Category Archives: Introspection

An Ending, A Beginning

I write to you after a much needed break from, well, everything. I can’t say that I took this break willingly. Quite the opposite actually. Something crept in and gave me no choice but to slow down. That ‘something’ is what I’d like to share with you today.

 

I last blogged in May and headed off to a distant island the size of Connecticut – Jamaica! I spent a wonderful week in blissful gratitude for each experience, but I returned in June feeling less than renewed after a week in paradise. I knew that something wasn’t quite right. A friend suggested maybe I was experiencing post-vacation blues, and maybe I was for a while, but a heaviness developed and carried over into July. I wasn’t willing to admit it at the time, but I knew something was terribly off. July faintly blurred into August, September, and eventually October.

 

I do a wonderful job of convincing myself that it isn’t what it really is. It couldn’t be. I’m fine. I just need to work a little harder in school, do a little more at home, go for a long run or spend some extra time with Lucas. Those THINGS will make me feel better. Yes, I’ll feel better. It can’t be what I think it is. No, it absolutely cannot be that. I don’t want it to be that. It would be too embarrassing to admit to those closest to me that indeed, my depression has returned.

 

I can remember experiencing intense episodes of anxiety beginning in the 4th grade. Battles with depression began at age 14. My anxiety has consistently hung around since I was young, but depression is less predictable for me and appears whenever it so pleases. I am always amazed at how quietly it returns the very moment I least expect it. At those times when strangers look at my life and think to themselves, “Wow, what a beautiful life she is living. What could ever make her so incredibly sad?”

 

I rarely talk about this with friends, and most family members don’t know the depth of the suffering, and that is okay. I choose safe environments in which to share my story, and I am infinitely grateful when the heaviness lifts just enough to allow me a clear mind and the ability to share my experience once again.

I recently described to a friend what my struggle looks like, feels like, sounds like. He encouraged me to share this on the blog when I felt ready, so here goes nothing!

 

Depression is quite unique to every individual, so I can only speak on my experience. I’d like to first say that this is truly difficult for me to share but imperative that it be spread for others to hear. As I mentioned, I have seen depression come and go since I was a teenager. It invites itself into my life at any age, during my happiest moments and worst of days. It doesn’t care how far I’ve come or what accomplishments I’ve achieved. It pays no mind to how grateful I am to be alive and healthy. It comes, and it stays, on its own terms.

 

It looks like a dark room inside of my head. Sometimes the door is open, allowing darkness to creep out and into each facet of my life. In the early stages, it covers my world with a haze, and I wonder why everyone else is outside playing in the sun. It tells me to fear the future, to doubt my dreams, and to stay inside – literally, and as the dark builds, I begin to avoid all social interaction unless it is absolutely necessary. Cancelling on friends, avoiding phone calls, slinking through my house so that the neighbors don’t know that I’m home. It makes me anxious to chat with even my closest of friends because I’m too embarrassed to admit that I’m suffocating under something so heavy that I wouldn’t get out of bed were it not for the sole purpose that I need to get Lucas to school. It asks me why I even bother showering when there is no one to see. It tells me that nobody cares enough to look my way anyway. In the darkest hours, I lack any excitement for being outdoors, I feel completely uninspired creatively, and I am unable to read for pleasure. But you’d never know because I continue to smile through the hurt. And honestly, I will deny deny deny that anything is wrong. I’ll push through it. Because I’m fine. It is only when I meet with my best friend for lunch and she comments that I ‘have a sort of melancholy about me’ that I know it’s time to seek help.

 

Depression is such a good liar that after 4 months of barely avoiding a mental breakdown, I am completely convinced that this will not pass, and I need to tell someone that I cannot ride it out alone any longer. So I seek the comfort of a few close friends. Some of us even have code words and phrases. One loved one in particular looks me in the eye and asks, “Is it bad-bad?” and when I answer yes, we drop everything we are doing and talk strategy. We discuss my thoughts and whether they entertain the suicidal dance, and if so, I reinforce that I am okay but absolutely not okay at the same time. I am experiencing too much heaviness, but remarkably at the very same time I hold an area of awareness that knows that this episode will pass. So for the moment I feel stuck. I feel awful. I am tired. It is heavy. Joy and happiness are so distant that I can hardly tell if I still see them or if everything is an illusion. I feel empty. And hollow. I can’t tell you what day it is or who I am, and no one’s laughter brings an ounce of joy. And I am floating in this strange moment where I exist in both the darkness and the light.

 

October arrived and my body completely gave up. A quote comes to mind: “The body keeps count and it always wins.” Anxiety and depression had taken their toll. After multiple trips to the doctor, an infection, an ulcer, the flu, and bronchitis in 4 weeks’ time – I began praying for it to end. For the darkness to lift, for my health to return, and for my life back. After antibiotics, rest, and one hell of a support system intervening, I am grateful to say that it has lifted, and the darkness has passed for now. With gratitude, I am able to speak about my experience, and the only conclusion I can make is that there is NO health without mental health, and we need to start talking openly about it. Now.

 

I wanted to share my experience on the blog because I believe it is imperative that we spread mental health awareness and share our stories to as many people as possible. The stigma surrounding anxiety and depression still exists today – and I’d be lying if I said I am completely stigma-free in my thinking. I must admit, even I feel ashamed some days that I struggle. But this is the very reason we must be brave and speak up. We need to talk about our experiences, our good thoughts and our not-so-good thoughts, our highs and our lows, our joys and our sadness. We must share with our friends, parents, spouses, and children. Hell, I’d even like to see mental health discussions as prevalent as sex education and drug-use prevention in our school systems. Mental illness is a national epidemic, and we cannot blame ourselves or feel ashamed any longer. It is OKAY to feel sad, to struggle, to experience anxiety and depression, to feel the good and the not-so-good because all of it is a part of the human experience. No one is to blame. We need not feel ashamed.

 

I am completely saddened when people talk about those suffering with mental illness and make comments like, “Why can’t she just snap out of it?” We would never look at a cancer patient and ask why her body can’t heal itself, so we absolutely cannot look at those suffering with mental illness and wonder the same. Mental illness is a disease and we cannot control the onset.

 

To those of you reading who have struggled in the past, are struggling now, or know someone who struggles – my heart goes out to you. I may not understand your individual struggle, but I hear you and I see you, and I know how difficult this moment seems. Please remember, it is not your fault if depression sneaks up on you and lies to you too. It hurts and it is heavy, but it is possible to live with it and to grow with it. I think for me, accepting that depression is a part of my life is where the healing process begins. I’ve begun to ask myself daily, “Can I accept that depression may be with me for the rest of my life? What does life look like after acceptance? Is this where my life begins? ” Maybe accepting it and not blaming myself is my path to healthy living. Or as a wise teacher suggests, “We can lay out the welcome mat for everything in our lives. To be with it all.”

 

I struggled to write this post because I don’t have any good answers when it comes to living with mental illness. I wanted to lift people up and say, “Here’s how you can live successfully with depression!!” But the honest truth is that I don’t have any answers at all. Sometimes I don’t know what to say when I am struggling or when my loved ones are struggling, and that is such a difficult truth to live with. But that’s okay. It’s okay that we don’t have all the answers. It’s okay that we suffer, and it’s PHENOMENAL when we regain our health and return to the light. No matter how long it takes. 5 months, 5 years, 5 lifetimes. It’s okay. Sometimes we don’t need the answers, we just need to know that we’re not alone in our suffering. And I truly believe that THAT’S enough to ignite the healing process. To know that we are never alone. To be present with it ALL – the good AND the not-so-good. We CAN live healthier, lighter lives. Every experience is teaching us something. Life is here for us now.

 

The end of this 5 month battle has bloomed the most magnificent beginning I’ve felt in years. I’m still here. I live with depression, and that’s okay. I accept it. The welcome mat for everything in my life is here to stay. Not everything is pretty, or light, or easy now. I still have my not-so-good moments, and stressful times are here to stay. Accepting things as they are doesn’t mean that things are always good, it just means that we choose to be with it all, to see and hear and allow whatever is in front of us to be, to run its course, and to end. I know that this period of good will be followed by some not-so-good stuff. And that’s okay. That is the ebb and flow that is life. Thankfully what I know now after years and years of dwelling in my suffering is that as one moment comes to an end, the beginning of another is what keeps our inner being alive, growing ever so quietly toward the light.

 

An ending, a beginning, it is all here for us now.

May you have the strength to be with it all.

 

Light & love,

Ki

The road to successful living

It is 6a.m. on Saturday morning, I have just finished writing a new poem, made a list of my top 4 favorite titles for “the book” – and all I can think is to write to you, my wonderful lights, and share this moment with you. It has taken many months, many breaths, many cries, many HUGE steps toward my dreams in the face of fear to get to this place.

Most recently, the past 13 weeks or so have flown by, and it always takes me by surprise each time someone asks me, “Hey Ki, how’s it going with your book?!” You guys are simply the best.

I think to myself, Ah, yes, my book! My heart and soul translated to paper, how could I forget?! I take a few moments to breathe, ask for patience, remember to explain my thoughts slowly, and include my friends and family on this crazy journey.

I recently posted to Instagram that YES, I heard from my book editor last weekend! Some of you inquired for more details, and I will gladly share with you that I received wonderful feedback, but we are in the process of revision, a process that I take seriously and handle with care! I am still floating in the moment of complete bliss and gratitude for having had another set of eyes dance with my words… so much so that I am not ready to take the next step. Can I hold this moment forever?!

——

I believe in asking for help. And sometimes, when we are truly ready to receive what we’ve asked for, the Universe grants us beautiful gifts. My gifts came after I decided to speak with close friends and family about my desire to turn my binder-full-of-poems into a real book.

A year ago this past April, I began writing – or shall I say, the intention to create something new flooded my senses, and I translated the evolution onto paper.

For months, I told no one, fearful that others would laugh off “a book of poetry.” I will save you the story about how I wrestled with myself to continue on the path, and I’ll fast-forward to confiding in a family member about my desire to move further into the unknown world of publishing. To my surprise, she immediately offered to me her connection in Florida who could possibly help with publishing. She’d send her friend an email if I’d like her to do that? (Uh, what? Is it really that easy? I thought. I wrestled myself. My gut screamed, YES!)

I reluctantly agreed. (Fear, fear, fear)

Within a week, an email popped into my inbox, Rick offered his phone number and told me to give him a call. Holding back tears over the phone, I admitted to Rick that I am fragile, that my poetry is deeply private, but that something larger than myself is pushing me to share this with others. I cannot recall much from our 45 minute conversation other than the warmth of Rick’s voice and the depth of his sincerity in dedicating himself to helping me walk this path.

His follow-up email brought me to tears,

“I admire you for pursuing your dreams. I’ll do whatever I can to help you get there.”

 

And I sent over my book. (Fear, fear, fear, tears, surrender to the unknown)

—-

I come back to this moment, early Saturday morning, wanting to tell you what Rick has said about my book, wanting to gush about what my book will look like, or smell like, or feel like, or sound like…

But truthfully, I am enjoying this moment of looking back at how much I’ve overcome to get HERE, NOW. Remembering how my heart pounded when I picked up the phone to call a stranger to tell him about my dreams, feeling his arms of acceptance hold me with the reminder:

“Stick with you poetry and your book. Don’t let anybody try to put a dent in your dream. You will see this through. It’s going to happen.”

Thank you Rick, thank you Universe, thank you inner Ki for carrying me to this place. I am grateful.

 

This is exactly what I wanted to share with you guys. That my dreams, and yours, are so unbelievably important. (They are the reason you are here!) I want to tell you that fear is a part of the process. That letting your intentions be known to the world is the only way to receive help on the path toward your dreams. That ‘fear of rejection and criticism’ FEELS FREAKING AWFUL, but the feeling of a stranger saying that he enjoys what you have created (AND EVEN HAS A FEW FAVORITES) is blissfully therapeutic. That when someone tells you to keep going, to keep pushing, to keep chasing your wildest dreams, you begin to feel worthy of all that life is offering to you RIGHT NOW.

That leaning into fear is the greatest success of all.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Universe for this lesson.

 

I began this journey to speak up about my experience of this world, in hopes of being heard, in hopes that others would accept me as I am once they had read ‘the book.’ I really, truly thought that a finished product in my hands would bring a feeling of success and accomplishment, and only THEN could I be considered a ‘real’ writer with something to show for it. I must admit, oh how completely wrong I was.

 

The journey to speak, to be heard, to share my deepest self is already happening. This process of writing, creating, discovering new parts of myself, sharing, laughing, loving, destroying old poems, and revisiting ones I thought I’d forgotten – all of this – IS the arrival.

You guys, I hope to the highest heavens within myself that this book comes to life, that you can hold it in your hands and discover something waiting patiently within you, but if it doesn’t ever happen that way, I am forever grateful for this step, this moment, this arrival right here and now.

 

I hope you are dancing with your wildest dreams. I hope there are people who want to help you, who want to celebrate your greatness, who will pick you up when fear has chased you to your knees. But please always remember: It is not the finished product, the final show, the last song on the record that makes this journey a success – it is in this moment, the one in which you are currently living, where you will find your arrival, your joy, your deepest and most profound level of success.

Celebrate yourself today. You have already arrived.

 

With all the light and love I carry,

Ki

newki2015

 

Can we be kinder, please?

“Turn down the mean voice. You’re not being nice, Momma.”

 

It was a Sunday. Lucas and I were enjoying a sunny afternoon lunch.

In a moment of incurable human frustration, I made a negative remark about a friend.

Lucas’ eyes narrowed, and with tiny fingers he made a twisting motion as if to hold the nob of a radio and adjust the volume accordingly.

“That was rude! Turn down the mean voice.” He giggled and again motioned to soften the volume.

I was stunned, embarrassed, humbled. I wanted to say, “Hey! That’s no way to speak to your mother.”

But he was right. I was being rude. I made an impulsive, mean comment. But I was frustrated.

My view was clouded.

 

Lucas searched my face for a reaction, as children do, and I smiled.

“Thank you, Lucas. You’re right, that was a mean thing to say about my friend. I’ll turn that mean voice down now. Thank you for reminding me to be kind.”

He went about eating his sandwich and hummed a silly song to himself.

The image of his tiny fingers quieting my meanness remained.

——-

I wonder, how many other people have allowed their mean voices to speak louder than the innate kindness that runs its course through us all?

How many times have we become frustrated and sent a nasty text message to a loved one in a fit of sadness and hurt feelings? Or rolled our eyes at the bank teller because he miscounted our money for the second time? Or yelled at the customer service representative because our impatience flooded a sense of understanding that we are just one of millions waiting to be helped? Or how about cursing the driver in front of us who cut us off in an unpleasant manner?

When did frustration and headaches replace patience and kindness?

 

The words of my favorite author and poet come to mind:

Mark Nepo says, “Underneath every headache is a heartache.”

 

There is so much value in this simple, yet deeply profound sentence. Underneath every headache we have, underneath every impulsive, mean comment or gesture that we make, underneath our impatience and misunderstanding, the innocence of our aching heart remains.

This explains why I am frustrated with my friend. She hurt me, and in the confusion of how best to express my hurt feelings, I become angry and speak ill of her.

This is an isolated incident, but this small hurt can turn into years of misunderstanding and estrangement – that is, if I choose not to properly express what is going on inside of me.

My suggestion to you, my wonderful readers, is to pay attention to how you outwardly express what is happening inside of you.

Why do you send the nasty text message?

Why do you roll your eyes at the bank teller?

Why do you yell at the customer service rep?

Why do you allow yourself to become upset with other drivers?

Only when you become aware of these ineffective, damaging habits, can you begin to address what is going on inside of you.

 

Truthfully, when I am hurting, when I feel as though no one hears what I am saying, when I feel like I’ve been wronged in some way, I become defensive, reactive, and I shut down. My hurt becomes anger, my anger becomes tears. My tears become confusion, distortion of words and phrases, a mess of emotions and fear, a chaotic swirl of truth that so desperately wants to be heard. It has taken years for me to observe these outward reactions and address the inward truths that drive my behaviors. I’m not saying this has been easy. Every day is a practice. Living continues to be a process, a challenge, a mighty work of art in the making for me.

 

To my lovely little lights, underneath our behaviors are the untouched hurts within us.

I challenge you to silence that mean voice and let the real you begin to speak.

Let’s be kinder to others — and to ourselves.

The change always begins with you.

 

Light and love,

Ki & Lucas

black and white

The courage to be vulnerable

If you’re uncomfortable with truth, this post may not be for you.

If you’re uncomfortable with emotions, this post may not be for you.

If you’re here for a “Facebook worthy post” with a false sense of ‘yay my life is peaches and cream!” – this post is definitely not for you.

If you’re still here, I want to ask you:

What does ‘being vulnerable’ feel like for you?

I asked myself this question after witnessing a beautiful soul talk about her struggle with vulnerability. I’m referring to Brené Brown, author and researcher, and total kick-ass warrior against shame. After watching Brown bare her truth on stage, I couldn’t help but shed a few (okay, a lot of) tears and embrace her struggle as my own.

If you haven’t seen her TED talks or read any of her books, I’ll summarize for you. In her deeply insightful book, Daring Greatly, Brown writes:

“Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in. We must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.”

She often reiterates the point that courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.

Again and again she says,

Vulnerability is courage. The courage to be seen.

 

So let me ask again, what does being vulnerable feel like for you? Does it scare you? Do you associate it with weakness? Would you consider ‘being vulnerable’ courageous?

 

What happens when you allow yourself to be seen? When you let your guard down? When you say the truth of a situation and how it makes you feel? When you make a pitch to your boss? When you introduce a boyfriend to your family? When you have a tough conversation with a family member? When you share a lifelong dream with a friend? Do you immediately regret it? Do you crawl up in a ball and cry?

Tell me, what are your vulnerabilities?

 

I’ll start with a few of mine. Here are some painfully vulnerable moments from the past few years of my life that have stuck with me and to this day make me feel uncomfortable.

 

Vulnerability is….

 

-Telling my partner that I’m unhappy

-Admitting that I need professional help

-Saying ‘I love you’ to a man who I know doesn’t love me in return

-Quitting school to have a baby at age 19

-Flying out of the country for the first time, alone

-Telling a loved one that her expectations of me are ruining our relationship

-Sending my book of poetry to a stranger

-Calling said stranger on the phone and admitting that I am completely terrified of watching this book come to life

-Hearing this stranger say that he’s all in — that he believes in me

-Having a dream so huge that it makes me cry when I talk about it

-Wearing a swim suit

-Explaining to my son why mommy is sad some days

-Talking about God

-Overdosing on prescription medication and waking up

-Talking to God about why she woke me up

-Beginning college for the second time and immediately panicking

-Sharing my story in a therapy group after being hospitalized for major depression

-Writing a book and wondering if the one person I desperately want to read it even will

-Letting go of one dream to pursue another

-Forgiving myself for So. Many. Things.

-Losing best friends after telling them I was pregnant

-Surrendering to Love

-Calling my grandma for the first time after my grandpa went to be with God

-Opening up to strangers and accepting them as soulmates (yes, I believe that many people nourish our souls!)

-Looking in the mirror and accepting that this is what I look like

That this is who I am.

———

Phew! I am going to have a vulnerability hangover after this post! But YOU GUYS!!! WE MUST START FACING OUR TRUTHS. WE MUST START SHOWING UP IN LIFE! I don’t know about you, but being vulnerable feels really awful at first, but there is good news. If we can just start to lean into that uncomfortable exposure, it is possible to enjoy a freer, healthier, more purposeful life. Living with intention allows us to embrace each precious moment that waits for us right here, right now.

 

I encourage you to think about your vulnerable self. What are your vulnerabilities? Can you name a few? Why not try writing them down and sharing them with a trusted loved one? What if you started the conversation today? If you find it too difficult to voice your vulnerabilities, think about what is preventing you from having the courage to be vulnerable and show up?

 

Before you begin exploring your vulnerabilities, please remember that you are enough. You are worthy of love and belonging. Do not let others, or yourself, tell you any differently. What you think about yourself may not be the truth. We all have our ‘shit’ that we’d rather not face. This doesn’t change the fact that You are enough. You are enough. You are enough.

Being vulnerable is not weakness. It is courage. It is courage.

It is courage.

Have the courage to face yourself in a naked, honest way.

Enter the arena that is your life. It may feel scary, it will be painful at times, and that’s okay.

Your soul thanks you.

Sending light and so much love to you all.

Let’s be courageous together.

I love you!

 

-Ki

 

**Infinite thanks to Brené Brown for starting the conversation on vulnerability and shame. You can never know how many lives you are saving right now. You are a beautiful, brave warrior. You inspire us to enter the arena ever day of our lives.

Sore spots in relationships

To my wonderful readers, friends, and family —

 

I’d like to share some exciting news! I started this blog as a means to express my journey through motherhood, anxiety, spiritually connecting with the universe, and questioning the hell out of this strange and magical world. I rarely check my ‘blog analytics,’ but yesterday I felt pulled to see in what countries LifeofKi is viewed. And you guys, since January 2014, LifeofKi has reached over 80 countries! 80?!?! What?

My little blog. A place of questioning and growth that I started two years ago with little to no expectations of reaching the outside world, and now?! Gratitude fills me. It’s truly magical what happens when we have the courage to work on ourselves and expose our cracked and creviced places. I never could have imagined that people all over the world would continue to relate to and return to my words.

Thank you, thank you, thank you again.

You see me.

I see you too.

 

———-

 

On another note – let’s be productive today and work on ourselves!

As you guys know, many of my readers and friends come to me with relationship issues and ask for advice.

First — I like to ask questions in order to get them thinking about who they are and what they bring to a relationship – Because remember, we must first begin with ourselves in order to understand the world around us.

I’d like to focus today on our ‘sore spots’ in relationships. What do I mean by sore spots? I’m talking about those things that, perhaps unknowingly, hinder and destroy our relationships over time. I’ve heard them referred to as the ‘cancer’ of relationships.

I’m talking about our Insecurities and Expectations.

Now it’s your turn to do some work.

 

Today, let’s be aware of our sore spots —

What are your insecurities?

Think about your “I’m not” statements? (I’m not beautiful enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not enough) Are you aware of the insecurities you bring to relationships with friends, family, and future partners?

 

What are your expectations?

What do you expect from other people when you enter a new relationship? What do you expect from yourself? Are your expectations too high? Are they open-minded enough? Do you expect too much from your children? Your spouse? Your parents?

Once you’ve given yourself time to sit with these questions, I’d like you to be aware of how much work you’ve done thus far. Facing our rough edges is the first step.

 

Maybe you’re thinking, okay Ki, I already know these things about myself, but what can I do RIGHT NOW to mend my relationships?

I have 4 nuggets of advice to start with TODAY.

 

1. Drop expectations

Drop all expectations of how others should be, or act, or love, or dress, or speak, etc. Drop expectations of how you think you should look, or act, or be in relationships as well. Just be you. The goal here is to be open to others for exactly who they are. When we drop these thoughts, we create so much SPACE in our lives and minds for the present moment and the person in front of us.

 

2. Make NO assumptions

     Unless you ask, you do NOT know. The goal here is to LOSE your assumptions about people and situations, and to open communication with those around you. If you don’t know, ask. If there is a misunderstanding in your relationship, reach out and ask why there is tension. If you are curious about someone new and would like to know more, ask. If someone didn’t return your call — instead of becoming annoyed or angry, why not reach out again after a couple of days? Keep communication OPEN.

 

3. Let go of the need for another’s affirmation in order to affirm yourself

     I can assure you, I’ve been in situations where I thought I needed love, attention, (fill in the blank) from someone, when really – I needed to focus on tending to those areas within myself. This is where the real work begins. We must learn to let go of what we THINK we need from others. Don’t expect others to fill you – YOU must fill you.

 

4. Affirm yourself

     Practice loving-kindness, meditate, look in the mirror and admire your best qualities, write down what you love about your intellectual being, your spiritual being, whatever it is that makes you feel good about being YOU – DO IT! EMBRACE IT! BE IT!

 

Remember:

We must first begin with ourselves in order to spread our brightest light and harvest our healthiest relationships.

 

Sending my best,

Ki

be heard

It has taken me the greater part of 5 years to understand what it is about talking to people that causes me anxiety. The truth is, I LOVE talking to people. I love getting to know that old man in the park who walks his dogs along the pebbled creek. I love catching eyes with strangers and smiling hello, nodding a quiet understanding of just how powerful that one smile is. I love the anticipation of connecting with a reader via Skype for the very first time.

 

And yet, small chat scares the hell out of me. What do you do for work? What do you like to do for fun? What’s your favorite sports team? Any question that avoids the thing we really WANT to talk about but can’t – who we truly are – seems to give me the most anxiety. At the deepest level, we want to share our story, to be heard, to be understood. Why aren’t we asking more questions that get us to that point?

 

Truth is, it doesn’t matter to me what you do for a living. That you do it well is all that matters. It doesn’t matter what you like to do for fun. Tell me what those activities do for your soul. It doesn’t matter what sports teams you enjoy. Tell me that you’ve grown up with sports since you were young and how that has brought you closer to parents and friends.

 

Go deeper than what can be seen, and I guarantee people will listen. They may not remember what department you work in and the million things you do, but I bet they will recall the look on your face when you talk about the years of hard work and struggle that got you to where you are today.

 

I can recall a conversation two weeks ago with a man named Isaac. He works at the local bookstore where I write and study — One morning he kindly asked what I was writing about that day, and I replied, “Spirituality.” He didn’t understand and asked me to go deeper in my explanation. Feeling unsure of myself, I told him I believe that each opportunity we have with one another is a chance to know God. I said hesitantly, “If I feel anything at all, it’s that God is here Now. In everything, the earth, the animals, the people. In me. In you. What do you think, Isaac? Are you spiritual or religious at all?” His eyes widened, his cheeks turned pink, and we chatted for 30 minutes longer. He dared to listen. I dared to be heard. I’ll never forget that feeling. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he shared his truth with me.

 

Tell me something that makes you uncomfortable, and I’ll tell you what it means to be human. We all share these powerful feelings: Doubt, hopefulness, fear, shame, guilt, joy, happiness. But instead we choose to talk about what we do. Where we traveled. What we built. What we saw. Who we met. We apply our pretty masks and put on a show for the world. Look at your social media accounts and all the edited photos you took in Mexico that you posted. Listen to the conversation you have with your book club friends about how well your kids are doing in college and how your husband just made tenure. I am just as guilty of it too, but you guys – WHY AREN’T WE TALKING ABOUT ANYTHNG ELSE?! Why do we feel so compelled to say what is ‘good’ all the time?

This is why small chat gives me anxiety. It feels inauthentic. I want to go deeper.

 

This is not to say that we should all go around to one another spewing our woes and heavy thoughts, no, that would be exhausting. What I’m wondering is how can we go deeper in the way we connect with one another?

This is usually the moment I give a word of advice to guide you today. But I challenge you to think of ways you can go deeper with those around you. At work, at home, in new places.

I almost wrote – How can we go deeper in the way we connect with one another without encountering uncomfortable feelings? And then I had to laugh…. We simply cannot connect deeply without uncovering uncomfortable feelings along the way. That is where the real work begins.

So my challenge to you today is to break out of your comfortable conversations. Get to that point where your cheeks blush and your heart beats faster. Dare to say a little more, anything at all! Say something that is meaningful to you, and I guarantee that those who listen will feel you deeply.

Dare to be heard.

Your soul will thank you.

 

Light and love,

Ki

ki and trees

The good hurt

He just keeps running from me

A little bit more each day,

Our hands held one moment less today,

Our giggles lasting a minute shorter,

And I keep thinking, how do parents willingly do this every day?

It never gets any easier

Letting go.

I don’t understand this constant cycle

My baby boy walking and talking,

Hilarious and wise,

Laughing and stepping into moments

Apart from me and dad.

But I smile and clench the tears,

Biting lips until the coast is clear

And it’s okay to cry.

He’ll never know how good it hurts

To be his mom.

lucas on bridge

I’m exhausted. I don’t know how some moms do it… the ones with multiple. Hell, even the ones with just one, like me. My dog is staring at me like I forgot to do something, which I probably did. You do lose your mind after having kids… that is a fact. I look forward to this time of day though. 2PM. Nap time, or at least I think he’s napping. If he’s playing quietly, I’m okay with that. I just need a break. I can’t believe he’s leaving tomorrow. The next chapter begins, and I’m not quite sure I’m ready.

As I’m sitting here, eyes heavy from the early mornings, I know I need a break. Some days I pray for a relative to call and say he/she is on the way to steal Lucas for the day, but as I stare at the calendar above my bookshelf, I can’t help but feel the nerves swell and swirl in my belly. It’s time to let him go a little bit more. Preschool starts tomorrow.

This is how it goes though, I guess. The day comes when we need less of one thing, and more of another. There are periods of time, months, years, even decades when less of ‘this’ means discovering more of what is next on the list. I’ve had 4 years of unconditional Lucas, 4 years! An abundance of love, growth, challenges, and blind hope, on-call and alert 24/7… and it’s time I need a little less in that direction. It’s time he needs a little less of his momma’s helicopter love. Yes, I can admit I hover. It’s time we both work on ourselves, our own individual paths, apart from each other.

A little less time together doesn’t mean we will love any less, and it sure doesn’t mean he’ll forget me (though I worry). A little less will bring a little more of what we both need, whatever that may be. No, I don’t know where exactly my life is headed. I don’t know what is next. I don’t know Lucas’ path or how he will walk it. But we’re moving and learning and growing together, supporting each other.

There’s a lot I don’t know, and I’m relieved to say that. What I do know is that life is a beautiful cycle of less this and more that. It is certain to happen that ‘the plan’ of what life ought to be always blooms into what my soul knows it will be. Do our lives ever go ‘as planned’ anyway?

I hope you begin to see that every moment is beautiful during times of change and uncertainty. Just because you can’t see what’s next doesn’t mean something magical isn’t happening right now. Look for the good. Hope for magic. Open yourself to every step along the way. We all go through this. Trade less for more, more for less, let life move through you. Be fluid, be in the moment. Trust that in weathering this change, what is next will be more beautiful than you could ever have imagined.

Sooner than later, we find the answers. Keep going.

Ki

I’m getting better at it

My son is a little Buddha — a tiny guy with a big belly and an even bigger heart. I first started the ‘little Buddha’ joke when I noticed skin playing peekaboo from underneath his t-shirt. All parents go through this with their children. Growth spurts ignite the dreaded ‘in between sizes’ phase. One day the shirt fits, the next… sheesh! All you see is belly! We laugh together as I tickle the exposed part of his belly, and that was it for a time.

Suddenly, I find that my once lighthearted reference is now quite a fact: my son is a little Buddha, wise with untainted knowledge and insight, a being capable of unmatched love and compassion. Over a cup of hot chocolate one chilly morning, Lucas eyed me and sternly voiced his concerns.

“Mom… if you give me too many pieces of your heart, you won’t be alive.” He smiled, wiggled in his chair, and continued sipping hot chocolate with marshmallows.

(Cue shivers up the spine) — I mean good god!! What?? How did our conversation shift from Tuesday morning cartoons to the challenges of parenting?? I smiled in silence and stared at the Crayola craft table that separated me and the enlightened being who cheerfully scanned my face for a reaction. I was baffled. Mute and dumbfounded. And as any other over-thinking parent would do, I fell into the depths of introspection.

Am I giving too much of myself? Do I love him too much? Can he sense my anxiety? Does he know I’m exhausted? How does he KNOW these things? Does he know I’m a people pleaser? Can he read the worries on my face? Can a three-year-old know and comprehend the idea that pleasing everyone first leaves little time and energy for oneself?

Well, he’s figured out the secret to life.

He is right. Every word is the truth: If you give too many pieces of your heart, you won’t be alive. His words scared the hell out of me and ignited tears, so I politely excused myself from our hot chocolate date. Perhaps they were tears of relief. Perhaps they were tears of joy. I’m not sure. Perhaps I cried for all of the moms and dads who undoubtedly face this issue: when we give too much of ourselves, we (and those closest to us) suffer the most.

To say I struggle with this issue is an understatement. I am consumed with balancing my well-being and that of my family, friends, and blog readers. I am plagued with a hunger to tend to everyone else first. I’m convinced it is engrained in my DNA. I want to ease pain, fix everyone and every tough situation that arises. I smile and tend to others before giving a thought about me and my needs. Motherly instincts remind me that every waking moment with my son is an opportunity to teach, play, learn, and explore. Embarrassing as it is to admit, I sit at the computer replying to emails from friends and new readers of mine across the globe — advising, listening to, and easing others before I’ve showered, eaten, even used the restroom! I am obsessed with helping others; it consumes me; and I think Lucas sees that. I know he does.

I know he suffers because of it. I know he hurts inside when Mommy is stressed and on edge. I know he vibes off of that, and in knowing this, I have a choice. I can keep going, keep doing, keep helping, keep tending to everyone and everything and risk becoming worn down by life and living and caring. I could walk on this winding road for years. I could. I know this road quite well. It’s beautifully paved with exhaustion, sleepless months, and anxiety. But it’s familiar.

Or I could slow down. I could put a pause on all of it. I could prioritize my health, my family, and my goals. I could tell my readers that I need some time to respond. I could take a moment to realize how absurd it truly is to worry about everyone else first before myself! I could toss the selfish feelings aside and go to the gym. I could turn off my phone and reply to emails in the morning. I could go for a walk with my son, and leave everything else in the back of my mind for an hour. Yes, I could do that.

And I am. I am spending much less time blogging, connecting, Skyping, pleasing, helping, etc. and more time focusing on my health and well-being. It feels strange when I choose an afternoon at the gym, but my body thanks me afterward. It feels selfish to spend an hour juicing veggies when I could be practicing counting to 100 with my son, but my spirit thanks me afterward. Sometimes it feels like a waste of time to lay in bed with that book I’ve been itching to read when I could be cleaning and washing dishes. But my mind thanks me afterward.

I wonder if other people are like this? I wonder if people-pleasing is a disease? I wonder if others suffer from it as I do? I wonder a lot about these things. I wonder if it’s curable? I wonder if it’s a plague or a gift? I wonder if it’s possible to live in the Now if I’m constantly caring for others? I wonder what it will take to truly put myself and my needs first? I wonder if hearing my son’s insight is the moment that I need to wake up?

I wonder, what is your moment? When will you wake up and take care of yourself first? I’ll be (less) anxiously awaiting to hear from you guys 😉

Take care, be well, do something for yourself today. Slow down — the world will be here when you get back.

 

xo,

Ki

 

Photo: @redxluckyxcharms

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

 

 

 

 

 

Who are you?

My name is Kiley. I was born on December 6. I am a left-handed Sagittarius. I write poetry. I love coffee. I cry during previews at the movie theater. I laugh by myself often. I have an obsession with touching trees as I pass them. Talking to strangers is my greatest fear…. And biggest source of intrigue. I love the idea of traveling, but familiarity soothes my soul. When I say I enjoy ‘being alone’ what I really mean is that I want others to be around me, just quietly. All of these qualities describe me… and yet, they don’t.

These things are not who I am. None of the ‘things’ you say define you, either. We are very good at convincing ourselves of who we are. These qualities are, in fact, just thoughts, just tools used to label ourselves, to separate ‘us’ from ‘them.’ So who are we? Who, or what, is underneath every thought that we have? Does anyone really know for sure?

What if we came to accept that none of us knows anything about who we truly are? What if we dropped all labels that we use to separate ourselves from others … and we simply existed, together? What would the world be like then?

Tell me – who are you? Who is that being beneath all labels, beneath all thoughts? Can you answer? Ideas come and they go, but what is waiting there between each thought? The mind is a powerful tool. It tells you that you are a parent, you are Caucasian, you are a college graduate, you are an employee, a nurse, a brother, that you are happy, you are worried, you are anxious, you are sad, you are a baker, you are a politician, you can’t afford that trip, you are incapable of writing that book, you are unworthy. It tells you who you are and how to be that person. And most of us listen. We obey. We succumb. Why do we assume that these labels define who we truly are? Why are we at the whim of what our minds tell us? Do you realize that your mind has been conditioned since the moment you were born? From your first breathe, you were told who you are and given a name with which you identify. And what if, today, you quieted your mind…

What if your mind was silent and didn’t tell you who you are today? What is left? Who is there reminding you to breathe?

It is quite a mystery to me. Maybe I am the mystery. Maybe you are a mystery. The truth is that there is something magical that lives in each of us that is indescribable with human language. It lives and grows us each day. Whatever it is, it is strong, resilient, magical. Whatever it is, it lives in us all. Don’t forget that the next time you are quick to judge another person, or hurt another person. What is in him is in you too.

Keep asking the tough questions. Let’s be puzzled by what seems obvious. Never stop searching for the answers.

With compassion, we grow.

xo,

Ki

photo

 

 

Embrace it all

Got a call this morning that left me shaking, shivering underneath my skin, rattled to the bone. It’s that day we don’t think will come, but undoubtedly sneaks up to the front door, rings the doorbell so loudly that we can’t avoid the impermanence of life anymore. I feel a bit numb, but the current of tears, the swell of insane laughter will soon ebb and flow throughout this house again soon, any minute now actually.

Yep, those tears of worry and the insane laughter that follows. Tears of fear that cleanse my soul and allow room for laughter at the absurdity of worrying. The down down downness dancing with the up up upward, only to fall again in the unanswered questions of this uncertain and impermanent life. It is a magical swirl of emotions I feel today, all because of one phone call.

What makes a person healthy? Are we healthy because of how our bodies feel or because of what our minds tell us? I’d say I’m quite healthy! My body feels great, my mind is in training with the help of yoga, meditation, running, green juice, breathing, mommying, loving…. So why is it that we suddenly feel sick when ‘the call’ comes that ‘something’s not quite right’? Why does the worry kick in? Why does the mind dwell on the ‘uncertain, not-quite-rightness’?

The call arrived 4 hours ago, I cried, I worried, I Googled, I cried some more, and now? I’m writing to you guys. All I could think of to do was write. Write it out. Write the feelings, let it flow, put life into this post, put feelings out there into the world, feelings of grief, feelings of uncertainty, and feelings of hope, love, warmth – all of which we ALL feel sooner or later. This life is wild, I can’t even begin to describe this day to you all. One moment up, and the next? Plummeting. Uncertainty, impermanence, that’s all I can say right now. Embrace it. Befriend it. Trust it. They are all around us. The unknown is with us every day, but don’t let it scare you, don’t let it worry you, embrace it. Embrace the questions, the fears, embrace the love inside of you that keeps you going today.

What a day to get less than wonderful news. But you know what? We all get those calls, the ones that don’t sing in our favor.

What a beautiful day to start living again. What a day to welcome life. What a day to just say to you all that I’m scared, I’m uncertain, but it won’t stop me from living, and I hope your uncertainties don’t stop you either. ‘Bad news’ is only as bad as you allow it to be. The ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ are a part of our experience. No one can avoid the low moments, we all go through them. It’s okay to experience them, to be scared, but remember that you are alive today, this moment, and all of these moments smashed together – the ‘good’ and the ‘bad,’ are evidence of your life….

Evidence that you’ve lived

Evidence and proof that you can get through this, whatever it may be.

Sending strength out there, to you guys. Keep going, it is such a beautiful life. Don’t waste too much time worrying. Embrace everything in the world – it is all there for YOU!

Remember your breath, remember your life, and remember to be grateful for it all.