Fear and Writing
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One Bad Page

Inside My Brain…

I AM my own worst enemy when it comes to writing, staring at this screen as if I have nothing of value to say – my brain completely frozen. I’m 100% convinced I’ve never had an intelligent thought in my life. I’ll just type whatever I’m thinking for a while. At some point, it will turn into something on the actual topic I’m supposed to be writing about…

Writing wasn’t always this hard, and I wasn’t always this hard on myself. Weren’t my 30s supposed to be a time of self-ownership, and not giving any fucks what other people think about me??? Instead, all I do these days is worry about what people think about me. I think poorly about myself, and then it feels as if the rest of the world perceives me through the same lens I’m viewing myself. Honestly, it’s a sucky ass way to live.

I may not be cut out for writing a blog this long, especially one this long, and on homeschooling to boot. Homeschooling isn’t a topic I write about much these days – that could be part of the problem. I’m trying to fit myself into a space that I don’t belong (as usual!), and then I feel frustrated when it doesn’t go smoothly or feel right for me.

Here’s the thing. Maybe I don’t want to write about homeschooling ALL the time, but I sure as shit have what it takes to write a 1200 word article on a topic related to it, and I’m FUCKING getting this done. End of story.

Guess what? I did get it done.

Using Stories to Inspire Service ProjectsBOOM —> Using Stories to Inspire Service Projects was published by Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers the week after Thanksgiving, and it turned out to be a resourceful, little piece that I mostly enjoyed writing. That one bad page of negative self-talk turned into something of sustenance. I tell the kids I coach in writing this same thing all the time – you just have to start writing and see what it turns into. Why is it so hard to take my own advice?

If you ever daydream about doing service projects as a family and want ideas on how you can use literature to create more meaning in those that you endeavor to do, then you might just want to check it out.

An excerpt:

“Nurturing empathy in children can be a lofty goal that requires more intention than we sometimes realize is necessary.

Life is beautiful and full of joy, but at the same time, the world can be a dark and heavy space, and the instinct for self-preservation and the development of fears can be more pervasive than we realize. There is a great importance in guiding children in their ability to look at the world from the perspective of others, to understand that the way we treat people and the choices we make, what our government does, how businesses behave, how we treat the earth and so much more ALL HAVE AN IMPACT.Homeless Care Packages

Sociologists refer to this as the development of sociological imagination, which is the awareness of the relationship that exists between personal actions and our greater society.

What better way to bridge the gap between the realities of our children’s lives to the experiences of others than through storytelling?”

 

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Rise & Fall

In, OUUUTTT, In, OOOUUUT, Rise, Fall, Rise, FAALLLL. Ack. I owe money to camp. I need to take care of that as soon as I finish this. Do I have any money in Paypal? Dang it. In, OOUUUTTT, IN…. I hope traffic isn’t bad. OUT. Don’t forget to take the macaroni you made for today. Wait, what did my mediation leader just say? What am I supposed to be doing?!! Focus. Bring it back, Crystal. Innnn, ouuuttt, rise, fall, focus on your body…..

This is my brain on meditation.

I’m working my way through the book Mindfulness: An Eight Week Plan for Finding Mindfulness in a Frantic World. Hello, Week Three! Maybe I’m 3 weeks behind on starting my Week 3 work, but oh well! For months now I’ve been burying myself in great books – working on my personal growth, my fears, and connecting to myself, my emotions and the world a little bit better. What I haven’t been working on up until this point is using meditation as a tool for any of those things. I’m still doing the deep work, y’all, and I’m not entirely sure that I’m not running myself around in circles. It’s one of those 2 steps forward, 5 steps back kind of thangs.

There’s something about mediation that triggers avoidance in me.

Maybe it’s because I’m not sure that my brain is well suited for the activity, but I think it’s more deeply related to the fact that had someone said to me a year ago, ” Yeah, I’ve found mediating twice a day to be really great for my mental health,” I would have wanted to punch them in the face. I would have vividly imagined it. Full on. Fist to the face. Maybe I just don’t want to be that person. Is that where I’m headed? Being the one you want to punch in the face?  Get out of here with all your self-help bullshit, Crystal!

Today, I did the worst body scan mediation, my brain being so unfocused and scattered that I even paused my guided audio so that I could do a voice memo on some thoughts I had for this blog. Dedication. There is still some work to be done before I become ultra-zen Crystal, but I’m gonna keep trudging through my daily meditations, and I’ll check back in once I’ve finished the whole program. You may not even recognize me because I’ll be so fucking zen.

Fear is a Liar
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A #daringgreatly Style Thing

I’m disappointed. There. I said it. Doing epic shit is great and all, even if I do fail, but there will still be some lingering negative feelings to be felt from that. That’s normal though, right? The end-game-goal here is to not allow those feelings to stop me from moving forward, trying again, trying something new, creating goals, and growing myself – even if it’s just micro-bits at a time.

I did a #daringgreatly style thing last month.

I applied for an internship with the Dressember Foundation to work on their Editorial Team. Landing the spot would have meant throwing myself into a committed writing project for 6 months, and contributing in a bigger way to a cause that would have fueled an important space inside me. I’ve participated in Dressember fundraising for the past two years because human trafficking is a issue that I feel seriously called to fight against, and I would have loved the opportunity  to aid in increasing the overall reach that the Dressember campaign gets this year.

But, alas. I didn’t get the internship. Sad face. However, I did spark enough interest that I got a… callback? Probably, definitely not the right term to use. Their Communications Manager asked me to submit another writing sample, a round two of submissions, and for this piece I chose to write about the  pipeline that exists between our foster care system and human trafficking. I’ll share it with y’all eventually, when I feel up to taking another look at it.

It creates a deep sense of yuckiness to have something you’ve worked on be rejected, and that in turn makes you question your value. BUT —-> Could I be a better writer? ABSOLUTELY. And that is okay. Don’t be so hard on yourself, Crystal. Just keep working at it and try again.

There is power in acknowledging that there is always room for growth.

Resilience was my word of the month for June, and it’s really been working for me, so I think I’ll hang onto it for July.

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“Good” and “Bad” are Incomplete Stories, So I Hear

“Good” and “Bad” are incomplete stories we tell ourselves…

I read that somewhere in my Feedly and it completely resonated with me in this particular space in my life. Someone on Facebook asked people to summarize their 2017 year in one word and mine was CONFLICT. But then that feels like a lie and a truth (all at the same time.) When I think of 2017, I struggle to associate positive feelings with it, though I know that there were plenty of amazing things sprinkled in throughout.

So maybe 2017 was a total beast in some ways. SO was the year before that and the year before that, honestly. Wait. When was the last good year I had???

My brain doesn’t do well at focusing on the good, but as I work on wrapping this year up,  I’m trying to create habit in being more reflective about my experiences.

I spent the bulk of this year heavily buried in running and building a women’s clothing business – an extension of the work that I did in 2016. There is so much positive and negative all rolled up into my feelings about my work from this year. Negative because at times it felt ALL-consuming. I struggled with establishing boundaries in various ways, work was so flexible that it felt like it was always bleeding into my personal life, and I was so consumed with being successful that the downward and upward swings that go with being an entrepreneur became really hard for my brain to endure.

I ultimately closed down my business this year, for a  myriad of reasons, most of them not actually related to everything from above, but I did accomplish some really amazingly POSITIVE things this year within that business.

I ran a legitimately successful business, y’all, and that just feels amazing to me. I may not have been a baller, but it gave me confidence and an understanding in myself that I can seriously do whatever the fuck I want, and as long as I put myself into it – I’ll see results. I explored the femme side of myself through fashion this year, and while I may never be so tapped into her again, it was fun while it lasted and I so enjoyed that more feminine side of my beauty. Plus, I spent more focused time on fundraising projects, made some awesome new friendships, built a community that will endure past the death of my business, and plenty more – like my newly acquired boss modeling skills. 😛

This was THE best year of friendships. Really. As awful as my experiences this fall were, the one beautiful thing that came out of it was having the neccessary need to lean IN to my friendships and feel completely loved, and I will never take that for granted. I know some really amazing fucking people.

Not to be outdone, it was an amazing year of friendships for the kiddos too. It’s been a positive experience, as their mother, to watch them grow into relationships with people, and learn how to navigate those. If there is one thing I’m doing well, it’s socializing those kids.

We moved into a new house. Notably one of the worst things to ever happen to me is all wrapped up into moving into this house. We packed up our home in 4 days under conditions of duress, put everything in storage and then lived temporarily with friends while we tried to secure a long-term place to live. How we ended up here doesn’t matter now though – we are home. This neighborhood and house make me happy.

Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy having older children? The increased independence is changing our homeschool in good ways. 2017 was big push towards focusing on the basics at home and outsourcing for everything else, and it opened the door for the kids to step into some fabulous classes, workshops, extracurriculars and trips. I’m steering in new directions for 2018, and that’s what I love so much about this lifestyle of our’s. We do with it what we need to for each phase of our lives.

This year I’ve been courageous and terrified. I’ve been daring and I’ve been weak. I’ve laughed and I’ve cried. Maybe a better word for this year would be VULNERABILITY. That is perhaps more accurate. Though there is pain, anxiety and discomfort in vulnerability, there is also this amazing beauty to having your layers peeled away and seeing yourself and letting others see it too.

I showed up this year, and it has made me realize in earnest that I’m not someone to fuck with, ok? Bring it 2018.

 

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The Best Quiet Moments

It’s completely worth it to wake up early and drag myself out of bed so that I can enjoy quiet morning moments. I love starting the coffee pot and curling up on my couch with my blankie and hitting my snooze button on my phone alarm over and over, while I enjoy the smells of coffee brewing. Opening up the curtains just a smidge so I can enjoy a small view of the woods outside. It’s currently made better by the shine of multi-colored lights on my Christmas tree. Maybe I should decorate my living room in multi-colored lights all year round? It might improve my happiness levels.

If we burned a fire the night before I can sometimes still feel a little heat emanating from it. I’m enjoying a whole new appreciation for winter that I’ve never experienced before. When the heat clicks on in our house it causes a nice noise and vibration due to the unit not being installed properly under our house. It seems to have the same effect on me as one of those vibrating chairs for infants. I’m not sure that I actually want it fixed. And there’s the Cheeks to join me for some snuggles. My quiet moments are officially broken by the sounds of YouTube.

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The Emotional Baggage That Comes When Running From Narcissists

It’s heavily on my mind tonight, toxic relationships and all the emotional baggage that goes along with making the conscious choice to do better for yourself and your family. I’m only newly exploring life through this lens of healing and grief on the other side of making a huge, life-altering choice. Through this process I’m realizing some things that I seem to need to keep continually reminding myself.

Positive affirmations for myself that maybe will help offer clarity for others that are struggling with this too. There are so many of us. I’m realizing this as I have more personal and candid conversations with people about what we’ve been dealing with in our personal lives. It amazes me that even within my small pool of friendships that it appears to be a chronic problem – people suffering at the hands of narcissists.

People they love. People they feel intricately linked and indebted to – obligated in continuing their relationships. And it’s hard, y’all. So hard. Doesn’t it feel easier to just keep taking it, whatever that means in any given situation, because to stand up for yourself is so damn hard and it opens up a host of all new problems??

I hope that a few years from now, when I’m further away from my current situation, that I might be a fountain of inspiration and positivity for those trying to get out of unpleasant circumstances, but for now… I waffle daily. I feel the hardness of it all. I wonder if it was worth it to stand up for myself and my family. Should I have just kept taking it? Should I cave now and continue forward within our destructive cycle? Would that be easier?

So these are the things I feel like I NEED to keep telling myself…

  1. This isn’t your fault. Well, it’s 100% my fault that I have completely removed the toxic relationships poisoning my life. But I mean this in the greater sense of the fact that I didn’t/don’t deserve everything that is happening to me just because I stopped playing by the rules that were established by the people trying to control my life.
  2. There is NOTHING wrong with standing up for yourself and making healthy choices. Even when society/friends/family don’t understand them. They don’t understand them because they’ve never been put in a position to even have to consider the possibility of the reality that you’re living.
  3. Things WILL get better. This is something I’m taking on good faith from talking with people that have been here and done that. Because I’m not at all to the point that I feel better. Things will be/are REALLY REALLY hard, but I try to keep it in perspective that I’m setting an example for my children now that they should never tolerate someone treating them horribly just because they’ve been made to feel like they are required to in the name of family or love or whatever other bullshit gets thrown at them. If I should grow up to be a manipulative, toxic person that is causing my children anxiety & pain – I don’t want them to even hesitate in kicking my ass to the curb.
  4. You are not responsible for the feelings of the person/people that have been mistreating you. Narcissists are chronic gaslighters and they will not waver in their attempts to ignite guilt in you for making the choice to defend/protect yourself or your family. They will continually shift blame and they don’t actually have the capacity to be introspective and acknowledge that they’ve done anything that would have contributed to you nipping this cycle in the bud.

I’ve been fairly quiet about what’s been happening in public forums, and only our closest friends and family know what’s happened. I’ve made excuse, after excuse, to myself about WHY it’s been necessary. I don’t want to seem petty. I don’t want to make things worse. I don’t want to ruin people’s reputations. I don’t want, I don’t want, I don’t want… There’s so much fear here. If I stand up stronger, then what will the blow back be? How will I suffer?

I really haven’t wanted – any of this shit. And yet it’s still following me. It doesn’t end. And in the midst of all my excuses I somehow lost the fact that what I’ve really been doing is protecting and enabling these people. People that are doing bad things, and in doing that I’m allowing them to control the narrative of my story.

That ends now.

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DAB at Your Haters

“DAB at your haters!!”

These wise words were shared with me recently by my daughter. My 7 year-old just gets it.

 

So maybe I was channeling her vibe when I “dabbed at my haters” on Facebook earlier this week. Who knows?  What I do know is that it feels hella good to take one’s power back.

I’m fine, y’all. (Relatively speaking.) It wasn’t a cry for help and I wasn’t particularly upset when I wrote that thing that I wrote. Sometimes a girl just really needs to tell people to FUCK OFF and mean it.

I don’t feel bad about the person that I am or what I do. I’m fucking amazing. There. I said it. And I know that my solid sense of self is a big reason why I have something that so many others lack —-> Empathy.

I can’t fix that for people, but I can decide what I want taking up space in my life.

End of story. It wasn’t even a very interesting one.

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That Time I Thought About My Mortality – A Throwback

When I logged back into my WordPress account after my hiatus ended, I found this long-forgotten blog entry that I never published almost 2 years ago. Though, I posted something on Facebook about the incident at the time, this moment in my life would eventually just become buried somewhere in my brain and my Facebook memories to not be thought of very often again.

“At the forefront of my recent thoughts has been the issue of mortality. And not in that vague acknowledgment we all have that, of course, one day we will die, but it isn’t really something I need to worry about facing today. More of the… in your face… there could be something potentially really wrong with you… so maybe you should start fucking processing that.

At the end of August I found a good sized lump in my right breast, which I promptly tried to denial out of existence. After a little over a month I gave up on that strategy, especially since it was pretty ineffective, and went in for a breast exam. This then lead to an ultrasound and mammogram, and today my very last appointment with a breast specialist. And I’m FINE! Everything is fine. Although, I won’t lie and say there isn’t an ultra paranoid part of myself that worries… What if they are fucking wrong???!! But I’ll keep burying that paranoid little beast.

I cried today from relief. I cried last week from relief when the radiologist told me everything looked clear. But the weeks before that I cried from fear. The kind of gut deep fear that leaves you thinking… I’m just not ready. And if I were to die soon… would I be happy with the way I’ve lived my life? With the relationships I’ve formed? With how I treat my children? What would I change?

And I just don’t know. But I think that it’s time to start exploring them.

FYI: Things that aren’t comforting to someone as they wait to have their breast screened for cancer… a HUGE wall memorial to a woman that died at the age of 32 from breast cancer, including a picture of her with her 3 year old daughter. Just. No.”

I didn’t actually spend any time re-evaluating my life. Go figure.

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A Story Where I Fly

I had a dream that I was at an event for my work, which seems trivial enough, only in this dream we are running behind on our set-up. BIG no-no. I’m walking around the event space trying find our hostess. She has answers to my questions. I NEED HER.  But then I realize that all the women in this room look too similar to each other, and I can’t remember what she looks like. I can’t remember her name.

I step outside to find my mom (and business partner). Hopefully she REMEMBERS her name, but I can’t find her. I look around and realize that I’m in a huge serious of buildings that look like stores, maybe a mall, and there are people EVERYWHERE. Where is she??!! I can’t find her. We need to hurry. We are running out of time.

I turn around and I can’t see the way back. My heart rate is spazzing. I start hectically rushing in the direction that I THINK will get me back to my event, pushing through the crowds and then down an empty, dark hallway with a series of heavy doors. I rush out the final doors and listen to it close with a click behind me. I’m outside.

This isn’t where I’m supposed to be!! I need to get back in!! I’m sure the door will be locked and I will have to find a new way to get back inside, but I’m a lucky girl. The door opens up for me, and I back track through the doors and head in a new direction. Too much time has passed. OMG. I have no idea where I am. We don’t have enough time for set up before the event starts. I still don’t know her fucking name.

I run outside into brightness, and when my eyes adjust, I realize I’ve somehow found my way into a stadium – at the very top. My view is fabulous, and I can see the buildings where I need to be. I start rushing down the stadium stairs. I gain momentum – I’m flying. As I get to the bottom I can’t possibly stop, so of course I become air-bound. I’m flying (slow-motion style) through the air towards… a pool. Told you I’m a lucky girl.

As I’m flying through the air I have the forethought to remember that my phone is in my back pocket. I grab it and then fully extend my arm out as high into the air as I can get it before I land. My fucking phone shall not get wet! And it doesn’t! The pool is shallow enough that I manage to keep it above the water.

The crowd goes crazy cheering for me. I mean… of course they were really excited I didn’t destroy my phone. But in my triumph I drop my arm, and my fucking phone goes under.

*End Dream Sequence*

My panicked breathing woke me up. Apparently, that was all my brain could take.

I’m pretty sure this dream explains so much about me.

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THIS or the OTHER

I couldn’t sleep last night, so I’m hardly surprised to find myself in bad brain space this morning. You know when this all first started (too many years ago) it wasn’t at all the same as it is now. This heaviness didn’t play a factor in my struggles. It took me a while to even realize what THIS is, even though I’d been with the OTHER for so long. They sometimes feel like polar opposites of each other, even despite how intricately they are linked.

I have trouble deciding which one I hate more. Which is worse… To feel ALL the things?? To think ALL the thoughts? To the point that my body vibrates from the energy of it all and I just want to crawl out of my skin? I lash out. I cry more. Or is it this void?? The deep, deep heaviness that sometimes feels like nothingness most days, and profound sadness on better days. I can’t think. I can’t focus. My brain thinks but doesn’t – all at the same time. How is that even possible? I can’t connect with myself or anyone else in my life.

I hate it all.

Yesterday started out so well for me. Someone asked me how I was doing and I answered “good” and it didn’t feel like a lie this time. I had conversations and it felt like ME, not the fake version of myself I use in public situations to get me through. I really miss ME. I was kinda hoping for a longer window of reprieve. I guess not.