Tag Archives: Anxiety

Fear

The distance between me and the world is fear.

 

What is it you fear most? (And I don’t mean ghosts and ghouls). Are you afraid to change jobs? Maybe you are hesitant to take a pottery class for fear of looking like a fool in front of the others. My son is scared to read simply because he thinks he doesn’t know how. But he does! He reads to me all the time; he’s scared to tackle bigger words and longer sentences. The challenge of “Can I really do it?” is daunting.

 

I have to smile in this moment because I am no different.

 

I, too, am scared to take on bigger ‘unknowns’ with long-term investment. Putting in long hours toward work that may never reach another’s eyes – or submitting this work to be considered for publication and waiting m o n t h s on end appears excruciatingly painful before actually trying it. In this way, we are all the same. Fear is universally felt. It is debilitating when we allow it to be.

 

It is holding us back from our dreams.

 

Why do we fear what intrigues us most? If I come alive when writing about the world and my odd place in it, then why is the idea of sending my work to an editor the most cringe-worthy thought of all? Why, if my friend is itching to take a dance class because she adores music and swaying her beautiful hips, does she freeze up the moment she registers for the class?

 

It is because we fear being exposed and vulnerable. And not just that – what if we try and fail? What do we do then?

 

It isn’t easy being human, and the idea of having others watch us lose ourselves in the rhythm of our desires is terrifying. Whether I send my book to the faceless editor on the other side of my computer screen – or when my friend is dancing her much-anticipated ‘rhythm of being,’ we imagine the worst possible outcomes because that is what fear tells us to do; it’s doing its job!

 

Braving the world with our talents and creativity and living out our most delicate dreams means we enter the stream of life and risk living out in the open, for all to see. With this risk, we accept failure as collateral. And for decades, society has told us that making mistakes is humiliating and shameful.

 

And our loudest, most hideous friend FEAR enters to tell us it’s not worth the risk. Don’t humiliate yourself. Play it cool, stay small, and you won’t fail.

 

I am here to tell you now that all of this is a lie. Fear doesn’t have to crush you into your smallest self. It is possible to allow fear be the driving force behind all that you do.

Again, allow fear its place, BEHIND YOU – Not in front of you, in your face, chanting incessant doomsday stories so loudly that you want to cry. No, dearest lights, please do not allow fear to do this to you. Let us be brave, not broken.

 

It’s not about being fearless; it’s about knowing what to do with fear.

 

Allow fear to be present in you. Watch how it makes you feel. What does it do to your body? Oftentimes, my heart beats a little faster and my cheeks blush right before I hit the “send” button to the senior editor of a magazine – and YES IT IS TERRIFYING, but quite exhilarating at the same time, a terrific rush of adrenaline!! Like, “Holy crap, there is someone ‘important’ on the receiving end of this email who might actually, probably, maybe, might read this or at least send it to her assistant to read which means at least ONE person will read what I’ve written!!”

 

And once the email is sent, yes sometimes I cry for a minute because I’m still scared of what the editor will say – or worse – what she won’t say. But this is living, is it not? Braving our way through the world… risking failure, or rejection, or worse, silence.

 

We are challenged to do something every day that scares us. To give presentations at work in front of management; to tell a spouse we’ve lost a job; to take our children to the doctor because a mole has made us nervous enough to seek the opinion of an expert. In all of these ways, we are asked to be intimate with fear. And when facing fear, we have a choice. We can choose to feel it, to let it run its course in our bodies, to sit with it during our most vulnerable moments. In fact, we MUST do these things in order the move forward, to enter the stream of living, to live our most authentic lives. Fear is the body’s way of telling us we are moving closer to the truth of our being – to the truth of our lives.

 

And if we avoid fear? If we stay small, what then?

 

It is my experience that THIS is the breeding ground for anxiety and hidden living. And how long can we hide before the world eats us up completely?

 

I ask these questions because for the greater part of ten years, I have been hiding. Had we chatted two months ago, I would have told you that I’m going to focus on my list of to-dos: School, degree, job, motherly duties, because this is what society tells me to focus on. But I am tired of hiding under my blanket of routine and to-dos. It is as simple as that. I am tired of slinking around in my comfort zone – my journals, my blog, the warmth of my office. These are safe places for my writing because I have full control. And what human doesn’t find comfort in things we can keep under control?

 

If I were to send my writing to any other place, there is no guarantee of anything. No guarantee of publishing, no guarantee of constructive criticism. No guarantee of a response at all. AND ALL OF THESE THINGS SCARE ME. But tell me, who isn’t completely terrified when taking a long-anticipated risk of living out in the open, exposed and vulnerable?

 

Maybe it’s time to see if we can bring ourselves to the occasion of sharing our gifts, of taking a chance. I invite you to risk living your most authentic life. What does that look like? What would happen if you started today?

 

Ask yourself this:

Is this worth attempting to do even if I fail?

 

—–

 

Make your appointment with life, and keep it.

Live bravely, not broken.

We are all in this together.

 

Light & love,

Ki

ki+blog

 

 

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

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

For Dan

Today I met Dan.

As sweet as can be, he entered the bookstore in a tweed sport coat with an American flag pendant. He waved to me as though we knew each other. Being the awkward introvert that I am, I returned the smile, and slowly slumped into my chair not sure if I knew this person or not.

After ordering his coffee, Dan took a seat at the table directly behind me and inquired about my morning work. Question after question, he was intrigued to know what I was studying and who I am.

“Are you a teacher?”

“I’m actually a full-time student. I study people. I want to understand why we do the things that we do, why we say the things that we say. I want to help people. I guess that’s all I really know for sure at this point.”

As if something in me moved him to speak, Dan extended his hand to mine and opened up about caring for his ailing mother.

 

A retired veteran, Dan has been taking care of his mother for the past 11 years. His wife divorced him shortly after he began caring for his mother full-time, yet he spoke of his ex lovingly.

“I understand why she left. It was too much. I don’t blame her.”

Dan hasn’t been on a date since his divorce.

 

“I don’t mean to bother you,” he said. “I just don’t have anyone to talk to about my mom, and my brother doesn’t help much. He doesn’t help at all actually. He left her care to me.”

I sat and smiled, humbled and in awe of his vulnerability with a complete stranger. I allowed his pain to wash in me. Thank you, I said silently to myself.

 

“Dan, I’m so glad you can talk to me about it. What you’re doing is so wonderful and selfless, but remember to take of yourself first.”

He was outwardly silent for a time, and he encouraged me to return to my homework.

But I couldn’t focus on my work. I wanted to help Dan, but how?

 

I stood up to search the bookstore for The Book of Awakening and returned to Dan’s table within minutes, book in hand.

“Do you like to read? This book is beautiful. It has changed my life. The author is also a poet, and he stirs my soul to remember what is true. I think you might enjoy it. I take it everywhere I go. I have my copy in my bag, see? It gets me through the tough days when I feel like no one is here to listen.”

His eyes widened, “I love to read, thank you,” and I returned to my work as he fingered through the pages. After a short while, it was time for Dan to leave.

 

“Back to my chores,” he said. “I think I’ll take myself out to eat later today. That is my treat to myself. You know, gotta stay sane somehow.” (Pointing toward his head)

I chuckled, “Yes, I hear you! That sounds wonderful. Don’t forget those special moments for yourself. It was so nice to meet you, Dan.”

“Likewise, and thank you.”

——–

I can’t help but wonder if I was as much help to Dan as he was to me? Dan entered the bookstore as I was writing a reflection paper on how many stay-at-home mothers (including myself) feel invisible. My sociology professor encourages us to write about the roles we play within our family units, and today I felt compelled to talk about my struggle with identity, a sense of purpose, and truthfully, my sense of self-worth.

 

And then like magic,

**Cue Dan, enter stage left, needing to speak his truth, asking for someone to please hear him, to please help ease the pain of living.

Thank you Dan, wherever you are now. I heard you. I felt your pain. I did the best I could to help you with the resources that I’ve been given. I’m still learning how best to help people, and truthfully all I offered to you was my time and a small place in my heart to hang your pain for the moment. I am humbled that you opened yourself to me. I hope that in sharing your truth, the struggle within you has softened a bit.

Your presence certainly softened my need to feel worthy and useful today.

Dan, I guess you could say I am a teacher. Perhaps I taught you a few things today. But I stick by what I said. I am most definitely a lifelong student. Thank you for being my teacher today.

For this lesson, I am grateful.

 

Joyfully,

Ki

 

Finding strength here and Now

Do you ever feel like you’re bulldozing through tasks, to-do lists, projects and goals — but you still feel like you’re drowning?

I feel like the baggage from my old self is weighing down who I want to be Now. Baggage so huge that I’m suffocating under it, choking on it as I present my research, trying to swallow it down when others look me in the eye and ask how I’m doing, spewing it up when I write something about how I’m wrestling with God or angry with a loved one because she doesn’t show me the kind of love that I think I need from her. Baggage so heavy that my back aches and my body screams for release.

Well the good news? This is progress. It takes time to let go of the old muck and mud and to step into new ways of behavior and being.

What I know to be true? The baggage MUST be felt and exposed in order to be RELEASED. Why aren’t we talking about this more often?! We all just assume that we should be stronger than our emotions. And I say, No way!!! That is incorrect. Being with our emotions IS strength.

You want to move past what is happening now? Then feel your way through it.

Move with it until your knees shake.

Breathe with it until your inner becomes the outer.

Live with your Now before entering the next stage of your life.

It will be painful, even agonizing at times. It will feel as though your heart is being poked and slit in a million different places, but THIS is the reason we are here. To do the work. To bend, to break, and to stand tall in the root of our truth.

And that, my friends, is what being human is all about.

I hope you find the strength to be with whatever is happening in your life. **This too will pass, the good and the bad.

Just remember, it is all here for us now. The human experience, with all its faces, is here to guide you, not hurt you.

Don’t fear it, face it. Let your experience wash in you and return to the world outside.

Embrace the light and the dark. It is all here for you, waiting to be felt.

Happy weekend to you all.

With love,

Ki

photo

**Thank you, Soc, for reminding me that it all passes, in time.

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

Are you with me?

Today is the day I go back to college.

 

I’m not sure how I feel in this moment. Oddly, I don’t feel much at all. The sun has yet to rise as I type this. The house creaks, but everyone’s asleep. I’m sitting comfortably in my office, a cup of strong coffee sitting next to me. I read over the syllabus for my class today. It’s intense, to say the least.

Am I ready?

 

I think I’m a little numb today, body and mind tired from crying most of the afternoon yesterday. I’m not sure why I cried so much. I visited campus, met my sweet advisor, and signed up for classes — nothing to cry about right?! But let’s be honest, you guys know by now that the ‘simple’ task of meeting with my advisor was a big step for me. So as you can imagine, registering for classes, one of which starts TODAY, rushing to buy books, and preparing myself mentally for this huge step was maybe too much for one afternoon. But hey, I come by it honestly that I am impulsive and tend to make huge life decisions when perhaps I should breathe and remain patient. But we live with our choices, and we face our truths, and here I sit on the first day of classes blogging about fear when I should be skimming the first two chapters of required reading :)

Am I really ready for this?

 

I know what I know, and I like what I like. I love reading, but to read assigned material — do I really want to do this again? Do I want to learn APA formatting? Do I want to subject myself to criticism and a strict grading scale again? Is it in me to try this one more time?

It’s been five years since I was in a classroom (aside from my brief stint in Jewish education classes).

Am I ready?

 

———

 

Do you ever find yourself in moments of serious doubt when up until this point, you were 100% confident in your path? You know, like getting cold feet right before the wedding? Or that moment in the delivery room when your first born is on his way and you question if you’re fit to be a parent? Like packing your entire life into one suitcase the night before moving to a new country and feeling your heart sink into your stomach. It’s too late to go back now, and you wonder:

Am I ready?

 

I’m learning that we all have these moments. We all wonder about the next big changes in our lives. We all question those defining moments that could propel us onto greater paths, if only we’d lean into the fear. I think maybe that’s the key. Maybe we need to befriend what feels uncomfortable, to cozy up with what we don’t know for sure.

 

There’s a lot I don’t know about this next step I take today.

I don’t know if college is the right decision for me, but my gut screams to go back. I don’t know how great of a student I’ll be, but I value education and know that I want this degree no matter what anyone around me says about it. I don’t know how well I can maintain my anxiety, but I will practice ways to bring me back to that silent part of myself. I don’t know if I’ll graduate this time around, but I’m willing to try.

I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to admit that I don’t know what’s in store for tomorrow. I don’t know if the decisions I’m making today will benefit me in the future. I don’t know these things. I can’t know. I think that’s the difference this time around; I’m not 18 anymore. I’m not a freshman. I’m not that little girl who is certain she will graduate from Hanover, ease into grad school, and become a psychologist. Yikes, if only I could talk to that girl today and tell her that life isn’t so ‘certain’…

 

No, I’m not that girl anymore. I’m 7 years older. I’m an adult now (although it doesn’t feel like that most days). I’m okay with saying that I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I’ll start taking classes to find out (with the help of my advisor and the Career Center — remember, it’s okay to ask for help guys!! We can’t do all things on our own). I’m okay with saying that I don’t have my entire life mapped out, but I’m willing to take the first step. I must take that first step. One foot in front of the other. And you should too. Friends, no matter what new beginnings you’re facing, no matter what unknowns, you must take that step. To remain stagnant will leave you fearful and paralyzed. Movement is the only way.

 

I’m willing to step into the fear of the unknown.

One moment at a time. One breath at a time.

I’ll take that chance today.

Will you?

 

Let’s do this together. Let’s look fear in the face and continue pursuing our dreams. I am ready. I am ready. I am ready.

Are you with me?

 

Light and love,

Ki

lights in the wood

 

Renewal — Let’s do it together

Although a sense of renewal

Is not quite the feeling

This first day of February, also a Sunday,

I begin. In bed. With books.

Exhaustion, I continue searching

For understanding yet to be understood.

Am I still too stubborn?

The silence between frustration and epiphany mocks me

So I sip my coffee and wait,

Slow living.

I was always a late bloomer.

Do other people wonder these things at 10AM?

 

Sometimes Spring waits for the chill to leave its lover, March

And my bones lead me out in April sun.

I frolic with all that’s been waiting too,

The perk of late Spring, ready to be seen,

All of us warm in beginning,

We sprout up

Like new grass.

One month into our New Year’s Resolutions – have you kept to yours? I know that I have been quite proactive, but the thought of ‘keeping to’ a promise made months ago seems oddly, like a contract.

Admittedly, I do not make New Year’s Resolutions. Although the impending new calendar year brings thoughts of how I’d like to keep working toward my goals

I just cannot help but think that making these ‘New Year’s promises’ to ourselves seems so fixed, so permanent, and a bit naïve. I wonder, in making these resolutions, did we leave room for reform? Did we leave a moment for spontaneity? Perhaps a detour on the path?

I know that when I packed for college and made resolutions to study diligently and to become a psychologist, I hadn’t a clue that I’d choose to create life within and sprout a family in Indianapolis. Yet at that time, I felt guilty for ‘quitting my dreams’ and starting anew. So, why then, harp on making resolutions at all? Wouldn’t you agree that many of us become so fixated on making plans for ‘what we think we should do’ only to end up losing ourselves on the path completely? We bite off more than we can chew in January, and then here we are one month later, perhaps disappointed in ourselves and exhausted.

This is the reason, at least for me, that making resolutions is quite dizzying. I focus so much of my efforts on achieving the final results that I leave little room for the process in getting there.

So, what can we do right now?

The problem is not that our resolutions are too big. I think perhaps the issue is that we don’t truly know what we want? Or how to get there?

——-

A friend asked lovingly, “Hey Ki, what is something you want to accomplish this year?” I immediately replied, “To publish my book!” Yet here I sit, unsure of how to do that, unsure if my book is polished and ready for publishers? I sit here with more questions than answers, and I am exhausted. I study, I read, I write, I edit, and yet, I’m so lost I haven’t a shred of an answer to any of my questions. Do you have many questions too?

Perhaps we need to connect more with ourselves than with our ‘end results.’ I truly believe that we can’t expect such grand accomplishments from ourselves if we haven’t built a strong relationship with our true nature. You know, that little voice within. Your intuition. That little flitter. That butterfly in your belly. That little thing that beams when you are TRULY living. Have you first connected with that part of yourself before making resolutions?

You’ve made room for new resolutions in your life; have you made space for quiet, reflective thought too? Or simply, room for a quiet space in your mind…

I know that I have only just begun tapping into that inner Ki. I know that I don’t really know what I want to do with my life. (But what 25 year old really does??) I know that writing poetic verses and spiritual prose allows me to feel beautiful, and in connecting with that free side of Ki, I am slowly learning to accept myself. I know that I really don’t know much at all, and that’s okay. I know that if my friend asked lovingly today, “Hey Ki, what is something you want to accomplish this year?” I’d instead respond, “To write for myself and only myself, and if that ends in a published book, then hell yes!! If not, then I will continue to write and sing my odd thoughts, and work my craft until I am no longer inspired to do so.”

——-

Let’s focus this year on reforming ourselves. Reforming our thought processes. Renewing our light. Connecting with ourselves in a naked, honest way. And hey, let’s be patient with ourselves too, okay? So you’ve made resolutions and not kept to them. That’s okay. Forgive yourself. Right now! Say out loud, “I forgive you. I love you. I am not my habits.”

As Stephen Covey says in his beautifully enlightening book **The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

“Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground.”

Let’s be gentle with those tender parts of our true nature.

Friends, there is always purpose in beginning again, even if you have to build yourself from the ground up. You don’t have to wait until the New Year. Your chance to begin is this morning. This moment. Right now. Let patience fill the space between frustration and understanding. We are all trying to find the way. But please remember, your way IS the right way, for you.

Just keep walking.

And if you have no idea what the hell you’re doing, have a laugh, and know that there are many people out there (probably more so than who truly want to admit it) who feel the same.

You’re not alone. Let’s figure this out together.

 

Light and love and PATIENCE,

Ki

ki light

I invite you to read Stephen Covey’s

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

**I have started a small book club with readers worldwide, and invite you to join! A friend of mine suggested I read this book, and in reading it, I am seeing my life in a whole new light. I am currently taking notes and letting this book soak into my brain. If you start reading it too, let me know! I’d love to hear from you. We can read and discuss it together!

 

All the little lights

I believe the Universe sends us signs.

Signals, open doors, messages from God, however you want to define ‘opportunity’ – this is what I’m referring to. The world, it seems, is quite magical then, wouldn’t you agree? Because no matter what you believe, no matter what religion you follow or don’t, no matter your opinions on anything for that matter – we all have moments of opportunity whispering to us each day. It is up to us to hear them and follow.

Sometimes these doors of opportunity are quite small and narrow,

With a tiny peek of light behind the threshold,

Leading us to question if we’ve even seen a light after all?

Yet other moments offer us an abundance of green lights chanting

‘Yes, GO!’ – an openness so vast that it would be foolish of us to avoid.

Whatever the case, all the little lights of opportunity are here for us right now.

 

Over the last few months, I’ve found that my inner light is quite dim. I reached out to a friend last week, wondering if maybe she needed a friend too. Perhaps her light could strengthen mine? In a matter of days, I found myself in her cozy home, coffee in hand, chatting again as we did when we were freshman in college. Five hours into the afternoon, we continued to reminisce and conjure up plans to explore Europe together. I left her home feeling renewed, brighter than the day before.

Last Thursday, I woke with a sense of relief, feeling grateful after Wednesday’s chat with another beautiful soul who resides thousands of miles away. In the comfort of my office (and with the help of modern technology) we laughed, shared stories, advised each other, and concluded 3 hours of conversation with a “See you soon!”

Again, I was reminded of the infinite light that is here for all of us now, if only we could see it.

After a sweet embrace and a kiss goodbye with my son on Thursday, I ventured toward a local bookstore where I write and edit, write and edit, write and edit, and reach out to publishing companies. It is a wonderful time for myself and my dreams, but some days it is maddening because I grow tired and feel as though my efforts are time wasted. I sat for a moment, my dreams trapped in a red binder opposite me waiting to be embraced by the world. To continue with this crazy dream of a book? Or not to continue? I wrestled myself for a few moments.

I greeted a café employee and ordered my usual. He was quite inquisitive for 9AM and smiled, “What are you up to today?”

“Oh, just work,” I replied nervously.

He seemed disappointed with my brief reply.

(Cue inner confidence after an awkward silence)

I continued, “Actually I’m writing a book. It’s good motivation to come here and see everyone else’s books. So I’m here three mornings a week. The coffee helps.” I forced a smile.

Eyes widening and without hesitation he chirped, “Hey, that’s what we’re here for! Here you go, it’s on the house,” and he handed over the coffee.

We chatted briefly about my journey and passion for writing.

He seemed intrigued, and wished me all the best. I couldn’t thank him enough.

I still can’t believe I embraced a stranger.

Or maybe, I can’t believe a stranger embraced me…

Again, my inner light was brightened.

 

Feeling energized and grateful for this small (huge) act of kindness, I set up my ‘mobile office’ and wondered if I should edit? Or just read and relax? Three hours to kill while Lucas is in school…

And suddenly, as if the Universe heard my plight, a direct message popped up on my phone from a blog reader:

“Hi, Kiley! I just wanted to tell you that I am looking forward to reading your book.”

Stunned, flattered, humbled, excited, I was ready to begin.

And that was it, that’s all it took for me to continue. As if chatting with friends who know my soul wasn’t reassurance enough, the Universe offered me just one more green light. One more, “Go, Ki!” One extra little light to show me the way. And I was (and still am) beyond grateful.

 

The Universe is opening doors right now for you! Are you looking? Are you listening to the whispers? Are you alert? Are you open? Are you ready? Whatever it is that you want in your life, you must first ask for it. Then be open to what is here for you right now.

If you want friendship, ask for it. Give it too.

If you want love, ask for it. Be it too.

If you want compassion, ask for it. Show it too.

If you want inspiration, ask for it. Spread it too.

If you want certain things to manifest in your life, you must first plant the seed. Embody them…

And then, without even knowing it, these things will nourish your life, all on their own.

Trust, and let go of the outcome.

Just be open to right now.

Continue, yes, it’s time.

If you need a green light, here it is: GO!

 

Light and love,

Ki

half ki face