Feet First!

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I’m not sure exactly when it clicked for me. The past 6 months, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching. Not just the sitting in silence, pondering life part. I mean the making lists and digging REALLY deep into who I am and who I want to be. Maybe it was turning 44—a mid-life crisis sort of thing. Maybe it was having my dream job and still feeling unhappy and unsatisfied. Whatever started this ball rolling, I am glad it did. I have never felt more empowered, motivated, and aligned as I do right now, in this moment.

This uneasiness I was feeling, this sense of having  no purpose, no path—it literally brought me to my knees. And I’m being completely honest here. I spent much of April and May of this year in bed. In tears. In complete and utter hoplessness. If I had the job I always wanted, the love of my life by my side, two magnificent boys ensconced at top-notch colleges, my elderly parents still alive and living with me, all the material things I wanted, why the hell was I in complete and utter despair? What the hell was wrong with me?

Yes, I’ve lived with depression my entire life. I know its in’s and out’s. I know its lies and destruction. I know how it seeps into your blood and into your soul. I know how that bitch sneaks into your bed at night and steals every ounce of happiness you had, with no reason, no rhyme, no warning. This was beyond that. This was a completely new thing. This was me floating helpless with no idea where I was going. I was no longer just depressed; I was lost. I, the real me, was gone.

I’ve been changing my eating habits and fitness habits since the first of the year. I’ve blown up over the last 18 years. I mean, BLOWN UP. I was about 100 pounds overweight. And I think here is where the moment of clarity came to me. It was on a treadmill, when I thought I couldn’t go any further. I was about to push the “stop” button on my treadmill, when I looked at my time. I was on there for 40 minutes. At a high speed and incline. When I first started in February, I could barely do 10 minutes with no incline and at a low speed.

Wait a second? Did I really do that?  Did I really come this far in a few months?  And I did this on my own. Yes, with support, but ultimately I was in control. It was when I realized how strong I could be physically that I realized how strong I am emotionally and mentally. I have been through so much shit in my life—I mean seriously. And here I am. Still. No matter what life has thrown at me, I’ve gotten through. And there it was, the truth I needed. Everything I needed was inside ME. I didn’t need to look to a job, to my love, to my nice car—-what I needed to thrive was me.

Now, I feel free. Is everything perfect and happy? No. Is my depression suddenly gone? No. But, now I know that the power lies inside me to overcome anything life throws at me. I am scared to death. I’m flying without a lifeline. I’m starting my own business to coach others to find themselves, to harness their power, and to do so with writing. I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself.

I’m jumping in feet first! And I’ve never felt so fearless in my life.

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Fluidity

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I went to the water to find peace–

somewhere in the waves,

where the sun fades and the noise becomes hollow.

 

I went to the water to find resilience–

like the aqua liquidity bending and shaping

to whatever it encounters.

 

I went to the water to find a sense of permanence–

like the lasting effect of years upon years of continuous movement,

that leaves its mark on all it touches.

 

I went to the water to find something, anything–

grasping for something concrete to hold onto

or finally letting go forever.

 

I went to the water to find comfort—

but in between the droplets, I found myself.

 

Lloyd Dobler

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“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”—Lloyd Dobler

 

I’ve been thinking back to that college freshman I was 26 years ago. That girl knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life…..well, she thought she did. I was determined to be Clarice Starling from The Silence of the Lambs. I was going to be a pistol-packing, strong, daring FBI agent for the Behavioral Analysis Unit, or in today’s terms, the people from Criminal Minds. I had no doubt that one day I would be catching serial killers and interviewing them from Death Row. Even as a young child I had a macabre fascination with criminals and crime. I read true crime books in elementary school, did reports on serial killers, gave speeches against Capital Punishment, and did my Senior English Paper on Jack the Ripper. Yeah, I was that girl.

So, as I stepped into the halls of my college in New Jersey, I had no doubts or hesitations. I majored in Criminal Justice and Psychology and knew exactly what my career path was. I didn’t want a family, no husband or children, so no ties to hold me back as I worked my way up in the FBI. But, something happened that year. Fear took over. As I started delving deeper into the FBI requirements, I questioned my own physical and mental strength. Then, I went to visit a prison and spoke to the psychologist there, he laid it out on the line for me. “You’ll be one of the only women they will see during their sentences.” “There’s a high risk you will be assaulted.”  He went on and on and pulled no punches. Suddenly the life and career I wanted seemed so scary. (Yeah, I should have thought of that earlier, right?) I finished out that year. Then, I quit. I quit because of fear and self-doubt.

From there, I transferred to another school closer to home and declared Journalism as my major. English and writing was always my second choice, since I had been writing since I was a child and was always told I excelled at it. But, no…English was too safe. But when I decided against being the next FBI super agent, I fell back to what I knew. I fell back to the safe place of Journalism. I loved it. I had written for the paper freshman year and was on staff of the newspaper my sophomore year. Editing and writing were a safe place for me. And they were therapeutic. And I was good at it and no one was going to shoot me—well, some editors I wasn’t so sure of!

Every job I’ve had since graduating has involved some form of writing: Marketing, editing, managing a publishing company’s editorial division, being an executive assistant, advising two student newspapers, serving as Poet Laureate. Part of every job has been writing. But recently I’ve been doubting my career choices. Am I a writer? Am I a journalist? Am I crazy? Short answer: I’m having a mid-life crisis. Yes, instead of buying a fancy car of my dreams (which I did two years ago anyway), I’m doubting who I am and where I want to be.

Honestly, I have no idea what exactly I want to do. I had my dream job and I wasn’t happy. So, what exactly should I do with the rest of my life? What am I good at? What makes me happy? I hope you’ll stay tuned as I try to answer those questions. I’m not who I was at 18 or even who I was in my 20’s when I graduated college. I’ve grown. I’ve adapted. I’ve changed….a lot. So, I ask myself, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Contradiction

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I sit in isolation-

(surrounded by the masses)-

desperately looking for companionship-

(exhausted by  the interaction).

 

 

An imitation of a person.

Passionate, yet apathetic.

Loving, yet spiteful.

 

Tedious days melt into dark nights

and I’m a remnant of who I once was.

 

 

 

 

Steel Blue

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I still catch a glimpse of her sometimes….

behind the steel blue cage.

The girl I once was

staring back at the woman she never thought she’d become.

A woman who lost her hopes and dreams

in a black, murky sea.

Carrying too much baggage in her heart

and in her skin.

Weighed down as she tried to swim to shore,

tried to escape the grasping tides.

That girl looks sad and lost,

wanting to see the world again-

wanting to see herself again.

Instead, the stranger stares back and once again

she loses hope of ever escaping.

Battle Scars

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My complete lack of self-esteem.

My insecurity in relationships and in myself.

My inability to trust.

My black and white thinking.

My sadness inside my happiness.

The pit in my soul that is never filled.

My hatred of mirrors.

My second guessing of everything and everyone—-

I didn’t choose these things.

They made me. They envelope me.

They consume me.

I camouflage them in smiles and nice things,

hoping no one will notice the bumps and bruises.

But where do they end and I begin?

Times Long Past

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I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Eve. I hate resolutions. I feel they put too much pressure on me and then I’ll fail and hate myself even more. So, I make personal goals for the new year. I have a list of things I want to do in the next 12 months and then I cross them off, as I do them. Then, I see real progress. Crossing something off a list gives me a momentary bump in my self-confidence. Yay me! I did accomplish something.

I found myself in a strange place this New Year’s Eve. I looked at my parents, during our traditional dinner out and I had this dreadful feeling in the pit of my stomach. I started thinking, “What if this is the last New Year’s Eve they are here to eat dinner with us?” Being in their 80’s and having some medical issues for the last 10 years or so, it really is a distinct possibility. Then, I looked at my 21-year-old son and thought, “Wait a minute….what if he isn’t here next year?”  Which, of course, led to me turning that question on my husband and then myself.

It’s true, isn’t it? We aren’t guaranteed anything in this life. Only that life happens. Shit happens. Bad things happen. Every. Single. Day. To every single one of us. In life, the bad comes with the good. The light always turns to dark. In order to live a happy and full life, we have to accept that. And then I realized, that my list needs to be more than a “2016 Goals” list. It has to be “Allison’s Life Goals” list. (Not a bucket list. I hate that term.) For some strange reason, sitting there in a nice restaurant on the last day of what was a very trying year, among the dinner rolls and salad, I had an epiphany of sorts… we are all running out of time. Every day. Every minute.

I mean this is common sense, right? At least it should be. But, with all my issues and my mental illness, it is a concept that is very difficult for my brain to process. I fret about every step I take. I get knots in my stomach at missing keys and dirty dishes. I live my life in a constant state of worry, guilt, regret, and sadness. What a waste of precious time. One of my personal development goals this year is to try to find the color in my days of black and white. Try to embrace the happy and push away the sad. This will be a big undertaking, but I feel up to the task.

I’m not saying that I’m going to overcome my diseases—quite the contrary. I know they will always be there, but maybe I can accept them a bit more. Maybe I can find a silver lining in the darkness. Maybe if I find it enough, it will start to penetrate and permeate into my being. I’m running out of time, and damn it, I have too much left to do. If I’m here next year, then I can celebrate what I did accomplish in 2016. If I’m not, I want people to look back and know I did my best every single day to live a good, full life. And that I refused to let the darkness win.