You Are Worthy

As 2019 exits its way to a new year, I always reflect on what I learned over the past 365 days. The biggest less I learned was to value my self worth– and to not be afraid to walk away from situations (and people) who don’t.

Oddly enough, when it comes to my dance career, I always knew my worth. And it’s why over the past 15 years I have been able to essentially have my own successful business as a Belly Dancer. For the most part, I have the entrepreneurial stuff down pretty well. When a gig request comes in, I know what my value is. Its years of dance classes, rehearsals, performances. Its years of directing and producing and choreographing. When I give a quote, 90% of it is my value. I do not negotiate my rates. I do not do performances for “exposure.” I am a  professional performer. I am an artist. And while people do not always understand artists — we do expect to get paid for our worth and work.

When it came to my everyday life, I had such a hard time excepting my worth. I found myself falling into the habit of being putting myself down. I have always been hard on myself. I was raised to be a perfectionist. But I never learned to value my worth. 2019 changed that. Almost 20 years working in the same field, I knew my education and experience were worth a lot more than what was being offered. It took the entire year for me to finally find the right place and the right people who saw my value.

I also learned that there are people who will not recognize your worth.  I am not talking about monetary worth. I am talking about people who do not recognize you and your creative abilities, your intellect, your personality, your humor and so much more. I learned that those people are not worth wasting your time on. They do not value you. I’ve taught myself that it’s better to not allow those people to take space in your head. Knowing who you are and what you deserve — what your worth is–its important. And I am grateful that this was the lesson I learned in 2019.

Now…..what does 2020 have to teach me?

The Unattainable

We all have something: a person place or thing that lies just out of our reach. So close that you can touch it with your fingertips and yet it’s so far away. And it not that you couldn’t have it- but just that you can’t. You can’t because after all the wishing, work and desire- it is just not meant to be yours. You relish in your mind, the moment that you have it. Even for a little while. You relish the way it makes you feel. The way you imagine yourself in that place where you always wanted to go. Mending a relationship that was shattered. Holding something/someone in your arms that you can almost feel and smell. Hearing words you wanted to hear. All the magic in the world couldn’t change the fact that what you want you may never get. The proverbial “follow your dreams,” just doesn’t happen. It may to some, but not everyone. We all have an unattainable. And there needs to a moment where you take a breath and accept that the journey has gone as far as it can, and its time to let go.

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Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.com

What IS Happiness?

I have struggled with this question for most of my adult life. What does it really mean to be happy? Is anyone truly happy? Or are we just content? Is happiness a permanent state of mind or is it something that happens in little spurts?

I am not unhappy but I am also not happy. I know that makes zero sense. I am happy right now with my life; however, I am always looking for that “something more.” Maybe it’s just my personality– but I find that things and places get old for me fast.

 I am always looking for the next big adventure, meeting new people, stardownloadting a new hobby and of course, being a life long learner. And all while I am chasing this idea of happiness- I am also craving stability and normalcy. I am seeking happiness in just being content with myself and my life. 

I often find myself jealous of people who seem content in their lives. Married, with a family in a little home and jobs they love. What is that like? But then I have to question– are they really happy?

What defines happiness?

Money? Love? A home? A job? Marriage? or is happiness something much more? Do we trick ourselves into believing that happiness are all the things we are supposed to have and want in life? Or is happiness just something we occasionally experience? Is true happiness deeper or spiritual? 

And is anyone really happy?

Your Life is Going Down The Toilet

About the only thing I like about Facebook is when “Memories” pop up. The other day a memory came up from a former friend. It was a memory from 6.5 years ago.

“Girl. What is going on with you? Your life is going down the toilet.”

As I said, she was a former friend.

Her comment probably pissed me off then, but it pissed me off even more now. Seven years ago I was in the midst of a major upheaval of my life. One of those times when your life gets shaken up and you have no idea where you are going to fall.

I was ending a six-year relationship with someone who I thought was “the one.” He broke me financially and emotionally. I was always last in his life, and it hurt. I was tired. I was also experiencing a deep depression and major anxiety. The job that I loved was in jeopardy due to changes and I had no idea what was up and what was down. It was a time of tears, sleepless nights, heartache and fear of the unknown.

On the outside, yeah my life looked like an impending train wreck. It was. But was my life going down the toilet? When we are going through a major shift–does it mean we are flushing our lives away?

No. Absolutely not.

Naturally, when we are in the midst of life chaos, it can feel like our lives are dissolving. Every choice we ever made seems to be under suspicion. We spend time reflecting on what-ifs and why ifs. It’s not that our lives are going down the toilet. It means we are growing!

My relationship ended because I realized who I was and what I wanted in life. I also realized what was triggering my depression and anxiety–and it was a simple fact that I was unhappy. Do I regret the choices I made that brought me to that point? No way.

Regardless of how old you are— you are constantly growing. And with growth comes change. Most often that change is painful. At the moment, it feels like your life is going down the drain and if you will ever stop falling. And then by choices that you make- things fall into place.

No one’s life is ever going down the toilet. Even those who have made bad life choices. I work with patients who are recovering drug addicts. They have lost everything they had because of their choice to do drugs. By society’s view, these people are garbage. They are labeled “crack heads,” “tweakers,” “meth heads.” Yes. They made some fucked up choices. However, when they finally choose to get help and move forward-not only do they grow and acknowledge their past and choices- but they become beautiful people.

Wherever you are in life. Whatever you have done. Whether good or bad were all your choices. But even if you are hanging by a thread–your life is never going down the trash. You are learning, growing and changing. You own that.

Life. Death. Love.

“Nothing can happen more beautiful than death.” – Walt Whitman

It is always hard for me to wrap my mind around why people are so afraid of getting old and afraid of death. After all, it’s going to happen to all of us. I can appreciate the wanting to live a good long life- free of disease. But why try to slow down the aging processimages? Why not accept the inevitable— and actually use it to create a well-lived life?

We started to die the day we were born.

When people first meet me, their initial thoughts are usually that I am a dark and mysterious girl with a morbid fascination. After all,  I make jewelry with vertebrae (human and animal). I paint animal skulls. I post images of death in all its forms. My home is decorated with all things death-related– skulls, skeletons, bones. My life is dedicated to the dead.

I have been fascinated with death since childhood. Being born on November 1st, it’s hard not to fall in love with images of death! My birthdays were always filled with bits and pieces of Halloween and All Souls Day. My work with dead goes back as far as I can remember-even within the realm of imaginary friends in childhood.

As I grew older, I began to realize that my life was destined to be entwined between the realms of the living and the dead.

Am I obsessed with death? No.

Do I venerate death? Yes.

I have never been afraid of the concept of death. I understand why most people are. It’s frightening to think about the unknown


I find death comforting. We are all going to end up there. Death is also the one thing in life that does not discriminate; Death does not care if you are rich, poor, what race you are, where you are from, who your family is, what religion you practice, who you pray to. Death is a bit of coming home after a long journey. For me, death is like a waiting lover. Open arms and ready to dance. Morbid? Not really.

My relationship with death has made me love life because Death is humbling. 

When I work with bones–I find it an honor. To hold something so sacred that ones supported the weight of a living thing is a blessing. When I work on a piece, whether painting on a skull or entwining vertebrae into jewelry, I think of what animal once owned those bones. What type of energy that animal had. Where it lived, what it did. I reflect on the essence of the being.

When I work on human bones- its an even greater honor. I think of the person, who they may have been, what they may have done. When I hold a human bone in my hand, I think of my ancestors– of all our ancestors– those who have walked this earth thousands of years before now. Its a sacred honor to me to hold those human bones in my hand.

Imagine if someone told you you had three days to live. Would you really live? Would you break the rules? Would you take risks? Would you be a kinder person?

This is why I love death. It made me learn to live my life with no regrets. I always reflect on the choices

I made, chances I took…things I have said– and I regret nothing.  I am getting older, I am learning that time goes by fast. Age is inevitable. But I have every intention of living my life my way.

In honoring and understanding death- I have learned to appreciate life. Death has humbled me beyond words. Working with and having human bones in my life is one of the greatest honors I could ever have. The dead remind me to live. REALLY live.


So yes, maybe in some strange way- I am obsessed with Death. But its an obsession of absolution. I know that someday I will be like those bones….that will be all that is left of me on this earthly realm. I have no fear of that.

 

The Growth of the Butterfly

All of us are on a journey of self discovery–whether we realize it or not. Whether we want to or not. I have always been and always will be, starting new chapters in my life. Life is a book. Last year was the beginning and ending of a very long chapter. Yes, I am happier than I have ever been. I have found my calling. Learned what I want and need in order to grow, and have taken steps to follow through on my dreams. But along the way, I realized, that sometimes the more we love the more we have to learn; that nothing hurts more than holding on.

I have always had major trust issues with people.  I spent such long time fighting who I was and I wasn’t always true to myself. The past 10 years has been a struggle for me. The hardest part of changing and growing-is losing people in your life that you always thought would be there for you in the darkest of times.

I thought I was surrounded by friends who were essentially my “family” ~ friends who I truly believed would be by side regardless of situations. In the end, I only found the truest people were the ones I never expected. I remember at my wedding I had invited people who I considered family. Friends who I was involved with for a long time. Friends I cared about and who I thought cared about me. More than just casual acquaintances, but true friends. Then the day came when I got the text from my ex that he moved out and took everything we had together with him. I came home to an empty apartment-literally void of everything save a few pieces of furniture. Though I knew it was coming-though  I could see the writing on the wall–nothing is real until you see it. The illusion was finally shattered. My life was flipped upside down and I was forced to look at myself and the darkness inside myself that I pushed away.

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Devastated, hurt and confused, I texted, called and emailed my friends. Those who were at my wedding, those who were in my wedding and those who knew me long before I met and married my ex. The ones who I thought were apart of my life through thick and thin. Who I could count on for council, advice, a good laugh or just a shoulder to cry on.

Only three of my friends responded. Only three of my friends showed up at my door to be by side. And after days and weeks went by, only three of my friends even bothered to see how I was. The day of the divorce, only one of my friends was there to support me. None of the friends who I considered true friends even bothered to drop a line just to ask how I was doing. It was like I had ceased to exist. The curtains fell down and I just became another person. That hurt me more than my ex leaving and more than me having to face the darkness alone. I felt abandoned by the people I needed the most. Learning that all these relationships I had were nothing more than shadows. Maybe they didn’t even really exist at all. Maybe I created them – reveled in the idea that I had all these people in my life who I felt I could count on when shit hit the fan or I bottomed out. Everything was an illusion-a dream–gone in a puff of smoke and leaving me standing in front of a foggy mirror. I was involved in “show biz” then–a professional dancer and performing artist. A lot of friends were performers as well. Perhaps we were all actors?

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Months passed and still none of those friends even bothered to just see how I was. It was like they completely fell off the face of the world and I was left standing alone. I was suddenly shut out and shut off. It hurt. It still hurts. Save for my three friends who made sure I was ok. Friends who are only your friends when things are bright and cheerful–or when they need you for something–or can benefit from having you in their life for selfish reasons. TRUE friends and TRUE relationships in your life, are the ones where people actually care ABOUT you. When you are sick, down, going through a shitty time-they just drop you a line to say, “how are you,” or “thinking about you.” I started to delete them from my contacts. They became just more shadows of my former self.

It takes me a long time to forgive. Its something I am working on. But I have had to let go of a lot of people in my life because things were not what they seemed. Its hard seeing someone who you believed considered you family and think “wow, this person didn’t even bother with me when I needed them.” I remember the first time I attended an event and saw some friends who were at my wedding and they didn’t even bother to say hello–in fact, one of them walked passed me to get to the bathroom!

Part of growth, is realizing that not everyone is going to be with you along the way. It was a hard lesson to learn. And painful. It will always take awhile to forgive those people.

Now I am writing a new chapter–with new relationships–and learning to trust……all over again.

The Measuring Cup

Things are things. We cant take them with us when we leave. Yet, people put so much emphasizes on things. Material items have become what defines us. Big house, nice car, great job. The more we have the better we look. The more we have the better society thinks of us.

The most horrible bit is that items become what defines relationships. 

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And the issue with that, is that when its time to let go, we cant. We use items as a form of attachment to someone or something. We find solace in petty things because its easier to hold on to something tangible than deal with the fact that the relationship is over. If you can covet something as meaningless as a measuring cup, because its the only link you have left between you and your past relationship, then you are in denial. In denial that the relationship really truly is over. Its a last remnant of something that was once so beautiful that ended badly. The measuring cup is a reflection of your inability to let go. 

People hide behind things because its easier than facing reality. Life is hard. Sometimes things happen that we could not anticipate. But you cant reach up to the clouds if you are letting yesterdays junk hold you down. Holding on is harder than letting go. Why hang onto items that once were?

It will not change things. Its just a measuring cup.