Friday, February 15, 2013

Feel Good Friday: Cancun Underwater Museum






                   These are just a handful of images from the amazing underwater sculpture exhibit near Cancun, Mexico.  Artist Jason deCaires Taylor created the coral-friendly sculptures to promote the growth of marine life and relieve the stresses on the natural coral reefs in nearby waters.  I selected just a few pictures that illustrated the many stages of beauty his art has created, but I encourage you to check out his website.  The main page features a slide show of some of the more breathtaking results nature has made of his work.

Lots of Love,

P.S.  Do you have a suggestion for a future Feel Good Friday?  What do you think of art that is designed to be acted on by nature?  Leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Paradox of Grief

                    I know it's been a couple weeks since I posted anything.  Sorry about that.  The start of classes  combined with the emotional fall out of my recently ended relationship ate up all my time and inspiration.  Today, though, I had a moment of clarity that I wanted to share, regarding that emotional wreckage.
                    When I ended things with my ex-boyfriend, it was painful.  I was still in love with him, and I knew I was hurting him.  Though I was braced for anger, my new ex was nothing if not understanding.  He made sure that I had support from my family, then quietly took himself out of the way to allow us both to heal.  He told me within two weeks of the break-up that he forgave me for hurting him and that he hoped we'd find a way to stay friends.  Though encounters with his family have been a bit awkward, they too have expressed no anger at me or my decision.  It all seems like a best case scenario, right?
                    Well, not quite.  I still felt guilty for causing pain to someone I loved.  In a twisted sort of way, I wanted them to be angry at me.  I felt that I deserved to be the target of anger, that I deserved to be shunned or shouted at.  I felt that my ex, or a proxy for him, should strike back at me for the emotional wound I had delivered.  And with no other proxy forthcoming. . . I took the position.  I became angry at myself, over and above my guilt.  On a very basic emotional level, I refused to forgive myself for choosing to end the relationship.
                    The last time I ended a long-term relationship, my new ex responded with anger, and even led one of our mutual friends to a similar level of anger.  At the time I was hurt and frustrated by their reaction, but now, looking back, I can't help but wonder.  In a strange way, it seems that their rejections freed me to forgive myself and move on.  When my first relationship ended, my former boyfriend was not angry with me. Like in my most recent break-up, he simply removed himself quietly from the situation and told me that he didn't blame me and wanted to stay friends.  It makes me wonder if I didn't do something similar then, directing anger at myself because no one else was.  Could it be that my whole slide into the darkest period of my life was some kind of misguided punishment I was giving myself?
                    I honestly don't know.  The idea is both horrifying on an emotional level and intriguing on an intellectual one.  Regardless, I don't intend to give in to my depression again.  I will keep telling myself that I did the right thing until I start to believe it, no matter how long that may be.  After all, if the person I hurt has forgiven me, what right to I have to withhold forgiveness from myself?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me

                      Today is my golden birthday:  I turned twenty-four on January twenty-forth.  It's been a wild year, with lots of blessings and a few hard choices.  I've learned a lot about myself and who I want to be, and I've made some progress toward becoming that person.  I took a huge step toward feeling independent by renting my first apartment, and finally figured out what I want to do with my education.  I've made some amazing friends, and for perhaps the first time came to truly understand how to lean on the love and support of my family without losing my independence.  I've taken risks, and even if they didn't all work out the way I hoped, they were all worth taking.  I am sure that the next year will bring me plenty of surprises, and I hope you will join me as I uncover them!

Lots of Love,

Friday, January 18, 2013

Feel Good Friday: Talking Twin Babies

                        Today's video, like the very good Feel Good Friday video, was brought to my attention by Dan Pearce's blog Single Dad Laughing.  It is quite possible that there is nothing cuter than babies talking to each other.
                        The original video was posted on Twin Mama Rama, the Tumblr for the twin's mother.

Lots of Love,

Friday, January 11, 2013

Feel Good Friday: Simple Religion

                         No commentary today.  This one speaks for itself.
                         From the Dalai Lama's official website: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is both the head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet.  He was born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in the Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet.  At the age of two the child, who was named Lhamo Dhondup at that time was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.  The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and patron saint of Tibet.  Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity.

Lots of Love,

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Nature of the Sky

                      When I was a babe, my mother, the earth, spoke to me.  "My child," she said, "the sky is a river, and our world swims through it.  The stars you see at night are other worlds, and we are all carried in the Great Maker's net."  Then she granted me dreams of strange skies and different seas, and I believed her.
                      When I was old enough to hunt alone, my father, the moon, spoke to me.  "My child, the sky is a great valley, and the sun a buffalo that roams through it.  The stars you see at night are the mighty warriors who pursue the sun."  And he granted me dreams of strong hunters and a shining prey, and I believed him.
                       You tell me that the sky is empty space, and the stars are giant fires burning very far away.  You tell me that the river and the valley are illusion, that the hunters and the worlds are myths and falsehoods.  You give me not dreams, but ideas as cold and hard as the iron tools you bear, and ask me to believe you.  And I do believe what you say, of the sky and the stars.
                       Yet just because the sky is empty space, why should it not also be a river, and a valley?  Just because the stars are enormous fires, why should they not be hunters and worlds as well?  You think you have knowledge, but you have closed your eyes.
                        Shall I teach you to open them again?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Heart in my Hand

                     Yesterday I broke up with my boyfriend of more than two years.
                     It sounds so simple, so easy, when it's put like that.  People break up every day.  I know that. And I know that it's never easy, or simple.  Not for the people involved.  Everyone knows that.  Everyone has been there.  And they all say the same things when it happens to someone else.
                     People keep telling me that I'm brave, that I'm strong.  They say that because I chose to end the relationship, and did it not out of anger, but because I saw that our personalities weren't quite a perfect fit.  I chose to end a good relationship because I know that I could have a better one with someone else, even if I don't know who.  So everyone tells me that I'm doing the right thing, and that in the long run this will be better for both of us.
                     I try to believe them.  Sometimes - most of the time - I actually do know that they're right.
                     But the truth is that when I think about the break up, I don't feel brave or strong.  I feel like a coward, because I knew for more than two weeks that this was coming, and didn't say anything.  I tried to take the easy way out and ignore the problem until a "better" time, feeling more and more like I was lying to him every day.  The only reason we broke up when we did is that he could tell it was bothering me, and asked what was wrong.
                     One of the first rules we set in our relationship was honesty.  He asked.  I answered.
                     I feel broken because this amazing person I just left is someone I have loved deeply for two years.  I still love him.  I hate the fact that I hurt him this way.  I hate that I have to push him away, even knowing that I'm giving us both a chance for something even better.  I'm trying very hard not to hate myself for doing it.
                     Once before I had to break up with someone with whom I was still in love, for all the right reasons.  That break up was the trigger for the severe depression that I have written about elsewhere on this blog.  I hated myself then.  Even knowing that my circumstances are so different now, that I have a support system and a greater self knowledge of where my emotional limits are, a part of me is terrified that I'm going to fall into that darkness again.
                     Another part of me, smaller but present, is tempted by it.  The depression brought with it numbness, and it is tempting to prefer that over the pain.  Sometimes I feel like my heart has been stabbed and the knife still in the wound, cutting deeper with every breath.  It would be so easy, this part of me whispers, to run from the pain, to hide so deeply inside myself that it could never touch me.
                     I know, of course, that that is a false promise and a temporary refuge at best, so I bear the pain.  Instead I talk about it, write about it here, and if the sharing doesn't ease the hurt, at least it makes it easier to handle.
                     To everyone who has offered or will offer me comfort and support, thank you.  With all of your help, I know I will make it through this, and be stronger for it.  Your kindness means a great deal to me, even if I'm not always able to show it as I go through this process.

Lots of Love,

Friday, January 4, 2013

Feel Good Friday: The Lion in the Mirror

                    This week's Feel Good Friday is the first picture I've selected, but I hope that it speaks to all of you like it did to me.  You may remember that in 'Thinking vs. Wanting' I mentioned a phrase that kills all dreams: "I can't do that."  Today's picture, on the other hand, illustrates how to keep dreams alive.
                     Like the kitten in the photo, we need to be able to see ourselves as we want to be every time we look in the mirror.  While acknowledging the sometimes frustrating reality that right now we are just adorable fuzzy kittens, we must never lose sight of the lion we intend to be.  There is nothing wrong and (as anyone who has ever cuddled a kitten will tell you) a great deal that is right about being a kitten.  Everyone is a kitten at some point, and some of us take longer than others to grow out of it.  But as long as you can see the lion in the mirror, "I can't do that" becomes "I can't do that yet."
                     I know that right now I'm just a young woman, hardly out of her teens, with a retail job and no degree.  I am still a kitten. But I also know that some day I will be a counselor.  I will hold an advanced degree, and help young people who are struggling with the same kinds of problems I have overcome.  And I will help them to see their own personal lions in the mirror.

Lots of Love,
~ Jennifer

P.S.  I'd love to hear about your own lions in the mirror.  If you'd like to share, send me an e-mail or leave a comment below!

P.P.S.  I looked for the origin of this picture but could not find any information on it.  If you happen to know who originally created the image, please let me know so that I can give proper credit!