Unfiltered Belonging

October 19th, 2016

It’s 4am, and while this hour is considered to be magical by many poets, I would have sincerely preferred a longer night’s sleep. But in this hour, I sense a deeper clarity to why I so deeply fancy this feeling of “love.”.

If you belong to my mother’s side of the family, you regard the way I, quote “turned out” as nothing short of a miracle. While my mother would describe her fault, as my grandfather did, as “spoiling,” anyone on the outside would consider my mother’s style of parenting to be considerably reckless. Though I deeply cherish the current relationship I have with my mom and the healing we’ve experienced in the near decade of living apart, there’s no denying the emotional abuse of our early years together.

Details sparred, the essential elements of my childhood can be summarized by overexposure to the lives of free-spirited parents, filled with heartache and regret, displacing hurts into addiction and escapism. In my short life, I’ve come to understand that regardless of how troubled my parents behaved, while certainly damaging to my psyche, in no way negated the love they had for me or the efforts they made to find healing.

Fortunately, my struggles in life are much different. While I never got into drugs, seem to be free of psychoses, and never came to develop a palate for alcohol, it appears my greatest battle rests on defining a healthy sense of belonging and love.

Interesting enough, what seems to be thriving most in this season of life are friendships, career, creativity, and self awareness. While sneaky skeletons seem to arise every now and again, I’m learning to process each as they come, much like the one I’m tending to this morning.

Thinking back on the ghosts-romance-past, there’s a pretty clear pattern of co-dependancy; each boyfriend cast into the leading role of what ever I felt was “missing” in life. If I needed to escape from monotony,  I expected the boy to deliver the fun. If I needed someone to obsess over me, I sought the hopeless romantic to bring on the gushy-mush. But before the slew of two-week-trial boy toys, there was a guy who loved me in a time that I couldn’t have needed love more. We’ll call him J.

When I was fifteen, my mother and I had our final fall out. She was having a mid-life crisis and I was desperate for anything self-destructive. After trying to take my own life, our season of living together became unbearable for my mother to handle much longer. My suicide attempt was the last straw for her. So I went away to live with family friends while my father prepared for me. That’s when I met J.

We were magnetic; simply drawn to one another for what the other needed. Of course, we had a blast together and loved all the same things. Though I wouldn’t consider him my first love, he was certainly my first boyfriend; kind, chivalrous, exciting, and handsome. At 15 and 17, it’s hard to call this anything more than hormones, but for what it was, it kept me from despair.

His love for me provided hope for a brighter future. After having been rejected from my mother and my family (they decided against “helping my mother raise me,” in their words), and the feeling of belonging to another saved me from total darkness. And perhaps that is the feeling, the one that kept me alive in the midst of hopelessness, is the one I feel missing in my marriage. While my current reality is hardly hopeless, the monotany of daily routine and lack of passion reflects the hopelessness I felt in that time; a possible future filled with further rejection.

There’s enough scientific evidence to tell us that feeling those kinds of emotions in a state of such extreme vulnerability can dramatically impact one’s ideology of human connectedness. This realization is most certainly not the entire issue behind my marriage battle, but I think it’s helpful to recognize.

As the sun begins to rise, I’m determined appreciate the newness of this day, to hold gratitude toward myself for having come this far, and to delight in being a person who is capable of healing from the past instead of repeating it.

All I Really Want

October 17th, 2016

As I reflected today on the frustration I feel toward my marriage, it struck me as odd that I haven’t quite defined what it is I want, or reflect on what it is I currently have.

This struggle of being in-love verses loving is nothing new to the world or relationships, but navigating this myself is nothing short of a maddening process. The “thing” I sense missing from my marriage is that flame and passion, but the greatest frustration exists in the unknown of moving forward. While there is hope of making my marriage last, I’m also realizing that the unnecessary pressure I placed on getting married by a certain time is what got in into this mess, but trying to adhere to “non-pressure” is just as much pressure as trying to move forward. Moving forward means making plans, and making plans is committing to an obscure future reality- one that I’m not entirely sure will happen.

My husband fears abandonment. I see it in his eyes and feel it in his reflections of love for me. But as he draws closer, I push away. I could always imagine myself growing old with my husband, but Im struggling deeply to be young with him.

The biggest difference between he and I has always been how we socialize. B is a thinker; an introvert. He prefers to be one-on-one in meaningful conversation and that is how we’ve always connected. We are both dreamers, slightly cynical, and seekers of truth in all things. We both love coffee, watching the stars, spontaneity, and traveling to new places. But when it comes to fun- we have different ideas. Along with nutrition, exercise, connecting with new people, entertainment, crowds, morally gray, and living beyond our comfort zones, we are very different. We are great partners in many ways. I admire and respect this man very much. I just love him more like a brother than I do a lover.

He is deeply in love with me from what he knows. I’m his first…everything. I sometimes think that if he knew the love of someone who felt as he does for me, he would be better off. The idea of starting a family is beaconing. We’ve talked about the prospect of children and raising a family, and it would be a gift to parent together- if only I felt as he does for me.

So what do I want? I simply wish I felt passion toward him. Communication is not the problem. Respect is not the problem. He’s done nothing wrong- yet I feel I’m punishing him everyday with my desire to want something more. And what can I do?

It’s not that I’ve lost a feeling that I once had for him. I married him with an assumption that love would grow- and it has. Just not in the way I expected. So do I simply stay the course and keep praying that my attention to all that is good can compensate for what I truly desire? Can the passion I seek arise from a will to focus on all that is good? How many more years do we spend trying to create passion?

What if that I desire I seek only exists in a temporal state? What if this feeling I seek is one that only exists in the newness of relationships- in the small spurts of “falling-in-love” but never staying in love.

There was one man, that I loved and still love to this day. He was rather ordinary- but he was all I wanted. There was passion, romance, kindness, faith, fun, and foolishness- and I loved him deeply. It ended because we were both unfaithful. Coincidentally enough, this is also the story of my mother and father. It was only a few months before dating B that I was still involve with him- almost 5 years later. He ended things with me and after he did, I believed I would never love again.

Now that I think about it, meeting the recent spark was much being with my first love.  His sense of adventure and love of life shone brightly in his person. Perhaps the excitement of being in his presence was a simple reflection of past love. Or more frightfully, a reflection of what I most desire in a partner.

Proust may have said it best; “the one who is happy and the in love are not the same person.” I am happy. I am conflicted. And most certainly, troubled by the thought of being simultaneously happy and in love. But can this exist in a marriage? I’m determined to know. 

Super Moon

October 16th, 2016

Tonight is a Super Moon. And though I’m one to find the reading of stars a bit obscure, from what I understand, this event validates my suspicion of an extra special October.

Beneath this super moon, I sit on my tiny lani (patio), the air just brisk enough to make my cup of tea comforting- I’m reflecting on the goodness of God. Especially after a morning of brutal nightmares that woke me after a measly five hours of sleep.

I’ll forsake the details of such an awful night, but it pays to mention the irony of learning Proust’s recounts of insomnia and yet another gift of suffering. Though his insomnia, he mentions the deep appreciation he came to find in a decent night’s sleep. Today, I’m eternally grateful that I no longer endure nights like this on a regular basis, as I once did before coming to into the Lord’s awesome power.

In today’s message on Philippians 2, the theme of suffering in cheerfulness was a prominent idea. The apostle Paul, who like Proust was no stranger to affliction, encourages the people of Philippi with the reminder that God gives us the strength to endure whatever we might experience, and even brings joy to our hearts as we trust in Him under any and every circumstance.

Though this season of life has proved to be a time of testing many of my beliefs and trust in God, there is certainly no lack of harvesting within my character. As I conversed with co-workers today on our personal faith battles, the theme that arose was the kindness of a God who protects us from darkness no matter the darkness for which we subject ourselves to.

Lacking the words to elaborate any further, it’s suffice to say that today stood as a reminder of a Love that pursued my heart with extraordinary ferocity despite the messiness of my life. As He called me to Himself with the reverberating words, “My grace is sufficient for you” in the midst of my darkest days, I conclude this day knowing that what makes this day even more special than a super moon, is the super love of the God to Whom I belong.

Suffering Dissonance

October 15th, 2016

I spent this morning reading “How Proust can change your life” and was astonished to discover that such a proclaimed novelist lead such a miserable life. Marcel Proust  was a renowned French writer, creating some of the world’s most influential literature (namely, “In search of lost time”), yet lived a life consumed with poor physical health and oppressive relationships.

In perfect contradiction to the things Dr. Brown (Brene Brown) has taught me about the value of vulnerability and community, Prout writes, the whole art of living is to make use of the individuals through whom we suffer. While it’s easy to pin this as a contradiction to Dr. Brown’s philosophy of wholehearted living, such a statement may have more similarity to Dr. Brown’s teaching than I’ve personally experienced in life thus far.

As I find myself in a season of consistency, opposing this season is a wrestling against monotony; defined primarily by pursuits of new experiences and complex relationships.

A certain individual, for which I’d prefer to hold on to but must let go of, has helped define what I truly value in life and what I’ve compromised. The suffering I’ve felt in letting go for the sake of a potential future I’m uncertain will ever come to fruition, is one that I’m trying to make use of yet failing to resolve as the appropriate response.

For a brilliant mind like Proust, a social outcast and agoraphobic, his war against monotony came in fantastic observance of humanity- creating imaginative worlds within melancholic drama; a talent I’ve come to envy as I sit with the subversive thought of what might have been had I not let go. Then, the greater suffering is knowing my proclivity toward righteousness has won the battle between a carful exploration -which truthfully, could never be explored with any amount of caution.

Over my envy for Proust’s distinguished mastery, was his ability to create possibility for his characters- with feelings, motives, and adventure for which he likely never experienced himself. In learning of his cure for incessant insomnia, he would read a train schedule; painting elaborate stories of characters journeying from one place to another. This thought struck me as both beautiful and tragic. For a man afflicted with such severe asthma that he could barely step outside without fear of death by respiratory attack, he found serenity in the promise of possibility and adventure within fictitious lives. Yet, in the throws of my own reality, likely similar to some of his stories, I find myself preferring the fantasy over experience.

In knowing the personal life of such a brilliant writer, I feel the paradox of deep sympathy for his person and envy of his genius. I’ve always longed to be acquainted with mastery, yet understand my lack of diligence and discipline to achieve anything beyond amateur of any craft. In this time, I also long for complexity within the lives of characters rather than my own.

But time may reveal something else about my person; in ways of loss, suffering, artistry, and mastery. For today however, I’m simply grateful for literary masters who reveal depths of heartache, suffering, and imaginative genius.

May your soul be at rest, Marcel Proust. Thank you for your teaching.

Magical Seasons

October 14th, 2016

Do you ever experience moments of vivid nostalgia for places you’ve been?

This morning, while scrolling though Instagram, I noticed a photo that brought back a favorite memory from NYC; black high heels perfectly placed on the white bedspread of a hotel room in downtown Chelsea-the backdrop, a brick skyline and perfectly gray sky.

I’ve always held a fairly unhealthy obsession with the city’s autumn. A craving I would spend 2 1/2 hours travel, each way, to satisfy. Each Fall, I would make the trek nearly every weekend to simply walk around Central Park to watch the leaves turn, gorge on pizza from my favorite Italian joint on 56th, indulge in roof-top schmoozing with designers, or Salsa clubbing with my Russian crew. Ah…the city.

Aside from my obsession however, the Fall always brings hope of watching the season change- that special sense of magic in the air.

Even when I face days like today, filled with the grit of my humanity, I’m reminded by this autumn that life happens in seasons. Mistakes, bad habits, sadness, hopeless political environments, getting older (let’s face it), and situations that could have been handled with just a bit more tact – there remains the knowing that this too shall pass.

As I entered my cab after work this evening, I had a lovely conversation with a man from Korean. He’s lived in the US for 35 years, but had the thickest accent and keenest wisdom. In our casual conversation of life in Hawaii verses life on the Mainland, we talked about the opportunity “challenge” can bring. After sharing my struggle of managing that one employee providing such special opportunity, he responded, “life is all about finding solution- there is always a solution.” As simple as that, I suppose.

While the mainland feels more like a distant memory, I’m grateful to count the many blessings this Island has provided. I’ve never felt so loved and embraced by a faith community or have had the kind of life giving relationships I have now. The little apartment I’ve lived for over two years is really just all I need; it’s decorated and smells just the way I like. The people I dance with, my instructor, and the potential dance partner I have for this short season are so genuine and talented. And, after reading a sweet love note from my husband, I’m feeling particularly optimistic about our future.

When I ponder the idea of a solution to any and every problem, I’m fairly convinced that it’s simply perspective that determines the objective nature of “solution.” Perhaps solution comes when we simply choose to be creative in our pursuits.

Perhaps life is less about fixing or resolving what is broken, but rather, reaching beyond what we currently know or perceive to be true. Not an original though, I’m sure. But profound enough for the day’s lesson.

While reflecting on the goodness of seasons gone, I’m encouraged to know that there is much to be discovered, and new joys and challenges that bring the opportunity to be creative…. Ponder. Ponder. Ponder.

Beautiful Caged Birds

October 13th, 2016

“When you love to fly, do not subject yourself to a cage.” -Anonymous

If you saw my first post celebrating the joy of becoming debt-free and feeling content with my marriage, know that some pretty life-altering thing have happened in the last 14 days.

When I think about my life with B, sometimes I feel like the bird from “The Bird and the Cage” by Paulo Coelho. In this poem, a woman falls in love with a beautiful bird, becomes afraid of the bird leaving her, and resolves to cages the bird so it never leaves her. The bird grows ill, she looses her fascination, and once the bird dies, she realizes her affection for him was not due to his beauty-but to his freedom. When death comes upon her, she is greeted with the reminder that because she did not value the true beauty of freedom in love, she would only experience this again in death.

While this is a fairly dramatic version of what I sometimes feel in my marriage, it strikes the heart of what I feel is missing.

Something I became acutely aware of when I recently felt passion for someone else.

To take you back almost 2 years ago to when my husband and I first began dating, I was getting ready to go on a trip to Bali, come back to Hawaii, and pack my bags for Paris to attend a three month program for creative writing. I’ve been traveling my entire life and I had every intention to keep going; discovering new places within myself and the world.

The “thirst for adventure” was at the top of the list of things I needed in a husband, and a thirst is what I found in B. And once we got married, we decided to quench our thirst by launching a business together. Almost 2 years later, we realized the thrill was momentary. Our business grew to be steady and prosperous- but we were left dehydrated from monotony.

Aside from adventure, passion -or spark- seemed to be missing on my behalf. Just like the fact that love sometimes isn’t enough, sometimes compatibility isn’t enough. I discovered this to be true after saying “I do.” We want the same things in life-but only one of us has passion for the other. Big problem- but not an impossible one. We’ve decided to pursue counseling to see what we can uncover. I’m both optimistic and cynical toward the outcome, but inspired to at least give it a go.

Unlike the bird in Paublo’s poem, no matter what I feel toward my husband, I realized the importance of not building an additional cage for myself while I already feel trapped.

While I could dwell on what should have been, I’m deciding to be free in the ways I can be, without compromising my marriage. I’m enjoying the many other loves of life through dance, yoga, and writing- and deciding to hold the outcome of my marriage loosely- letting go of the need to control what will happen and simply taking steps toward my desired outcome.

Loosing the need to control feels sublime. I’m ok being a little “off” and not having my shit together. I’m embracing the dissonance and letting the paradox exist as it may. That is all this little finch can do for now, and it’s perfectly enough.

Simplify. Listen. Dance

October-1st, 2016

“Listen. Simplify. Dance,”

The moto for this season is to listen to my heart, simply my life, and pursue my purest love- dance.

There are a few things that this past season has ingrained in me. First, is a distinct appreciation for my body. Second, a time of enabling other’s bull shit is over. And finally, freedom to explore creativity without obligation of mastery.

When I read War of Art this summer, I remember feeling shamed for not being a “true artist” because I apparently lacked a creative passion I would pursue regardless of acceptance. Then, I was also in a place of forcing my creative passion to profit my bank account instead of my spirit. For a moment, I forgot that no matter how small or poor I’ve been, I’ve never stopped dancing. I’ve never stopped writing.

And for that very reason, I’ve decided to commit this year to simply exploring my creative passions; namely, dance. 

For planning and profit, B (my husband) and I are on par to pay off all school loans in a year or so. If we are REALLY diligent, we may just reach the finish line in 13 months. 

We plan to take a couple trips and then, on to saving for a property. If all goes according to plan, of course. But the truth is- we don’t know what will happen in the next year. I want to possibly compete in Ballroom, get really amazing at hospitality management, and then who knows?! Perhaps we will buy some land in Costa Rica and start building our home there. Maybe our travel website here will take off and we’ll find some amazing partnerships. Maybe, maybe. The possibilities are endless…

AND..it’s the beginning of magical October! I’m expecting great things.