Before I Become Invisible to You

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invisiblePhoto Credit: Myla Gonzalez,  Cheeky Boudoir Photography. 

Someone very and near to me recently said something to me that shook me to the core and really made me think. She said at her age, she now feels invisible. She said when you reach a certain age, people stop noticing you. It’s as if you become invisible. She wasn’t upset about it. She even said she was starting to accept this, as a natural part of aging. Then I thought about how I have viewed the ‘older’ generation in my mind. I’ve looked right through them, labeled them in a sense, and forgotten that each and every one of them has a life story to tell. Some of fought in wars. They’ve fallen in love. They’ve been heartbroken, and they have broken hearts. They have dealt with loss. They have kissed passionately, baked cookies for their family, danced at weddings. Cried at funerals. They’ve gone on many bike rides, they’ve worked jobs, raised families, experienced trauma in one form or another. Their souls have amazing stories to tell, each an imprint with different yet rich life experiences. Each learning and growing with every breath they take, every interaction. Still learning. Always learning.

 

This lovely lady? She is one of the most beautiful people I have known, inside and out. She is in her 60’s, yet when I look at her all I can think is how much I aspire to be more like her. She is always glowing, and smiling, and youthful and I thought to myself “What makes her shine so beautifully to me?” She thinks she is becoming invisible, but I still very much see her. And I wanted her to know that I see her. I see how she still has a playful soul that still loves to sing and dance. I see how she recognizes what makes her feel good, and she goes out and does it. She no longer really cares what you or I see, and that makes me see her even more. She sees it all within herself. She loves herself! She speaks her mind about what is important to her, and doesn’t worry about what anyone else thinks. So even though she may appear ‘invisible’ to you, she is very much an intricate part of all of us. All of us that desire to experience all of the richness and beauty this life has to offer. She is very visible to me. I hope as I age, I am become more like her.

 

In our culture we value youth, appearances, and beauty. That is what we notice and recognize in people. We label what “real beauty” is. As if one body type is beautiful, and another is not. ‘Strong is Sexy’ ‘Skinny is Sexy’ ‘Curvy is Sexy.’ Why does the media get to tell us what sexy is? We worship airbrushed magazine models and porn stars. We’ve been socially ingrained to do so. We sell sex with everything, yet we are uncomfortable with embracing our own sexuality, as if it is something to be ashamed of. We see sex everywhere. But we won’t dare talk about it.

 

I think about the elderly lady in line at the grocery store. The one that is always in front of me, counting out her coins and coupons. She may no longer be turning the heads of young men. But I thought about how important it is for you and I to notice and recognize her, in all her beauty and strength. She is all of our experiences combined! Her blueprint and legacy are part of us. She is heartbreak, she is loss, she is a million hopes and dreams, some met and some shattered. She is secrets and lies. She is a past filled with love, hurt, betrayal, loss. Happiness, sadness, moments of bliss, and moments of despair. She is marriage, divorce, anniversaries, friends moving away, pets coming and going, houses, surgeries, illnesses, deaths, survival. A beautiful painted canvas rich with her own vibrant colors telling the story of her life. She has picked flowers, climbed trees, sang songs, and laughed so hard she that she peed.

 

I thought again about my beautiful friend, still full of vibrancy, yet starting to feel invisible. She is in a transitional phase in her life, and on the verge of holding on to her youth, and letting go at the same time. I can see the fear in her eyes, but I also see her grace and acceptance of these changes. It’s all coming together. Pivotal. She is taking time for herself to make beautiful handmade jewelry. She is eating real food, she is exercising, she is socializing with friends, decorating her personal space with things that inspire her. Some of her closest friends are much younger than her, some older. She knows the soul has no age. Connection has no age. She is finding the things that make her feel happy, and doing them. I thought about all the ways in which I still needed to grow as a person, so I can be more like she is.

 

Before I become invisible to you…

 

I need to realize that not everyone will see me when I walk into a room. I may not always shine. And that’s okay. My skin will change. My body will change. You will look at me one day, and see a little old white haired lady. And that may be all that you see. I can fight it all I want, but this will happen. I can learn to accept my aging as beautiful, and graceful. And I will turn the heads of those who peer into my soul, and see my true beauty. It may be only one or two people. It may only be me. However, those are the only heads I will need to turn.

 

I will continue to use my voice and my writing to motivate and inspire people. To teach. To help people reach their full potential. I will love myself for all the battles I have been through. All the learning. All the growth I’ve experienced. All the passion and love, and fire in my heart. All the pain and sorrow and loss I’ve experienced. My body may begin to change, it already has. I will love my body it for all it has done for me, and continues to do for me. I will to take care of myself. I will continue to nurture my body with real food. I will continue to read books, and strengthen my mind, and I will get to know myself better, and start to do the things I wish to see done in this world. I will be a beacon for change. I will tell the people I love, that I love them more often. I will work on connecting more with the people that matter to me, and connecting less with screens. I will spend more time in nature, taking in all the natural beauty and sounds around me. I will try to stay in the moment, each moment. I will work on being more present, and less distracted. And take pleasure from the things that matter most to me. I will still play, sing, dance, laugh, and be silly.

 

I will no longer care how I am seen by you.

 

You may think I am careless with my money. Or messy. You may think I take too many selfies, and must be insecure. I leave too many empty cups in my car. You may see me as a bad mother, because I parent differently than you do. I don’t have my children with me all the time. You may think that makes me a part-time parent. But I know I am not. I don’t talk about my children constantly, and worry about every single aspect of their life. I still love them just as much as you love your children. You may judge me because I do not follow your religion, and because I have been through a divorce. Because my family dynamics are very different from yours. I will no longer get angry with how you see me, and internalize myself as bad or wrong based on your views and how you internalize your world. I know I am a good mother, and a good person. It doesn’t matter anymore how you view me, or whether you even see me at all! Because I see all this goodness in myself. So I apologize in advance, but your small mindedness will no longer have any effect on me.

 

At 40 years old I am beginning to really love myself, and the person I am now becoming. All of me. I look back at 20…even 30 year old me, and I want to scoop her up and hug her. I want to tell her to love herself more, and stop trying to find value in myself through all the wrong avenues. Shallow relationships, and clinging to what feels safe. I now see my true beauty. I love my body, the beautiful parts as well as the flawed parts. I love my very small breasts that nourished two babies, and I love my strong butt and legs that can rope climb, and deadlift heavy weights. I love my vagina. Yep. I said it. It has birthed two babies, it has been torn and sewn. It’s still beautiful. I embrace my sexuality, and I don’t see it as something that I need to be ashamed of, or embarrassed about. I love my half brown and half green eyes, and I’ve even learned to like my large nose that I use to loath. I love how small my hands and fingers are. I love the mole on belly, the dimples on my lower back, and the freckle on my big toe. I love and accept all of me. I walk funny sometimes. I’ve had several people ask me why I was limping. But I just walk funny sometimes, because I have tight hamstrings. And I love that about me. I have learned to love my flaws and imperfections, as part of me.

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Photo Credit: Myla Gonzalez,  Cheeky Boudoir Photography. This is me, no makeup to hide behind, my hair is not done. Just me. 

 

How I let that pile of laundry builds up on the couch every week until I finally tackle it. And it feels really good when I tackle it. How I rarely make my bed, yet still love and feel at peace with my space. How I make time every day to bring my dog to the dog park so she can get her energy out and socialize. I love seeing her run freely and smiling, it brings me happiness. How I drive almost an hour to train with my favorite CrossFit coach, even though I could go right down the street. How I make these horrible sounding concoctions to drink because I know they are good for my body. How I’ve begun to schedule time in for my passions, singing and writing. How I allowed myself to be vulnerable, and signed up for voice lessons. How I’ve opened myself up to strangers, and gone out of my way to get to know people that I would normally avoid. People who are different from me. People who don’t internalize the world the same way in which I do.

 

I love how I read with my boys every night that I have them, and how we go for family walks and have impromptu dance parties. How each night we talk about something we are thankful for. How I swear like a frat boy when I’m hanging out with my sisters. How I tend to leave the tops off of everything, and shove things out of site so that my drawers are exploding with random items like screwdrivers and sunscreen and single earrings. I love that I am not perfect. That I don’t pretend to be perfect. That I don’t need facades just to please you. That I am impatient and moody at times. That I get really angry sometimes and yell at my children, and sometimes I hurt the people I love the most. Sometimes I say stupid things, and I can never remember people’s names. I’m bad about writing Christmas cards, birthday cards, anniversary cards, and thank you cards. Sometimes I do them. Sometimes I’m stretched thin, and I don’t. I’d rather just say thank you to your face, and hug you. You may see this as unacceptable, bad or wrong. That is how you internalize it based on societal norms. That’s okay. It’s who I am. I forgive myself. If I were perfect, then I probably wouldn’t even be here. I’m here to learn. I get really nervous before every single work out at CrossFit, and have to pee several times. I am socially awkward at bars. I sing out loud at the grocery store, and embarrass my children. I am enough. I am still enough. I will always be enough! 

The more that we love and accept ourselves with all our imperfections, the less we will judge others. Judging comes out of our own perceived fears and insecurities. Usually we see something in the person we are judging, that mirrors something in ourselves. Something we are afraid of facing. Or something we secretly desire, but feel is out of reach for us. It’s easier to judge and even blame someone, and place them in a negative space in your mind, then it is to take a deeper look at yourself. The more we love and accept ourselves with all of our flaws, the less fearful we will become in general, and we will begin to lead deeper, more enriched lives. We begin doing what makes us happy, not what we feel will make everyone else happy with us. When people see you doing this, it may make them uncomfortable. Why? Because how dare you be happy, in a world where being miserable and complacent is better than facing yourself, and following your deepest desires. Think about all the people you are inspiring, just by loving and respecting yourself. Think about the deeper, more meaningful connections you are forming just by being true to you.

 

That little old lady you walk right past-she has all her own stories as well. She is years of cultivated relationships. Thousands of moments in time, joyful and sorrowful. Thousands of conversations. Laughing. Fighting. She is crying herself to sleep at night. She is a million tears. She is slow dancing in the arms of someone she once loved deeply. She is collecting seashells along the beach, and giggling with her friends in church. She is four seasons over and over, with winds of change taking her life in many different directions.
She once turned the heads of young men, but now she is much too beautiful for that! In a disconnected shallow culture, it is important to be visible to yourself. To notice all of the things that make you who you are, and to love yourself for them, and accept yourself for them. Then one day when you do feel like you are invisible to everyone else…well, it really won’t matter one bit! You will still smile that beautiful smile of yours, and know that you are the most amazing person in the world, and that you alone are enough.

Self-Healing Through Meditation

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K9

We are very much alike on the inside. We all internalize and present our emotions differently, but we all have similar internal struggles.  We all want to feel good inside. Most of us look outward to fulfill our needs. We look for recognition and validation through how other people react to us. Then when our expectations from that other person are not met, we have someone to blame other than ourselves. Our minds may be small and closed-we see through the same “eyes” over an over, and hold onto the same judgments that have been ingrained in our brain.

Looking inward…turning inward is very difficult because it means feeling very uncomfortable. It means you have to be alone with yourself, and learn to like what you feel.  We live in a harsh world, and years of negative experiences takes a toll on us. There is no one to blame for the strong emotions that are experienced, even though we want to blame others. However, facing these emotions facilitates inward healing.  You will no longer have that need to justify love for yourself by how others perceive you. Once you start to focus on the good in yourself, you will begin to see more of the good in those around you. You will begin to judge less.

This is where meditation comes in…

The act of “meditation” seems so out of reach to many of us. Where on earth would I find the time for that? How could I ever quiet the chatter that goes on in my mind? You may even think of it as nonsense, or foolishness. Why on earth would someone want to just sit there and be still? How can I not think? I have heard many people say “I’m too much of a Type A personality to meditate” or “I can’t get my mind to turn off”

Try to just imagine for a second being able to center, and focus. Try to imagine moving to a quiet place in your mind.  How awesome would it be to feel “high” and happy without stimulation, or materialistic distraction? Imagine being able to connect with yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin.  Imagine being able to view the world through a new set of eyes-ones that don’t internalize the world in quite the same way as before. To me, meditating is about being able to sit and feel, to process, and to let go. It is about being in the moment, and taking in what that moment has to offer. It is about connecting with yourself, and forgiving yourself. It is about healing, creating self love and self respect. It is in this space where you may begin to experience true happiness. Through meditating, we can “face our demons” so to speak.

Most people who meet me think that I am very laid back and quiet. I’ve been told that I am a calming presence and that I seem easy going. I am slowly getting there, However, people who really know me know that I am actually very intense. I am usually stiff and rigid, holding everything inside myself.  I am  an extremely “Type A” person. I have always been at least a ½ hour early for every appointment. I’ve always written lists, adhered to schedules, worried about pointless things. My mind would focus on the past…or worry about the future. I set very high standards for myself, and get disappointed with myself very easily. In the past I have always cared about how other people perceive me, yet I was not fulfilling my own desires. I always assumed I was not fit for meditation of any kind, because my mind just could not be quieted. It was just not possible or for me. I found my “happy place” through music  and through exercising…through long drives and through solitary hikes.

Little did I know…I was meditating during these activities! 

 Anytime the mind is quiet (NOT empty, just quiet), and focused-you are meditating. You are going into a semi-trance state, and you are more open to suggestion. Your thoughts are all on one particular object or idea. So…when you are listening to music and experiencing the emotions that you feel with the song…you are meditating. The song is taking you to a place in your mind where you are focused. You are dealing with the emotions the song is bringing up-be it happy, sad, scared, longing, lonely. You feel the music, you are in tune with your inner self. You are feeling. You are meditating. Acknowledge the feelings you are experiencing, no matter how painful they may be. Acknowledge the feelings, and then try to let them go.

Remember, your thoughts do not own you, and sometimes they can be toxic to you. So during these times of solitary focus, try to acknowledge that these are just thoughts stuck in your brain through many from years of conditioning, and free them. Don’t let these thoughts own or define you. We can get pretty tied up in our own minds.

While driving in the car you “space out”…suddenly you reach your destination. However, you have no recollection of the trip. You are meditating. You are focusing on the road, your thoughts are able to enter your mind, and leave. When running or cycling you reach that “high” where you are focused yet strong, and you feel really good. You are meditating. It is during these moments that you are the most creative! I always find that while running I have the best ideas-and I get really excited about them.

Successful meditation is not necessarily thinking about “nothing”. It is about being present with yourself in that moment. We have this preconceived misconception that in order to meditate you have to fully clear your mind of all thought. Therefore, we don’t even bother trying. However, the flow of your mind does not ever stop. You cannot “turn your mind off” To me, meditating is about letting the thoughts enter your mind, experiencing them, and then releasing them. We usually ignore how we feel-suppress it-push it aside-bury it. The simple act of acknowledging how the thought made you feel helps you to heal. It may take time, but it is a process.

 It’s as if you are taking the time to sit and have an important conversation with yourself…you are focusing on only yourself. Give yourself permission to open up and let go. You will begin to realize that your thoughts do not define who you are. We tend to be terrible to ourselves, and can be our own worst enemy. Forgive yourself. You are complex and multifaceted. The feelings you experience are necessary-that is your way of healing. Don’t try to close out these feelings before acknowledging them. Try to be present and in the moment. Really feel how you are feeling, as if a friend is crying on your shoulder, but that friend is yourself. With each breath, release the feelings you are experiencing.

Not only will you begin to heal, but you will feel less angry and more forgiving. You will begin to better understand the actions of those around you, and be less judging of others. You will experience lower stress levels and better health! You may even begin to be true to yourself, and make necessary changes in your life.

Anyone can meditate.

Take 15 minutes a day for yourself. Listen to music that moves you. Go for a long drive, or even just sit on the edge of your bed and focus on your breathing. Have these conversations with yourself. It can be first thing in the morning, on your drive to work, while on lunch break, when your child is napping, before bed or during intense exercise. Anytime…just take that time.

Pay attention to your breathing. Let the thoughts come in and acknowledge them. Record in your mind how you felt, and focus on that feeling for a moment. Did you feel angry? Accept that. Did you feel sad? Feel it. Then let it go. Imagine that thought and the feeling drifting away in the wind. Then let the next one in. Eventually you will find that you are more in tune with yourself, and how you internalize the world. You are healing yourself. Eventually the thoughts will come in and go out faster and faster. You may begin to feel serene and peaceful. You may realize that you want to stay longer each time, and you may begin to go into deeper and deeper states of relaxation and peacefulness.

I remember meditating on a park bench this past summer while the kids were digging in a sandbox. I could smell the summer air, hear insects buzzing…everything felt so intense. I felt warmth on my face-I felt excited and happy, yet peaceful. I did not want to move. I wanted to stay there forever. This was a gift I gave myself, and it was free. I was also a better mom the rest of that day.

By giving yourself these 15 minutes each day, you are teaching yourself that you do matter…because whether you believe it or not, you do. When you begin to forgive yourself, you will begin to forgive those around you. You will stop blaming everyone else for how you are feeling. You will begin to accept that feelings are your way of communicating with yourself, and regulating yourself. You may begin to feel comfortable being alone with just your thoughts…something not many of us can do. Use them to move forward and make changes in your life, and let go of the negativity.

It still might not come easy for you…but don’t give up. You will make progress, and you are worth this time!

 

* Please note: This is a personal blog. I am not a Doctor or a Dietician. All data and information provided on this site is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitution for professional medical advice.