live your dreams

follow your heart

When I was a child I knew without knowing how I wanted to live life. I knew that I wanted to feel the freedom of my own heart. That I wanted to explore and write and draw and color. And for a long time as a child I was able to do those things. It was a benefit of being the youngest child of a large family; in hiding amongst the masses, I could go undetected. But at some point, I am not sure how or when, it all happened so slowly, so subtly, I was domesticated out of my true purpose, (as most of us are), and was told in order to be loved I had to conform. In order to be loved, I had to live how society wanted me to live - demanded how I live. And for a long time I lived that way.

In my youth, I rebelled against these new rules for living and loving as much as I could. I slept a lot as I didn't see the point of getting out of bed if I couldn't live a life of my choosing. I smoked, I drank, I did drugs, I defiled my body. So, yeah, I was pretty miserable. But so was everyone around me so I didn't think much about it. It was "normal". But then in my early twenties I landed a job that helped change that. And for a while I was able to balance the demands of the world with the demands of my heart. And during that period I think I was happy if not totally fulfilled.

Then, once again, for the "sake of love", I abandoned my heart for the whims of society. And for many years I traveled back and forth between listening to the gentle whispers of my heart and hearing the loud clanging of the world. Until one day I could no longer hear my heart. And when that happened I experienced such tremendous feelings of loss. My heart literally broke. I was filled with grief and longing and my health began to decline. During this time, I foolishly thought that the grief, the pain, was caused by something outside of myself. That what I was feeling was related exclusively to the loss of relationships and job stress. But I realize now, I felt that way because I had stopped listening to the beat of my own heart.

It has taken time, 5 months of conscious sobriety, hundreds of hours of quiet meditation, and dozens of hikes to craggy, mountain peaks for me to be able to once again hear the near silent longings of my heart. And along the way, crossing valleys and forging rivers, one of the most salient lessons I have learned is true love will never ask me to betray my heart. And when society says, "no one will love you if you act like that", I now know that statement for the lie that it is. Because when I follow my heart, only true love flows to me. And when I listen to and then follow the promptings of my heart I always feel loved.

So, that's what I finally did. I took a gamble on my heart. I left my well paying but abusive job in retail (where it's all about the money, money, money...) without a real plan, without much of safety net, for the sole (soul) purpose of writing a book and reacquainting myself with my heart. And while somedays I feel a pinch of anxiety, most days I feel free and filled with gratitude. I finished writing the book! I have my health back! I have authentic and loving relationships. I wake up each morning early because I have a sense of purpose. I am in the flow. All because I decided to listen fully to my heart. And it's the best decision to date that I have made.

photo: moi 

photo: moi 

mindful sobriety

I am going on my 5th month of not drinking and I am noticing all of the small changes in my body and in my life that occur when abstaining from alcohol. I have more motivation if not exactly more energy, (I am 50 after all and perimenopausal). My mind is more focused and clear. I have a great deal less anxiety. My skin looks great! (that could be attributed to the gallon + of water I drink daily) I sleep through the night. I remember my dreams. Any most importantly I am listening to my heart. Which means, I'm doing more things that are more important to me and fewer things that are important to society. And while I still have some fear around following my heart all the time, I have taken some risks and gone out on a limb (liking quitting my full time job) and those actions are reaping their own rewards. I heard a quote today from an artist that spoke to this: "You can't follow your heart until you know your heart". So, I am both reacquainting myself with my heart and following my heart.

I didn't decide to stop drinking for a year because I had a problem with alcohol. I don't. I stopped drinking because I noticed the small yet pervasive ways alcohol was negatively impacting my life. Mostly, I wasn't feeling good. One glass of wine would leave me with a crushing migraine.  I wasn't sleeping well and I didn't seem to have the time nor the motivation to do the important things in life, like make art and write and play outside. That's why I chose and am choosing, daily, to spend the year sober. And it's why I'm calling this a journey of mindful sobriety.

Mindful because I've embarked on this road with curiosity and purpose. I want to be awake and present for all of life's gifts and blessings, and enough curiosity to see what those might be. I'm walking this road with the understanding that nothing substantial or of significance will change or that everything will change. And I'm remaining open to all possibilities.

It's a beautiful thing to walk with mindful purpose. For in doing so I am releasing my need for specific outcomes. I am releasing blame and accepting responsibility. I am becoming more generous as I gain wisdom that comes from suffering, sitting through difficulty, and being fully present for joy. And I am more fully open to the mysteries and beauty of life.

So, really, this one small thing - this one small action - really is changing everything; quietly, subtly, and is helping me live the life of my dreams. 

pando forest -  cecilia anthony  - charcoal on handmade paper - 5x5

pando forest - cecilia anthony - charcoal on handmade paper - 5x5