Sleep & Talking to Myself

Questions from Melony Hill’s Writing for My Sanity Therapeutic Writing Workshop, held online.

Photo by Marilyne Bilo

What is something that you do that is harmful to you, a self-defeating behavior? How did you get started participating in this behavior? What keeps you doing it?

The biggest thing I’m doing is not sleeping properly. I’ve been getting slightly better at actually getting into bed around midnight, but often I’ll stay up later just being on my phone.

I began staying up late in college. I had to take a large number of credits just to pass because I had switched majors, and because of that I just got into the habit of staying up late and getting assignments done. I was also working at the same time, and ended up sleeping very little and just catching up on the weekends.

When I graduated, though I had day-jobs, my goals was to have my own design agency. So no matter where I was working, I would come home, eat dinner, and get right back to work again, staying up until 2 or 3 designing things.

Now, however, I’m just in that same habit of staying up late. It’s gotten to the point where I just don’t even design as well unless it’s late at night. And also, my body is changing, and I wake up early with the sun no matter how late I stay up the night before.

One thing I’ve started doing is darkening my room down so I can sleep later if I need to, or even take a nap during the middle of the day. But I’m still trying to get sleep habits down, and a pandemic doesn’t help!

What I need is just a more diligent schedule, because I feel so good and healthy when I have that schedule.

A pink sunset from my house

Would I be proud of myself if I spoke to other people in the way that my thoughts speak to me?

I definitely think I’m much better at it. I never talked to myself in positive ways at all, because I felt it was both conceited and a little corny.

Because of that, I didn’t listen to myself very much, and wouldn’t trust my own intuition. Warning flags would get ignored, and I would end up getting hurt by things that could easily have been avoided.

Now, because of some really gentle but strong love I’ve received from people, it’s helped me see the negative ways in which I’ve spoken to myself, and changed it in major ways. If I’m tired or feeling down, I’ll catch myself slipping back in to those habits… but this time I’ll change it and fix it.

I’ve learned that it would be very against my nature to even approach conceitedness. That has helped me listen to myself a little more, and sometimes that voice and be really encouraging. I can really be kind to myself if I let myself.

An Element, Small Steps, and Appearance

Questions from Melony Hill’s Writing for My Sanity Therapeutic Writing Workshop, held online.

Take a moment to reflect and remember how badly you wanted something that you currently have today.

I really wanted a vehicle of my own that really fit me. I knew I didn’t want a car payment, and though the car I did have was dying, I went about it really slow, and saved up and did research for over 8 months. My old car died in the middle of the that period, but I kept saving, rode public transport, and just stopped going to some things. When I finally bought the vehicle, I was able to pay cash, and it was exactly what I needed. A Honda Element, manual, with a moonroof, and the ability to fold all the seats down into a full-size bed. One of my favourite things is to just go out and sit in it, watching the sunset, taking a nap in it, stringing my hammock up to the roof rack, or converting the back tailgate into my mobile desk to work.

When I feel lost and like I don’t belong anywhere, it makes me feel at home.

Think about a small step you have taken or plan to get you closer to your goal. Remind yourself that it’s the small steps that get you closer to the finish line.

Right now, everything feels like small steps.

After my marriage ended, I had big plans. I was going to travel more, to be out more with friends, to be in nature more, to work out more, and I had full plans to do all those things, little steps included.

Then, a white guy speeding in his mother’s car on a way to buy some drugs cut in front of my motorcycle and sent me flying several hundred feet. I had to relearn how to walk. Relearn how to write. Relearn how to draw and design, which is what my entire livelihood depended on. I was out of commission for over 10 months.

I took small steps, healed, and prepared to restart all those goals. January came around, and I was finally 90% of the way there. I began traveling to visit a long-distance girlfriend. I began working out again in earnest. I went out, made new friends… and then the pandemic hit. My relationship ended. I was alone, again.

So now, I’m focusing almost exclusively on the little steps. Working on the projects that I do have coming in the door, and building my own personal projects in my downtime. My art. My novel. My music.

And there are big things that aren’t goals that I have to worry about. I worry about the pandemic, about being safe. I worry about losing my house. I worry about fascism growing in this country. I worry about raising to Black kids in a place that doesn’t always welcome them.

The small steps are all I have right now. But I think that might be a good thing.

How do you think you appear to others, is it different from how you feel on the inside?

This is something I would have tremendous anxiety over. I don’t feel like I’ve ever had a good grip on how I appeared to others, and because I viewed myself so poorly, everything I would imagine would be the worst possible version of myself in every way.

It got so bad, that the way I felt on the inside completely ruined and effected how I interacted with everyone. Every time I would get a compliment, I’d shoot it down. Every time anyone expressed admiration, called me handsome, said I was smart, talked about me being kind, I would reject it and downplay anything about myself.

Trying to imagine how people saw me was terrifying to me. Body dysmorphia extended into personality dysmorphia and even emotional dysmorphia, to the point where I couldn’t even recognize myself when people would talk about me. Self love seemed empty and vacuous; something I didn’t deserve.

All this I had to unlearn. Now, how I feel on the inside matches closer to how people see me. Now I feel comfortable enough to feel confident in who I am. Now I am strong enough to love myself the most. Now I am learning that if you don’t care for me, I don’t have to change myself to meet your standards.

Fears & Toxic People

Questions from Melony Hill’s Writing for My Sanity Therapeutic Writing Workshop, held at the Baltimore Impact Hub.

What irrational fears did you have as a child?

When I was a kid, I had this fear that I would die alone.

The strange thing was, is that I didn’t have a great fear of dying. I experienced many many brushes with death, and I was almost always alone during them. Being from the subarctic, death was something that was nearby in a lot of ways, whether it was with friends who overdosed or committed suicide, or by the sheer level of danger that being surrounded by 300 miles of empty forest bore. Though, in the forest, I never felt alone…

What I really was afraid of was growing old, and having no one to give love to and to be loved by.

I feared deeper than anything that I would wind up with no one to hold me, with no one to hold, slowly decaying as the horrible monotony of life ate away and crumbled my bones.

And, it’s cheating to say that this was just a fear when I was a kid. This fear continued in my through childhood, through my teenage years, all the way through college, and deep into the majority of my marriage.

It held me with claws that sunk into the deepest part of me, so that I held on to each relationship, each friendship, each person I loved, with the same white-knuckled grip. I held on, even if they didn’t hold me in nearly the same way.

This ruined things. Many things. It had me hold on to my marriage far longer than I should have. It kept around me friends who didn’t have my best interest anywhere in their sphere of concern. It made me nervous, anxious, completely on edge that I was going to do or say something that would cost me these relationships.

All the while, I feared little else. I couldn’t even identify a single thing I was afraid of. I launched myself at things I was afraid of, often with dramatic results. But at no point was I putting myself and my own wellbeing as a priority.

Once I began facing my fear of being alone, through therapy and the support of close friends, I discovered this simple truth: Dying alone wasn’t an option for me.

Not only did I begin being my own best companion, and I began to not feel lonely anymore, but I realized that I would never truly be alone. People care about me. I have a family that is imperfect but cares about me. I have friends who are drawn to me and care about my wellbeing. Some deep. Some less deep. All of them matter. People are attracted to me and want to be in my company, who value my input, who love me.

Understanding not only that this is true, but that I am worthy of it, changed everything.

What was the last interaction like with the most toxic person you know?

This one is hard for me, because I think I might have a tough time labeling people as toxic.

I am constantly trying to see the very best in people, even when those people have done horrible things to me. It’s such a deeply challenging thing to call someone out for a bad thing they did.

It’s only when I started setting boundaries for myself that I realized that people I loved could be bad for me, and that I didn’t have to put up with it. Before that, toxic people literally controlled almost every part of my life, which meant that I was miserable for a good portion of it.

Now, if someone is toxic, rather than internalizing it and trying to see what I need to do to change to be less offensive to them, I am much quicker to let them, and whatever they were being cruel about, go.

That doesn’t mean I don’t listen to anyone or take advice from people. In fact, I feel like I listen more now, because I’m more choosy of who I listen to and invest time in. I have a greater bandwidth to be there for people who really care and love me.

Changes, steps, shame and fear

Questions from Melony Hill’s Writing for My Sanity Therapeutic Writing Workshop.

What are you doing to make changes for 2020?

I don’t know what will happen in 2020. I made plans for 2019, and none of them happened the way I expected.

I felt like I have been on an upward rise ever since I started going to therapy. My journey here was a long one, starting sometime in 2017 when I began watching Celest Viciere‘s Therascopes, where she would do public therapy sessions via Periscope. They were daily, practical sessions gear towards improving your mental health. And best of all for broke me, they were free. After around a year of that, I finally hired a therapist with Boundless Innovations in Baltimore, and things really began taking off. My self-confidence drastically improved. I began becoming more assertive. I took my self-care very seriously. I began doing yoga with Andhyana Yoga. I started working out. I began slowly cutting people out my life who were not encouraging me to improve. I got divorced. I healed.

The level of improvement that I’ve been on, and the trajectory that it has taken me, tells me I need to keep living with open hands. To keep moving forward. To keep loving. Keep being vulnerable.

Changes will come in 2020. But if I’m flexible and strong, I know I can handle, and even love these changes.

What steps do you need to take to catch up on doing the things you didn’t get to do in 2019?

The list is long. I want to get my book of art published. I want to get ready to move out of my house. I want to get fully back on the saddle with work so I’m bringing in a serious income again. I want to make sure I keep investing in my health; mental, physical, and emotional. I want to keep growing, keep loving.

  • The Book: I need to set aside an hour a week to work on the book and get it finished.
  • Move Out: I need to pack a box a week. I need to research places to stay. I need to secure funding for my next house and for the move itself.
  • Work: I need to commit to a regular schedule, and make sure I find a place I can work and focus while the kids are in school.
  • Health:
    • Mental: I need to make sure I continue going to therapy every week, start couples therapy, and come to the Writing For Your Sanity course at least 2x a month.
    • Physical: I need to go to the gym 3x a week. Minimum. I should also be going for walks in the mornings when I drop off the kids at school.
    • Emotional: I need to take care of myself, and make sure I am both vulnerable with my girlfriend, but also not using her for complete support.

If I didn’t feel shame of fear, what would I do now?

Oddly, I fear being vulnerable. Not because I fear being hurt or damaged. I feel like the pain I’ve been through has helped prove that I can get through that. What I fear is being a burden to my partner, to my friends, to my family.

If I didn’t feel that fear…? I would ask for what I need. Not stress about if they’re not available to be there for me. And keep moving.

The moment I am willing to change, it is amazing how the universe brings me what I need.

This has already begun becoming true. Today, I had a meeting with my bankruptcy lawyer, and he told me I’ll likely be out of my house in February.

That oddly pacified me, because now I have hard dates to follow, and a guide and a goal. I can now work towards that.

And once I became peaceful with that, I started to have people reach out to me. People from church, people from activism, even just friends, asking how they could support me with paying for housing in my next move.

I feel so loved. I feel so cared for.

Boundaries, qualities, and mirrors

Questions from Melony Hill’s Writing for My Sanity Therapeutic Writing Workshop.

What do boundaries mean to you?

I lived the majority of my previous relationships being criticized for my boundaries, or lack thereof. Not because I was abusive or violent or philandering, but because I was extra. I was too much. I felt as if the amount of time I wanted to spend with the person I loved was too much. That my level of romanticism was overwhelming. That my playfulness was foolish and annoying.

I had the tendency to spiral into codependent relationships, where my hunger for my partner was only exacerbated by their desire to run from me. I felt constricted; trapped. I felt afraid, that my demands would leave me lonely.

Through therapy, I began to learn to love and be confident in myself. I began to appreciate that the “lack of boundaries” not as something that I needed to kick myself over, but as something that someone else might want. Maybe it wasn’t that what I was doing was too much, but maybe I was doing too much for the wrong person.

It took me a long time to come around to that realization. But once I began to appreciate myself and my own giving, it gave me power. It gave me a litmus test to see if someone is a good fit for me. I could relax and not be so manic. I could be calm and not worry where the next bit of affection was going to come from because I could give it to myself. It helped me set boundaries. I began to realize that these boundaries were my values.

Now; one of my boundaries is that if you cannot accept the whole person that I am, maybe you don’t deserve the time and love I have to give. If I cannot be corny and romantic around you, maybe we’re not really meant to be. If I can’t let you know how I feel, maybe we don’t need to be around each other.

Once I started creating those boundaries as expectations for myself, I began to realize that there were other boundaries that I could create. Things I wanted in a partner. Reciprocation. Touch. Affection. Attention. Tenderness. And once I started building those qualifications, I realized that anyone who didn’t meet those wasn’t worthy of my time.

Before this point, I felt like requesting the things that I wanted was conceited, demanding, bossy. I’ve begun to learn that these things are the bare minimum I need to feel loved. To grow.

I realized things like reciprocation, touch, tenderness, affection, and attention were things I could give to myself. Although it was awkward at first, eventually I grew to appreciate my capacity for giving by giving to myself. That only strengthed the boundaries stronger, so that once I met someone who understood and appreciated those boundaries, we connected on an incredibly deep level.

What are my best qualities?

Just today I was talking with my girlfriend about how I had been encouraged by my therapist to love myself and appreciate different aspects of myself.

I like that I give freely. I like that I don’t shy from affection. I like that I can be calm and steadfast. I like that I appreciate small beauties and stop the car to look at pretty trees or the sunset. I like that I can make a client out of any situation if I choose to. I love that no matter how bad the situation is, I can find something special and wonderful in it. I like that I am strong. I like that I am subversive. I like being recalcitrant. I like my beard and my hair. I like that I’m cuddly. I like that I am creative and think of things other people haven’t. I like my eyebrows. I like the intensity and softness of my eyes. I like the depth of my voice.

I feel this in my soul. This is true.

What if everything is as it should be?

Everything… DOES feel as it should be.

I almost feel hesitant to say that. As if some vestiges of my chains of expecting are still lurking in the corner. I know that when shackles come off you, the feeling of metal around your wrists linger for a long time. Sometimes you still feel tied up.

And I know that I must continuously do the work of making sure I unlock myself, stretch, and remember that I have the power to be free.

The doubt may never go away. But the memory that, with work, doubt CAN be overcome, will never go away either.

The people in my life are really mirrors of me.

This is completely true. Mirrors don’t always give a very flattering or complementary view of you. And this is not necessarily because you don’t look good, it could be entirely how you perceive yourself. Either way; the people who are mirrors around me can either be reflective of how I actually am, or how I perceive myself.

I’ve thrown out a lot of mirrors since I’ve started looking at myself better.

I let my light shine

Questions from Melony Hill’s Writing for My Sanity Therapeutic Writing Workshop.

I just got back from zipping up and down the bay on a jet ski out at Middle River. And I am sitting in a therapeutic writing course now. I am doing these things because I am taking care of myself and trying to make sure I am planning time just for me.

It feels new and strange, because I used to have people who would make sure that my birthday was something special. Who would kidnap me and take me to wonderful places, plan wonderful things for me to do, or throw giant parties for me. And now I don’t. But I’m learning to do these things on my own.

I can’t say I’m great at planning these things yet, and so far most of the things I’ve planned have completely fallen through. But I’m learning that I really can do things spur-of-the-moment just fine, and I’m learning to be able to prepare things for myself better.

I am leaning into this. It’s not easy to do. But today, ripping around the jet ski, I felt wonderful. I felt alive. I threw myself off and crashed into the water. I had chicken and drank a Yoo-hoo. I danced with cormorants and ospreys, raced with speedboats and soared over waves. I felt pure joy as the water cascaded over me. And I was reminded that I can feel that anywhere.

Being my whole authentic self isn’t easy for me. I feel like there is so much of myself that I hide from the world sometimes, fearful that I’ll be too bright and scare them away. I’m slowly letting that go.

Part of that has been taking care of my home more. It’s still uncertain whether or not I’ll be able to keep it, but I decided to invest in it anyway. I built a meditation spot in my bedroom, and a shelf in my hallway to house bath and bed linens.

What does Mother’s Day mean to you?

Mother’s Day has always been special to me, because I was born on Mother’s Day, and I am the firstborn. I made Mother’s Day for her. I miss being around my Mother for Mother’s Day. Sending things through the mail or talking on the phone feels empty to me; I just want to be with her. But the connection I have is all I’ve got.

I am doing something for my ex on Mother’s Day. Regardless of how things ended between us, one of the things I told her while we were dating was that I knew she would be a good mother. And I was absolutely right. She’s has helped me grow as a parent in ways I didn’t know that I could. So this Sunday, I’m taking her and our kids out for dinner. We are not together and that’s for the best, but she will always be their mother, and they deserve it.

Perfect weekend

What would the perfect weekend holiday look like? A perfect 72 hours. Who would you spend it with? What would you do?

Just imagining something perfect like that feels… hard. I’m so used to pain and heartache and difficulty. I can’t remember when I had a whole 3 hours in a row that felt like that, let alone 72. All I can really imagine is little glimpses of things.

I don’t have anyone special anymore that I can rely on to be with. And that feels like a really important component, but at this point, I’m so weary that I wouldn’t mind spending it alone.

But like I said, just glimpses. Most of the fantasy just involves sleep. Having just enough money that I don’t have to worry about it. Not being around a lot of people; but just one. Falling asleep on someone’s lap while she plays with my hair. Not worrying about food. Good music. Losing track of time. Feeling rested. Drifting in and out of being present, and not stressing about it. Having no physical pain. Having my mind feel clear. Breezes. Swaying hammocks. Water in the background.

That’s what really feels like ideal. And it feels so simple, so easily attainable, and yet so far away at the same time.

So. What am I going to do about it? I’m saving up. I know that. including airfare and an Airbnb, I can send a week it St. Lucia for $1,500. So, my goal is to raise that by August.

How would you be on a nudist beach?

I’ve never been to a nudist beach, but I have gone to a beach where there was nobody else around and been naked. It was freeing and peaceful.

Does anyone have your interest at the moment?

I think I’m going to stay away from dating for a little while.

I clearly have much to learn. And even more to unlearn.

Although I’m conscious of the damage I’ve endured and some of the warps on the reality that I make as a result, that doesn’t mean I’ve got them all figured out. I have a long way to go.

Things still affect me and trigger me in ways I’d like to have more control over. For myself and for those close to me. What’s been the hardest thing is trying to figure out which things are best healed by leaving them alone, and which are best healed by experiencing things new.

What’s been equally challenging is my own desire for companionship, and for that naked & raw feeling of emptiness to feel the warmth of someone near. That ache is an old one, and one I’m weary of feeling. But I know it’s draw can be raucously codependent and slowly pernicious.

Love is incredibly healing… Being able to give and receive it breathes life into me. It’s a salve on my burns & allows them to gently heal. It quite literally gives me solace when everything else in my life is excruciatingly hard. Even small bits leave me gasping for more.

My thirst for closeness is ravenous, and it scares me. Equally torrential is my desire to give, which I know can be inundating. All the while, there’s anger and bitterness for lost time and squandered love. A maelstrom of desires and affections and passions.

In the center of these is a hurt soul who just wants to be healed and to love. Who’s weary of being in pain and tired of the yawning solitude.

I know that I need to work on myself until I do it automatically. To get better at loving me until it’s second nature.

It’s… not automatic. It’s not second nature. I have to be reminded, even to do basic things for myself. That’s why the workout thread exists. My first instinct is to care for others, not love myself. That’s why I use the #Me hashtag exists on Twitter. They exist because I’m bad at it.

What makes it complicated is that I know unless I learn about dating and love and the basics of casual attention, I’ll be stunted in my growth. I’m less experienced in so many areas that I feel like a land mine to be around. That makes things so hard.

Though love from others injects me with an energy that helps me heal faster and helps me exercise my love for giving affection, it also can hurt people who I know I’m not perfect or ready for. That’s… really hard. And painful.

The reality is that I need to give to myself more. And recognize that I deserve it. I’m never going to be able to fully appreciate someone’s love for me if I can’t love myself.

It’s completely unfair to tarnish someone else’s gift just because I’m not taking the time to work on myself. So. I’ll focus on being single for a while.

Do you feel that there’s been an uptick in women flirting with you on now that you are no longer with your wife? And how does that make you feel?


On the one hand, it’s been daunting. It’s a lot. I’m definitely not used to all the attention and overtures. Some of them have been quiet notes of appreciation, some of them have been deep overtures of passionate attraction.

They’re all sweet. They’re all overwhelming to a degree.

I don’t know what rock I was living under before this point, but I was either oblivious to the attraction before, too lacking in self-assuredness, or just plain blind to my own positive qualities and wallowing in self-deprecation.

Either way; it’s felt like a dam has burst, and getting swept away in the affection while I am simultaneously learning to build my own appreciation for myself has been a wild ride.

The challenge has been to maintain the self-actualization supports I’ve been building, and not letting the attention be the only thing that keeps me afloat.

That was admittedly a problem for me while I was in my marriage; my entire self-worth and self-image were wrapped up in another person. And as soon as their view of me faltered or shifted in any way, I crashed and burned. Hard. Because I wasn’t supporting myself at all.

On the other hand; it feels wonderful. The glow of having people give you attention is like a salve on a burn after feeling neglected for so long. I’m taking great care to not become drunk on that feeling; it’s very easy to.

It’s important to me that attraction goes beyond the superficial. Attention on a selfie is nice, but do you want to build with me? Do you care about me as a person? Do you stick around with me when I’m having a rough day? Does my wildness scare you off? Does my vulnerability?

It’s interesting to see the flavors of attention I get. I’m someone who likes to give my whole self, sometimes recklessly, and it’s also teaching me how to be a little more measured, and how to protect myself.

I’ll likely never stop giving my whole self; I’ll just be careful.

Have you ever thought about changing your career? If so, what would you want to do?

If I knew I could support myself with it, I’d love to write more music.

I no longer judge or criticize myself. I am free to love who I am. I forgive myself.

This is unbearably hard to live up to.

I constantly shoulder the responsibility for virtually everything around me, whether its mine to take or not. This sometimes means fabricating things to be responsible for, or beating myself up for things that weren’t even my fault to begin with. Fighting this habit has been really really hard because sometimes I feel like I’m not taking responsibility for stuff when I finally release the weight of what I had burdened myself with.

Fortunately I have a couple of friends who help me forgive myself and to not take on more than is actually mine, but it still hasn’t become second nature.

I trust and know that all is well in my world

I am leaning into this today. Nearly everyone I’ve come into contact with; my kids, my sensei, teachers, instructors, session leaders, friends, everyone seems to be going through heavy stuff today. Though I feel pulled in all these different chaotic directions and have even caught myself almost snapping back at people, I’m choosing to remain solid and calm and patient with those around me. The Creator is guiding me and is directing my path.

Where is your happy space?

I try to have as many happy spaces as possible. Little ones, so that if one is occupied or crowded, I have options to go to another. Ferry Bar Park down by the water on a sunny day. The pillows by the window in the front room at Impact Hub. The secret beach down by Fort Smallwood. My bedroom, nestled in velvet sheets and thick quilts. A class called Writers Therapy where we share with each other. Between my headphones riding the bus on a rainy night. Flying down country roads straddling my motorcycle. My hammock, strung between my roof rack and a tree in Druid Hill Park. I believe it is important to have as many spaces of peace as possible so that you can have as much peace as possible.

I am at Peace

Photo taken in 2010 at a beach.

When was a time that you got into something without reading the fine print?

Today. I signed up for a series of health studies as a “healthy volunteer” last fall, because I didn’t have health insurance and I was worried about not getting check ups regularly. When you volunteer to be part of control groups, they give you health assessments for free. On top of that, they typically pay you for your time, so I signed up for as many as I could.

This morning I had a screening for a study that was worth $4,500. They were measuring the effects of a drug for rheumatoid arthritis, and the side effects were minimal, so I was pretty excited about going.

When I went in for the initial paperwork signing, they walked me through the details, and I realized I hadn’t read how much time it would take. There was going to be 9 visits and 3 days of in-house monitoring, where I’d live in a dorm for a while. And they would be taking a lot of blood samples.

I hadn’t read all the details, so I was a little taken aback. I was still ok with it because it seemed like an adventure to me. But then they did an EKG test.

An EKG is a test in which they attach electrodes all over your body and measure how well your heart is pumping by monitoring the electrical signals it sends out to tell the muscles in the heart to fire.

When I first took the test, the researcher laughed and told me the machine said I was having a heart attack. She said it was probably because my chest hair was so thick, so she replaced the electrodes and tried again.

Again, the machine said I was having a heart attack. The researcher’s brow furrowed and ran the test again. This time, the machine said I wasn’t having a heart attack, but that there was definitely something wrong. I asked the researcher for a copy, and she printed me out one. A set of warnings in capital letters marched across the top of the page.

After putting me into the waiting room for a while, a doctor ushered me into a back room to talk. He was quite convinced that the machine was running fine, and told me while he didn’t think I should run to urgent care, I definitely ought to see a cardiologist within a week.

He told me the condition I had meant that my heart wasn’t sending electrical signals to the proper areas, but he was puzzled because this condition is a rare one and is usually exhibited in younger people, not older ones. I have has several EKGs in my life, and he was also puzzled that it hadn’t been picked up earlier.

He told me most people who have this condition live the rest of their lives with it, and he said I would be ok, but I should check it out soon.

So. Later on this week I’m hoping to see a cardiologist. Even though I hadn’t been fully aware of what I was signing up for, I’m glad I went.

What is my instinct telling me to do?

My instinct is telling me to love openly despite the pain I’ve gone through. It’s telling me to savor the time I feel wonderful, and use it to my advantage. It’s telling me to grow and learn from the hard times, and to never give up on myself.

I am in harmony with all that surrounds me. I am at peace. I am wonderful. I rejoice in the truth of my being. I accept it as so and let it be.

Right now; this is true. I feel so peaceful right now. I think there’s an overwhelming sense of warmth I feel flooded with, and I am floating in it.

That doesn’t at all mean that life around me is peaceFUL. It feels chaotic and rough and tumultuous at times. But I feel like I can handle it. This is always true. Even when it

I know I might not be able to handle it tomorrow. I might take on water and feel like I’m sinking later. But right now, I’m shoring up, plugging the leaks, taking care of myself, making sure I’m using this time in which I feel good to stay vigilant and grow.

I also need to recognize that part of the reason I feel good is because of the love and affection I feel from others. That has energized me. But I need to make sure I’m also giving that to myself. I need to place small potted plants in the empty space I sometimes feel inside, and to water them and let them grow.

When was the last time you felt negative energy from someone? How did you deal with it?

This weekend I got some really negative energy from someone that I used to be close to. Normally, it would have stung harsher. It would have clung to me. It would have hurt for a while before I dealt with it, and normally I would have lashed back.

But I let it slide. I let it go. I recognized that whatever they were going through had nothing to do with me. And even if it did, if they were not willing to confront me directly about it, it did not have to be my problem unless I made it my problem.

When I made the conscious decision to do that, it was freeing. I felt light. I was able to focus on other things that mattered a great deal more to me.

And later, she apologized to me. That would have never happened if I had reacted in the old ways I used to.

I am Guided

I took this photo back in 2004.

I headed to the Impact Hub again for Melony’s writer’s workshop, this time with Nya and Arion in tow. There are 7 other kids that come to this workshop, so they felt right at home. I got them rice from the Chinese carryout across the street.

Melony handed out cards to everyone. and they then had to write about if they felt it was true or false, and mine was the last. The card I pulled read:

I am guided throughout this day in making the right choices.
Divine intelligence continuously guides me in the realization of my goals.

This feels true. Thought it’s harder to feel the Creator’s presence when I am in pain or when I am lonely, I still feel it. I’m still reminded of it. When the wind blows, when the sun warms my skin, when leaves dance around my feet, I’m reminded I am cared for.

Even when things are cold, and loved ones feel distant, and the things I must do to survive life nearly seem an impossibly overwhelming mountain stacked against me, something small will happen, some breakthrough, some kind gesture, a soft smile, a warm hug, and I am reminded I am loved.

And care and love is all I need to reach my goals. That care and love is within me. That care and love is around me.

Where are you not showing up in your life?

Melony told us a story of her life, and then asked us this question.

I immediately thought of my house. It’s just a simple ordinary Baltimore row house, but it was the biggest thing I’d ever purchased on my own 13 years ago. I’m proud of it.

I’m still battling foreclosure with the mortgage company I’ve been with for over a year, but all of that seems compounded and harder since getting divorced. The mounting bills, fighting tooth and nail to get them to recognize that my house is only worth a quarter of what they say it is, and random assessors who show up and take pictures or leave threatening letters has become the norm.

And I’m tired. And I’m trying not to give up.

But all of the chaos surrounding my house and them trying so hard to take it away from me drains all the energy I have to invest in it.

I love working with my hands. I like building. Repairing. Creating. Fixing. The shelves in the upstairs hallway. The storage in the office. The lighting on the front porch. The back yard and its quiet half-acre of forest that I want to build a garden in.

3 days ago, I took the Christmas tree out for the first time since I had brought it in the house in early December. I had told myself it was fine because it was still green. Because it still made the living room smell nice. Because I didn’t want to kill a living thing. But when I brought it around the back and put it in the burn barrel, it only took a tiny spark from my lighter to send a blaze towering 16 feet into the night sky. It offered no resistance to the flame. It had been dead for a long time.

My house is my home. My space is what I’m neglecting. However long or how little I stay there, I must show up for it. I must show up for me.

It’s mid-March. How are you?

I feel healthy.

I’ve been working out steadily for a week now. Since I hurt my back a month and a half ago, all of the workouts I had been doing stopped. The muscles I was growing, the fat I was shedding, even the change in the way I walked felt wonderful. I had been working out since mid-summer, and it felt like a blow to that steadiness that I had maintained.

But my therapist and those close to me had reminded me that I could take it easy, and that quietness and healing is also critical to growth. Sometimes being healthy isn’t just being active, sometimes it is also learning to take a step back and enjoying the rest.

What is my life like when it is in balance?

This is a really hard question for me. I don’t often feel like my life is in balance. Everything seems to be unbalanced all the time, with me obsessing over one thing or another, compensating for one thing, then the next.

In the heart of Philadelphia lies The Benjamin Franklin Institute, a science museum that I remember my parents taking me to as a child. In the middle of the building is a massive pendulum, several stories high, which sways in seeming perpetuity, rocking this way and that and designing patterns on the floor.

My life feels like that, swinging one way or another. I’m never in balance, I’m constantly moving and changing and building patterns. It’s been something that I’ve been criticized for, that I’ve been chastized over. I don’t have a balance.

But then I remember, the pendulum stays in one place. No matter how far it swings, it’s still grounded at its core. Internally, I feel calm and steady, even though everyone else sees nothing but chaos. Maybe that is what balance is for me. Rocking one way, then the next.