Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Tiny Buddha On Letting Go

"You can’t go back and change what you did before, but you can be proud of what you do with the lessons that came from it.

When you start dwelling on choices you wish you made or didn’t make, ask yourself: What did this experience teach me that will help me going forward? What insights did I gain about myself that will help me be the person I want to be?

When you focus on lessons learned, you turn a past you might otherwise regret into something ultimately useful for both your present and your future." - Tiny Buddha

The website, tinybuddha.com, is filled with lots of really great articles. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Radical Self-Reliance



My first Burning Man in 2012
According to one of the 10 principles of Burning Man, radical self-reliance is to discover, exercise and rely on your inner resources. This is what I've finally begun to empower myself to do in my life and it feels amazing. It feels freeing and enlightening and amazing.

Over the past week a few of the caring people in my life have shared with me that I project as someone who is deeply depressed. I've been told that I project as a “hurt puppy” and I need to “get over it”, that I need to tell the past it's dead and move forward, to stop wallowing in the past, and that I just seem (at least online) as someone who is incredibly sad. I do appreciate the concern and as painful as it is to hear these things, they are true. Well, the fact is, I have been deeply depressed. 

But, it's also true that I have been doing lots of things to climb out of that depression and to move forward in my life. I just haven't been writing about them online as I work through them. The awesome thing about this message from these people is that it gave me a hardy and swift kick in the pants to refocus my energy from the negative to the positive. 

Where radical self-reliance comes in is here: for the last couple of months I've been reading everything I could get my hands on in search of “the answer” and I've come to finally realize that I already have all of the “answers”, all of the tools, that I need to move forward to not only be a better human being but to see my own worth in the world. Now I need to use them and do the work. Reading about changing my way of thinking isn't going to automatically change my way of thinking. I have to recognize my old thought patterns and consciously make a change when they rear their ugly heads.

This past week I had the opportunity to do just that. A situation came up where I found my thoughts going to this place where I was comparing myself to someone else. The self hating thoughts of “not enough” came flooding in and I allowed them to until I finally realized what was happening. I was able to catch myself, stop the comparison and focus on the stuff that is good about me, that I do have to offer then began to work on accepting and embracing those things about myself. I was also able to realistically see that not everyone would appreciate those things about me or treasure the love I have to offer and have it be enough and that's ok. The fact is that I am enough. I am more then enough for someone out there and I am working every day on convincing myself of that fact.

Within that same situation, I was also able to recognize an old thought pattern of martyrdom and stop it in it's tracks by creating a boundary. Without going into much detail, I wanted to keep my integrity in the situation and knew that I couldn't do that if I continued a dialogue with a person who approached me. The intentions were good, I believe, but because of who she is and the feelings it brought up for me, I couldn't continue. It felt like I had been pushed a few steps back in my progress and I couldn't let that continue. Continuing with it is something the old me would have done, the one who wants to help everyone even if it's painful for me. So I set a boundary and spoke my truth about how I was feeling and you know what? It didn't kill me. As a matter of fact, it felt good to stand up for and care for myself. It felt good to step out of the situation, keep my integrity and be totally honest about it all.

As far as the past goes, it's just that. The past. There is nothing I can do to change it. What's done is done. I've owned up to and apologized for my mistakes and all I can do now is forgive myself and let it all go. I know in my heart that I will always love and have a place for those who I have hurt and who have chosen to let go of our connection. Torturing myself over it isn't going to bring them back and it isn't going to change how they feel. It only affects me. It's time to let it all go. Let the grief bubble up when it does, sit through it, then move on. Let it go and move forward. Let it go and move forward.

Focusing on the facts of my life in this present moment help me to see that right now my life is pretty frickin' awesome.

  • I am in the middle of an amazing photography project that has brought so much good to my life.
  • I have two really great part-time jobs that balance each other out nicely.
  • I work for really nice people who appreciate me and treat me well.
  • Even though the doggie daycare doesn't pay much, I'm paid in so much more than money.
  • I love my job at the doggie daycare so hard and I've learned some new things at the IT job.
  • Both jobs are here in town so there is no commute. My walk to my afternoon job is very pleasant and a nice break in my day.
  • Paydays leave me feeling incredibly grateful and I have finally learned to save 10% of my pay every week. It isn't much but it's fun to watch the balance grow and saving that money has helped me to make my final trip for the project plus it's allowed me to give a few Solstice gifts this year. It will also help me with getting back to Portland.
  • I live with an awesome woman who has so graciously given me space to move through this time in my life. As painful and disappointing as it is for her, she still loves and cares about me and my well being and has opened her space and her life up to me. She shares her time and her animals with me and the friendship that we are growing is beautiful. I am so grateful for her.

This year I have so much to look forward to.

  • In a week and a half I will be in NYC for the first time visiting friends in Brooklyn for the weekend and galavanting around town with my camera on what we're calling “The Great NYC Queer Photo Geek Out”.
  • A week after that I'll be visiting my sister in Connecticut who I haven't seen in 16 years.
  • Sometime after that I'll drive up to Maine and visit a cousin I haven't seen in 36 years.
  • I get to spend at least the next 4 months living in and exploring beautiful New England.
  • I can't wait to help plan and celebrate Tracy's 50th birthday party at the end of April.
  • Trips to Boston on my own and with Tracy.
  • More trips to Crane Beach to enjoy the sand and the sound of the waves. It's only 15 minutes away!
  • Springtime in New England. I hear it's gorgeous and I can't wait to witness it for myself.
  • I get to help a friend and a photographer who I have admired for years on a big photography project. I am so excited and honored to work with her and learn from her.
  • Over the course of the next year I get to put the Butch/Femme Photo Project book together and get it published.
  • My trip back to Portland sometime in May will include visits with friends and family along the way as well as some camping stops on my own. Some in places I've never been.
  • Over the next year and a half I'll be planning and saving for a solo trip to Burning Man in 2015 to be a Temple Guardian. It's a trip that's been tugging at me for a bit now and one I am very excited about.
  • Once I get back to Portland I have some incredible friends and family who have already offered up space for me to land and get settled. Plus, Portland has so many doggie daycares I can work for! :)

All of this plus I have an amazing group of friends and family who love and support me no matter what. Life is pretty fucking awesome. Focusing on all of this good is exactly what I have been doing lately and it, combined with my Zen meditation and journaling, is what's going to bring me out of this funk. I can feel it working already.

I am so incredibly blessed. My love and gratitude go out to those who have helped me reach this place on my path.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Card Worthy Lights


This is a house down the street that I've walked past several times. Tonight I had to take my camera out and capture the scene. The house and the decorations are so holiday card worthy. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Different Kind of Pain


It's been an interesting couple of weeks. I wish I had the words to paint a picture of the inner battle that's going on inside my head and heart. I've been focusing on staying present in each moment in the hopes of learning to connect with my instincts again. I've lost trust in myself and need to get that back. There are certain things I'm sure of, like my need to be on my own for a while to figure out who Wendi is and my need to learn to forgive myself. It's going to be a long road but it's one I am willing to travel.

There hasn't been a day that's gone by that I haven't thought about the friends and love that I've lost because of my actions and choices. I miss them tremendously and feel like I have a huge hole in my life and my heart. My pain is deserved, yet still, it's pain. It's different from the pain that led me to make those decisions that pushed them away. The kind of pain I feel from this will make me want to pull people closer and fight through the fear of being vulnerable with them.

This past weekend I flew to Tampa, Florida for my photo project. There are a great group of people living down there in the Sunshine State who welcomed me with open arms and I am so grateful to have met them. To see the love between not only the couples but between the friends was beautiful and reminded me of what's truly important in this life. Love. Connection. Relationships. Thank you to all those who gifted me with this reminder. It is one that I will hold on to tightly.

“We are products of our past, but we don't have to be prisoners of it.”
Rick Warren

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
Gautama Buddha

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dialogue With My Inner Pain

"...what stands out the most to me is the fact that, for these women, you were there, and then you were gone.  In that action, there is so much pain.  Not only pain caused by the breakups but pain that is present within yourself.  When we have a pain in our body – an achy knee, for instance – we can become cranky.  It is the same thing with inner pain.  We get cranky and restless and don’t know how to heal our pain and so we end up causing pain in others.  I invite you to have a journal conversation with any inner pain you might recognize here.  Or just open up to any negative feeling that might be in there so that you can have a dialogue with it.  Find out why it is there and why it is expressing as pain to others and to yourself (!)."  

I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I am to have someone in my life to guide me through this incredibly difficult time. The words above are my birthmother's. She is an amazing human being and an incredible soul. I am so blessed and grateful to have her in my life. 

I spent last night in a pit of self hatred after reading the words of someone who I've hurt in this life. They were honest and held nothing back. As painful as they were to read, I am grateful for the honesty and the reality of them. I've spent quite a lot of time in this world believing I was someone who, in reality, I was not.  

In sharing with my Mom all of the things I've been discovering about myself and the communication exchanges I've had recently with those who I have hurt, she has given me insights and an outside observer's point of view. This helps tremendously with seeing through the pain and changing what used to be my normal reactions to painful situations. It's sometimes very difficult to be open to but if I really do want to make any changes at all (and I really, really do), then I have to be open to her insights and observations. 

So, this morning I spent a couple of hours in conversation with my inner pain. In my meditation prior to this conversation, three words were screamed into my thoughts. "I am nothing." This is my inner pain. It has been my foundation from day one in this world and as much as I've tried to ignore it, it still continues to lead me through this life and that has got to stop. I've kept quiet in times when I shouldn't have because of it. Not letting my partners know of my wants and needs because of a sense of my burdening them yet I somehow expected them to know who I am and what I wanted and if I didn't get the sense that they did then they didn't love me. After all, I'm unworthy and unimportant. 

I hate to cast judgement on anything but, what a sick and twisted way of being. How fucked up is that to do to someone who you love?!

I know why that pain is there. I know where it started. I've used it as a defense mechanism my entire life. If I don't see myself as someone who is worthy in this life then it won't hurt as much when others see me that way, too. But the fact is, the why isn't important anymore. What's important is changing the story, the belief about myself. 

I'm sorry inner pain but your services are no longer needed here. I thank you for your time but it's time to go. It's time for me to change this belief system about myself completely. You are not protecting me, you are hurting me and you're hurting those who I love the most in this world and I can't have that anymore. There is too much pain. Enough. Take your beliefs and leave. 

People are going to come and go in my life. It's the ebb and flow of relationships and it's a natural human experience. The least I can do is to be fully present, open, honest and vulnerable with them while they are here. In doing so I am honoring not only them and the relationship but also myself. 

It's funny because I feel a sense of terror in all of this. Letting go of something that's rooted so deeply inside me and has been a huge part of my life is terrifying. It's the only thing I've known, the only part of me I've known. But it's time to rip that root up and let it go for good. Throw away the etch-a-sketch that is who I think I am and replace it with some wood carvings. 

It's time to start believing in the opposite of what I have known, that I am worthy and important. When I feel like a burden, unimportant or unworthy I need to recognize it and find the opposite of that feeling. If I don't I'll never have that intense connection that I crave so badly. It wouldn't be possible because the two are not compatible. They're like oil and water. 

I am someone. I am important. I am worthy of love, respect and all of the good things in life. My needs and wants are important. I am not a burden to this world. 

Wow. This is going to be tough. 

"The biggest thing to remember right now is that when you feel self-hatred rearing her ugly head, remember that at the essence of you is Love.  You come from love.   You might make mistakes but you are working to correct them and that takes tremendous strength and courage.  I am really proud of the inner work you are doing and for the step you are taking to make things right for yourself and those you love.

No matter what, you ARE love and that will never change.  AND you are loved.  When you doubt that, call me.  I’ll tell you the truth."

Thank you, Mom. I will be carrying those words around with me for a while. At least until I am completely convinced of them. 

**************************

Some may wonder why I choose to process all of this in such a public setting. A few people have let me know that my writing about all of this in such a public setting has helped them not feel so alone. This is exactly why I do this. To help myself by being held accountable and to help others not feel so alone. We are all humans having a human experience. If you're feeling something, chances are someone else in the world is feeling it, too. You are not alone in this.