meandjim

Gratitude is My Attitude

We move through the world constantly making judgments… judgments about ourselves and judgments about others. But we also have the ability to make choices about those judgements and to decide whether or not we’ll allow them to land.

Last night, I attended a grand opening event for a dermatology office in a boujee part of town, which specializes in procedures like Botox and fillers. I went as my sister’s guest, and she was there for one reason: to network. As a new entrepreneur/ owner of a downtown law firm, she was on a mission to get her business cards into the hands of potential new clients.

I didn’t really expect for it to be my scene, but I also didn’t expect for a nurse practitioner to be scrutinizing the fine lines on my forehead under the kind of lights suitable for dissecting frogs in a 7th grade science class. Did I mention I was eating caprese during the forehead inspection also? It was awkward, to say the least.

I’d come straight from teaching a Children’s Fitness class, after pairing my best yoga pants with sparkly socks and combat boots before arriving at the event. I parallel parked my Honda Element between a Tesla and a Mercedes Benz, and upon entry, I immediately felt out of place. Those who know me also know that it’s rare for me to feel uncomfortable in a social setting. I’m very much an extrovert. But, standing next to my sister who was decked out in business professional attire, complete with camel-colored pumps and a custom name tag, I felt uncomfortable. I’m sure she’s felt similarly, surrounded by my friends at music festivals as we chatted excitedly about bands she’d never heard of. Vanessa… my “little big sister.” We joke that I’m the unconventional, free spirit while she’s the ultra-responsible perfectionist… which makes her more “big sister-like” even though I’m her elder.

After the event, I couldn’t help but reflect on the series of awkward moments… the bright lights, my wrinkles being used as an example of “what happens when you don’t get Botox,” the forced conversation, the champagne that gave me heartburn, and the overall uncomfortable-ness of it all. Was it in my head or was I being judged because I looked differently and dressed differently than the vast majority there? Then, I started thinking… this is the stuff that self-deprecating thoughts thrive on. Why do we make assumptions about what others think? The truth is… I have no idea what the other people there thought of me. And, in making my own assumptions about them, I was guilty of passing judgment, too.

Why do we care so much about the way others perceive us? And why do we so often focus on the negative moments but we so easily forget the positive ones? As these thoughts breezed through my mind, I remembered some other things about yesterday… the young woman who stopped me on the street to compliment my outfit; the little girl from my class who skipped through the door with a handmade card that she’d crafted for me; and the two gigs that I unexpectedly booked that same day because my clients appreciate the art I share. Then, I came to this realization:

creativehappylife

Not everyone is going to like me or understand me, and that’s OK. So what if I don’t fit into a specific mold? I may not look, act, or live like your average 39-year-old, and I’m cool with that. I love being an artist and a creative entrepreneur. I also love the life that I’ve designed for myself, and it’s ok if some people don’t get it. I’m choosing not to dwell on the way others may or may not perceive me. I’m also making a conscious effort to avoid passing judgement on them .

So, here’s a mantra that I’d like to share with you today: “Gratitude is my Attitude.” Let’s avoid focusing on the things that bring us down. At any given moment, we have the ability to bring our attention to the things we’re grateful for. In doing so, we also bring our thoughts and feelings back to a place of joy. So, let’s spend a little more time getting better at that and a little less time judging ourselves and others.

be joyful

Darkness Visible

I’ve logged close to 10,000 words this week. I’m breaking only for scheduled meetings and to teach my classes. I’ve shut off the outside, with the intention of going deep within. I’m in the midst of the most challenging part of my story, and I need total focus and quiet time for contemplation, reflection and clear communication.

I’m re-visiting some of my darkest days, and tears have been flowing… not because I still feel connected to the words that I once wrote. If anything, it’s the opposite. I no longer relate to feelings of self-hatred. I know that I’m healed from depression. I’m not on medication, and I haven’t had a mental breakdown in more than a decade. I don’t believe that I’ll ever experience one again.

I shed tears because I couldn’t see the things that are so clear to me now.

I keep thinking of Brad. What would he be like today, had he stayed here in the physical realm? Would he have discovered his self-worth too? Would he look back on his life, as I am, with compassion and a new perspective?

Being suicidal isn’t pretty, and it’s an interesting thing… having your whole life on paper.

My handwritten journals house words that some might say would be better to forget. I don’t believe that to be true. I think that we need to hold up the metaphorical mirror, in an effort to move through the pain and eventually heal. We need to fight our internal demons and win. In the midst of my pain and suffering, writing was the silent best friend that enabled me to release. It helped me to purge destructive thoughts, allowing me to move them from my mind to the page. 

I feel for my shadow self, but my voice is so different now. I’m no longer the suicidal girl who couldn’t see outside of her pain. Writing this book would not be possible if I was.

Authentically sharing my story means that there may be moments when the reader might not find me very likable or relatable. This sunshine-filled, sparkly life I’ve created for myself is a far leap from my previous existence. I’m writing the book for this very reason… to serve as an example that we can transform our way of thinking, and to illustrate that hiding doesn’t heal.

I think, by making our darkness visible, we can release it once and for all.

Love,
Abby