I am a Pokémon 

It is 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I am lying here in darkness and typing this blog on my phone on the eve of my 41st birthday. 

I am contemplating who I am and how I want to evolve. I’m like a Pokémon or something. (I don’t really understand Pokémon at all, but I know they, like, evolve, right?)

I want to continue to evolve and change who I am by changing what I do. In honor of my 41st year of life, I am sharing 41 truths I’ve learned as I have changed my thinking and my actions over the years. 

I love to elaborate. People who know me know that I’m the queen of elaboration and talking too much and overexplaining things.  But I will refrain from doing that in this instance because I only have a few minutes to write before my yoga class.

So here we go. How to evolve like a Pokémon, a.k.a, 41 random things I have learned:

1. Kids pay more attention to what you do than what you say.

2. A daily practice of meditation and prayer will change your life.

3. Judging others is not good for your health. It’s also a negative “low vibrational energy” way of thinking. 

4. Choose being truthful over being nice. 

5. You don’t have to be nice.  Like, really, you don’t. 

6. It is your responsibility to practice loving kindness, but this does not equate with being “nice.” It simply means you act in love for others and for yourself. 

7. The most courageous people show up even when they don’t feel ready. 

8.. That still, small voice inside of you will never let you down. It is there to protect you. It is the voice of God, speaking to you in quiet moments of truth. That is the voice that reminds you of what you need in this life, what to do next, and who you are. 

10.  When you are laughing you are healing. 

11. Practicing yoga helps you develop an understanding and compassion for your body.

12. Talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you love. 

Geesh, I can’t think of anything else. Maybe I don’t know 41 things. I’m going to yoga and then coming back.

13. It is not our job to make everything sunshine and rainbows for our kids. It is okay for them to experience pain and discomfort, and we walk beside them in this experience without trying to take it away. This is how they become resilient, kind, empathetic adults.

14. You don’t have to wear underwear. 

15. Processed food can make you ill. 

16. Meditate and pray. I know I already said that but that one needs to be on the list twice. 

17. Do not be afraid of pain.

18.  When you feel sad or anxious, go outside and breathe in the outdoor air. 

19. Let people be who they are. 

20. Do not assume what others are thinking. Ever. Ask them instead. 

21. Things that matter are going to take some time. 

22. You deserve happiness, respect, and peace of mind. 

23. What we cannot see, we cannot heal. 

24. There is no power in pretending. 

25. When you’re angry, ask yourself, “What needs to be protected?”

26. We can do hard things. 

27. Drink lots of water. 

28.  It is beneath your dignity to maintain relationships with people who do not honor your self worth. 

29. Relationships that you have to keep a secret are not relationships that contribute to your freedom. 

I can’t think of anything else. I lied about knowing 41 things.

==================================

Hey! I’m back four days later, and I’m now too legit to quit, which brings me to my next truth…

30. Don’t quit on your goals just because they are hard or you’re having a brain freeze.

31. If you want to find your tribe, you must first find yourself. 

32. When choosing a life partner, consider first and foremost if the person is right for you (and your kids, if you have them). Family members and friends love to give their two cents, but when it’s all said and done it is you that must live with the person. 

33. Ask for help when you need it. 

34. Set boundaries with people. 

35. Get your “news” and facts from reputable books and research–not television news channels. 

36. Don’t write lists like these. 

37. I know nothing. 

38. Only you know what’s best for you. 

39. After all, I’m a Pokémon. 

40. When trying to decide whether or not you should stay in a relationship or marriage “for the kids’ sake,” remember that you being in a state of unhappiness is not healing for you or your children.  You being authentically YOU is what your children desperately want from you. 

41. You are what you love. So make sure who or what you are loving is good for you. 

Happy Re-Birth Day to Me


9 years ago today, after laboring for 30+ hours, my daughter, Aliana, was born via Caesarian section at 7:50 am. After experiencing what my OB-GYN proclaimed to be a freakishly challenging pregnancy, that included sciatica, kidney stones, preterm labor, and gestational diabetes, it was mind-blowing to me that a human this extraordinarily healthy had actually been percolating inside of me for nine months.

On this day, June 15, 2008, I was 32 years old, yet I was just a shell of a person.  I had no personality, no likes or dislikes, and no idea how I had gotten myself into the mess of an abusive marriage.

And now I had this tiny, gorgeous human with a full head of curly black hair, that was staring at me with the deepest coffee colored eyes I had ever seen.  And somehow, those eyes were the only thing that ever could break me of my numbness.  You see, I could no longer disassociate from my life, because that would mean I was disassociating from MY OWN CHILD. 

In the intensity of her gaze, I imagined she was saying to me, “I am here.  I am LIGHT.”

Her existence broke me into a million pieces so that I would be somehow be forced to make a plan to put myself together again, because her eyes–HER LIGHT–showed me that she needed a mama who was whole, and that mama had to be me.

One day, I was giving her a bottle when her father entered the room.   I don’t remember what I had said that upset him so much, but he spat on me.  His spit ran down my face and dripped onto my shirt.  I didn’t react, as I knew that would make it worse, but Aliana did. She screamed at the top of her lungs and she no longer wanted the bottle.  Her screams and her terror reminded me of my own terror–reminded me that I needed to finally be terrified in order to be her mother. My heart of darkness slowly began to crack, and I allowed her light to seep into me.

Her birth was my rebirth, so in many ways, this day, June 15, is sacred to me and forever will be. It is a day that I was also born, as this baby was the one who brought me back to life.

Sometimes people say to me, it’s unfortunate that you and your ex husband conceived a child together, because that means you have to still communicate and can’t be completely unattached. What people who make these comments don’t understand is that if I hadn’t had my daughter, I might still be living in that marriage. Aliana’s existence propelled me into a completely new level of life, because I finally loved a person so much that I didn’t want her to live the way I had been living.  The love I couldn’t feel for myself, I could feel for her. 

Something deep inside of me knew that I could never be the mother she needed unless I could fully be myself, and the journey to self discovery started with her birth. 

Changing lives is serious business, and this girl wasn’t even planning on getting into that business; the universe simply deemed it so.

And for that I will always be thankful. Happy birthday, Aliana. 

I Woke Up Like This

When I first got divorced, I walked around for about a year like a female version of Rip Van Winkle who had awoken and was seeing a new world. 

Despite a PTSD diagnosis from my doctor,  everything felt like a miracle to me. 

Every time I would pay a bill, I felt gratitude to be paying my own bills. When I bought my first piece of decent furniture, I felt like a queen. I finally slept like a baby most nights in my bed, and I let my daughter, who was two at the time, sleep next to me, despite everyone telling me “that was a bad idea.” I didn’t care. What I cared about was that we were finally SAFE and FREE. 

For about a year, I walked around like that-in an almost mystical, childlike state of wonder. I am not saying I wasn’t raw and emotional-what I’m saying is that I felt peace, despite the range of emotions that passed through me.

I remember sitting in my little, white and brick house in a not-so-great part of town, rocking my daughter in my tattered, hand-me down rocking chair, thinking that I had life figured out and that life was good. 

You see, it takes some time to realize you have your own life after you haven’t for so many years. And here I was, in 2010, finally awake to the idea that I was alive and that I could make choices for myself.

People observing me said, “Wow. Emily is doing SO well. She’s, like, a brand new person.”

Only I wasn’t. I was still the same person I had been during my entire marriage; I was simply now reacting to the fact that I was finally safe and free.

I was like an aged onion. There were so many layers of me that hadn’t been peeled back yet, and my skin was starting to toughen and the roots were trying to pop out because I needed to be peeled. The learning had barely begun. 

I realized in therapy that rejection was my oldest wound. And it has also been the most difficult wound to heal. Deep wounds like that do not heal from the outside–they can only heal from within. You cannot slap a bandaid on a rejection wound and expect it to heal. You have to do the deep, psychological work that starts from within. 

Combining my fear of rejection with PTSD, and you could say my post divorce dating life was a complete shit storm. I went from boyfriend to boyfriend. I remember my therapist looking up at me and asking me, “Where did you go?”

My energy was frenetic. Although the framework for the abusive marriage was gone, I was still the same person, afraid to be seen. Afraid to show up, instead of showing off. Afraid of being my true self, because…who would actually love that?  Although I said I wanted a partner, I continued to pick partners who were clearly not right for me. 

But tonight, as I sit here on Valentines Day 2017, the one thought in my mind is this: it is so good to be single, free, and safe. I once prayed so hard for the things I have now, and I feel GRATITUDE to have them. I feel a little wide-eyed tonight, even though seven years have passed since I left. 

I know there are many men and women in relationships that, even if they are safe, they are not free. They feel afraid. Maybe they are afraid of rejection from their spouses, even after being married all these years. Or maybe they feel like they just don’t have the courage to be seen, and that eats away at their insides. Or maybe they feel they cannot trust this person lying next to him or her and that wears on them day in, and day out.

If that is you, while I do not have specific answers, I can tell you this. Don’t stop peeling off your layers. Don’t stop showing up. Don’t stop feeling the feelings. Don’t numb out. Have the courage to be yourself and figure out what’s underneath the feelings. Because until you peel all the layers off, all you are is a body with feelings-not your awokened self. And we all need a planet that is full of humans who are healthy, alive, and awake. 

Happy love day, 2017.


Back in the days of my 2010, Rip Van Winkle awakening. 

Love

So, it’s Friday night. People are out turning up. I’m chilling in my bed in my happy place, surrounded by books. And I’m thinking about love. 

 

Love wins. 
All you need is love. 
Love is the cure. 
Love one another. 
Love, love, love. 

This year, I have contemplated the above statements about love and what they truly mean. I have tried to understand them, because I honestly couldn’t fully “get” what they meant before. 

I was taught at a young age “to love others.” And while that is important, I have realized that I cannot give love to others, unless I am full of love to give.

Maya Angelou once said, “I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ … There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”

Because seriously. If I am offering you my time, love, and attention, while not giving any to myself–I CANNOT TRULY BE LOVING. I am only being nice. Nice and loving are two different things. 

For years, I wanted to be nice. My intention was to be nice, because I thought that’s what GOOD PEOPLE DO, right? But the problem with doing things just to be nice, is that people will KEEP asking you to do nice things, since you’re soooooooo damn nice. And then you’re exhausted. And you start to feel upset. And you don’t know WHY you’re upset and you may even take it out on other people–because that frustrational energy has to go SOMEWHERE. It either comes out in your emotions or in your health. It doesn’t just disappear. 

People pleasing is hard on the body. 

But because I excelled at screwing up my life, I didn’t stop at people pleasing. No, no, that wasn’t enough. I also used to do “loving” things in fear, instead of in love, while I TRICKED MYSELF INTO THINKING I WAS being loving. 

When we do “loving” things from a place of fear–that’s not love. That’s trying to control the outcome of something. 

For example, I would try to be the “perfect girlfriend” and do all these “nice things” for a guy I was dating, in hopes that he would still want to continue dating me. Eww. Now I read that, and I’m like, “Damn, that was me?” Yes, Emily; yes it was. 

Because that crap NEVER worked. When you do things in love, YOU ARE NOT ATTACHED TO THE OUTCOME. You are not giving love in order to receive. You are not expecting the other person to return the favor. Because it’s not a favor. It’s love. 

And THAT’S why love wins. That’s why real love is a courageous act. It is a verb. It is brave. It is noble. It is living out your value systems. It is being truthful about who you are and accepting responsibility for screwing up. 

But ain’t no way that I can dish that kind of love out, if I don’t practice loving myself first. 

My two rules: love myself. Love others. 

Love wins. ❤️

And to quote one of my favorite yogis: 

  
Now back to my books. 

Vacuuming Up

I am in the process of vacuuming up my life. 

Or perhaps I should say, I’m creating massive vacuums. 

A very smart friend of mine told me about the “vacuum law of prosperity.” At first I thought she was talking about vacuum cleaners creating longer lives, but then I realized she was talking about vacuums of SPACE. Silly me.

What my genius friend explained to me, is that I have space all around me. I have my physical space in my home. I have space in my neighborhood outdoors. And I also have space in my mind. Space in my heart. Space in my spirit. 

There are things I’m working hard to achieve in life right now. But I cannot do that if I do not create vacuums of space so that these things can enter. 

The principle behind this theory is that you cannot receive that which you desire or that which God even wants to give you, if you are holding on to the OLD things. 

Nature is designed to fill vacuums of space. When you walk on the beach, you create footprints, which are eventually washed away and leveled out. If I dig a hole in the ground, nature would eventually fill it. 

In the same way, when I get rid of the clutter in my life, I make room for the right things to come in. God will inevitably fill the vacuum. 

How am I going to do this? Well, first of all, I am cleaning out ALL my closets this weekend. I need space to be zen. Lots of organized, intentional physical space. Room to move. Room to fill with positive things. 

And in my personal life… Well, you can only imagine what this may mean. And I have already been working at this during the course of the last couple of months, but as I’ve become more intentional about being the person I want to be, I have discovered it means letting go of relationships and people who clutter my thoughts and attention. 

If my intention is to have a loving partnership with an honorable person, I must create space for that. I must work at being loving and honorable in my actions with others. And loving does not equal people pleasing. Loving often means truth telling and letting go. 

And…I’m not gonna sugar coat it. This “becoming a better person stuff” is hard work. I said to a friend the other day, “I feel lonely. I’m kinda sad.” As I continued to sort out my feelings, I realized it’s because I’ve been letting go of LOTS of people. And when you let go, it’s scary, because for awhile you WILL feel lonely. You will feel the urge to cling to that person or group of people you used to work at pleasing. 

But you will need to be still. And stillness is scary, but SO worth it. Nobody makes it to the top by producing frenetic energy all the time. Successful people are intentional with their energy and embrace stillness during times of change. They do not go out and start medicating with booze or sex or food. They know when to be still. They pray. They reflect. And then they can respond in love.

So that’s my new mantra: create vacuums, be still, wait, and respond in love. Vacuum, still, wait, love. Vacuum, still, wait, love. 

And let nature and God do its thing while I do me. 

Oh, and this is one of the main reasons I need to make vacuums of space: 

  
She needs me to be more zen.