One Step at a Time

One Step at a Time

Sometimes for the many steps we take forward, there are a couple back. It sucks. But it happens. My leg is getting stronger every day. (#brokenfemurssuck) My physical therapist has helped me get stronger and on my feet that I forget it’s only been a month and a half of therapy so far.

I’m walking using a walker.

I’m riding a bike.

I’m doing leg presses.

I’m driving.

I’m mastering steps. I’m stepping up an 8” step now. 

I’ve been practicing steps at home since the ramp out my front door will be taken soon. I’ve gone up and down a step at home to let Piglet out! And I’m so proud of myself for doing so. 

Then…the last time I went up the kitchen step my knee buckled and I fell. Down the basement stairs. 

All. The. Way. Down. Head. First. 

“Falling down is a part of life. Getting back up is living.”

~ Anonymous

Now, thankfully, we have a baby gate at the top of the stairs to keep my cousins dog from going downstairs. I fell on the gate and practically slid down the stairs instead of bounce. 

And, thankfully, the basement is carpeted. So when I reached the bottom head first I didn’t hit anything hard. 

Then my walker followed me down. Now that hurt! 

I have bruises in places that I can’t understand how they got there. But when I took inventory everything was still intact and moving as they should. 

“Be mindful of your thoughts and words for they are the pen writing that which will manifest.”

~ Sanjo Jendayi

My dad kept saying the week before when I was going up and down that step that he as worried that I would fall down the basement stairs. I kept reassuring him that I was fine. 

I guess we were both right. Two manifestations converging. That’s what I was thinking as I was falling. 

When I reached the basement I realized how long it had been since I was down there. Now, that was a weird thought. 

Then I realized, my phone was on the kitchen table and I had to figure out how to get back up the stairs. 

I’m smart. I’m strong. I do leg presses now, ya know. 

I maneuvered myself around. I got my booty on the first step. Then began hoisting myself up with the railing and lifting myself with my legs backward, seated, up the stairs. 

When I finally got to the top I realized I ran out of railing. Oh boy! My therapist and I never discussed how to get off the floor if you’re on the ground. Plus, my walker was still in the basement. 

I got on my belly and did one of those elbow, military crawls across the kitchen floor to the table. Sat up. Reached the phone. Texted my neighbor. 

“If you want to find who’s a true friend, screw up or go through a challenging time…then see who sticks around.”

~ Karen Salomanson

God bless my BFF neighbor and her wonderful firefighter husband. They are more family than friends. They came running and got me off the floor. 

And I started laughing. Hard. 

Hey, it’s better than crying. 

“Smile when you’re hurt. Laugh when you want to cry. Have faith in yourself when nothing seems right. Believe in your heart. Trust that even though its hard now, in the end you’ll be okay.”

~ Anonymous

I’m fine. I go to therapy the next day and tell them what happened. They went easy on me that day. But I still did leg presses and I still practiced going up and down a step. Can’t lose progress! 

“This is my journey. There is no time or space for fear.”

~ Carmen

The next morning Piglet needed out again. My mom in the shower I decided I needed to go up and down the step. This time in the living room. Not going near those basement steps in a while.  But, I was not going to let fear take over either.

No big deal. Going down is the easy part. 

So I took my step down and as I went to get my good foot down the step, my knee buckled out from under me and I fell backward on to the step. And as my knees bent when I fell back it twisted a bit and the pain was harsh! 

My leg is swollen again. And it hurts somewhat to walk.

Damn it! One step forward…

Went to physical therapy. She said to call the doctor. 

New X-rays. Knee is still good. Just angry. 

Can’t say I’m too happy either. I was supposed to be on a cane by now. 

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

~ Japanese Proverb

So the ramp out front will be staying a while longer. I’ll be going to therapy for at least another month. And I’m still using a walker. 

But hey. I’m driving. I’m doing leg presses. I’m riding a bike. I’m getting stronger. I’m laughing. I’m living. I’m here.

Getting through the journey may be hard at times – but, getting through it will always take one step at a time. #betheturtle


Carmen is a single mom who acts, sings, drinks coffee and writes stuff as she authentically navigates life. Sometimes it’s interesting, sometimes not so much. You can decide. But if something moves you, drop a line, share it far and wide, and let me know what you think!


Control

I had a Physical Therapy appointment – which is really nothing new because I have had a few therapy appointments almost every week since coming home with this broken femur (#brokenfemurssuck) – but what was new were the exercises we did during this session.

I have had trouble lifting my leg off the bed and engaging my quad muscle. It’s odd because I still can’t feel my muscles. I have to tap my fingers on my thigh to feel where the muscles are so I can trick them into working. It is so weird not to be able to feel what is working inside your body. I found I couldn’t feel my hamstrings either. But, I can bend my leg so I know they are there.

Anything you can’t control is teaching you how to let go.

Jackson Kiddard

So the therapist told me to relax while she lifted my leg and allowed it to hang in the air and stretch the muscle. This position would allow gravity to straighten my leg to where it should be because I went from hyper-extending my leg to keeping it bent all the time – which is not a good thing.

“You can relax your leg, Carmen,” the therapist told me.

I am…

“No,” she said, “Just let me hold your leg. You can release your muscles.”

I am…

“Let go, Carmen. I’ve got you.”

I couldn’t seem to relax. I couldn’t seem to let go. The more I “tried” to relax, the more my body tensed up. I started shaking.

It takes more energy to control than to let go.

Anonymous

I had flashbacks of Christmas.

You see Christmas is “my” holiday in our family. I’ve hosted Christmas dinner for years. A sit down dinner for 25 – 30 family members as the years came and the families grew. When necessary dinner would be buffet-style. I can be flexible that way.

I love hosting Christmas… the traditions, the family gatherings.

The day starts at my mom’s house when we would all spend the night to wake up to see that Santa had come. I would make some breakfast casseroles and we have coffee and breakfast and watch the kids open gifts.

Then I’d start on the ham and potatoes and sweet potatoes and whatever else was on the menu that year. All the others would take off home to see if Santa got there and then return for dinner later that evening. Or come by early to see what they could do to help and bring their dish to share.

There were years when we would gather at my cousin’s house because hers was the largest of our homes. But it was always the same. Breakfast first. Gifts. And, I start cooking. Then we took everything to her house.

Any change, even for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.

Arnold Bennett

Then there was this holiday season. This year that brought me such a sucker punch. This year that had me already missing a chance to be on stage, missing Thanksgiving with my family at home, and missing my freedom, and my pride… this year’s Christmas was being changed without my even being involved. I had suddenly realized how I had lost complete control over almost every aspect of my being – even “my holiday.”

I was suddenly being informed of how “my holiday’ was going to be held.

Some of us think that holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.

Herman Hess

I don’t think I was ever as angry as when my sisters were telling me how things were going to be this Christmas. Without a conversation with me. Without a discussion of what I felt I could or could not do. Without consideration of how I would feel having changes made to “my holiday.” I kept asking them not to take this away from me. Please. I had to hold on to something. I felt bulldozed.

I was so angry I couldn’t articulate my frustration. They couldn’t explain their reasoning in any form that I would listen to.

I couldn’t let go.

When you try to control everything, you enjoy nothing. Sometimes you need to relax, breathe, let go and live in the moment.

Anonymous

For most of my adult life, I have prided myself of being able to let go and let be. Live in the moment. Be grateful. Take a deep breath and release.

I’m the laid back one. Things always work out. I’m really good at letting go.

Until I wasn’t.

Real strength isn’t control. It’s knowing when to let go.

Christopher Barzak

I had no choice but to give in to what my sister’s wanted because I had no recourse being in my wheelchair. I understand that times are changing again, but that on top of my leg … well, it made me feel useless. I had lost control of my life. I felt dismissed. And I hated that feeling.

But as the day progressed I began to understand. And, I began to let go.

I at least was able to make the ham.

And, really I should have been more grateful to my sisters because they went shopping for me and brought in the food and brought up the dishes and got the table ready and I couldn’t have done it all without them.

Really I owe them a debt of gratitude that I was too stubborn to give at the time.

It was a tough lesson though. Letting go of what we can’t control. What I can’t control. Trusting my sisters to have the best intentions in mind Relaxing and enjoying the moment. I was trying to hold on way too much. Instead of allowing and flowing and being grateful for the help and love.

Once I let go I could relax and enjoy my family. The evening. The food. The festivities.

And, once I let go I could stretch my leg. And, I didn’t shake anymore. And, it didn’t hurt as much.

Learning to let go gracefully is a challenge at the moment. Obviously. And learning to let go to allow healing, change, growth, movement, sisters, love, family is getting easier – but certainly not all there yet. Especially now that I can understand that it is for my benefit and not something that is being taken away from me.

You can’t control everything. Sometimes you just need to relax and have faith that everything will work out. Let go a little and let life happen.

Anonymous

This was a not-so-subtle reminder of my having to return to having faith and to live in the moment and in gratitude. Faith that things will all work out alright. Be in the moment to allow goodness and strength to flow freely to me. Let go. Let life. Let it flow. And be grateful that there are sisters and therapists ready to hold me up when I need them.

I can relax now. I can let life happen. And, everything will indeed work out.


Carmen is a single mom who acts, sings, drinks coffee and writes stuff as she authentically navigates life. Sometimes it’s interesting, sometimes not so much. You can decide. But if something moves you, drop a line, share it far and wide, and let it be known!


Vulnerability

Ugh.

I hate missing out. Gatherings. Movies. Plays. Dinners.

Starbucks.

Opportunities.

I feel like I’m at a bus stop and the busses keep passing me by without stopping. I’m waving my arms wildly, trying to get their attention. But I’m at a standstill.

Just like the world… it just keeps spinning, doesn’t it? It doesn’t really concern itself with whether you can jump on or catch up.

I mean, I’m not much of an extrovert, but I also know I’m not one for sitting around a lot either. And, the opportunities I had, I worked hard for. They are the most difficult to let go of.

You’re better off missing a bus or an airplane once in a while than getting there too early all the time.

Andy Rooney

And, all I’m doing right now is sitting around.

Literally.

This broken femur and a wheelchair sure have put a damper on things. I just keep watching the busses pass me by.

I have gotten out of the house for a couple of wonderful times. But what a pain in the ass! Wheel out and down the ramp. Grab the walker. Hop to the car. Watch as someone puts away all your paraphernalia into the trunk of the car. Arrive and do everything in reverse. And, I’m just sitting there.

Now, I do realize how fortunate I am. Truly. This is only a temporary situation for me. It’s just that … Eight weeks feels like an eternity. Physical therapy is work.

Sitting here has also brought about a heightened sense of vulnerability. It has my daughter helping in ways that I wasn’t prepared for – until at least I reached a much older age and she would be older to deal with it as well. Or having my elderly mother, mother me again and do for me as though I was a young girl.

Having a bathing aide (a wonderful and patient and kind woman) come to the house and help undress me to get into the shower. I may be clean but with it came a loss of pride and freedom and control and feelings of humility and shame. A weakness I have not known in a while. Especially during my last couple of years with a motto of “No Fear!”

Vulnerability is not weakness. And that myth is profoundly dangerous.

Brené Brown

Having others do for me has been difficult. Being vulnerable has been difficult. Watching the buses and opportunities pass me by has been difficult. Trying to catch up with the world around me once again feels like a daunting task.

Letting go and allowing has been tough.

I think that the most difficult thing is allowing yourself to be loved, so receiving the love and feeling like you deserve it is a pretty big struggle. I suppose that’s what I’ve learnt recently, to allow myself to be loved.

Nicole Kidman

Allowing to be taken care of. Allowing to heal. Allowing to slow down. Allowing to be vulnerable.

Allowing to be loved by your family and friends as you continue to progress and get well and do the work of regaining strength.

Allowing everyone you know to see your weakness in the moment. Yet, living the moment as honestly as you can. In pain. In humility. In loss. In love.

Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.

Brené Brown

I am reminded that a broken femur and the subsequent surgery to repair it was major surgery. No, I shouldn’t be on my feet yet. No, recovery is not quick, nor easy. Although, without any past experience it is hard to accept this truth.

All I know is that I will continue to show up until I can catch that bus once again. I will show my vulnerability as it will uncover courage.

I guess you can say I’m working on Carmen 3.0 – only this time I’m bionic! Watch out world. Keep spinning because I’m getting ready to catch up!


Carmen is a single mom who acts, sings, drinks coffee and writes stuff as she authentically navigates life. Sometimes it’s interesting, sometimes not so much. You can decide. But if something moves you, drop a line, share it far and wide, and let it be known!


To the Moon and Back: A love story

To the Moon and Back: A love story

I have been single all my life. I’m not saying that because I want pity or dating advice or anything of the sort. That’s not to say I wouldn’t take you up on a blind date. I only mention it because it’s just fact.

By the time I reached my 40’s, I figured my days of having children were over. I hadn’t met a man I was interested in spending the “rest of my life with.” But I would go out on a date or two. And, I did have a man in my life for a short time. We spent a good part of a year together until we broke up because, according to him, I worked too much.

What can I say? I enjoyed what I was doing.

At the end of my 41st year, I found myself pregnant.

Really, Universe? I didn’t even think that part of my body worked!

Let me tell you, at 41 and dramatically overweight you are considered a “high-risk pregnancy” with all the drama that physicians and nurses and specialists and hospitals want to add to your already surprised body.

And, I was busy! I don’t have time for extra appointments. A multitude of ultrasounds.

All these appointments were cutting into my networking and socializing and fun. I wasn’t used to slowing down! Just ask the baby daddy! I didn’t know how to stop.

Being a mother is not what you give up to have a child, but what you’ve gained having one.

Anonymous

The day came when I realized why there were so many ultrasounds and appointments. You see, older women are more prone to give birth to children with down’s syndrome.

Oh boy.

The ultrasounds were showing “signs” that that may be the case with the nugget in my belly. And, at first, I thought, “poor kid! I’m older already. How in the world will ‘it’ fend for itself if something happens to me?”

I was given information should I decide to terminate the pregnancy.

Now, I have always, intuitively, created my reality. I never called it that. I didn’t know that as a real concept at the time. I’ve never worried really because I just knew things would work out. But this!? I wasn’t sure what to think. To do. And, I told no one about it. I needed to think this through on my own.

Well, me and the nugget.

You see, I sang and read and conversed with my nugget. Pretty much the entire time from when I knew it was in there swimming around. So, it and I needed to come up with a plan. After all, we were now a team.

The doctor’s decided it was best to do an amniocentesis – where they put this long-ass needle into your belly and extract some amnio fluid. Very dangerous because it could cause a miscarriage.

The doctors were adamant that I have the procedure done. I was fighting it. And, nugget wanted no part of it. But they were sharing all the reasons why I should. And, I made the appointment.

And, I sat in the waiting room. Still uneasy with my decision. And, my name was called. And, I followed the nurse. And, I walked down the hallway. And, I thought… why? What difference would it make? What if the nugget had downs? That nugget is mine. And, as I walked down the hallway time stood still. I knew – this whole life of my nugget flashed before me – I knew she was fine. I could see her and I knew she would fill my life with laughter and music and love. I knew.

She is my heart. My soul. My “best thing that ever happened to me.” The source of many laughs and a few tears. She is my daughter. She is my world.

Anonymous

And she was perfect. A month early and came out kicking her little chicken legs, but perfect. Just like I knew she would be.

Just like I knew she would be a performer when I heard her sing for the first time at 4 years old. When she would sing and dance to The Wiggles. When I would have music on in the car and she would sing at the top of her voice in perfect pitch and I would harmonize… I knew. When she wanted to get up and sang “Landslide” during a church fish fry, and we harmonized behind her, I knew. When she was asked to sing the National Anthem at the grade school talent show all by herself, acapella, on the large high school stage as a third-grader…I knew.

She grew into her voice. She grew as a performer. She began singing with a show choir, started a band with grade school friends, was cast in leads in middle school, began a duet with another friend and gigged at restaurants, and made videos, and started auditioning for shows outside of school, and got her first professional role as a sophomore in high school, and finished her senior year with more professional roles and leads.

I knew this would be her chosen profession because it also became very clear that it was her passion. I knew she was good. I know she is good. My child is talented. And, I know I’m biased, but I know.

And, I knew when she was accepted to the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. I just knew. The very first time we stepped foot in the school and toured the campus and walked around Chicago. I knew.

And now, 18 years later, my nugget is in college. My lovely. My “plus one” to everything. The love of my life. My heart beating outside of my body.

Her father didn’t want to be a dad. And, that was just fine by me. I knew I could be both father and mother for her. She was all mine. And, I was all hers. Her last name is mine and that’s all she has known. We’re a team, as I use to tell her growing up.

Being a single mother seems at a first sight, extremely demanding and exhausting. What makes single mothers resist strongly to all the stress and work is the unconditional love that they share with their children. Love makes them strong and able to fight everything that comes their way.

Anonymous

And now that team is exploring new paths as solos. Exploring new friends. Exploring new activities. Exploring what life means creating new realities. For her this is growth. For me, it means remembering what life means to be alone again. We’re still a team, just miles apart.

Ok – so, in truth I’m the one actually struggling to find my footing once again. Slowly. That first week waiting for her to tell me she was “home” so I could fall asleep. Now, three weeks in, I wait to hear from my girl to tell me about her classes, her adventures, about her new friends, her professors, her rehearsals.

It’s joyous! She is blossoming. She is blooming. She is spreading her wings!

I have to admit, however, that I am a tad lost without her.

But, I couldn’t be prouder. My heart is full.

My lovely. My pookie. My sunshine. My whole heart. My Isabel. Growing and expanding and becoming her own person.

And, now it is time to work on me once again. Spread my wings too, as it were. I’ll get there. I may need some help, so if you have plans that can use one more person, let me know. I’m up for some fun!

Until then… to the moon and back my lovely. To the moon and back…TQMM

Isabel and I singing a mash-up of Nothing’s Gonna Harm You/Children Will Listen arranged by Leah Luciano for R-S Theatrics Cabaret, 2017. Isabel was 16.

Carmen is a single mom who acts, sings, drinks coffee and writes stuff as she authentically navigates life. Sometimes it’s interesting, sometimes not so much. You can decide. But if something moves you, drop a line and let it be known!

Painting: “Mother and Daughter” by Diego Rivera


Energy

Energy

I’ve been working on a lot of beliefs lately.

Feelings of being a victim. Self- Protection. Broken Heart. Vulnerability. Self-Worth. Connection. My alignment.

Well, you get it.

A few years ago I went through an amazing transformation finding my authentic self, my unique self, my brilliant self as taught to me by a brilliant friend and leadership coach, Deborah LeeAnn. She helped me find my SHINE. Led me to achieve some goals I didn’t even realize I wanted to achieve. Talk about transformational! I felt so aligned. So free. So brave. Radiating energy and vibrating high.

She taught me that I was energy. I was soul. This body transports me, but I am a high vibrating soul of energy.

And, I started taking care of this body. And, started working as an actress again. And, I started dating. And, I started living. I felt free! I felt brave!

Then, I started to lose myself with the busy-ness of life and love and work and family, and, and, and, and…

If you’re brave enough, often enough, you’re going to fall.

Brené Brown

I was brave as I grew and learned and expanded and shone and then started to fall. And I seemed to have fallen. Hard.

I started to lose my SHINE. I started to lose my energy. I needed to do something to find that energy once again. I had to do something! I had the SHINE tools, I knew what to do, but something was missing.

So, I reached out to another brilliant friend of mine, Bridgette Kosser. I knew she did energy work. And, I knew I needed some serious alignment. And, let me tell you what…

Bridgette led me through an amazing experience. She helped me unpack some deep, hidden, hurtful, heartbreaking truths that I didn’t even know were simmering so close to the surface of mySelf. She exposed how I was settling for experiences, things, people that were resonating with the pain I experienced so long ago. How I “naturally” returned to my patterns of “settling” because I wanted to protect and hide mySelf – surviving instead of thriving.

I had so many painful beliefs playing on repeat in my head and heart that I was dragging them with me through my life. Such powerfully strong energy that needed to be released. And fast!

In a (what seemed a nanosecond) two-hour session, Bridgette taught me that I was “managing” my energy through the pain. She explained that I manage how to react to people, places, events by being intuitive, but not feeling as though I was enough to move past the negative patterns of pain and guilt. I had to use my energy differently. Effectively. Remember who I truly am, not the version that I used to protect myself and my heart.

I felt like that image of the Monte Python exploding head. My head was literally blown and things and feelings and memories and events and pain and embarrassments and anger and all the things I had hidden away just bolted out. Pandora’s box if you will.

But instead of throwing it all back in I released it with gusto. Bridgette helped me go back to the original time when my heart was broken and worked through that pain. She had me realize how it was affecting me as I moved forward through my life now. How the pattern continues on repeat until I break the cycle.

She had me realize that my issue of wanting to be seen and heard was excruciatingly powerful. Please, I just want to be seen and heard.

She then had me go to a time in my life when I did feel seen and heard. Surprisingly enough it was at an audition a little over a year ago. When I was the oldest person in the room. When I completely threw caution to the wind and said, “fuck it, I’m owning this shit!” Then actually did.

I was brave and free and hot and tingly, and open and fluid and sassy … I was me. The true me. The authentic me. Why then? Because I had nothing to lose. It didn’t matter to me how they saw me at that moment and I allowed myself to open up and be seen. I allowed it to feel safe to be seen.

What an amazing experience to feel that completely joyous feeling once again. I embodied it. I accepted it. I became it.

You are liquid love in physical bodies, wanting, more than life itself, because it is life itself, to adore the vessel that’s you through which this Source Energy flows. You are God. You are Source. You are creator.

Abraham Hicks

Bridgette helped me find my energy. I am creating my authentic reality. I am fluid once again.

Now, I know I have to continue working on keeping it here with me. Front and center. Continue to remember the fluid and free and sassy me.

But man, does it feel good to be doing this energy work. Thank you, Bridgette!

Energy is fluid. And, now so am I.


You can check out Bridgette’s class, Mastering Your Energy, on Friday, August 9, 2019, at Silver Lining: A Holistic Center. You can find more information about the event here.

Choices

Choices

Letting go is hard. Especially when you feel wronged. Hurt. Angry.

I’m not saying it is logical. At. All! I’m saying it happens.

We hold on. We hold on to grievances. We hold on to the hostility. We hold on to the anger. We hold on to the pain like a prized possession. Like a badge of honor.

But why!?

Things in the past that are painful, such as unrequited love, a painful breakup, an insult, are replayed in our memory, our hearts, our souls. We rehash and reflect and re-feel the pain, over and over again.

But why do we feel the need to hold on to such pain and anger? Why do we feel the need to make it part of our identity, like a prized-possession? Why do we feel the need to hold on to the forgiveness we so desperately need to express? To release? To accept?

Forgive others. Forgive the experience. Forgive ourselves.

So many questions. All these “Whys.” All this forgiveness.

I’ve been meditating to Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra’s 21-Day Meditation Experience. This session is on Miraculous Relationships. And Day 20 is Miraculous Forgiveness.

Oh boy!

I love how the universe sends me messages just when I need them.

The focus of this meditation is the “gift of forgiveness.”

“If we want to experience loving, life-long relationships, we need to be able to let go of grievances, hostility, and anger. These feelings are a product of our ego self and keep us mired in the past and weighed down with emotional pain.”

Deepok Chopra

The “Ego” is the self. It’s defined as the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.

Deepak Chopra says, “The ego knows all your weaknesses, your repressed desires, and your areas of denial, and it will use them against you, to knock you off your spiritual path.”

Sounds about right. The ego really wants to take control. Wants to keep you angry. Wants to make you feel good about being mad because it’s all everybody else’s fault anyway, right?

“To be wrong is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.”

Confucius

But we need to refocus our ego. We need to allow our true self to shine through with self-awareness and begin to forgive.

Forgive others for the pain we feel we they have inflicted on us. Forgive the situation where we felt we were a victim. Forgive time where we feel we’ve been ignored or disrespected or unloved.

And, I know I have choices – no matter what my ego tries to tell me.

I make the choice to forgive. I make the conscious effort to be present. Be grateful. Be aware. Be happy. Let go. Accept.

Our Centering Thought in Day 20’s meditation was, “I experience forgiveness as the flow of loving acceptance.” As I concentrated on those words I felt lighter. I could feel myself beginning to let go of situations and feelings that were heavy in my heart.

I could feel my capacity for love and compassion and healing grow and expand as in Deepak Chopra’s message.

I have a choice. I choose to be happy and forgive.

I release fear and embrace love.

Disengage and Self-Protect

Disengage and Self-Protect

I’m listening to Brené Brown. I have this love/hate relationship with her words. They touch me deeply. Truly. Honestly.

It’s hard to like it sometimes.

It’s hard because it makes me shine a light on me and my emotions and my story. Especially the tough ones. The ones that make me disengage. The ones that try to define me and own me and railroad me into thinking I’m less than. My worth. My vulnerability.

The book I’m listening to right now is Rising Strong. Wow, her stories! She is a wonderful story-teller. They cut right to the chase.

In this book, she tells us about a time she and her husband have a tiff and how she learned from that time and faced emotions and vulnerabilities to strengthen their marriage.

Now, I haven’t even gotten past the second chapter, but already she has given me so much to think about.

“We disengage to self-protect.”

Oh, have mercy! Those words cut through me so completely. I wasn’t ready to hear them. I wasn’t ready to understand how I avoid conflict like the plague. How I turn and run whenever anything gets too difficult. When anybody becomes too difficult for me to understand. Whenever an emotion becomes too overpowering or difficult to feel. When I feel vulnerable and want to hide.

I was ready to cut and run right then when I heard those words. But I was on the highway going home, so I had to sit and listen – and feel.

Recently, for as much work as I have done to find my authenticity and strength and joy and gratitude I am still working through avoidance and fear and self-protection.

I was proud of myself just recently when I had to say “no” to an offer to barter my services. I had to have more respect for myself, for my worth, for my value. I realized that and took measures to ensure that I stayed true to myself. That was huge! Especially when the guilt started to set in. When I thought the other person would not like me because I said “no.”

But also, just recently, I had to walk away from a relationship that made me frightened to stay in and more frightened to walk away from.

A friendship/relationship that was intense and made it hard for me to say goodbye.

Disengage. Self-protect.

I was hurt. My feelings were hurt so deeply I couldn’t move forward. Couldn’t express myself. My needs. My wants. My worth. I felt so vulnerable. It was frightening.

Disengage. Self-protect.

You see, I am relatively new to the dating game. I know… I’m freaking 60 years old. You’d think I’d have been around the block a few times.

You’d be wrong.

When I was younger I was concentrating on my career. When I came home to St. Louis I was concentrating on my family. When I decided to stay in St. Louis rather than return to New York I concentrated on surviving. When I went to work I concentrated on existing. Then I had my daughter and I concentrated on my blessing.

There were a few men sprinkled here and there. Obviously, there was at least one good one! But, you see, I never felt worthy of any of them. It made it easy for me to be manipulated. To be used. To be thrown aside when something better came along. Vulnerability was not my strong suit.

Disengage.

It made it easy for me to disrespect myself and build a wall of fat around my body. I figured if I wasn’t worthy of someone’s love I was going to be damned sure they weren’t going to be interested in me because of how I looked. I mean, if they didn’t get close I can’t blame the real me. If they didn’t get close I wouldn’t be hurt. If they didn’t get close I wouldn’t have to be vulnerable.

“Hurt doesn’t go away simply because we don’t acknowledge it. In fact, left unchecked, it festers, grows, and leads to behaviors that are completely out of line with whom we want to be, and thinking that can sabotage our relationships and careers.”

Self-protect.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago when I decided to take my life back! I lost a ton of weight. I feel great and have pride in myself. I feel authentic and grateful and joyous. I returned the stage and felt seen and heard.

And, it was time to start really dating. Allow myself to be vulnerable. And, it worked.

Until it didn’t.

Until I felt more than I should have from a two-year relationship that was deemed to be only friends. Intimate friends. But friends.

Until I feared being left behind. Until I felt lonely knowing my daughter was leaving and I would be left on my own. Until I wasn’t enough and “we were truly just friends.” Good ones, but friends nonetheless.

I knew I needed to change the dynamic of our intimate friendship a while ago. But I was scared. I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t want to lose the intimacy. I enjoyed the companionship. The company. The laughs. The man. But, I could never communicate what I wanted or needed.

And he was always looking elsewhere. Of course, he did. I allowed it. I looked elsewhere too. Where was the respect in that?

I was told I was his only true friend. Until I needed to care for myself and then was told I failed him as a friend. Where was the respect in that?

Disengage.

Self-protect.

“We can’t ask people to give us something we do not believe we’re worth receiving. And, you’ll know you are worth receiving it when you trust yourself above everyone else.”

Damn’t it Brené!

Where is the trust in myself?

I deserve more. I deserve love. I deserve someone to see me as their partner and companion.

I don’t blame anyone. I remained in his company because it felt good. Knowing there wasn’t any romantic love.

That’s not true. I blame myself.

So I need to express my story. I need to tell it loudly if only to myself. Because I was unable to share it with my friend. I wasn’t able to communicate what I wanted or needed in our relationship. Because I wasn’t able to express my past and how I feared my future.

Of course, what I really only wanted was a friendship, but the intimacy threshold was crossed and I was unable to go back. Was he using me? Or was I using him? Either way, it wasn’t right.

Disengage.

Self-Protect.

Would it have saved whatever we had, had we more communication? I’ll never know.

But, I cannot deny what brought me to this moment. To face my worth once again. To face my fears once again. To trust ME once again. Without hiding. Without staying silent. Without disengaging or protecting myself.

Because I do deserve – companionship, partnership, respect, love. Yes, and friendship. I am worthy.

“Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.”

I must learn to stay engaged while protecting my heart, myself. I need to learn to communicate what my needs are and not cut and run when things get tough. When I feel hurt. When I feel discomfort in any situation – personal, professional, or otherwise.

Share what is important to me and making sure I am heard.

And, just think, I still have 2/3 of the book left! I’m looking forward to hearing what more I can learn.

Time to engage once again!

Creating Your Reality

Creating Your Reality

Reality sucks sometimes. More than sometimes lately … but I’m being kind. I do know that reality can really gut punch you when you’re not expecting it. And, it hurts like hell. Trust me. Seems I’ve been in this place for a while now.

Creating your own reality sounds wonderful. And, quite frankly, works when you are committed and cognizant of creating it at every moment. But when you slip – and gracious have I slipped – it startles you into wondering if it really does work.

I remember when my daughter was auditioning for conservatories. I knew. I just knew she was going to the school she is about to move into in a couple of weeks. I saw her there. I saw me traveling to see her there. I saw her walking the halls and performing in their auditorium. I saw it all so clearly. I created that reality for her, for me, for our family. I know I did. I felt it. I embodied it.

When we needed a new car. I remember speaking with the dealer and I knew, just knew I was going to get the car I wanted, the car I dreamed of. I saw myself driving it. I saw it in my driveway. I created it. The dealer kept telling me that what I was looking for was a unicorn. I told him I was worth it and I knew that the unicorn would find me. And, it did.

I have other examples, but those are some of the big ones.

Creating, manifesting, making things happen seemed to come with ease. So why is it that when it comes to money and men I have a completely different sense of reality? What is it in my past that has skewed my present beliefs? What happened to my powers of manifesting? Where are my powers in creating my reality? A good and prosperous reality?

Is it worthiness or the feeling of being worthless? No, I feel worthy – of both! I know I am worthy of so much and money and men are part of all that. In fact, my daily intention is set on my worthiness to attract both money and men.

Mainly money, though. I would love to not worry about money. It touches all parts of our lives. It’s a constant throughout our day. And, therein lies the problem with living in my reality – I find myself worrying about money.

It may not be the full-blown, dramatic, falling on the bed clutching my chest, “Oh God what am I going to do?” worry. But it’s there.

You can’t create a reality you want by worrying about the thing you want to create. Creating your reality doesn’t work that way. You’re actually attracting negative energy around the one thing you are trying to bring about. Who or what wants to be around negative energy?

It’s not my intention to worry. I don’t wake up every day with thoughts of “how am I going to pay my bills or how will I feed my family,” but I know it is in the back of my head – all the damn time. If you are to create your reality then it means that you need to embody that reality completely. Know you have money. React as though you have money. Don’t worry how the bills will be paid for you know the money will come your way.

But the true reality of bills in front of you then negates that narrative. And, you realize that you don’t have enough to cover it all and the worry seeps in. Again.

You see, however, that creating your reality doesn’t make it void of responsibility. Just believing it will happen and waiting for it to magically appear, doesn’t work. And, perhaps that is where I began to go wrong. Because the other big items happened, like magic, doesn’t mean the bills will get paid that way too. It’s great to have the ease of auto-bill pay, but you still need to keep tabs that it is happening and when. I have to work at creating that reality I so desire. I have to work at creating wealth.

And, I know that. Intrinsically I know that. So, now I have to get to work creating the reality I want. To create financial wealth for me and my family.

Going back to budgeting and making sure the budget is tight and that I stick to it.

Planning meals and purchasing exactly what I need at the grocery store.

Keeping an eye on the auto-pay bills and ensuring they are coming out of the right account. (Don’t ask… that one got me big time!)

Making sure my resume is updated to take advantage of any new opportunity that may come my way – or any opportunity that I manifest! Because those have happened and I wasn’t prepared in the past.

It’s more than setting the intention to be open to infinite possibilities and opportunities – I have to work at finding them, discovering them, bringing them about. Creating them.

I was creating this part of my reality wrong.

So, it doesn’t suck as much as I believe it does. And, the gut punch is a wake-up call reminding me that I do have the power, I just have to use it differently in this situation.

You do create your own reality. But it is a learning process along the way.

So I will not allow money to be an “issue” because I know how to manifest it by going after it and creating the reality that I have more than enough financial wealth for me and my family.

Now, creating the right man is another story!

Starting Over…Again

Starting Over… we’ve all had to do it at some point – points – in our lives.

It’s not always fun.

It’s not always exciting.

It is, however, always necessary if we are to grow, change, expand, increase, make something better. Make our lives better.

But, I don’t gotta like it!

 

The universe has a way of helping you out when it is time to expand and change and grow. Upgrade. Subtle and not so subtle things happen in your life.

Children prepare to leave for college.

Websites are not renewed and purged.

Jobs and debit cards are lost.

Relationships seem to end.

Weight is gained.

And, we pause. We shake our fist to the stars. Take that moment of anger – at ourselves, at others, at inanimate objects, at screens, at people.  We meditate, we journal, we soul-search, we reflect… and we start over.

We have to. We’re meant to. And, it can be a good thing.

I’m not afraid of change. I sometimes even look forward to it. The newness of it. The opportunities within it.

Sometimes.

It’s a time now for me to reflect. It’s a time to take stock in who I am – again. My strength. My authenticity. My intent. My poise. My dignity. MySelf.

And, when the good reveals itself within the pain and discomfort of change, I will find gratitude for the experience.

What did I learn? What did I lose? What did I gain? What can be saved? What is lost forever? How will it shape my path?

And, I move forward with renewed determination and strength because I have a chance to start over and build something better.

 

Not Being Heard

Not Being Heard

“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable. “

~ David Augsburger

I am not a fan when I speak and people don’t hear me.
I am not a fan when I try so hard to communicate well and cannot form my words. I can’t make a complete sentence. Especially when I am in a place of anger, frustration, emotion. And, most especially when I’m speaking with family.

I am not a fan of people that don’t listen. Yet, when I can’t communicate, how do I expect them to hear me?

I am a communicator. I pride myself on being able to form sentences in such a way as to make others take notice. Yet, when there is subject so close to my heart, so full of emotion, so important to me that my tongue gets twisted I make no sense or allow others to step on what I am staying… well, that’s not a good feeling at all.

I can’t seem to make a convincing argument. At. All.

I know what I need do.
I know what I need to say.
I know what I want to do, to say.

Yet I do none of it.

And, I allow my emotions to get the better of me.
And, I allow the other person to get the better of me.

I feel discounted.
I feel brushed aside.
I feel disrespected.
I feel vulnerable.
I feel invisible.

And, I cry.

I don’t like myself like this.  It’s like a small panic or anxiety attack. Especially when it is with a family member. I shut down.

I hate it, actually. And, I’m not a fan of hating myself!

And why? Because I know I am not any of those things!

I know I am smart. I know I am somebody. I know I am a person with deep thoughts, coherent sentences, a clear mind.

So, what do I need to do to make myself clear? To get my point across?

I need to be true to myself. Allow the feelings come over me. Get through them.

And work on my personal communications skills once again.

The good thing about communications – it never really ends. You have a chance to make it right. You have a chance to say something again. You have a chance to clarify your thoughts.

Take a deep breath. Try again.

And, if the other person doesn’t want to listen – understand, that’s on them.

_______________________________________

Carmen Garcia writes about stuff… life as a single mother, dating, weight loss, performing, and other random experiences. Sometimes it makes sense. Other times, not so much. You decide.

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