The Loner

 

 

 

 
I am quite happy at this point in my life and I am 99% comfortable with living solo and spending time by myself. For 15+ years, I was in a relationship that consumed almost every facet of my life. Without intending to do so, I now realize that I had allowed that relationship to distance me from family and friends. Once it ended, I really didn’t know what to do with myself or how to reconnect with those that I had unintentionally abandoned. However, it feels like I’ve been working four years on completing a 1000-piece puzzle (remember those?) and I have a few pieces with which I am struggling to find the right place. It seems that no matter hard I try to fit in and make friends, I am still mostly a loner. I often travel, dine, and attend events solo. Sometimes I connect with people I consider to be friends or would befriend if we were strangers before, but I still don’t have the companionship or the level of friendship that I had with him. I do know now that I would never, ever allow any relationship to have that much control over me, but I definitely miss having a best friend with whom I can talk about anything. I carry many thoughts and emotions inside of my head and my heart.

I feel like I have a lot to contribute to a friendship. I am loyal beyond a fault, kind, polite, and caring. I usually give way more to others than I accept from them. I go above and beyond. So why is this so challenging? Interestingly, I think that some find me a bit threatening, for lack of a better word, although nothing could be further than the truth. I believe living solo is a sign of bravery that some may not possess and it makes them uncomfortable. All that being said, does the friendship world have a place for someone like me? Or am I destined to remain a loner?

I think part of the reason I feel the way I do is the influence of social media, with which I have a love-hate relationship. I scroll down my Facebook News Feed. I see people out and about with others, spending time with loved ones, and posting the perfect parts of their lives. It compounds the feeling of singleness. I wonder why I don’t have that level of comraderie in my life. Why am seeing all of this from afar instead of living it?

The good news is that living life completely on my own for the past four years is ultimately a testament to my strength and to some, that may be intimidating. I moved 2626.9 miles away from home. I take care of myself and my cat all by myself. I manage every detail of my life. I have learned a new career in only two years. My writing has blossomed. Perhaps being a loner is actually a gift waiting to be shared with those who understand and embrace my power and affection.

Love,
Beth

 

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My life as an egg

When you numb your pain you also numb your joy. ~ Brene Brown

I have one more thing to write before 2015 begins after all.

Yesterday, I had a panic attack about being alone. I don’t mean not being in a relationship, I mean feeling disconnected from the world, away from East Coast family and friends. I never had panic attacks until I lost my relationship and job in 2012, but I guess they are a form of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), maybe? Most of them are about finances, but this was personal. With these moments of panic often come moments of clarity and enlightenment.

While I took a big risk by moving across the country for a new life and I love to travel to new places, I’ve never really opened myself up completely to opportunities or people since I moved. I have RSVPed to events or get-togethers with people I didn’t know, then chickened out at the last minute. I wanted to go, but I was afraid. Sometimes I attended, but I would quickly exit. I just arrived home from Hawaii and realized that while I was there, I did the same thing. I spent a lot of time with new friends that welcomed me into their fold, but I also would retreat to my hotel when I could. Part of that is because I’m an HSP and crowds and activity can overstimulate me. However, I also think it’s because I am drained from keeping my guard up.

On Christmas Eve, I watched one of my favorite movies again, French Kiss, but with different eyes. It has comedy, romance, France, a great wine moment, and it has a woman like me, a crazy chick who takes a risk that goes against her grain. However, she discovers along the way that she had been living a very closed life.

As I thought of all of this, it hit me. I am like an egg, closed, afraid to break open. I’m afraid of someone breaking through the shell that I’ve built around me for two and a half years. I’m afraid of not being accepted. I’m afraid of rejection. I’m afraid to really live. My chiropractors have known this for seven months, as they have had to open me up physically nearly every week.

In 2015, this egg will be ready to crack open. What good is an egg with an unbroken shell? The shell is meant to be removed to get to the deliciousness inside. I know it will be a process to let go of my fears, but it’s all about baby steps. It’s about peeling the shell away one piece at a time. And just wait until you see what’s inside of me.

Love,
Beth

My Thoughts After Nine Months in Napa

Napa Valley Sign by Bob McClenhahan http://www.bobmcclenahan.com/

Napa Valley Sign by Bob McClenahan http://www.bobmcclenahan.com/

Sometimes I can’t believe I live in Napa, yet it’s been nine months since I moved. It often feels like an out-of-body experience or a dream as I am commuting to and from work via Silverado Trail, which has to be one of the most gorgeous commutes in this country. Napa Valley is amazing and I know my heart is here to stay in wine country, but I still feel like I am in limbo when it comes to my career and relationships.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the past nine months:

1. Leaving what was comfortable was and still is difficult, even if it wasn’t good or even healthy for me. No matter how beautiful a place I am in or how lucky I appear to be, I am reminded daily, especially thanks to social media, how hard it is to leave the other life behind. I had to create a whole new life for myself and it hasn’t been easy adjusting to a new schedule, career, and work environment. All are very stressful, even if they are for the best in the long run.

2. I lost my social and support network in Virginia and North Carolina and it still hasn’t been replaced. Again, social media is awesome for superficial, virtual connections, but it still drops the ball when it comes to real-life relationships. Some of the people in Napa and Sonoma I knew through social media before I moved are still just social media connections, not real-life friends, like I hoped we would be.

3. Teaching is the hardest profession, this I know for sure. Towards the end of my teaching career, I had already made up my mind that I was going stop teaching after spring semester 2014, but the universe had plans for me to exit unexpectedly in late 2012. In my former life, I often worked 16 or more hours per day, in the office and at home. Now I work more like 8-9 hours per day during the work week and a couple of hours per day on weekends as needed, by choice. I am happy the teaching part of my journey is over, although I would not mind teaching informally about topics like wine, travel, and the lessons I’ve learned from my life journey. I’d love to be someone’s mentor.

4. No matter where I live, I believe I am destined to be a loner. I try to forge relationships both near and far, but they don’t seem to work out. I’m surprised that my last romantic relationship lasted over 15 years, but then again, we were only together twice, three, or four times per month, so maybe that explains why we lasted so long. I’ve never said this in public until now, but the last couple of years of that romantic relationship, I used to wake up at his apartment on weekends and think, “Is this all there is?” I think that was a big sign I chose to ignore until he kicked me to the curb. I deserve more in all of my relationships. I will NOT be an afterthought. I want people to think of me first or not think of me at all.

5. If I ever find myself connected to someone in a similar situation as me, feeling like they are alone in the world trying to survive and move forward, I promise that I will reach out and include them. It surprises me that we as a society are so oblivious and wrapped up in ourselves that we completely ignore the signs of someone who is reaching out for the human connection, for support, and for a genuine relationship. If you know anyone that is single and/or lives alone, please INCLUDE them. At least invite them to your gatherings, for God’s sake, and let them decide whether or not they wish to attend. It’s not easy being alone anywhere, regardless of a locale’s beauty and opportunity.

We are NOT too busy to be welcoming, kind, and inclusive to others. We are here to love ourselves and each other. Be love. Share love.

Love,
Beth

Daily Love: Growing Into Grace, A Review (Sort Of)

Daily Love: Growing Into Grace

Daily Love: Growing Into Grace

Mastin Kipp’s blog, The Daily Love, literally helped save my life after my Divine Storm in 2012, when I lost the person whom I thought was the love of my life and my teaching career within two months. I met Mastin at his Enter the Heart tour in Asheville, North Carolina in 2013 and have been anxiously awaiting his book ever since. I will meet Mastin again on October 13 in San Francisco for his Growing Into Grace Workshop.

Mastin’s book is more than I ever imagined. I read the book last night in one sitting. I could not put it down. It was a profound, mystical experience, yet written in a way that everyone who reads the book will be able to “keep what resonates” for them. I am still on my journey to Grace and can see great similarities between myself and my feelings and Mastin’s, even though our Divine Storms were quite different. I appreciate that Mastin not only shares his growth and journey, but includes and highlights the work of his peers and mentors, which helped him weather and thrive beyond his storm.

Mastin and me in Asheville

Mastin and me in Asheville

Having been under chiropractic treatment since May because my spine basically closed up as I cocooned myself from the world for the past couple of years, I really began to fully understand the mind-body connection. Opening my spine and my body has been synonymous with letting go of the past and gradually getting myself unstuck from all that happened to me. This book reiterates the connection between our minds and our bodies. If we deny our Hero’s Journey, it can affect our physical, emotional, and mental health, and the world will also not benefit from our unique gift.

There is so much more I would like to share, but I would spoil the book for future readers. I will conclude by saying that the content goes well beyond Mastin’s blog and allows the reader to better understand him as a person, a writer, and a spiritual leader of his generation.

To buy your copy/copies, visit this link. I have both the hard copy and Kindle versions and will receive a signed copy in San Francisco at the workshop. Perhaps I will see you there?

Love,
Beth

My beef with social media, aka the power and the pain of the written word, emoticons, and the thumbs-up symbol

Anyone know who William Faulkner was? If so, this blog post is for you. He was my favorite writer in high school and I wanted so much to be able to master stream of consciousness writing.

First, I must call bullshit on that saying, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me (exact words may vary). While I understand that I can choose to ignore words, I am human after all, and a (budding) writer, and words, especially the written word, stick with me. Words are powerful. That’s why we read and write, yes? I remember what I see and read, because I am very visual. I was one of those kids who read by dim light late into the night, until my mom would come in and tell me I was going to go blind if I kept doing it. (I did end up having to wear glasses starting at age 12). If I were to rewrite this saying, it would say, Sticks and stones may break my bones. Those will heal. However, words break my heart and my heart doesn’t forget.

Which leads me to social media. Yes, I know the beauty of it: connecting and reconnecting with people, businesses, interests, etc. That’s it in a nutshell for me. That being said, most of the communication via social media is by writing, whether it be status updates, comments on a status, tweets, emoticons, etc., and since social media is public, we tend to put out an image of ourselves that isn’t accurate. We often write (aka say) things to each other that we probably would not if we were standing face to face or talking on the phone, because there is this shield of distance implied in a virtual conversation or interaction.

This bugs the hell out of me. I’m so damn open that I just lay my life and feelings out there like a freaking store display, but I rarely have a reciprocal experience. Yet, I continue to put myself out there being Miss Nice, Miss Survivor, Miss Wine, Miss Travel anyway. Then I get to be judged by and compared to a jury of my peers (aka “friends”) with a thumbs-up, not a thumbs-up (What, don’t you like what I wrote?), a retweet (or not), a favorite (or not), and a slew of replies and/or comments that range from relevant, empathetic, sympathetic, kind, cool, to totally irrelevant, rude, mean, WTF, etc. Seriously, don’t the spiritual and inspirational people of today tell us that we should only focus on ourselves, not compete with each other, and not compare ourselves with each other? But there we are out there passing some sort of judgment every, single day by our words, thumbs-up, emoticons, and even silence and inaction.

This is what I’ve been struggling with for a while now. I miss interacting with people in real life and on the phone, where often a facial expression or a voice inflection will prevent a misunderstanding that is often missed in the written, virtual world. Sometimes I just want to say, Pick up the damn phone and call me! I want to connect with a human heart through the spoken word. I want to hear words and feel meaning and emotion while looking at someone’s face and into their eyes.

Words matter. Choose carefully. There are no do-overs.

Love,
Beth

Dear Universe

AreYouThereGod may be found at the following website: http://www.eatthebooks.com

AreYouThereGod may be found at the following website: http://www.eatthebooks.com

OK, so I almost wanted to call this post Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret. Anyone else remember this young girls’ coming-of-age book? And to think when I read it back in the day, I was only terrified of getting my period for the first time, growing boobs, and wearing a bra. If only life were this simple.

Turns out that life is much more than that.

I do have one piece of good news to report. I had my second clean chiropractic scan tonight. It had been a long 10 days since I was miraculously clear after the box purge. Because I was so clear, I received a minimal adjustment. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Let’s see if I can stay clear for the next 14 days, as my next visit isn’t until August 13.

Now to the not-so-good news. For this, I have written a letter to the Universe.

Dear Universe,

So yeah, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. At least according to Kelly Clarkson. But this song is so 2011-2012. It’s 2014. Cut me a freaking break already. 

Don’t you think I have had enough life’s strength training? I promise to utilize what I have learned and keep working out on my own if you could please just let up on me a teeny tiny bit. I have a fitbit, you know. You can track my ass.

Is it because you are still testing me? Trust me, I could bench press a Hummer right now. What have I done to deserve this?

Maybe you think I’m a cool, single crazy cat lady. Of course this is true, but seriously. Where are humans when you need them? Where is the love?

Or is it because you are trying to save me? Could it be that I need to trust you, trust life? It’s just so damned hard to do it all alone.

Please bring back the simple life, like periods, boobs, and bras, K? I’d be good with an old-fashioned game of Spin The Bottle, too.

Holding out for a hero,
Beth

A girl, her work dog, and her salon: tonight’s affirmations

Winery View

Today I spent a work break taking in the beauty that is Napa Valley along with one of our winery dogs. I am blessed to live and work in such a beautiful locale.

Tonight was also salon night, which meant more down time. Instead of spending time on my iPhone, I spent more time thinking and enjoying real human interaction with my two stylists.

Often I keep going nonstop to keep from thinking and feeling, but today I took time out of my day twice to reflect on what’s good and what isn’t in my personal life. Time away from technology can be very powerful. I came to the conclusion that I need to make some decisions: what to keep, what to let go.

I’m not good at letting go. I typically forge ahead in life, for better or for worse, often wiping back tears of anger and sadness in the process, but not letting go because I don’t want to be a quitter. I try to give everyone and everything the benefit of the doubt. This has to change. When I say to myself, “I can’t take this anymore,” I need to listen and take action.

I did make one decision: to keep growing out my hair. I know, women and our hair. I also saved money because the stylist that cuts my hair doesn’t charge for trimming bangs, taking off weight, or shaping. (Don’t worry, I still tipped her as if I had paid her.)

The good news is that because I’m single, I can make decisions for myself without having to consider a spouse or significant other. The bad news is that I’m single and would love to have someone with whom to share my innermost thoughts and feelings.

This has nothing at all to do with the past. My heart is not happy tonight. I hate to go to bed with a heavy heart, so perhaps if I write down some affirmations, some of the weight will be lifted and I can move ahead.

These first affirmations come from The Daily Love emails I receive. I kept these because they rang true.

I am committed to growing my standards.
I am worth Love.
I am honest about how I feel without needing to justify it.
I am worthy of being with someone I can trust.
I am provided for as I set healthy boundaries.
Life supports all my decision to love myself.

These next affirmations are my own.

I am worthy.
I am enough.
I am strong.
I will not settle.
I am not second best, second choice, second anything.
I will not be put on the back burner.
I will be treated with kindness and respect.
I will always do my best and give my all.
I will not put all of my eggs in one basket.
I always have a choice in any situation, no matter who or what is to blame.
I will surround myself with people who value, encourage, and support me.
I will treat others as I would like to be treated.
My time is important.
My heart is not a toy.
Someone, someday, will think I am quite a catch.

What affirmations would you add to my list? What are your strategies for letting go?

Love,
Beth