Sunday, May 29, 2016

Livin' Out Loud - Active Living

Well, I’m back again to talk a little bit more about Livin’ Out Loud.  This isn’t an idea of something I want to do, but something I’ve been doing since my divorce a few years ago.  This was something my soul cried out needing for a very long time.  I tried to get what I needed from everyone around me, my ex-husband, my kids, my church, my job, but I couldn’t find what I was seeking in them or through them.  What I needed, what my soul needed, what my heart needed was already inside me, but I realized I was too afraid to listen to her, or to even give her a glancing thought.  She was too painful to even acknowledge. 

Memorial day is coming up tomorrow.  I’ve been having a little bit of a hard time this weekend and found myself trying to reach out to others in order to soothe that pain. I thought after 23 years I’d finally be able to breathe during this time without that pain, but the pain is still there, yet it’s not all for James, the hero that gave his life in Somalia.  It’s for the hero that was left here at home, the fighter inside me, the survivor with her many scars.   I loved James, still love him, will always love him, but he’s not really the one I’m grieving.  I miss him, will always miss him, will always wonder of the life we might’ve had together, but I think what still hurts most is the life that I hid inside me for so long.  People grieve in different ways. I shut down. I hid inside myself, got lost for a couple decades, and while I was living, going through the motions, I wasn’t alive.  I cared deeply for everyone else around me, but not myself.  When I learned the scripture to “deny yourself and pick up your cross…”, well… I did just that.  I denied myself until I could deny myself no longer.

So, here I am after I completely disrupted my life, turned it upside down, made some bold moves, and faced my biggest fear – that lost, hurt, angry little girl inside who has carried my pain for too long.  I was so afraid of her, but now I look upon her and instead of seeing a depraved, dirty, lonely, scared shell… I see a beautiful, radiant angel, whose light is so bright my heart simply can’t even begin to express how much I love her. Without hesitation, she forgave me for being a coward for so long, and since I faced her I have been living out loud.  Yes, I’ve had some huge obstacles in my way, a few heart breaks, a few failures, one giant battle with death, but I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything.  That woman inside (she’s no longer a frail girl) is strong enough, tough enough, and brave enough to handle this world.  As long as I cling to her, I know we will survive.  That’s what we are, we are survivors.

Part of this living out loud is active living, which by definition means to actively be engaged in your life, in every area of your life – emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  It doesn’t mean you’re doing fantastic feats every day, it just simply means that every day you’re living in the moment, living in the day, and living to the best of your ability as you face your daily challenges.  Life is full of challenges.  It is full of temptations.  It is full of excuses.  We can find one for everything. We can make one for every fear we have.  But that isn’t fair to ourselves.  Living out loud and loving yourself means that you face your challenges.  You might not win them every day, but winning isn’t the marker of success or failure.  It’s the effort, the intent, the devotion, and dedication applied to facing those challenges that make us a success or failure, that determines if we truly are living out loud.

I’ve been working on trying to repair the damage I’ve done to my body during my years of depression and regression.  It’s hard. I wasn’t born with the genes that make it easy. Every day is a choice, a battle, and it requires a strong will, a determined mind, and a heart dedicated to seeing myself succeed.  I am tempted. I am afraid sometimes. I am weak at other times.  But, the more I love myself, the more determined I become.  The more success I taste, the more I want to taste.  The more dedicated I become, the more dedication I desire.  I’m not ruled by my desires anymore. I rule my desires.

Yes, it’s hard to get up at 5am every morning and get started.  It’s hard to say no to the foods that make my mouth water. It’s hard to not just cling to someone else’s strength so I don’t have to use my own. I know I’m never going to look like a supermodel, or one of those beautiful, slim, toned women on the front of fitness or fashion magazines, and I don’t try to look like them.  I don’t want to be them. I want to be a version of me that is healthy, that is active, that is strong, that is vibrant and who can do the things my heart wants to do and not be denied because I don’t have the physical or mental strength to accomplish them. I hate being denied.  So, yes… many mornings I want to cry and my mind makes a thousand excuses to roll over and go back to sleep, but that beautiful angel inside me, my own personal cheerleader, she nudges me and whispers to my soul, “I love you and you deserve to live out loud. Do it for us.”  That’s all it takes and I jump up, get dressed in my workout clothes, and take off. It’s what helps me deny that doughnut, or not gorge on that pot of beans, or feed my insecurities with foods that harm me.  I was slowly killing myself for years, and became a master of excuses to continue doing it. I was wrong.

Bottom line.  The secret to living out loud and actively living is loving yourself.  I love me. I don’t need anyone else to love me.  But when someone does choose to love me they receive one of the greatest gifts, a precious treasure, even if they don’t realize it.  They receive a pure love, a dedicated love, a devoted love, a determined love, a faithful love, a grateful love, a love that doesn’t take from them, but pours into them.  We are a lost and lonely world. I see it, I feel it, I recognize it in the many faces I see every day.  The majority seek to feel the emptiness inside through various outside sources – money, accomplishment, sex, drugs, food, shopping, music, extreme activities, pills, addictions, obsessions, competition, acceptance, religion, political causes, martyrdom, violence, … we’re all trying to save or destroy the world.  The only person we need to save is ourselves.  The person we often destroy is also ourselves. If we embrace who we truly are, loving the world becomes easy and living becomes an everyday part of life. Going to the laundry mat becomes an adventure, because all life is an adventure.

So, get up.  Get going. Set those goals. Put down the fucking doughnuts. Meet those challenges face to face. Start breathing. Start living. But don’t do it for any other reason than for yourself.  Don’t do it to fall in love with someone else. Fall in love with yourself and others will fall in love with you too.  Don’t do it to look good for someone else’s approval. Do it so that you feel beautiful and sexy for yourself, and then others will see you as beautiful and sexy.  Don’t do it to fit in and be like everyone else in order to feel accepted.  Embrace who you truly are, love all your nerdy, quirky, odd, crazy, and wild parts and let the rest of the world see you for who you truly are, not who you pretend. If they don’t see you or can’t see you, fuck ‘em. You don’t need them. Don’t be afraid to face the world alone, because if you can’t face the world alone, you’ll crumble under pressure trying to face it for someone else.  That’s not fair to you or to them. Don’t be afraid to walk alone, be afraid to not walk at all.  Walk. Go. Run. If anyone truly loves you for you, and can see you’re actively living out loud, they will want to walk with you.  But if they’re cowards and haven’t found their own strength, you can’t carry them. Keep walking. 

In a moment of despair, when I felt like the world’s worst failure, God whispered to my heart, “It’s not your job to save the world, it’s mine. Let go and let me love you. I made you to fly, so fly, Baby Girl, fly. Live, My Love, live, and live out loud. I gave you a voice so sing, sing of love, sing of life, sing of all I’ve poured into you and all that you are.”  That, my friends, is what I say to you all. 

Till next time,

~Song of T

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