A Grieving Human

I’m standing on a terrace overlooking a calm blue ocean. Palms trees sway in the ocean breeze that is kissing my cheeks and kicking up the ends of my hair. I stare up at the sky with tears streaming down my face. 

This is unfamiliar territory. Every time my heart aches now, I think “this is a hole I will have for the rest of my life.” It’s a helpless feeling to think that the pain I feel will never change. It’s humbling. I tried to escape it, but it still found me. Even on the terrace of a 5 million dollar apartment on an island on the other side of the country, there is no escaping it.

My friend Sofia sent me an article about grief by a woman named Sue Hawkes. Sue says “grieving is one of those profound, vulnerable experiences that make us feel incredibly human and entirely mortal.”

These are the perfect words to describe my experience with grief thus-far.

On many occasions, I have felt reduced to a helpless child and elevated to a powerful woman almost simultaneously. I have ventured across a wide field of emotions. I have ventured so far that I have found myself accessing levels of pain and emotion I’ve never experienced before.

It seems to be an initiation of sorts. In many ways, being ushered through this darkness seems to be a journey back to self. No matter how much my chest knots up in pain, I still am grateful for the experience to feel what I feel.  I am reminded of who I am in the most vulnerable way. 

I am reminded that I am human.

Nuevo

October 9, 2019

This is a photo of me outside of the restaurant I inherited from my dad.

I haven’t talked about it at all because I’ve felt so incredibly incompetent.

Yes, I’ve studied business and worked in marketing, but I know NOTHING about what it takes to run a restaurant. Literally nothing.

I, somehow, never had the typical “coming of age” job of working a waitress like everyone else. The only time I ever step inside a restaurant is to eat.

And now I am responsible for the success of one and the livelihoods of the 12 people whose work I literally know NOTHING about.

Fuck.

Every week for the past 4 or 5 months, the manager has given me a folder with bills and receipts from the week that I’ve just been stacking in a pile in the corner of my bedroom because I don’t know what to do with them. I write checks when people tell me to because I don’t know better. I have no idea if I’m getting ripped off or what to budget or plan for in the coming months.

This mode of operation is EXTREMELY dangerous because it’s SO easy to STEAL cash from a restaurant. I know that. Needless to say, I’ve been very overwhelmed.

I have felt inadequate.
I’ve felt like I need to ask for permission to do anything because I don’t want to mess things up.
I’ve also felt like I’ve needed to puff up my chest and flex my muscles around staff so that they don’t think I’m as stupid as I feel. (Which actually probably makes me look a lot more stupid than I am LOL)

But then, this week, something happened. We got a bill for something that didn’t feel right to me. I followed my gut, and for the first time told the Manager that I wasn’t going to write the check.

I immediately went home to tell my mom about the situation and sought her advice.
She told me I did the right thing.

I made the right choice.

And I remembered, that even though I don’t know anything about restaurants, I DO know something about business. I DO know something about Leadership.

I have always believed that successful business owners and successful leaders become successful because they make decisions based on STRONG VALUES. This allows them to be consistent by creating a solid foundation for every decision they make.

I also realized that I have a specific role to play in this business, and in that role I don’t have to know very much about restaurants, because I’m not running day to day operations. That’s not my job. Yes, it helps to have a gist of what is going on, but I’m running the business and handling the money. And THAT I can do.

The next day, a bigger problem came up. Someone on staff began to make demands in a very unprofessional way and walked out on us. Quit, right there in the middle of the workday and left.

Last week I would have had a meltdown.

But this week, I remembered my role and my values, and I knew exactly what to do. I talked to the manager. We established what our values were and from there, decided how to handle the situation.

The difference between today’s success and yesterday’s failure is my own attitude.

Realizing what I am ABLE to do, what I am ABLE to learn, and how I am ABLE to grow, has made me more confident and positioned me to be a lot stronger and also a lot more relaxed so I can handle situations as they come up.

WTF Is Self-Care?

Written April 17, 2018

Tonight I had dinner with one of my lovely friends at this DELICIOUS Pizza place in NoHo (That’s short for North Hollywood). I was super stoked when I found out they had a vegan pizza option… The last time I had pizza it really hurt my stomach.

Anyway, as we were sitting out on the patio with glasses of wine in our hand and suddenly the phrase “self-care” came up.

Galit said, “I feel more feminine lately when I’m doing a little bit of self-care, like this week I went to get my nails done, and that not necessarily what everyone wants to do, but I know it makes me feel good.”

And then it hit me.
“Self-care” has become this buzzword that means candlelit bubble baths and expensive massages.
And I’m realizing that’s NOT what self-care is.

REAL self-care is being able to tune into how your mind, body & soul, are feeling, and then knowing what things they need in order to function happily and balanced.

REAL self-care is knowing WHAT you need when you need it.

I saw an Instagram post of a bullet journal that said “Self-care list” and it was broken up into sections. “Heart, Mind, Body, Soul.

It annoyed me because it looked like there were just random things written in each category that didn’t really have anything to do with.

Just like self-care was the moment I chose to have a vegan pizza instead of regular because I knew that regular would make me feel sick and I wanted to take care of my body, not hurt it.

Self-care should feel rejuvenating and bring you back to center & balance. If that means spending time at a spa, or with friends, or eating vegan pizza so be it! And if it changes from day to day, that’s cool too, as long as you know what YOU need, do it!.

I decided I wanted to share some of my self-care lists so that you can see that not all self-care looks the same. And who knows, maybe it will give you some new ideas! At the very least, I hope this share will prove the fact that self-care can change from day to day.

In the morning I try to do what I call “Preventative work”. These are things I try very hard to do every day when I wake up because they are automatically balancing for me and keep me from going into a slump. Lately, I’ve noticed that if I hit a slump, it’s usually because I’m not making the time to care for myself in these ways…

  • Stay away from the phone! Especially in the morning. This has been nearly impossible for me lately. I think I need to get an alarm clock that’s not my phone.
  • Journaling I started doing this when I was working through The Artists Way. The challenge during that time was to get 3 pages written every morning. It was an excellent practice. Writing has always been my way of processing things, so I’ve kept up with it and it’s helped a lot! It’s nice to have a place to dump all my thoughts without any judgment. 
  • Workout This is one of the hardest things to get back into if I get out of the habit. But starting off my day with sweat is awesome and always gives me energy. Lately, it’s been inspiring me to write too!
    • 10 Push-ups Before I started working out regularly, I used to do 10 push-ups every morning. I did it because I hated push-ups and I knew that if I could get through those 10, I could tackle anything that day might throw at me. It was more a workout for my mind in a sense.
  • Having Breakfast Time For some people, this just means eat something before you go out the door. Usually, that’s what this means for me too, but if I have time, I like to sit with my breakfast and challenge myself to be present while I eat and stay off my phone
  • Putting on Face Lotion I always feel refreshed after I put lotion on – I do it before bed too. I don’t really know why I love it, but I do, and my skin feels like a baby’s butt 24/7
  • Water My Plants I love my plants. Having something to take care of and watch grow is really cool. To me, it’s soothing to tend to them.
  • Meditate I hated meditating but recently I finally had a breakthrough and figured out how to do it! I use this time to reconnect with God. It’s always between 3-7 minutes. 🙂
  • Drink Water I think my plants and I have a lot in common. I notice that when I drink water RIGHT when I wake up, I automatically have more energy. I stand and little taller and feel a little brighter, just like a flower 🙂

So most of my daily stuff is in the morning, but then I also have things I try to do weekly to stay grounded and connected.

  • Go to Church I really feel when I start disconnecting from my faith & spirituality. Going to church reminds me of my truth and the abundant love that exists for me. 
  • Meet up with a Friend I tend to isolate myself with work really easily so I have to make a conscious effort to spend time with people that I love!

What I do when I’m in a slump, to get out of the slump and also find comfort in the slump:

  • Affirmations I have affirmation cards I used to read to 
  • Gratitude Lists I still like to do this when I’m not sad, but if I start sinking into a slump, this is the first thing I go to. It helps tremendously
  • I go to bed early I don’t get mad at myself for wanting to stay in and take it easy. 
  • Buy a blanket Going to Target and getting the softest blanket to curl up in when I’m sad is always amazing.
  • Daily Reflection Sheets I created these sheets that I print off and complete daily for at least a week when I’m struggling or feeling overwhelmed. It helps you identify and focus on only the things that will help you grow and succeed. I recently made them available online. Check it out!

Hater Spotting

Tonight I met up with my friend Galit to do some work.
I’ve been really excited lately about writing my new book, Letters to My Little Sisters.  I started doing IG Live conversations to work through some of the topics I want to write about, and even created an email thingy that people can sign up for to get updates on it.
Today my goal was to import all of the email addresses I’ve received from the questionnaire onto MailChimp, which means I have to sort through each entry, grab the email & enter it into mailchimp manually. As I was going through the entries I found that someone had spewed hateful things all over their form before pressing submit.
The results read:
“You’re a phony”
“This is fake – you’re only doing this to make money”
“I can’t believe the shit rich white girls do with their education”
“fuck this”
“you’re stupid”
My first thought was, LOL
Then I was like LOL someone spent their time doing this….
Then I felt sad that someone spent their time doing this.
Then it started to sink in…
& it definitely stirred something inside of me.
My stomach knotted up, my hands got cold & goosebumps popped up on my arms & neck.
I was hurt.
Then, by the grace of God, my brain kicked in and I thought –
I really upset someone’s comfort zone.
Then I went on to analyze what was in front of me.
The words this person decided to use sounded really angry.
In fact, that they called me “rich & white” means they CLEARLY don’t know me so really what they said probably had NOTHING to do with me and everything to do with something going on with them.
They must be taking something out on me, probably because something I said or did hit a tender spot for them.
But it’s not always so easy to logic your way out of how you feel.
Even after I got home the self-doubt I’ve been struggling with lately came out to play.
Maybe I’m not good enough, maybe I am stupid & I am wrong. Maybe what I have to say doesn’t matter.
But I’ve been training my mind of these moments, so instead of wallowing it (well – I did for a few minutes), I pulled out my laptop and decided to write.
I did that for 2 reasons.
1.     Writing is one of my tools to process confusing thoughts & emotions.
2.      This is Cyber Bullying. & It’s not okay & we are going to talk about it.
After the initial shock of the situation, I thought how could you be so careless with your words?
Words matter
I have a fucking t-shirt that says so.
Galit & I talked and she said “They must not know their power”
This hit me like a rock. & if it didn’t hit you, go back and read it again.
“They must not know their power”
Damn. This is so true.
If you feel like you’re not being heard, you scream.
If you feel out of control, you punch.
If you feel like you’re not being seen, you cause a scene.
This is the danger of someone who doesn’t know OR own their power.
They can be really damaging.
See, you have an impact whether you want to or not.
You have an impact whether you realize it or not.
You have an impact. & it can be positive or not.
YOU ARE POWERFUL.
Unfortunately for this person, I like to process things by sharing.
I’m sure they didn’t think that their entries would end up on my Instagram, or their words on my blog.
Actually, I don’t think they even stopped to think that I would see it at all.
Or that their words would affect me….
Probably because they aren’t used to being heard.

Facebook Memories

Self Timer Photo of me Exploring Malahide, Ireland alone.

One of my favorite things about Facebook is that it brings back memories. It shows you old posts from years ago and I think that is so fun – especially because I have a horrible memory.

But lately looking back at Facebook memories has been really hard.

I keep seeing photos of me smiling and doing fun things but when I look at myself, standing in the photo, I know exactly what was going on under that.

This time 2 years ago I was struggling. Still. I was making really bad relationship decisions & navigating in a space where I felt I didn’t belong.

This time 8 years ago I was struggling. Adjusting. I had just started high school in a brand new state, didn’t know anyone & had anemia. The combination triggered a period of depression.

This time 4 years ago I was struggling. A lot. I had just been raped and hadn’t started therapy and was numb to everything, which started a spiral of bad choices, depression & the beginning of the biggest change and struggle of my life.

I have a bunch of happy photos popping up but they weren’t really happy.

And it’s not like it just this week that’s I’ve seen these posts.
For the past 2 months, I’ve been fighting memories popping up on my timeline.

I keep clicking “see more memories” to try and be reminded of something else, but I have to scroll down to before high school to get away from it all.

I don’t really know what it is about these photos… It’s not like they trigger any flashbacks… I think it gets to be because I remember the way I acted and I know how disconnected I was from myself. I see those photos and I’m embarrassed. I’m ashamed. & I don’t know why.

It’s a weird thing to process.
I guess this time of the year generally is a transition period.

To combat these memories, I’ve been posting new ones. I’ve been uploading a lot of my travel photos to Facebook so that next year when Facebook sends me reminders, I can be reminded of what it feels like to explore, grow & be free.

“When we think of the past it’s the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.” 
― Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid’s Tale