Tag Archives: Grief

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.

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

 

To my friends

With so much wrong in the world, I wonder what is right anymore. As unfortunate events continue to unfold in the world and shake up the minds of my generation, a few close friends have turned to me for advice. I think, me?! What can I give? What wisdom do I have within me? I don’t know anything other than what I live each day. I’m not a teacher, nurse, politician, world traveler. I’m not necessarily cultured, I didn’t even finish my degree for God’s sake! I’m a mom, a ‘kind-of’ writer, what can I possibly give to these friends during such a scary time in our world’s history? I’m probably the least qualified person to give advice, yet for a split second I am humbled that others look to me, so it’s time to do what I love to do: Remind the world that there is good everywhere, and it is up to us to see it and spread it like wildfire. I wake up each day with these words in my heart: You are the light. Be it, live it, spread it everywhere you go. The same goes for love. Be love, live love, and spread it everywhere you go.

So, to you friends, this is what I can offer you today:

I, too, am scared. What a scary time to live. What a scary time to raise a family. Ebola, ISIS, beheadings in our own country, terrorism, disease, cancer, abductions, and the list goes on. But let me remind you that you have a choice each morning when you raise yourself and your spirit from bed. You must choose life. You must choose to live. Live for the moments of true connection. Yes, that’s the secret. That’s it. Use every moment you have to connect with the world and the people around you. Get out of your head, and get into the world. Let the fear, the doubts, and anxiety pass, and plug yourself into what truly matters.

Spread goodness —

You don’t have to be a powerful person to spread a powerful message. It is up to each of us to harvest an inner love, an inner goodness, and we must spread this goodness, this light, to every person we know, to every person we pass on the street, to every person who serves us in restaurants, to every person who shows us hospitality, to every person with a beating heart. Can you imagine what our world would be like if we all did this every day? If we all smiled at each other? If we all cared just a little bit more?

Live spontaneously —

Plan for your future, yes, but don’t forget about spontaneity. Perhaps it feels impossible to be spontaneous when there are bills to pay and meetings to attend. At times, yes, you have to suck it up and go to work. There are evenings when you have to clean your house or go to bed early, but don’t forget to look for the moments when you can look into another’s eyes and connect with him. Get out of your routine, get out of your head, and tap into that universal energy which brings us all together. Go for a run in the park only to be surprised by an old man’s genuine interest in how your day is going. Ask how he’s doing, and leave the park feeling renewed. Call a friend half-way across the world and be surprised when the chat ends 3 hours later. Make a side note about how good it feels and how much you needed that spontaneous chat. Talk to the new neighbor on your street and find out that she’s from England and needs a friend, just like you do. Yes, all of these examples are recent experiences of mine.

Laugh and dance and yes, have a good cry –

I cannot tell you how good it feels to listen to a favorite song of mine when I am at my lowest. If you are a close friend, you know I love European dance music (which I’ll admit is a bit odd for a Midwest American girl, but hey! It’s who I am!) – There is nothing better than getting lost in the words, the beat, the rhythm, and connecting with that silly side of myself. It is good for my heart, my health, my soul. It is good for you, too. I really do believe it’s good to get caught up in our emotions sometimes. I believe in laughing until our bellies hurt. I believe in crying until our souls are cleansed. I believe in dancing ridiculously until my toddler asks me to ‘please stop, Mom.’ We are humans! We have emotions for a reason! It is okay to feel them — It is okay to let them move through us, so long as we remember to come back to what matters most.

Unplug, and Be present —

Turn your phone off right now. What would happen if you unplugged for half an hour a day? What would you do with that time? Would you pick up a book? Would you meditate? Would you take a walk? Would you say a prayer and send good vibes to other parts of the world? My, oh my, what 30 free minutes can do for your soul! I dare you to try it!

Most importantly friends, Be with the ones you love. Your presence is the only thing that truly matters. If you can give nothing else to the world, at least give it your attention. Stay current with what is going on around you, and keep those you love most close to your heart. Make a phone call to an estranged friend. Say I love you. Give hugs. Offer your time, your advice, offer your true self to the world. When the money runs out, when we’ve traveled the world and returned home, when the child in us is tired and needs a rest, all which is left are the people we love. Be present with them, that IS enough.

Cheers, friends.

coffee mug ki

Be

I believe there are times when life moves through me with such speed that I forget why I get up each day. Yes, there are days when I rise as scheduled and sleepwalk from moment to moment. In the next two weeks, I will attend two weddings, one birthday celebration, three soccer games, and one funeral. In a 14-day span, I will laugh, I will undoubtedly cry, I will cheer at the top of my lungs, I will be angry, and I will experience such blissful joy that I am again, moved to tears. My soul will be joyous, my heart will ache under a black dress, and my head will again come to know that life moves through us all, it’s fluidity an undeniable gift.

I do not know if I am prepared for this lesson, to appreciate the precious gift we have each day. It seems a bit difficult to appreciate life when mourning a man whose own life ended far too soon. I am feeling many emotions this week. A bride-to-be excitedly glows as we chat in anticipation of her big day. Hours later, grief glazes Danny’s eyes as his uncle’s final days flitter in the space between us. I seem to wear everyone’s emotions lately. I simply cannot avoid it. It is who I am. It is in my nature of being.

Perhaps it is a gift that I can find a piece of myself in others’ feelings and experiences. We all – sooner or later – try on these different hats of emotion as we experience life. Each one of us feels the same feelings eventually. Joy, sadness, grief, nervous anticipation… the list goes on. As new beginnings and abrupt endings course their way through us, we live every emotion, each day, every one of us.

As few of you know, I began a journey back in the spring that has led me to creating a story for my son to read one day, when he is ready. In this story, I relive experiences in my young adult life that perhaps he will relate to, maybe even find relief in knowing. I explain to him that all emotions are okay. The ups and the downs are good and healthy and human. Bliss and grief and happiness alike – in our own way, we feel it all in time. I write to him,

“Your sadness, I have felt – though perhaps not today.

Over lifetimes, trust me

We all feel the same way.

Be present with it all.

That is the lesson.

That is the gift.

Be with each moment.

Now is your time.”

 

For whatever you are celebrating, or grieving, this moment offers you a chance to feel the experience of being alive. Whether you are high, or have fallen so low, those around you are here now to guide you through. As you wake each day, step with risk – and land with trust. You were created to feel it all.

It is time to be who you are.

You are loved.

-Ki

blog tree ki stuffs

Thanks to Mark Nepo for guiding me daily.

And to a lovely friend who says I think too much and should just be… you’re right. Thank you for being honest with me always.

 

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

 

 

Rock and a soft place

Sometimes I find big rocks

And climb under

Every ounce of their weight

Upon me

And the heaviness saves me from the

Light

I hide within

 

Chewing on thick

Black dirt

As I wait it out.

 

Darkness

Loneliness

Embrace with

Open arms to those chronically ill

From agony.

 

Sometimes the darkness

Turns warm

From the sun

 

Rocks lift

From my crushing bones

I breathe a breath

Shared with you

And you laugh at

The absurdity of my

Climbing under

Dirty rocks.

 

I laugh in nervous anticipation,

Eye a boulder that will

Consume me

Soon again.

 

We laugh together,

And this is comforting

But not as comforting

As the agony that bleeds

In me.

 

Now I live,

Swimming in the space

Between a rock

And a soft place.

 

 

–Original Poem–

Human interaction is a peculiar thing. Describing what goes on in this head of mine is always so difficult in plain verse. I could talk about depression, anxiety, dark thoughts, but I’d rather just tell you that sometimes I hide under heavy rocks, and this is comforting, more so than truly living…. But it is in breaking free from my agony that allows for my passion of writing to continue. And in writing, I live. One day at a time.

I hope you find your passions, your hopeful ways of escape from the mundane, from the agony that you feel sometimes.

Keep living through the heaviness of the world. Keep going. Keep swimming.

What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.

-Charles Bukowski

Cheers, readers.

for blog -- rocks

Thaw

I trace every face

In search of your love.

I wonder if you do the same…

Like a lost child in search of her mother,

I am.

The weight of that simile

Suffocates me.

Be love, and I’ll show myself to you.

Resilience, live me

Until then.

 

My body is cold from this horrendous winter. I was told to wait patiently and sure enough, spring will show herself again. So ‘they’ said.

I waited, and here she is. Her warmth now mending the aching bones I carry. Like my body, my heart grows cold from relationships strained, and I build walls around it for protection. Yet just as seasons change and frozen lakes thaw, my heart grows warm as I lower these walls and open myself, once again, to those I love most.

I encourage you to do the same.

Cycles, seasons, all things impermanent. Be love, and forgive. Resilience is a beautiful color on you.

 

With love and light,

Ki

sun

 

Need

It feels so lonely, growing up. I feel so alone, as a grown up. I thought I wanted this, but I don’t. Shed me of these layered skins I’ve tried on. They don’t look so pretty after all. I don’t know what I want to be, as a grown up. When will I grow up? I just want to ask questions. I don’t want to have all the answers anymore. I just want to take a hot bath in a pool of unknowns where I drown in naked surrender of the things that scare me…. Like open water. I don’t want anyone to save me. I want to choke the waters that chase my fears deep into my belly until regurgitated truths surface and my breath meets yours in embrace. Relief will hug us as I cry out my fears of growing these roots deep into yours. Breathe in me, you. If I tell you that I’m scared, is that enough to interrupt the pace at which we’ve rushed this life? You’ll always be mine…. Won’t you please let me weather this blow? Changing seasons from a young girl to a grown up. I still need time.

need post

Be patient with yourself…. It’s not the worst thing in the world to wake up and realize that you’re in need.

We all are.

I challenge you to speak up about what you truly need from life, from the Universe, from others, from yourself.

You will be heard, I promise.

 

 

This post is for Sally. Your struggle is my struggle. Your happiness is my happiness. I’ve seen the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly — as you have seen all of mine. We may not be living the lives we had planned, but isn’t it beautiful to laugh at our naïve ways as we grow to become the strongest women we always hoped we would be? I love you, and I created this with you in mind.

Calling

Sometimes I find myself laying on the floor at weddings wresting ugly thoughts that scream at me, telling me I’m not beautiful, not worthy, I don’t deserve to be here on this Earth celebrating with wonderful people. And then I look up at tiny lights on the ceiling that are actually a direct reflection of lights within me. For the most powerful images are not those from our past, nor the ones that lay ahead; they are the voices and images that lay patiently within us. So I wrote a poem about that day, at a wedding, laying on the floor.

 

————————————————–

 

My efforts to love you

Tossed away.

A severed connection,

You put me at bay.

 

Now I find myself in a beautiful house, with beautiful people, with a beautiful spouse.

 

And I lay on the floor only to find,

Nothing consumes me like you

On the mind.

 

I look up.

I see a miraculous sight.

Colors glowing, illustrious light.

I wonder why it is you treat me this way.

Flip of the switch

We’re strangers that lay.

 

One day you love me,

I’m beautifully so

Exquisite like diamonds

Inside, I glow.

 

Yet today we are strangers

With hollowed eyes

Ignoring passion

For you,

Hear the cries.

 

Tonight I know you have left my side

Your abandon, I surrender. You win. I abide.

How long will this last? Who me? I don’t know.

The mirror shouts reflections you refuse to show.

 

This love, it is patient.

This love is for you.

Though you won’t wait for me,

I’ll wait for you.

 

I say I, when I mean we.

For I am you

And you dear, are me.

I speak to you daily

Can’t you see?

I am the light

That only you can set free.

Love me completely.

This is how it must be.

Surrender yourself

Let go

And breathe.

This you know, we both truly need.

 

Love yourself,

That’s all I will say.

That’s all I want

For you each day.

 

Look up at those lights as you lay on this floor,

It’s me, I’m calling, please do not ignore!

Get up now dear

Please lay no more.

Reach out, be brave

Now open the door.

 

I’m calling.

for me from missy

–Original Poem (original artwork created by a beautiful soul and friend of mine)–

I challenge you to listen today. Listen to the voice within. Stop for a moment. Don’t look forward, don’t look behind, look at what is calling out to you in this moment. Can’t you feel it? Can’t you hear it? It’s you. Won’t you accept this beautiful gift?

Love and light,

Ki