I enjoyed a workout in a park here in Chicago with a couple of new friends/colleagues

Then we experienced the Chicago Art Expo at the Navy Pier together

Where we also got to catch glimpses of a beautiful foggy Chicago skyline

Finally, we grabbed some Indian cuisine with an additional friend/colleague before taking another rainy evening walk to the home of some more artists/musicians here in the city for a bit of jammin’ and conversation

My heart is full of song – delicate and soulful notes of appreciation – as a reflection of beauty in all its varieties and forms

I was taught to fear
the other

never knowing
it was always myself

I hated “them” for things
I remembered

about myself
things only “I” was guilty of

Yet, it was through others’
forgiving embrace

I discovered
how forgiveness heals

Turning their love inward
accepting myself

breaking free
releasing self-judgements

In these ways, I am saved
by others

once judged
by my own denied insecurities

So yes, I am healing me
not selfishly

but selflessly
knowing I must to love All

At this time in my life, I am astonishingly aware of how blessed I am. Much of this sense comes from my connectedness to valuable and supportive communities. However, this hasn’t always been the case.

A Scared Little Girl

When I was young, I not only felt isolated, I intentionally isolated myself. I remember lying to my friends over the phone when they asked me to come over to play, “I’m grounded, sorry…” I often preferred the comfortable container of my bedroom and a book to the rambunctious laughter other children.

Even in reading though, I would shy away from fiction stories and narratives, feeling much more comfortable with the facts I could find in encyclopedias and other study materials. People confused and scared me. I felt awkward and unable to relate to the dialogues and interactions that seemed to come so naturally to everyone else.

I could argue that it was because of my limited exposure to society via my homeschool education and rural upbringing, but even among my siblings I was notably reserved. I had very little interest in doing things with my brother and sisters, often even setting out on my own if we were all forced to go play outside together. I never felt like I knew how to “people” right.

When I did try to communicate it was dry and stale. I would ramble off facts and logic akin to the types of books I read. There was no real substance, no vulnerability, no personal truth.

Growing Up Impressionable

Over the years my shyness and inhibitions morphed and changed, a tribute to the fact that I somehow always managed to befriend outgoing extroverts who couldn’t be more different from myself. I marveled at their ease of communication, their confidence and humor, and I became content to find myself in their shadows. My uncomfortability with attention peaked at my birthdays and I would often try to avoid having a party all together, having emotional breakdowns if I had somehow allowed myself to attempt participating in these social celebrations of myself.

I wanted to be invisible, unseen and forgotten. At least that’s how I thought I felt at the time. Attention was the enemy of my comfort, because I thought so very little of myself.

I would be an adult already by the time I learned how to assert my presence socially. It wouldn’t be at the internship after high school, or my first attempt at college classes, or even in the variety of odd jobs I took. Though I did become more comfortable expressing myself to smaller groups of my friends and family during these times, it was in simple and shallow ways. Finally finding my voice would first take completely losing control.

The Masks of My Delusions

I met my exhusband at one of the most vulnerable times in my life. As a young adult it was expected of me to have goals for myself, but I was completely uninspired and lost. I had come to doubt the beliefs I had been raised with and subsequently lost sight of all personal direction – I felt that nothing mattered anymore, and that absolutely terrified me.

I had decided that my lack of purpose and fulfillment must actually be a result of my lack of a romantic relationship, despite my having zero interest in pursuing a significant other at all up until that point. Sure, I had little crushes since I was in middle school, but was always outspoken about my belief that “love doesn’t exist, it’s merely lust, infatuation and obsession.” Interestingly, that’s exactly what I manifested in my marriage.

Sure, I loved him, but it was a love tainted by insecurities. I was caught up in the lust, infatuation and obsession that I had so diligently saught to avoid my entire young life.

Having come from my hyper-conservative background, I had swung to the other extreme, choosing the baddest bad boy I had ever met or could have possibly conceived. I was so naive to his world and his ways, I simply let him take the lead – and he lead me down a dark path. I became someone I didn’t even know I had the potential of being. I was his ride-or-die bitch and played the part well.

Manipulating Myself

That relationship, in all its volatility, helped me to once and for all shed the constraints of my father’s oppressive and controlling influence, but only in the sense that I had shackled myself instead to my ex’s delusions. I had gotten good at pretending. I had become an expert at being who I thought others wanted me to be, blending more and more easily into social situations or different kinds – but, I still had no real autonomy or self respect.

As horrible and demoralizing as things got, my ex was still the one who had to end things between us. I didn’t have the strength to stand up for myself. I didn’t have the nerve to try and be myself in the world apart from the labels and expectations of others.

I continued to mold myself according to what I was exposed to, turning to an extremely unhealthy friendship to create my identity as a divorcee. We dabbled in financial domination and played parts as sugar babies to manipulate men. Eventually our involvement turned into an even more unhealthy polyamorous relationship, but because of my lack of personal awareness, I was blind to the disparity of it all.

Reaching Rock Bottom

It wasn’t until that relationship ended and I finally saw my patterns of codependence, that I made a personal commitment to authenticity and began my journey back to myself. It hurt. I had to face the truth of all of my lies and manipulations, all the ways I had allowed myself to become a part of things that inherently diminished my spirit and tarnished my soul. It hurt, so deeply, and yet healed me completely.

That decision was made just 3 years ago. There I crumbled, with none of my delusions and distractions to comfort me any longer. I was stripped bare and made to take a long, hard look into my life and the whos I had allowed myself to become.

It was in that same moment that I began to recognize and reveal my truth. It started with the shame, the self-loathing and the pain. It started with the acceptance of exactly where I was in that moment, and all of my ugliness – but it began a cascading reaction throughout my entire life and eventually lead to where I am now, enraptured by my inherent beingness.

Learning the Meaning of Love

In these incredibly short but astonishingly full 3 years, I have learned how to forgive and love myself. This has in turn allowed me to truly love and forgive others. Ultimately opening the doors for a wellspring of true community and a sense of belonging I had never dreamed possible.

In rediscovering myself I remembered my magick, reunited with my twin flame and stepped organically into a small and humble, yet remarkably powerful coven of women who embrace their primal truths fully and gratefully. I found my local tribe of healers and gurus at my local yoga studio/healing center, where I began diving into the pursuit of my own healing and began discovering my love and skill for these practices. Then finally, just last year, I connected with my global tribe of world changers and master manifesters through my first Apotheosis retreat and set off the beginning of incredible friendships, mentorships and collaborations with people throughout the High Existence community.

Here, alone on my grandma’s couch; now, writing about my loneliness and struggles with identity; I feel incredibly loved, valued and connected by so many souls far and wide – and by my own precious soul as well. There is no where I could go that would cause me to feel separation and isolation ever again. Yes, because I have the love and respect of so many remarkable and inspiring people, but also because I have the love and respect of myself.

Opening to True Community

Community starts with ourselves. The way we treat ourselves, think about ourselves and limit ourselves inevitably effects our entire world and all the people in it. Creating healthy, thriving communities starts with focusing on our own health and wellbeing. Who we believe ourselves to be directly correlates to the communities we allow ourselves to be a part of.

I am so grateful I was able to make that commitment to authenticity just 3 years ago, and I am so incredibly inspired by the enormous changes that have taken place in my life since. I have better relationships with my family now and even my oldest friends; I no longer feel the need to guard myself from others or guard them from myself. By embracing my truth and becoming vulnerable with my own soul, I have in turn welcomed this high-level of authenticity and love into all relationships and every community I am blessed to be a part of.

That my beloveds, is real magick. We all have it – may you embrace yours as well. Blessed be.

Quaint little surf town: Dominical, Costa Rica
Friends on the beach, hard to beat!
Jordan greeting the ocean
The local fruit truck
Dominicalito’s waterfall swimming hole
So refreshing
The beach at Dominicalito

Beach selfie
Beach posie

Adventure buddies make my world go ’round

The main drag of the one-street beach town Dominical

Forever the place where I started learning to catch waves
Thank you Dominical!

I’ve had a lot of experience with grief already in my short life. In high school, my childhood best friend died. A few years later, a girl from my youth group was killed in a school shooting. A year after that, the younger brother of my friend who had died killed himself. My younger sister’s had friends who killed themselves as well.

At one point my mom, shaking her head in disbelief, told me that she had never experienced death the way me and my sister’s had. She was a woman approaching her fifties and had never known someone personally to die yet. The revelation came after a friend of my father’s had died from cancer – that was the first time they had experienced grief like that and they were both middle aged.

Consequently, I thought I was hardened to the sorrows of loss. Not consciously of course, but I went for years without losing someone, overcame the depression and self-mutilation that had accompanied my grief over my best friend’s death and I felt pretty strong for having gone through it all – until about 4 years ago.

The summer of 2015 was a turbulent one. I was officially divorced that spring, quit my cushy job and left everything behind for an unknown future. While away, I got the news that my sister’s fiance had died.

I remember the feeling like it was yesterday – all my breath left my body and my heart stopped, sinking heavy into my chest. I had not concurred grief. It’s not that simple.

It would only be two weeks before we lost another member of the family, when my sister-in-law took her own life. Our family was devastated. In many ways, we still are and always will be…

The following year, my grandfather died. Not a month later, my sister lost her baby. I was still reeling from the previous year’s losses and these subsequent griefs just piled on more suffocating sadness.

It wasn’t until this culmination in 2016 that I realized I hadn’t really dealt with my grief at all. Not losing my friends, not the losses of 2016, and I had no idea how to even begin processing these new deaths… So I finally just gave in completely, surrendering fully instead of resisting the pain. This poem was a result of that experience.

WADING IN

Grief is not such a simple thing
Not like an insect bite that itches
or the swelling that eventually dwindles
Grief is not a glass of bitter water
you can eagerly chug and be done with

It is wide as it is deep, wildly moving
Like a mighty river flowing fiercely
Winding, swirling and pooling at its sides
Somehow pure and true, yet still murky
It gets dirtier as it slows down

Somedays, you wake up drowning
Other times you float quietly along
memories swirling around you
your head filled with old songs
Tonight though, I’m wading in. Slow –

It’s so cold it hurts in my bones
the grime at my feet sucking deeper
into a blackness without end
into the darkness, into the ether
winding down, in, back and between

Still – as far as I go, there is nowhere
No place exists without the missing
No absence distorts all the others
No sleep without all our dreams
Nothing but grief itself lingers –

I will feel this, I will let the pain mean
I will cry for all the invisible angels
whose beauty would destroy me –
could I ever see it again