Shameless

I wish I could be shameless

about the things in my heart

that are begging to be expressed.

 

My heart is eager and willing

but I am not.

I hold her back

like a traumatized parent,

terrified of the world “nowadays”,

saying to her child,

“Don’t do that,

They’ll hurt you.

Don’t show your raw aching heart to them,

They’ll hurt you.

And you’ll feel so cut up inside.

You won’t want to exist.

 

You’ll feel

that same burning shard in your chest

when people see who you truly are.

Trust me, Babe, you’re better off pretending

and hiding

and concealing the wildfire that glows inside you”

 

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But my heart,

like a rebellious, wise child

untouched by the world’s viciousness,

Takes my hand

and smiles, saying

“It’s okay, Mama love.

We are safe.

We are safe now.

And we will always be safe.”

 

 

 

 

Cover Photo by Kyle Peyton on Unsplash

Fire Photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash

 

 

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Gemstone Woman

I once met a woman

Who had fallen to her knees in sadness

Yet she glowed

Like the most radiant gemstone

Gleaming with brilliant light

From within herself

Yet she cried and cried and cried

About small things that made her feel weak

Unable to realize

The strength of a gemstone

And the light of brilliance

Already within her.

 

 

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Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

 

 

Finding My Joy Again

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If I’m being honest, I’ve felt moderately depressed for the past few months. Maybe at first, I had ignored it and stuffed it down. Because who was I to be depressed? On paper, my life is fantastic. I have wonderful relationships, I’m financially stable, I have a stable job, I have a shit ton of free time and a flexible schedule, and I’m healthy. In my mind, there was virtually no reason to feel depressed. So when I started to feel that way, I added on the guilt and the shame of BEING depressed. Which is quite odd, but very human of me to do. So it was a lot to take on.

Until last month, something kind of awful happened. And it pulled out my depression and shame from under the rug and multiplied it times a billion. And I found myself unable to feel alive. Life felt pointless. Chaotic. There was no meaning. A nihilistic existence. And let me tell you, that stuff is dangerous to believe in, at least for me. Because to live in a chaotic, random, pointless universe means to me that there is nothing out there to live for and you just live in a constant state of fear about what monster is about to come around the corner. All the things I took joy in doing, all the relationships I was happy to be in, made me feel numb. It was as if someone had robbed me of my ability to feel anything and left me completely empty.

I grasped at anything to try and feel again. I tried listening to new music, I read new books, I tried sewing and drawing—anything to get me riled up again. But every attempt proved to be empty and every time I tried, I grew more disappointed and hopeless.

At that point, I couldn’t find the joy within me to enjoy the world anymore. For the first time in a while, I no longer had a clear vision in my life. I felt like I had no direction, no purpose. This whole time, my goal was to get good grades in school, graduate nursing school, pass the NCLEX, get a job, and be competent at that job. And now that list has been fully checked off. Then what? What next?

A small turning point occurred. I randomly bought this book at target that looked pretty. In this one chapter, the author was writing about this amazing experience he had of simply watching the sunset in San Francisco by himself.

“This will emerge as one of the more memorable moments of my life so far, and I’m really not sure why. Maybe it’s because I had eagerly anticipated what my happy place would feel like, and it exceeded all expectations. Maybe it was simple, soulful moment, that required no internal editing or filtering, no explanation. Or maybe it was a moment of pure joy that, deep down, I needed to feel alive again after going through some of the hardest months of my adult life. I’m not sure. But what I do know is that the time I spent on the hilltop—roughly two hours—flew by and left me wanting more. More time alone. More of these magical moments. More time to reflect. More time to appreciate the natural good in the world. I went up there alone, empty-handed. I left alone, but walked away with a unique memory no one else will have; it was mine and mine alone to treasure. That’s so special to me. As I grow older, I wish for more of these snapshots of joy, to be able to string them together into a long line of happiness. To remember how life should feel. To remember to take time out by myself and appreciate both my own company and the world around me.”

— Connor Franta, Note to Self

Reading this reminded me of such a fond memory of a concert I went to a few years ago. It was of the band Deafheaven, a black metal band that, despite it’s heavy sound, carries such a beautiful and contemplative energy in their music. As they played their song Dream House, I danced in the fiery pit of passionate music lovers, and felt as if I were floating above, watching from the ceiling. Feeling the energies of pink, purple, and orange that this music created float about. Nothing else mattered. I didn’t fear death. Death didn’t even exist in this space. I felt a part of something unlimited and whole. Like an infinite, significant, blissful energy. And then I remembered, that was how life should feel. I may not have a clear vision of the direction I’m heading in, but I know deep within me that that is how life should feel.

Then, on my birthday, I received a wonderful card from my Mom.

“Celebrate the many ways you’ve grown wiser, deeper, stronger in spirit. Know that your life has special meaning and that the purpose of your birthday is to honor the unique person you have become.”

Yes, I could see it as a stereotypical Hallmark card. But it spoke words to me that I really needed to hear. I had forgotten how important it was to feel that there was meaning in my life. And that I am not worthless. My existence was not pointless.

I needed to hear that I had purpose. That my life has meaning. That life isn’t just endless suffering and chaos. That I can do something meaningful with this time I have here on earth. That I am not powerless. And slowly, I felt myself rise from the dark hole in the ground I’ve been living in.

“I found God in myself.

And I loved Her.

And I loved Her.

And I loved Her.

Fiercely.”

                     — Ntozake Shange

 

If there could be one highlight to all of this depression and loneliness and emptiness, it would be this point: Meaning is essential to enjoying life. Scratch that. Not even enjoying life. Meaning is essential to life itself. That may seem very simple, even a bit obvious, but it’s something that has been fundamentally missing in my life during the last few months. And the past months have been a tough, but necessary lesson to never forget that.

And even though I still don’t have a clear vision for my life at the moment, I have faith that my life will go the way it needs to go, under God, under the Universe, under Divine Love, or whatever you want to call it. And when I do stray, I’m going to find my way back to Love in whatever way that feels right to me.

Love,
Gretchen
Photo by joe ting on Unsplash

A Reminder To Myself

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“There is a basket of fresh bread on your head, yet you go door to door asking for crusts.”         

— Rumi

Sometimes (or if I’m being real here, OFTEN times), I forget about the spark of divinity that lives within me. The same spark of divinity that lives within all of us, regardless of religion, gender, or race.

And I think I often forget because it’s so easy to believe that your worthiness depends on your looks, your accomplishments, your career, what clothes you’re wearing, or how much money you make a year. Based on how much praise, respect, and admiration we give those who are seemingly perfect and beautiful and rich and happy, it’s easy to convince yourself that if you’re not any of those, you aren’t worth anyone’s time. That you have to fight to prove yourself in this world. To be seen. To be heard. To feel valued.

But frankly, I’m tired of that. I’m burnt out from it.  I’m exhausted. And I think I’m done playing that game. I want to unwind from all that.

With that, I truly believe there is a better way. An easier way. Trees have no trouble growing tall and strong. Flowers have no trouble blossoming in the spring. Nature all around us effortlessly thrives. So why should we constantly have to fight our way to happiness? Why can’t we trust in this power, that same power that forms little babies in a womb or makes seeds into big oak tress, to lead our lives for us? I certainly want to, but like I said, I often forget.

I write to keep myself sane. I write because sometimes I need that internal voice in my head to be written down in physical form so I can actually pay attention to it. And I find that when I don’t write, I’m either depressed, repressed, or suppressed.

I also write to remind myself of things I’ve fallen in love with. Things that make me happy to think about. Like destiny. Or the Universe. Or God. Or the truly wonderful blessings that are always in my life. And how I’m already amazing. And how everyone else is already amazing. And we don’t need to be anything else but how we are, exactly in this moment. With all of our flaws and struggles and issues. Beautiful, divine chaos!

Kisses & Meows,

Gretchen

 

 

 

Photo by Jony Ariadi on Unsplash

What Does “Surrendering” look like?

Lately, I’ve been wanting to gain some clarity on what surrendering really looks like.

Everyone always says, “Surrender your resistance. Surrender your life. Surrender your finances. Surrender your emotions to the Divine.”

That’s great, and I’m completely willing to do it, but every time I’ve tried to “surrender” I just felt like I didn’t know how. Do I just pray and say I’m surrendering? Do I have to meditate and breathe deeply? Do I have to follow some sort of 4-step system? How do I know if I’m doing this right?

After some contemplation, I realized what was wrong with this dilemma. It may seem like common sense, but it took me a while to get it.

The whole point of surrendering is to truly surrender, and let go of all the effort and trying. Surrendering is not trying and it does not require a ton of effort. Like many, I was running on this belief system that said I needed to work hard and struggle in order to achieve great results. However, I needed to un-learn this negative belief system in order to remove those blocks preventing me from truly letting go.

So I stopped trying to surrender in exactly the right way. Because there is no right way to surrender. You just do it in whatever way you resonate with. Whether that’s a simple prayer, meditation, deep breathing, laughing with your friends, or dancing like no one is watching! One time, while I was on vacation, me and my cousin rocked an empty dance floor by ourselves with everyone just sitting around with their drinks, too scared to be the first ones to break the ice. Yes, we were pretty self conscious at first, but after getting into the beat of the music and dancing without a care in the world, we were able to meet some amazing people we probably wouldn’t have run into otherwise. Surrendering happens in multiple ways and not one way is better than the other.

When you truly surrender, suddenly your strong desires turn into preferences. You don’t feel any strong emotion for one way or the other. Its carrying on the attitude of “If it happens, that’s okay. If it doesn’t happen, that’s okay, too”. You’ve surrendered it to the care of the Divine, who always manifests the highest good whenever we are able to let go. It suddenly becomes easier to be okay with what is. The things that are meant to happen will come to pass and those that are not will fall away, and you simply end up forgetting about it.

In addition, past experiences, emotions, and problems are given new meaning. You let go of your attachment to the old stories and in it’s place are new, better stories that uplift you. Instead of carrying around the old story of —”I’ve gotten rejected so many times in the past. I will never find love,” — the story turns into —”Those people weren’t right for me at the time. And in looking back at myself, I can see that I really wasn’t ready to be in a relationship. But now, as I continue to grow and flourish with more wisdom, I know that I am not far off from finding the perfect relationship for me.” You become more open and welcoming to the world, and the world becomes more open and welcoming to you.

Like what happened with me, its so easy to apply your perfectionist tendencies to your spiritual practices. You want to get it exactly right. You want to work hard, and sweat, and struggle. Your control grip gets tighter as you try to manipulate the outcomes. But in doing so, you miss the point completely.

The whole point of the spiritual journey is not to add another achievement onto your shiny resumé or another way to fill the void. The whole point is to subtract all the bullshit in your life that you no longer need. The whole point is to surrender, be open, be willing, and remember who you truly are.

When you let go of what you think life is, life will expand in ways you could have never imagined. Impossible things become possible. Wonderful opportunities are able to surface. Amazing relationships come out of nowhere. All because you surrendered.

Kisses & Meows,
G

 

Photo by Atlas Green on Unsplash

Follow Your Joy and Smile at the Fear

Positive growth can be painful.

Despite enjoying the learning curve at my new job, I still have very subtle levels of anxiety that seem to creep up on me every so often. I would start to feel like I’m having a panic attack again for no reason, or I would start imagining the worst case scenario coming true.

That just goes to show that even though I’ve been quite happy and grateful for all the blessings I have in my life right now, the anxiety and fear still tunnels through. And I’ve begun to realize that that is okay. That it’s normal to feel fear and anxiety and doubt again, even when you’re at your happiest, because it just means you’re growing. And you’re learning. And you’re becoming more and more of who you really are.

And so, this time around, I understood what I was going through—in the past, I would have said to myself, “Oh my gosh, I wish I was done with these panic attacks already. I thought I had gotten rid of these!” (see On Anxiety). But in truth, the fear and the panic attacks are strong indicators that I’m on to something. And that my ego is fighting it hard. It’s getting desperate. It’s trying to fight off the new change or the growth because it wants to maintain its control over me and my happiness.

I want to tell everyone out there, who is doing something that both terrifies them and excites them, to be okay with the fear for now. Don’t let the fear drive you off course. In fact, the presence of fear is an indicator to keep on going. It’s like trying to remove a knot out of the muscles of your back—you keep pressing where it hurts, and the resistance will eventually release.

Even when it seems like the pain couldn’t get any worse, or you’re experiencing a greater struggle than you could have ever imagined, keep on going. Because this fear will subside. In fact, the fear is smaller and weaker that you really think. Think of fear as a dude with a Napoleon Complex. This guy who comes off as intimidating and scary but is actually quite small and weak in stature. The better part of you will always beat the ego, as long as you keep going and keep pressing where it hurts.

Our comfort zones can have strong brick walls around them, so it’ll take some effort to knock them down to get to the other side. When you encounter that resistance, maintain a warrior-like mindset—you don’t stop and you don’t back down. When the ego continues to throw you all these fearful distractions and panic attacks, it’s a clear sign that its running out of ammo and its getting desperate.

It is important in any personal growth journey to be aware of what the ego can throw at you, so that you don’t get too caught up in it. Know that fear, even extreme bouts of it, is a normal part of growing and becoming more of who you really are. Being mindful of it will prevent you from becoming frustrated with yourself and giving up too early. The fact that you have made so much positive progress doesn’t mean you’ll never feel resistance anymore.  Even when you feel excited and happy about your progress, know that to still feel fear in between is perfectly okay.

I agree with the saying, “follow your joy”. But I want to also add, “and smile at the fear.” Because with every journey, there will be ups and downs, joy and fear, and we must accept this in order to be our best self for the world.

So, follow your joy and smile at the fear.

Kisses and Meows,

Gretchen

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

I Didn’t Get The Job

Being a graduating nursing student, one of the most daunting challenges for me is to find a job. More importantly, find a job that I won’t absolutely hate. Because I don’t think I can stand spending a good chunk of my time doing something I really do not enjoy. For the past 2 years, school has really sucked the life out of me. Sure, you think I’m being dramatic, and I probably am. But if I have to spend the next year tolerating a job that I truly don’t like, then I will lose it.

Anyways, I’ve had my sights set on working at a particular hospital that has a wonderful women’s and children’s building. Within this past year, I realized that I truly enjoy working with women, children, and families. I don’t know what in particular drew me to that field, but whatever it was, it was my saving grace. Before that time, I honestly didn’t know what would happen once I graduated since I hadn’t really been enjoying my clinicals at that time. I was still uncertain if nursing was truly for me. But luckily, I found the perfect area of nursing that I could totally imagine myself working in.

So come February of spring semester–my last semester. And I excitedly decided to apply to 4 units regarding women’s health at this hospital that I wanted to work at. Once I hit those submit buttons, I felt like I was already in. Like I already had a job. Because this is what I was meant to do, and this is what I’m supposed to do. And so I waited. And waited. And waited.

March rolled around, and I had received nothing. No emails. No calls. Nothing.

So, like a little helpless child, I called on my mom.

I should probably explain this.

My mom has worked in the women’s and children’s building of this same hospital for over 12 years as a nurse. She’s really familiar with all the units and frequently works as charge nurse. And so naturally, she knew people. She knew the head of the departments, the charge nurses, the nurse managers, etc. So I figured I still had a good chance at landing a job there since I knew someone who knew people in charge.

April comes around. My mom had talked to several different people about me and apparently, they couldn’t find my application in their system. Weird. And by this point, I’m really pissed off. I had been waiting around for about 2 months now for someone to call me but it turns out I wasn’t even on their radar to begin with. And it didn’t help that I was constantly hearing of my classmates getting multiple job offers from this same hospital. It was incredibly aggravating to have to just wait since there was nothing I could do at the time.

Finally, a recruiter called me about interviewing with that hospital’s Labor and Delivery Unit. Yes! Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally. And it turns out, the person who was interviewing me knew my mom too. I was in luck. On the day of the interview, I got dressed in my best attempt at professional attire and felt so sure, so confident that I was going to get this job. I just thought that the interview was just for formalities and that I would get that job offer in no time. There was no way I wasn’t going to get this job.

A week later, I saw that I had a missed call and a voicemail from the recruiter. I was so excited. I pressed play and the minute I heard the recruiter speak, I knew something was terribly wrong. Then I heard it– “….unfortunately, the unit won’t be moving forward with the offer. The fellowship for July is already full.” My heart fell into my stomach and I felt like I had just been punched. It took me a good 5 minutes after hearing that to actually start crying, because I was so shocked. I didn’t know what went wrong. I didn’t know what I could have done differently. And it was fucking disappointing.

And so I did the normal dance of disappointment. I cried. And then I prayed. And then I cried again. Then I suddenly felt motivated to look for more jobs. And then I cried again. Then I called my cousin. Cried to her, too. Cried to my dog. When my dad came home from work, I cried to him too. It probably took me about 3 hours to get it all completely out of my system. And I’m glad I let myself get that messy and ridiculous because I’m pretty sure if I didn’t, I’d still be bummed out today.

By the time my mom came home later on that night, I was already over it. I told her I didn’t get the job, and then watched HER freak out. She didn’t cry or anything like that, she was just a bit outraged. But I made her promise not to bring it up with the interviewer or anyone on L&D, because that would probably be the most embarrassing thing haha.

Sure it’s just one interview. And it’s just one rejection. And I’ve only applied to a handful of places. I know that when I tell this story to people, I hear a whole spew of things like: “People get rejected all the time” or “It took me months to actually find a job!” or “I’ve applied to 60 jobs and no one has reached out to me yet.” Okay, cool. I understand that. I’m not the only one here. But regardless of what it is, disappointment is disappointment. It hurts the same way. However, I am lucky to be in a field like nursing where there is a shortage and a good availability of jobs. I initially chose nursing because of that aspect. And I know that after graduation, I’ll have a job. It may not be the job that I want, but I’ll have a job. And that will be good enough.

For now, it’s back to the online applications, lifeless resume editing, and the waiting.

So what’s the moral of the story? I have no clue. I haven’t got to that part of the story. Writing this entire thing out is actually helping me process the event more so I can just let go of it, because it’s no use to hang on to something like this. Yes, the story doesn’t end here. There’s a reason why I wasn’t offered a position, and that’s because an even better opportunity is heading my way. That’s the only reasoning I’ll accept.

And there you have it. Your daily dose of rejection, disappointment, frustration, maybe even a little entitlement, and a nice cliff hanger for ya. You’re welcome.

 

Always Kisses & Meows,

Gretchen