Let’s Start By Clearing Clutter

February 5, 2019

This year I will be turning 50 and it has me asking myself who I am, day after day. I want the next 50, give or take a few, to be different. As this grand 5-0 approaches, I imagined myself at my goal weight (yes, everything I write is going to mention weight since it’s the most fucked up part of my self esteem), with a booming career and spotless home, successful business, and overall amazing life. But I got some clutter in the way.

I’m sitting here at my dining room table, in baggy sweats, ankle socks, airpods in, Consideration by Rihanna, SZA playing full blast in my head, candles burning around the recently clutter-purged dining room / kitchen combo. My husband is at his night job in the city. My youngest daughter is with her dad. My oldest is at work for another 2 hours. I feel like a teenager…. Enjoying the natural high of the freshly cleaned and rearranged space of my kitchen and dining room. There’s a vibe here now that wasn’t here before. 

Tidying Up by Marie Kondo has taken the insane busy moms by storm. I’ve felt held down by stuff for years. I watched one episode, handled my clothes, drawers, closet, shoes, purses. Seven bags were bagged up. My husband came home and felt the same drive. He added another 2-3 bags. Over the past 3 weeks I’ve continued through the outside shed, hall closet, and most recently our kitchen / dining room combo. I am looking at and living with only the items that have “brought me joy”. Everywhere I turn, I am happy. I am content. I went from items falling on me when you opened our walk-in closet, to standing completely in my closet every morning, looking at only my most favorite items of clothing hanging in order by color in my closet. Getting dressed has never been easier. The stress I encountered DAILY with trying to get ready from piles of clothes around the room, to reaching over piles and piles of I don’t know what, to get the tip of my pointy finger on a shoe that I think matches a shoe I remember being under my bed…is over. Getting dressed takes no time, no matter how yucky I feel that day. I can easily find something from only my favorites. 

I have been lacking any and all optimism for quite some time now. Life has fucking sucked to be blunt. But the dark cloud – or in my case – the fucking 8.0 magnitude quake followed by a tsunami, which then for some weird reason was followed by a hurricane…. Is starting to get a break. Skies are clearing. Water is drying up. I might have weathered the storm. I feel as though I have pretty much weathered that storm. My husband tells me I have. We have. Pretty sure (if I could just keep going with this convenient metaphor) we are headed to higher ground finally.

Here I sit in that newly found peace that comes with a freshly cleaned space, fragranced by a balance of sweet, clean and spice wax. Feeling a bit light headed from the wave of excitement for having a focused area of our house. Clutter is a scary thing. It consumes most. Destroys good energy. An exception to the rule is an individual who can multitask through or over the clutter. They can remain focused on the task at hand and not let bullshit distract them. I admire those people. I am not one of them. I have tried to hold it together and not let the obvious violation of our space, infringe upon my success as a woman, a mom and a wife. “Tried” being the key word. Even though I still deal with it, I know it wears me down. I see it. Hate it. Shame myself for it. Step over it. Think about it. Hate on it. I hear the judgment in my head, I hear the voices of my childhood about what kind of person “let’s things go…” and I hate that I am that person. And yet the clutter remains. It’s such a vicious mold that grows over your motivation, inspiration and in the end, productivity.

I have always either obsessively cleaned my home, or let it grow over itself with piles of clean clothes, boxes that need to be put away in sheds or garages, unfinished projects, things that were never given a “place”, mail that is going to be filed, curtains that are going to be hung, etc. It holds you back, holds you down, becomes an invisible and literal physical barrier to success – It stands between you and progress. I know this. I agree with this concept. I can validate the theory every time I clear physical space. It is like this magical and spiritual energy suddenly takes over the space, the home and that energy now has space to flow through the home. The energy is lifted. The moods improve. The inhaling is deeper and the exhale is healing…all because there is clean energy. I have started to clear the funk. I can feel what’s coming with this transition….. 

It is nurturing the true manifesting of what my heart seeks. Reaching up to the higher me; the part of me that has been hiding behind depression. The part of me that was so dependent on others to make me happy. I have some work to do on myself. Ok, quite a bit actually. But clearing the clutter, seeing the space open, feeling the space open in my head and in my sense of being; being able to think about something other than that pile of crap over in the corner of my family room, is setting the stage for the new me to make an entrance sometime soon. It makes me almost pee myself when I think about what life would be like with a clutter free, open house, functioning home office space, writing space, family gathering space, me-time space, clean patio, etc., that would then lead to a healthier mind, healthier body, calmness, and an anxiety free existence. Weight loss might happen. Improved health. Business growth because of everything mentioned. THAT is what I want at 50. Let’s start with clearing the clutter.

Five Zero

A day in November, 2019.

Today is the first day I am defined by a 5 in my age. First digit. It’s a big deal. I mean, I’ve thought about this day forever…like 50 years….or 14 years… or maybe just the past 3 months? I don’t know. I tend to exaggerate or use superlatives to describe the simplest things when I’m excited. I have mixed feelings. In the limo last night with my cousins, as we headed out to San Francisco to a comedy club for the evening, we got on the subject of birthday milestones. The conversation went from one cousin saying that 40 was a big one for her… because their mom was 42 when she died. When you reach the same age of the age your parent was when they died, it hits you harder than other birthdays. Unfortunately we all share this first hand knowledge. With the trauma of losing the parent, included in the grieving is a developed fear and anxiety around the age that you have to make it to…and then you can’t help but imagine what they were feeling when they knew they were leaving all of us behind.

My older cousin, brother of the first cousin who spoke of their mom’s death, said that it was in his 30’s where he felt pressure to get through those years. He was scared. Always living in fear of getting his shit together and getting it going….his mom died towards the end of his 20’s….and affected how he saw the rest of his life. His 30’s were mostly spent putting  everything in to building himself, his career, his family… because he had to get it together…before THAT age. THE age. The age they lost their mom… 42. Breast cancer diagnosis at age 37. My cousins in the limo were 24 and 14 when their mom died.

My mom was their mom’s baby sister. My mom passed away at the age of 61. She was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 59. Non-small cell adenocarcinoma, Stage 4, at age 59. She was in her 50’s…. I turned 50 yesterday.

Like my cousins reaching 37, or their 40’s, and eventually 42, those birthdays affected them differently because of how old their mom was when she passed. They now have more milestones to fear or anticipate…or push towards. Life – your health – the milestones reached – your happiness… It matters and once you lose a parent, it seems common that the children start to see the stages of their own lives and reevaluate what they want out of life.
This milestone birthday places me in my 50’s. It gave me something to think about. It’s a “heavier” birthday, I explained to my cousin last night in the limo. His sister and I got deep for a few moments… We discussed why these ages affect us; How we see our own mortality; What our fears are at this age, every time we go to the doctor; Our phobias of taking care of ourselves, etc. We covered it all…quickly and intensely in the back of the limo, while on the way to celebrate my 50th in the city.

The mood got dark. Somber, cloudy, heavy, emotional, hearts were beating a bit faster… We sat for a moment in our thoughts, feeling the weight of the mood…

My cousin starts with a long winded, “Welllllllll, now that we brought the mood up, and are REALLY in the celebrating vibe, I hear the plague is making a comeback…“

Classic dark comedy that has always been our quick survival safety net… We are AMAZING at pulling the most inappropriate but ever so appropriate comedy out at the most perfect moments. Our Grandma taught us well. For the saint most people thought she was, she taught us how to laugh at the most inappropriate times. And in hindsight, or as maturity set in, we learned that life fucking sucks. Life is not easy. And that you will survive the hard shit. But only with a lot of alcohol, a bunch of weed, and/or thousands of dollars worth of therapy, amazing friends and family who catch you when you fall, brush the shit off you and stand you back up. And last but not least, a great fucking sense of humor to release the tension of heartache during moments you feel your heart is going to crack from grief, pain, loss….etc.

Sometimes it’s easier to just call it like it is – be sarcastic to deflect, simply to move the dark cloud over for a minute so you can just exhale for a minute. Life will be serious again tomorrow. It’s ok to breathe right now.

So, I’m 50. It makes you think. Aside from the added fear of my “50’s” – it makes you pause, look around and tally up the years, the accomplishments, the setbacks, the emotional state, the future…. blah blah blah. It’s so cliche – but it’s true.

The one question that I continued asking myself as this date was approaching was, what had i hoped to achieve by this age? (Some people, who try to help me see the positive in life and move only towards positive energy, would tell me not to go back down this path if it’s negative). I believe, for the sake of sharing and story telling, I should at least give the highlights…
* I would’ve been at my goal weight, 10 years ago, and would just been physically active, signing up for runs with friends, more group hikes and just BE a healthier person.
* Settled and accomplished in a long-time career.
* Would be in possibly my 3rd owned home, but this would be THE one. The comfortable, new, spacious, amazing energy house, with meditational sunset views, inspiring light filled space, with areas dedicated for creativity and development for my husband and my writing projects, outdoor peaceful living space and warm living space for holiday and friendship building entertainment. The home that makes me feel I made it. I’m here. Where I wanted to be. Me….

So as the calendar days go by and the day approached, I started to think about what I have had; what I have; how far I’ve come, but how far I still have to go….. Again, I appreciate the negative energy in my thoughts. But I need to speak it so I rid myself of it. If I don’t know what I’m trying to say goodbye to, I won’t know when it’s gone.

I am getting there. I’m in a house that I’d like to sell. It’s not THE home for me. I can see the right house is in my future, if I work towards it. I can have the yard, the space for creativity development, the energy, the meditational components — I can move on. Change our vibe. Change the energy. Improve our space and find one that meets all of our needs.

But it is time to let go. Time to move away from the emotional setbacks, the depression, the anxiety, the fear, the shame, the guilt…of where I’ve been, who I didn’t become, who I let down, decisions that didn’t work out, choices I made, but most of all, my own shadow. Something had hung over me for a long time and I’d like to believe that with turning this incredible age of 50, I am grown enough to let the bullshit go. The voices in my head that judge me, tell me how I should’ve done everything differently, the voices that tell me I only have myself to blame, and the worst voice…the one that tells me I’m too old to get a new chance. Fuck that voice especially. Time to let go of those voices.

I’ve never created a vision board. Always wanted to. They seem so spiritual and positive. I’ve heard of many women creating them. According to the good old internet, vision boards have been discovered in the cave man era, South Pacific indigenous people and native Americans. In the cave man era, they visualized the hunt. That makes perfect sense. They planned, visualized it. I’ve clicked on the top 5-6 websites that came up when I googled, “origination of vision boards,” in order to give proper credit to where they come from. In my results I stumbled across a couple of sites that disagreed with a vision board in the sense of cutting out pictures and posting them on a pretty board – fantasizing and dreaming of the big house, world wide travel, new career, bigger family, etc.

I find that I do not dive right into things, without doing my own research. However, because I read too much of the negative opinions, I often hesitate. It’s a problem. It creates a very difficult commitment pattern. I can find fault in EVERYTHING, so why would I trust ANYTHING? …I’m also working on this.

But in doing actual research to develop a balanced blog and cover my ass, I found that the reasons psychologists don’t support vision boards is because they don’t support the notion of hoping and fantasizing for success, without visualizing the necessary steps required to build oneself into that position.

Done. Sold. Makes perfect sense to me. I don’t pray for things. I don’t hope. But I do believe in speaking the energy into the world. Some may say that is their prayer. I just don’t believe in a God. Raised Baptist, I am finally settled in to who I am… I am agnostic. I believe in energy. I believe in the human spirit. I believe in our brain power. I believe that when I am moved by something, it can change the energy and that energy can change anything else if guided correctly. That’s my spirituality in a nutshell.

The vision board must create the vision of the steps that it will take to create what you are manifesting. BOOM. Mic drop. I just summarized it all for you. And me. And this…THIS is how I’m starting my 50’s. I will manifest the shit out of what I want in my life. What I want to achieve in my lifetime. I’m ready.

I have always felt that the small print of manifesting and visualizing what you want in life is code for, GETTING OFF YOUR FUCKING ASS. As much as that might be true, I can’t deny that I appreciate the emotional strength and character building that is organically developed and strengthened while you learn to get your shit together. Or reach your goals…. depends on the angle.

Manifesting is a new thing for me. It started to really develop in my conscious this past year. One of my best friends has been preaching to me for over a year about how I need to change the dialogue in my head, clear the bullshit negative talk, find and see my inner beauty, believe in myself, own the energy that it requires to manifest my goals in life….

More recently another friend who lives in Florida started to share her experiences with manifesting what she wants to bring into her life through positivity and giving back to her community. Another bestie from childhood started reading a book on manifesting and bringing into your life the things that bring you happiness or the things that you want to achieve. It’s on our minds. We are talking about it and sharing that energy and knowledge.

It’s buzzing. It’s catching on. Just like vision boards did. Pinterest probably has a whole, fancy, collection of the best quotes and books and workbooks and guides for MANIFESTING what you want in your life. I recently saw an Oprah YouTube interview where she discusses “manifesting”. And of course, go figure, it was Oprah’s words that connected…
‘’…You have to meet the vibration. You can’t be above or below it, …like negative energy and positive energy. In order to draw the thing to you that you want to come, you can’t want it so much that you fear that you won’t get it. You have to want it. And then let it go…. Meet that vibration and be ready when it shows up….” – Oprah 
Those words connected. I mean, I’m of the Oprah generation so I connect to almost everything she says. But those words gave me a true sense of manifesting. I can honestly say that for me, manifesting is like meditating. It takes practice. Lots of practice.
That energy is something real and rare for me. I know when I’ve felt it. I know when it’s lacking. I think that during most of my life, it’s been organic. I remember the passion that set my soul on fire during various stages of my life. That fire that drove me to do the big things in life. The energy was raw and pure, and during those times, full of youth. The adults told me I could be anything, do anything, I just had to push myself. 
My passion for stuff was overwhelming at times. I had passion! But looking back, I realize I had no idea how to manifest it into a lifelong fulfilling career. 
Here I am, at 50, trying to manifest what I want in life. I believe I have enough quality experience, developed wisdom and valuable failed attempts, to make better calls moving forward. If not, at least I’ve gotten a lit bit better at not giving a fuck. 
Better than that, at 50 I’ve stopped caring about who cares if I say or write the word, “fuck”. Ok well, I care a little bit because, oh I don’t know why. I just care what people think, still, sometimes. Dammit.
I just need to grow up. And own my shit. And be an adult. And live my life. And find happiness. And find myself. And be proud of who I am, even if I don’t feel I’ve “become anyone”, yet. The ONE thing I have become, is a mom. Twice – and raised a bonus son. And I AM proud of how I’ve raised my children. I showered them with love, acceptance, freedom to develop who they are organically, and kept them in their books, taught them how vital homework is, etc. — So academically, they became the opposite of me. I couldn’t be prouder of the fact that I broke the cycle and set them on their paths with the hunger for knowledge. They both have such deep passion for life, I couldn’t be happier. Yes, I’ll give myself a tiny pat on the back for THAT accomplishment. 
But for me, this woman, I just need to grow up. I don’t feel 50. Yet I know that this age expects things out of me. And I expect a lot from myself. Let’s see what these 50’s bring…. I’ll keep you updated. 😉

The Journey Begins

“When things are bad, it’s the best time to reinvent yourself.” – George Lopez.

There you are! And here I am. Which makes this a connection. I have an audience. Even if it’s only you. I appreciate that you are here…and following these words, and thoughts. I like to tell stories. I like to talk through the worst of times. I also like to laugh until my stomach hurts. I like to be shocked. Not creepy-weird shocked, just good ol’ shock humor. The progressive, blunt, intellectual, wise, brave, humble, based on facts kind of humor. Sometimes that can be shocking. And that makes it even funnier. We’ll get into that more as we get to know one another.

I like to be descriptive. I like to describe the ENTIRE scene, in order to describe and share the emotion and bring you inside my head. Always. It must always be emotional with me. I say that half jokingly, half with a sense of cynical and sarcastic humor, and half with a very serious, dumping-my-flaws-on-you-at-first-meeting-confession type admission. Yes, that’s 3 halves. If you’re going to sit here and correct me and judge me, you’re going to exhaust yourself. I trip over my words, I explain too much, I fuck up idioms and I suck at math. Soooo, it’s best if you just try to find the comedy. Patience will get you far. And if you’re lucky I might even make you shed a tear here and there (remember, I’m emotional).

I have started this blog for a few reasons. I love to share. Writing is therapy. I’ve always believed that I can express myself on paper with such accurately emotional words and descriptions. People get what I’m trying to say when I write. I don’t repeat, stumble, ramble, etc. and if I do, I can catch it. I am a journalist major and even though my professional career dabbled in the teaching of the language, my constant side passion has always been writing. Although if you were to ask anyone in my inner circles, everyone would say I don’t have a problem talking. Oh I can chat. And keep thinking of another thing to add…. I have learned to shut up and LISTEN. Sometimes my insecurity kicks in and I think, no one is really, truly interested in what I have to say anyways. You start to get that feeling when you’re told that you talk too much. I was told as a child by a few adults in my family, “If you don’t have anything intelligent to say, don’t join the conversation. These people have different (in other words, “more interesting”) things they want to discuss”. Ouch. Why do those kind of comments stick with us, define us, throughout our lives?

So in hindsight, I guess it made sense that I found my voice while writing. I resisted it in school. Hated the long essays I had to write, or that my mom wrote for me and had me copy at 3am in my own handwriting. Hated it because I was am was (fuck it) AM a procrastinator. I was a horrible student. Never did my work. Total and utterly helpless “social butterfly”. But when my mom would find out, she’d do anything to make me complete an assignment, study for a test, etc. She was stressed working full time, living pay check to pay check, and I can hear her over happy hour with her sister, “I’ll kick her ass before I let her fail…. ” She would absolutely go off on me for about 4 days. Telling me how disappointed she was with me for waiting until the last minute…. and then she would read the book(s), write the paper and wake me up at 3am to copy it in my own handwriting. I would cry. She would yell. It would be a knock-down-drag-out fight every time. I hated it. She would use words in my papers that were way too advanced and intellectual for me to understand, pronounce and spell. I’d cry more. She’d tell me it was my own god damn fault and that next time I should do my homework on time! She had a point.

So I grew up hating writing. And then realized that, thanks to those papers and Mom’s threats, I actually learned HOW to write, even though I barely passed any other subject in high school. And then I majored in Mass Communications with a focus on Journalism. Go figure. Even after majoring in a field that focused on writing, I’ve never really put faith and energy into writing professionally. My creativity has gone down the path of photography, teaching English and media – but nothing directly in WRITING, journaling, blogging.

I’ve experienced some traumatic life experiences over the past 20 years and maybe, just maybe, sharing my experiences will help someone in their own struggle, grief, regret and help them along on their path of lifelong decisions. I blogged on a private site while my mother was going through cancer treatment. It was therapeutic. It still is. I was told by a few readers that they appreciated feeling as though they were there with us, as I invited them into our intimate moments through my words.

My mom passed 9 years ago. I’m grieving. You never really stop grieving a parent. I don’t know how one would. The loss of a parent is almost a physical pain. It changes who are you are. It changes where you were going. At any age. It’s part of life, but it’s also one of the things that makes being human so painful, as well as beautiful. There are quotes that remind us that life can not be fully enjoyed if we don’t also experience loss. It’s how we appreciate the details, they say. I guess? Maybe I’m stubborn. I am having a hard time appreciating my mom not being here. She was supposed to watch my daughters grow up with me. I crave her. I long for her. It hurts. And it always will. I have learned to live with the heaviness of her loss.

Even if you simply don’t speak to a parent, it pulls at a part of your spirit and is an intensely emotional loss. If you have issues with a parent, it messes with the rest of your life. No matter how much you try to push past it, it’s just there. It’s becomes an unending ache in your heart that you are constantly trying to overcome and push through, without much success. It’s so cliche but the act of writing absolutely sorts and organizes my thoughts. I suffer from anxiety. Writing helps. It’s no surprise that my grief manifested into anxiety following my mom’s death. Around 4 months after she passed I would find myself waking up at 3am, every night, with a knot in my stomach. It was panic. It was feeling like I had just received the worst news ever. That kick-in-the-gut feeling where you go into fight or flight mode. Every night. 3am. It can be exhausting. And then it starts to happen at different times, with various triggers. Pretty much EVERY thing triggers the anxiety now.

So I write. If I see it on paper or on the screen, it comforts me. Seeing the words, makes it seem manageable. Yes, that’s how I feel. I see it. It has a voice. I feel hopeful that I can answer my problems with solutions….by continuing to write. I can find my way. I can continue on my journey and grieve, feel, release, find strength or …….. just make a ton of fucked up jokes that just make it seem bearable.

As the George Lopez quote says, “When things are bad, it’s the best time to reinvent yourself.” I am on a journey to reinvent myself. Through spilling my life out here, to you. I hope I connect with others in a way that helps them. I hope I find myself soon….as I get closer to that beautiful golden age of 5-0. Yep. That’s coming up in just over a year.

There is a young girl within this shell of a human I call, “me”, who’s not sure it matters what the birth certificate says, as long as she can find herself soon and start really enjoying the upcoming chapters. Life has been hard for a while. Life was good. Then it fucking sucked. And then I floated for a bit…with dreams and visions. But it came to an end following various circumstances. And life became a challenge again. A struggle. So today I’m trying to survive and push and live and grow and mature and improve….did I mention survive? Every day I try to survive. There are parts of life that must be lived, experienced, accomplished — I’m doing the best I can with what I have. But I am on my journey to be “accomplished”. We will venture into all of this as I turn the pages, peel the layers, get high and blog or whatever. I will get to each detail. Because I must find my path now. I hope while I write and think, think and write, it adds something to someone else’s life out there. That would be an amazing connection. Be well. Let’s do this.