely freeing.

Here are a few key things I’ve learned as each aspect of my life has taken a turn, executed the dismount, and nailed the landing before the next one.

  1. Challenges aren’t meant to be struggles.  They’re presented as opportunities but only if we take them as those.   We have to take chances and risk our own comfort in order to see them show up in the first place.  Here’s how:  Look for the one tiny white space hidden in the chaotic scribbles of something that seems insurmountable.  We’re going to go through some heavy experiences but the upside is that we’re alive to do so and those spaces between still exist.  They are meant to be there in the mess just as you are.
  2. Welcome everything.  Welcome the sad, infuriating, and negative feelings and events.  Welcome the elation, discomfort,  and wonder of things not yet known. Welcome the celebrations and rest following them.  Welcome yourself to a break. Welcome the air into your lungs and yourself into the space in which to breathe it.
  3. Accept that you will not be able to make sense of the day sometimes and accept that as being totally ok.  By doing that, you’re accepting the process that it is.  You’re creating the ability to keep moving.
  4. Be a mess.  Have it out with yourself or your closest person while keeping in mind that the ultimate goal isn’t anything other than learning from the experience.
  5. Look for more.

The only chances we get to free ourselves from the weight of worry and stress are in the challenges we willingly accept.   Like the tracks of a rollercoaster, they’re placed carefully there for a calculated reason.  It’s up to us to open ourselves to that free fall.

 

 

Dear Girl: A letter to my yesterday.

You’ll be ok, dear girl. You’ll find things you never knew existed. Like the feeling you’ll have of knowing yourself. You’ll find that you’re the only one who truly does, flaws and all, and that’s ok.

You’ll be accepted, dear girl. But they won’t hear you until you speak. You won’t know yourself until you do, either. So speak, sweet one, and let them know why you choose to.

You’ll be in pain, dear girl. You’ll find the depth of loss which is ironic. But once you do, you’ll feel the power of it. You’ll use it. And you’ll find so much more under a torturous void created to strengthen you and the wisdom to finally use it.

You’ll be tired, dear girl. You’ll feel the drain of excitement and the ache of what you think is certain death. But you’ll be replenished. You, your entire being will meticulously fill every space left of what has felt so empty.

You’ll be loved, dear girl. Sometimes you won’t know it and sometimes you’ll vehemently deny such a thing. You’ll fight your own mind until one side gives up. For you, sweet one, you’ll know when it fell to the side meant for you.

You’ll be happy, dear girl. And you’ll know exactly what lets you be.

A History Lesson: Moveable Framework

One week ago, I had a comfortable job in a comfortable office for a comfortable 8 hours a day.  I had a routine and an alarmingly predictable schedule.

I had no idea what would be in store as I accepted a brand new job in a beautifully aged place.  It’s a palace of sorts full of little girls twirling in their fanciest dresses and couples walking hand in hand with tickets in the other for a night on the town.

The new office was built in 1928 and stuffed full of historic stage pieces, giant levers used to power what were once the most modern fixtures of the time in a basement I have yet to visit alone.  It has soaring rafters and drapes heavier than a semi held up by what I now know are “stage weights”.

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This city was experiencing all of the thrills and struggles of the Roaring Twenties just as I had with mine.  It was young and still figuring it out.  The wonder and grandeur of the theater drew people in from all directions.

Today, I learned that the curve along the back wall of my office wasn’t created to be aesthetically pleasing.  It was created as a route for the African American community of the 1920s and 1930s to enter and exit away from the rest of the crowd.  It was a passageway created to segregate.  Throughout the decades, this wall has been transformed and painted and refinished eight layers deep.  Now it serves as the backdrop of my yet-to-be-painted office and I’m sitting exactly where all of the boundaries had once been pushed.

There is something immensely unique about this place left unseen by any guest out for a night.  It’s where hundreds of people have passed through the door of a creaky backstage dock.  They were there to share their talent.  They were rock bands and acting troupes, comedians, and dancers.  They were who someone wanted to be someday.  Some were nervous.  Some were naturally comfortable.  Each one of them, though, was there for a reason;  To transform into the person of their dreams the moment they stepped ahead of the curtain.  To do that, they had to push forward through the heaviest doors with the shakiest hands.

These doors are weathered and worn just as they were.  These doors kept opening to new possibilities just as they had.

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We all begin somewhere.

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Keep The Change: Rest Through Restoration

FullSizeRenderMy friends and family heard me yesterday.  The weight of my purse was considerably lighter as the weight of losing my belongings pressed heavily on my shoulders.  But they heard me.
After losing my wallet, I went into a mode of repair I haven’t seen for a while.  Calmly, I listed everything that was in it along with contact information and logins to protect what was now lost.  It was a process made easier by precautions taken in previous years after having not only my purse, but everything in it stolen before.  I was relieved to know that everything aside from the birthday cash could be secured and replaced.
Throughout the day, I checked in with anyone who might have seen it.  I received phone calls offering help and anything to ease my worries.  I heard jokes and reassurance.  I heard empathy and support.  Somehow, the missing items no longer bothered me aside from the hassle of replacing them.
My people restored my faith in the power of compassion.  Instead of burying myself in a mountain of dismay, I got to be consistently reminded of who I have and how I have them.  I am eternally grateful.
Last night, I received a message from a restaurant letting me know someone had found and turned in my wallet.  I had called them twice throughout the day just to hear regretfully that no one had seen it.  Finally, someone showed up.  I immediately left to retrieve it finding every bit of what I’d left in tact.  Thank you to the kind people of Wheat State in Old Town.  (Try them!  They’re wonderful!!)
I was shocked but ultimately just peaceful.  I realize it’s just one bundle of belongings and it was just one day of worry.  But it unveiled so much of what I needed to see again lately.
I get to keep the change when it could have gone to anyone.  I get to figure out how to make sure someone else gets to feel this relief somehow.  Mostly, I get to move forward knowing that someone else wanted to do the same.
I have needed peace more than ever lately as I navigate yet another (particularly BIG)  interlude in the life and times of Darah Jewell.  It turns out, I needed to feel loss in order to feel restoration.
If you hurt, you can figure out how to change it.
If you’re ok, you can figure out how to change it for someone else.
If you feel loss, you can watch for who changes you.
Losing my change has encouraged me to keep mine happening.
Thank you sincerely, Universe.

The Risk We Take For The Change We Make: Overcoming Disappointment

Optimism is a peculiar thing.  It’s so great to have and helpful to keep.  But what on Earth are we to do when we’re getting scared of it?
Time after time, we each face disappointment in our lives.  The source can be anything from work projects falling through to plans with friends becoming no plans at all.
But then there are times where that optimism reaches far deeper than you realized.  That’s where it turns into risk.  Moving forward can sometimes be so painful and scary, you’d rather stay where you are and halt any chance of having to change anything.
Lately, I’ve found myself a little confused.  I’m going to be 34 and I’m starting again.  I’m absolutely comfortable in my own skin and know exactly what I love and what ways I take in the details of life.  I’ve found my passion and my courage to pursue it thanks to the help of people I love dearly.  I have so much acceptance from friends and family who welcome me into their lives without question.  It’s scary, though.  There are certain aspects of myself I’m having to make vulnerable in order to keep moving and evolving.  Things like the prospect of dating again and the idea that I’m back to a blank canvas looking to fill it ultimately with more love and hopefully a new location, or the opportunity to test myself.
Well, it showed up.
And I got burned.  Quickly.  Unexpectedly.  Really, though, it’s been a learning experience.  I wasn’t expecting to finally let myself get excited about a possibly new thing or connection with a person.  But I did.  Just a little bit-  Enough to have hope that I might be able to find some butterflies in there again. It was sad, exciting, new, unknown.. And then it was completely over.  The situation changed literally overnight and I was left to decide if “heartbroken” was OK.  Turns out, it is.
It’s perfectly OK.
But I wasn’t heartbroken over a person.  In fact, I respect him a great deal in the very short time I’ve known him.  I was disheartened over the fact that it took me so much to finally be alright with the idea of a little crush again and then finding out that I’ll have to rebuild that strength again so quickly.  At least it was a quick burn with absolutely no hard feelings at all.  I’m seeing it as just a little reality check-  an opportunity to recalibrate and check my levels.
Regardless of what is happening in our worlds, disappointment is real and, as it turns out, weighs about 19 tons.  We give the benefit of the doubt and even a little of ourselves to the unknown and it goes dark.  We’re left wondering what happened as we’re gathering what’s left of what we gave.
This is what I’m learning, though- Each time we are disappointed by a person or a situation, we’re given an opportunity to push ourselves a little further.  We know now that whatever happens next will be handled- expertly or terribly.  It will be handled.  We know it’s still going to work out alright regardless of if (or when) it all hits the fan.  Disappointment can shed light on things you’re already experiencing to make you that much more grateful they’re happening.. OR that they’ll stop.  Personally, this recent experience just leaves me grateful in general.  I have no doubt that I am the luckiest still.
Sometimes it’s exhausting.   It’s hard to think about it when what you’ve had for years is something you never want to replace.  I won’t ever replace that.  But I can move forward knowing how lucky I’ve been for every experience I’ve had.
In the toughest moments, look around you.  Watch for those who are unchanging and completely undaunted by the prospect of having to help you out of the dark.
They’re the ones who are pushing you forward even when you’re not sure another chance is worthwhile.  They will not disappoint you.

Help In Hiding: 6 Ways To Be Helpful When You Feel Helpless

I took a break from as much as possible yesterday to focus on using the feeling of heaviness the best way I could.  I still couldn’t.  The news surrounding so many recent events has had  millions of us shaken and confused.  For me, silence is key.  I want to stay out of the frenzy, inform myself as much as possible of the necessary facts, and figure out a way to help.
I drove into a dusty sunrise hearing chatter on the radio with updates of new statistics and speculation.  I knew the recent storms and violence shed a lot of blood and I was saddened by the fact that I cannot give mine.
Due to my heart condition, I cannot donate blood.  As I see Red Cross trucks setting up in the parking lots of various offices in the city, I thought about those who can’t use them.  Here are a few ways to help when you can’t give yours for a host of personal reasons.
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My view this morning was stunning.

1.  Pay it forward-  This does not require money as many of us do not have enough of that to give, either.  This can be in the form of helping someone carry heavy items to their car from the store.  Your act of recognizing another human as a fellow human is priceless.  This can even include going with someone who can donate blood-  Support is key.
2.  Donate time-  Many of our resources (time, energy, supplies) quickly dissipate once help is needed elsewhere.  If you’re able, donating time to spend with people who need company or kids who need distraction is more valuable than any check you can write.
3.  Volunteer at a shelter-  This is one I’ve always had a heart for ever since spending my first Volunteer Thanksgiving in one.  Serve food to those who are not only dealing with the heartache of a chaotic world situation but are also facing their own.  Sit down and share some conversation over coffee with fellow volunteers or guests.  You will be amazed at what you learn.
4.  Don’t click the bait-  In our world of instant information, news streams and media channels are running rampant with headlines and feeds.  There is a major setback to this.  The rush to get the first lead is a prime breeding ground for sensationalism and misinformation.  Help us save the unnecessary stories from polluting the real ones by stopping to consider if it’s correct, if it’s necessary, and if it’s going to help someone else.
5.  Call your representative-  This is one not many of us think about on a daily basis.  If you have concerns over policies regarding the response to catastrophe or the availability of weaponry.. Really anything-  Call your representatives and voice your opinion.  You may think that your voice won’t count or be heard.  But even 10 voices are really, really loud.  Be that guy.
6.  Inform yourself-  I cannot stress this one enough.  Informing yourself of current events and causes is the groundwork for making change happen.  We cannot move forward without knowing why we should.  It is crucial.

7 Years – 7 Letters – 7 Truths

7 years ago today, I took the first of many chances.
Chances–  7 letters spell the outline of what your life could be.  I’ve had to figure out how to spell it for my world.  Here’s what 7 years and 7 letters have taught me:
C– Change–  This has been the most challenging aspect for me.  The decision to change comes first.  The struggle to keep it stays the whole time.
H– Help–  Helping myself became the key to helping anyone else.  After realizing the difference between doing it selfishly and doing it productively, it has become one of my most valuable resources.  It is often the first word of advice I share with anyone struggling through a personal transformation.  Breathe in your own oxygen first in order to share your energy with others.
A– Ambition–  Setting goals can be overwhelming.  If you’re anything like me, you’re totally not OK with waiting for them.  This is where the smallest goals are the biggest.  I’ve found that setting small, seemingly mundane goals throughout my day or week has been the only way to keep the long-term ones from burning up in a cloud of flames..
N– New– We have all heard about the days being new and how we’re supposed to magically forget our troubles along with the last one.  Here’s what I’ve learned in 7 years of trying to convince myself that it’s possible.  It isn’t.  New, to me, means accepting new perspectives from wherever they show.  New means appreciating a pair of thrift store jeans you couldn’t ever wear before because there weren’t many size 28 Talls around.  New, to me, means looking back and finding the experiences of yesterday becoming an avenue for tomorrow.
C– Challenge–  Challenge comes in many forms.  One of my favorite and most loathed-  Running.  I love it.  I despise it.  It’s agony some days and pure bliss through others.  It’s a challenge and it’s ever-changing.
E– Experience–  We all have it.  How do we share it?  The point is-  We get to.  My scars tell mine quite literally.  My Frankenbody is the paper and I am the pen.
S– Silent Stories–  7 years of transforming physically, mentally, and emotionally has taught me something I never knew I’d need.  I’ve finally applied a term to this.  These are the stories your experiences tell without words.  No one may know where our past started or how it ended up to be our present.  They may judge us before they know.  Even once they do, they may still.  But our silent stories are worth more than we can ever imagine as long as we tell them each day in our actions.
7 years have given me my life back in more ways than I thought possible.  Mostly, they have handed me an infinite amount of chances. 
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(Ok.. And a sweet pair of bat wings I’ve grown to love.)  

How do you spell your chances?