"Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies." - Mother Teresa
The beautiful response to my essay from earlier this week has left me feeling humbled, honored, and truly connected to some amazing folks -- most of whom I don't personally know. The Grateful Life community has once again blessed me with their grace and kindness, love and support. Thank you, friends, for holding space for my experience with a difficult subject matter, and for helping to spread light where there is darkness in reading, replying, and sharing so positively. This was about as good a reaction to my reaction to a very public, yet sensitive, issue as any ol' writer could possibly hope for....
So, really, from my heart to yours -- thank you.
OK! OK OK.
Enough of all that.
Since it is Friday, I wanted to lighten the mood a tad. We're all here ticking along as best we can, and life is so much better with a bit (a ton, please) of humor, amirite?
Here's the scoop:
Do you remember when Kristin Bell told Ellen that she has to live between a 3 and a 7 on the emotions scale, otherwise she's crying? Like, if anything is sadder than a 3, she's crying, and if anything is happier than a 7, she's crying?
This is me. Very, very much me. Even when I hate to admit it and pretend I SO have it all together, this is exactly me.
Having shared a living space for 10 months now, Brandon very calmly and non-chalantly pointed out this week that he has observed this 3-7 scale behavior on a regular basis. And, because humor is his go-to for everything, when I asked him what he meant by that, he gave his best...most loving (read: I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt/not taking myself too seriously)... impression of me falling below or above 3-7.
Here's how I hope this video lightens the mood:
1. By sharing a laugh at B's impersonation of Trish "having a feeling", then casually continuing to eat his sandwich.
2. By noticing my very hunky man prefers to be shirtless around the house, making me (and now you), a very lucky gal (or guy -- hey, I live in SF).
This is an accurate example of a typical night at the Fell/DiGaetano house...
Life. Oh, life.
We humans are equal parts strong and fragile; resilient and endlessly needy. We write our stories through a comedy of errors mixed with the great mysteries of being alive, and the luckiest of us remain the master storyteller long into life, until they have to pry the pen from our cold, dead hands.
We can experience such a vast array of emotions -- such a long, twisted, fleeting, ever evolving spectrum of right now I am... -- that it often feels as though we simply don't have the capacity to hold it in forever...whatever it may be from moment to moment. Hold it in, or hold it together--For sustainable health and well being, it's gotta eventually come up and out, over, or through.
For me, up and over has historically happened in one of four ways: Laugh, Cry, Dance, Write.
I'd wanted to say that if I'm lucky, laughter is my first go-to -- taking things as they come, never personally, but lightly and with a free heart. But this is a bit too flighty, even for my taste, and it also implies that crying is bad. It's not -- crying is just rinsing, and it is often a necessary spiritual cleansing of both happy and sad. And Lord knows, for better or worse, I am a crier. Dancing and writing have been there for me over the years, too. Both acting as pillars of support to safely let go and flow within them.
This is a very hard essay to write, but it has been one I have mulled over in many forms through the past few years of blogging. Hinted at, even.
I have been very scared to write this essay.
But with the passing of Robin Williams, a man who embodied laughter in motion in a way that Anne Lamott describes as "carbonated holiness", and all of the truths a death of this kind brings to the light, my spirit has told me that it's OK now. That honey, it's time.
So here we are, and here it goes....
Sometimes there are babies of this earth who can't find their up and over release. Sometimes these babies have demons who strip their true joy from them, and find false release in something such as one of the many forms of addiction on our planet. Sometimes these babies have mental illness, too, because it was simply the card they were dealt and is one that has shaped them in ways beyond their immediate control. And sometimes these babies with addiction or mental illness or the crushing, common combination of both feel so convincingly that their up and over release will never, ever come for them. Time and time again they feel the failing of release, to the point that they might even decide to do something so horrifyingly sad and final and painful, to finally force the over for good -- to force the burden of life weighing heavily on them to be lifted, and to lift the burden of themselves they often perceive to be weighing on the people they love, as well. In an effort to grasp some semblance of control, with pen in hand, they sometimes choose to end their story.
We who are left behind may feel betrayed or confused or just outright heart broken when this happens. It hurts, and it hurts, and it hurts. We who are left can also sometimes find no other way to make sense of our losses than to call those babies selfish, or cowardly.
This is hard for me to hear. Amid all of the really thoughtful things said about the tragedy in death of this kind, I struggle a lot with folks reacting in the way of "how selfish". Maybe we take this route as a way to digest and close the window of never ending what ifs/if onlys/and straight up, fucked up, fears flooding in. Maybe we process anger and resentment, first --clinging to it like a shield, fending off the agony of an answerless loss. Or maybe we hold this view as a way to distance ourselves from the reality that we cannot possibly understand how in the hell this could be a choice someone we care for would actively choose, whether sober or not, whether the signs said otherwise, or were missing altogether.
Please know that I have never personally attempted to end my own life. Not even close. But, though it terrifies me to admit it, I have felt sadness so hopelessly deep in my bones that there have been nights where I resigned myself, face down on my pillow, to saying a prayer that consisted of asking for it to just be enough already. No more, please. I am exhausted and spent...the release has yet to find me. Through sheer grace, years of continued therapy, and a hell of a lot of support from beautiful, loyal, unwavering friends, I have always managed to come through to morning. For this, I am a lucky one. I am a lucky one who sees her life as a never ending self-study in mental health -- my recognition of the permanently impermanent cycle of my brain has been life changing. I can find the release in this: in knowing I do not have to constantly move the goal post, or strive for a "fixed" version that simply does not exist. I am, and so it is. There's peace in this.
I have witnessed this kind of sadness in others, as well. I have sat outside a dormitory bathroom stall as a person I loved (and still love) cried out in such immense pain, after a night of a few too many drinks, talking...pleading with...God to give her the strength to end her own life. You read that correctly -- the strength to end her life. I sat on that floor for hours, also pleading with God for strength -- to take us into morning, to tell me what to do, to help me help her in whatever way my small and powerless teenaged being could. Then I followed her to her bedroom where I half-slept on the floor, blocking her path of exit for fear she would wake up, sneak away, and actually do what she begged for help with.
She never did. But many other folks do, and it is my firm belief that there is no room for placing blame on anyone in these scenarios. It is not your fault (I repeat: it is not your fault), and maybe, it is not theirs, either.
Here is my truth about we who are left behind: it isn't our beliefs on this subject that make us a more knowing, better person, but our actions and behaviors that do. This is the same for all of life as I know it -- it is not our beliefs, but our behaviors that make us better.
So where do we go from here, we who are left behind?
And where do we go, we whose demons deny us our up and over release to the point of silencing the inner madness in harmful ways?
I think, maybe, We come to each other.
We support a cause which aims to de-stigmatize mental illness, like this one.
We reach out for help -- raw, humbling, humiliating help-- in any way we know how. I beg you, please, babies, reach out for help.
We try and we fail, forgive and let go. We empathetically embrace, and judgement-free love -- both ourselves and our messy worlds, over and over, then over once more, imperfectly leaving the goal post in the dust. We laugh, cry, dance, write and find our sustainable ways of up and over releasing when it's just too much.
And maybe we sit outside bathroom stalls for hours, clammy hands wringing with anxious unknowns, and simply wait. Wait for the morning to come, prayers from the heart frantically muttered to any damn God who will listen, until from the darkness, inevitably, comes the light.
It hurts, and it hurts, and it hurts.
But you are not alone, you are not alone, you are not alone.
much love and light,
Music, beers, friends, fresh (albeit slightly foggy) park air. A heavenly and totally exhausting (because I'm old, and can barely "hang" anymore without needing full day to recover in bed) weekend was had in our beloved city's Golden Gate Park.
Tom Petty was by far our favorite performance of Outside Lands weekend -- that ol hippie has still got it in spades, and we loved hearing all of his classics, live. We always feel so fortunate to be able to VIP participate in these kinds of festivals. Thanks to a generous friend, we avoid the "jungle" of General Admission, which this grandma would absolutely not survive...too many crop tops and not enough jackets being worn! Aren't those skinny biddies freezing?! So we soak up every moment of gloriously strung together sounds from some of our favorite artists, from a slightly less claustrophobic, roped off area. Phew, amen, all is well.
And because I adore all things awkward, this photo makes me laugh, and should thus be shared as a bonus portrait of our life. Special guest: our friend Natalie :)
I've written numerous posts over the past (almost) 4 (!!!) years about my love affair with the company I work for -- and the platform on which this blog lives!-- Weebly. The story of how I started here is one of my favorites, and I still thank the Universe constantly for the guidance in becoming, oh so unexpectedly, a Joyologist.
Being a part of the Weebly team has truly been one of the most grand adventures of my life, and I cannot imagine where I would be today without so much of their support, encouragement, and flat out love. Yea that's right, guys -- I know ya love me.
Anyway, we are hiring like mad right now. Pretty much every week a new friend and team member joins the crew, and it is incredible to witness just what these fresh, creative dynamics are bringing to life around here. We're moving offices in just a few days, as well, and I cannot wait to see how things continue to unfold in our new, beautiful space.
Growth = good.
And YOU could be a part of this.
I wanted to highlight our jobs page here on The Grateful Life for a moment simply because I think anyone who takes the time to read my ramblings is probably someone with the kind of energy we like to have around the office. I mean, they haven't gotten rid of me yet, so...
In short, if you or someone you know is looking for a challenging, rewarding and insanely fun new opportunity (with perks up the whazoo...seriously, just ask my friends and family, who are constantly eye rolling at my spoiled rotten ass), I'd love to help be a resource for you here.
See a job listed that was simply meant to be yours?
Let's talk :)
Seriously! I mean it.
firstname.lastname@example.org --- use it!
love and light,
OK, once again this is not a photo from last week, it's not even a photo at all, but I'm going somewhere with it (I think), so just bare with me, and enjoy a random giggle...
I love everything about this video.
"It's so good", at the end, is probably my favorite part.
Because this silliness, shared with my beloved cousin and friend at my 30th birthday party, is so good.
I've been forgetting this kind of good, lately. I've been working some things out in this here noggin of mine (never a good idea, amirite?) and I've been forgetting that I don't always have to have it all figured it out. I've been forgetting that worry is worthless -- like a prayer for what you don't want -- and I've invested too much time figuratively on my knees praying for just about everything I don't want.
But enjoying the company of ladies like Meg (which I did this weekend so HA, it basically is an appropriate "portrait of our life" entry), and being texted head banging dance videos by her boyfriend out of the blue, and having dinner with 2 other couples making me feel like a total, hip, city grown up, help me to remember, again.
Maybe that's really all life is: The endless cycle of getting caught up in the bullshit, while being led by fear and shame or guilt and pride, forgetting the great joys of being alive, the joys we've already experienced and innately know how to find again, only to then, finally, blessedly, remember. Remember who we are and what we are worthy of; remembering and feeling whole and happy and deeply grateful again.
It only takes remembering, and anyone can do that. We remember the bad so easily -- the less than pleasant, the cringe worthy, and the not-so-proud of. Remembering can be painful, I know. We're the only creatures on earth who punish ourselves over and over for the same mistakes or cling to how we've been hurt as an awkward, clunky, badge of dis-honor.
But this is how you find the good, too. In remembering.
So I guess we have to keep surrounding ourselves with silly cousins and keep performing hair thrashing dances for no one else's enjoyment but our own. And eventually, in the midst of our forgetting, someone will help you remember by sending you video proof that you know exactly what uninhibited, playful, joy looks like. That it's simple, a little ridiculous, and very much about not giving a flying f*ck what someone else might think of you while you do it. And that, most importantly, you should do it more often.
love and light,