Outside Kitty

Using Regret To Create Clarity

Note: Some images I took with my new 50mm lens!! I loved these so much I wanted to share them with you. Please don’t edit or re-use without my permission!

Call Box

As I was working on another post, I realized that I struggle with clarity because I have no idea what will make me happy. In the past, I realized that a lot of the decisions I made were based around survival and trying to escape from trauma of some kind. I’ve never really had the opportunity to explore my interests in any significant or meaningful way.

I’m not entirely sure I understand why.

But through the rocky road of entrepreneurship over this past year, I’ve been given a crash course in Who I Am. I’ve certainly uncovered more about myself since working on my own than in the 20 some odd years I’ve been on Earth. If nothing else, working for myself and having to rely on myself for an income has tested me.

There were definitely a lot of growing pains, missteps and fuck-ups. Things didn’t work out, ended up being a waste of my time, or probably would’ve worked out had I been in a different place at that particular moment. And although I struggle with clarity around my future, I do have fantastic hindsight. (Doesn’t everybody?!).

Outside Kitty

Spending a lot of time trying to survive, doesn’t lend itself well to self-exploration. When everything you do is about making sure you have money for food, or a roof over your head – there’s little room to think. Even decisions that I thought were centered around “happiness” were tinged heavily with the worrisome energy of desperation, uncertainty and survival. I got attached to these decisions because they often represented something I needed: freedom, money, stability.

Moving to Philadelphia to pursue Americorps was one of those decisions. Living in cramped, and impoverished conditions at home, the atmosphere quickly grew stifling. Suddenly I was too old to be living at home, I needed a higher paying job, I wasn’t doing anything, etc etc. Americorps, despite all of its failings as a program, gave me the one-way ticket out that I needed. Living with family has never been an option for me and this continues to be the case.

And while living here has mostly been the opposite of pleasurable, I don’t live with family anymore – and for that I’m eternally grateful.

But it’s a decision that nonetheless has left me in a tailspin as I become more complacent and risk averse. Staying here has been one of my bigger regrets – but finances have been keeping me here. As I try to figure out what my next step should be, I think of the more persistent regrets I’ve had over the past two years:

  • Not moving out of the city
  • Not taking the time to develop my tech skills
  • Not prioritizing my French, and working to develop it
  • Not writing :(

In a lot of posts about personal development, a lot of people talk about passion, pursuing happiness (or bliss), or some other overwhelming emotional state. I think for me, my goal should be to have a life with as little regrets as possible. What this means is doing what I want, when I want to. I’ve pursued things when I didn’t have the skills to back myself up – and I don’t regret those decisions at all – and I’ve done things that I thought were rational and would help me – and I regret several of those decisions all the time.

Solo Flower

At the end of my life, I’d like to think that I took the opportunity to do with my life what I wanted and that I trusted myself to know I could handle the consequences of those choices.

I don’t know what I want my life to look like 5 or 10 years from now – and there’s no reason why I should. But, at least a year from now, I’d like to think that I took a chance on myself – on my life – and didn’t let myself get sucked into complacency (or risk aversion) because I didn’t trust myself enough.

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Whose Thoughts Are You Thinking?

One of the joys of therapy is having tiny revelations. After experiencing a tacit rejection from a crush, and realizing a not-so-cute somebody had a crush on me – I started to unravel a bit. My mind began racing, bouncing between the various spiritual ideas that I’d absorbed over the years. Immediately I began to wonder if I was attracting losers because was a loser. My whole life, only less than desirable individuals had ever expressed interested in me – and although these experiences are years apart, the theme remains the same: Why do these non-awesome people keep liking me? And why do the people I like – and think are awesome – keep rejecting me? 

Naturally my therapist asked me why I thought this way, so I explained my understanding of the Law of Attraction, a cornerstone of New Age thought: this idea that the people in our lives are there for a reason, that they’re an embodiment of something we need to deal with or a reflection of the energy we’re putting out into the Universe, or that the interactions we have with people are teachable moments for us [from God] and that we can learn something from every encounter.

New Age thought is also impressively individualistic – this idea that we have complete control over our environment (and the people in it) and that we can enact great change by doing something as simple as changing our minds. One of my criticisms of New Age spirituality is its preoccupation with how much the Collective can benefit the Self by turning everyone into a secret message from God (that you now have to both decipher and integrate into your Being).

It’s not selfishness per se, but it’s a very myopic way of looking at your life while also burdening yourself with all the responsibility of everything that [ever]  happens to you. Suddenly, things don’t happen because the world is chaotic and humans are exercising their free will – things are happening because you called them into Being and now you have to take responsibility “for what you’ve created”.

Which, of course, is bullshit.

But I was deferring to this way of thinking even though the person who “likes” me was also harassing me, or that in the past, people have been emotionally violent toward me, uncaring, or blatantly disinterested. What energy was I putting out that attracted those people? Or situations?

As I recounted my life, I told my therapist that in theory I should be an atheist. Many of the things I wanted in my life either didn’t show up, or if they did, they blew up in my face. Situations fell through the cracks, and I often had to scramble to find my footing and adjust. There has never been a window opening for each door that slammed in my face. If I ever worked to accomplish anything, it normally fizzled out and I was back at square one.

The only thing in my life that’s been continuously effective is reminding myself not to have expectations, or to get attached to anything. Whatever I become attached to turns to dust. Whenever I start “future tripping” (planning for something before that something is even available in my physical world), my plans divert and go in the opposite direction. Perhaps it’s my Pisces North Node, but whenever I try to exert some control over my environment, things fail. Always completely, sometimes painfully.

New Age thought hasn’t really helped; it’s just cornered me and made me blame myself (or others) for situations that were beyond their (or my) control. Just because we’re Divine Spark, doesn’t mean we can – as individuals – exert all of the control over every inch of our lives. To me, Free Will is my legacy from God. I get to do whatever I want with my life, but so can everybody else. (And boy, does it show!).

I’ve spent a lot of time reading New Age thought, and taking various people’s words for the Gospel just because they’re an intuitive, or some other accomplished spiritual person. But I don’t need other people’s beliefs to influence my life – I need to build a stronger relationship with what I really believe, and not just what I think I need to believe (and undermining my own inner authority).

It’s my mind, my life – and I’ll behave accordingly.

Whose thoughts are you thinking? 

 Braveblogging31The Bravery Blogging Project is a 6 week challenge to blog about ideas. No agenda. No launches. No product pushes. As Illana says, “This is a bravery exercise.” Learn more…

1. My Week 3 Post

2. My Week 4 Post

 

 

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Never Have I Ever: A Sort-Of Book Review

neverhaveA few days ago, I had an epiphany: I fundamentally feel as if I’m unrelatable. I never operate from a premise that people will understand me, or be able to emotionally connect with what I’m going through. So far, people just assume that I’ve had certain life experiences (ie: dating) when I haven’t. It actually kinda blew up in my face when I admitted at an old job that I never dated before.

So when I read the snippet of an aptly named memoir: Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without A Date on HuffPo awhile ago, I was hooked. Within three days I devoured Katie’s book about how she’d never had a boyfriend, a short term fling, or ANYTHING for twenty-five years of her life. (She’s now just turned 27). Although our narratives are rather different, it felt just plain good to find another person who is like me. Or, at least, really similar to.

My (lack of) experience with dating, sex and romance overall is a gigantic sore point for me. Just like Katie mentions in her book, had you told my ten year old self that I would’ve gone this long without ever dating, I probably would’ve given up then.

One of the other reasons why I was hungry to read Katie’s memoir was because I’m often starved for validation. Affirmation that I wasn’t alone, particularly when people actively ask me about my non-existent dating life, or assume I understand what they mean when they talk about certain things. It’s a weird perspective to entertain when I read posts about people being alone for the first time on Valentine’s Day, when I’ve never had a date.

And now that I’ve recently turned 26, I’ve been turning it over more and more in my mind. On one hand, as Kate mentions in her book, my perpetual state of singleness means that my time is my own. I’m completely free – no one’s interests to balance with mine, no compromising, no having to check in when it comes to finances, or plans of any kind. And as I get older, this level of independence becomes increasingly addictive.

Being a late bloomer has its pitfalls, and it’s certainly a struggle feeling left behind in the unspoken race toward couple-dom. But also being forced to live with yourself in a way that not many other people do lends itself well to thinking more deeply about what I want out of my life, realizing that I’m important, and that I’m not defined by my relationship status (whatever it may be).

This is one of the hardest lessons I’m learning: it’s okay for my life to not look like anyone else’s.

(p.s. : A lot of people look at works like these and assume it’s a ‘woe is me’ tale about feeling lesser than for not dating. And while Katie never seemed to have felt that way, it’s not unusual to feel undesirable because you’re not dating, but your friends are. Overall, this memoir focused more on shit simply not working out, particularly in the way that you want. And while I’m more romantically aggressive than Katie talks about in her book – I’ve blatantly approached every person I wanted to date – the results are still similar. And it’s reassuring to “meet” someone who has the same late bloomer qualities that I have). 

 

 

 

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Driver’s Seat Interview: Kylie Bellard

Hello!

Kylie
Kylie

Each month I’m going to showcase a new person (normally a blogger) who I think is being really awesome and taking control of their own lives. They’re the people in the driver’s seat, and are choosing to be more purposeful in getting what they want. This next person is Kylie Bellard, who blogs about introversion, shyness and being kind to yourself. I really enjoyed her posts on being highly sensitive person  and I adored her photography.

1. What is your ideal day like? Are you close to living that right now?

I’m definitely not one to have a super-specific ideal day. Every day is different, and I like it that way! However, there are certain elements of great days that I strive for as much as I can. Ten minutes of meditation, a morning walk, yummy meals eaten mindfully. A span of uninterrupted time for writing and/or photography. A coaching session or two. Some sweat-inducing form of exercise. And maybe even a chat with a friend, in person or on the phone. And then, at the end of the day, non-work time for socializing, unwinding, and non-doing. Also hugs. All days need hugs.

I don’t do all of these things every day. But I’m definitely on my way there. I get walks and meditation in much more than I used to. And I’m sure I’ll get even better at implementing more of the “ideal” stuff regularly as time goes on.

2. What is it that you desire the most for your life? What would you want your obituary to say? 

I most want to live a life that’s kind to me and kind to others. I want to spend that life with close friends and family, and in nature. I also really want a dog.

I’ve never thought about what I want my obituary to say! Probably something like, “Kylie consciously brought kindness and compassion to the people she knew. She was funny, and enthusiastic, and full of play. She leaves behind the hope that we all aspire to enjoy dark chocolate, or whatever our favorite thing is, as often as humanly possible.”

3. What initially sparked you to go about creating the type of life you want? (ie: Some people get broken up with, laid off/fired, etc before changing their mindset).

 I first discovered what life coaching was when I was at a job that was totally burning me out emotionally and physically. I had known that I wanted to create a life that was more self-directed for a while, but until then, I’d never actually imagined that it was truly possible. Finding out that this field (of life coaching) existed, this career where you could create your own reality and help others create theirs, just seized my imagination. I signed up for a coach training program, started taking photographs to fund my new educational adventure, and worked toward that lofty dream for the next several years.

4. Do you have a favorite mantra or saying you repeat to keep yourself motivated / centered / clear on your goals?

Right now, there are two. First, I’m always telling myself that “compassion is the way forward.” In most cases, having compassion for myself or another person is a very good first step, especially when I’m feeling emotional or stuck.

Second is a quote by Macklemore, a rapper who’s currently really popular and who’s from my hometown (Seattle): “The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint / The greats were great because they paint a lot.” I paired that quote with one of my photographs and set it as my computer background. It really, really keeps me going whenever I get discouraged.

5. What are you working on right now that’s bringing you closer to the life of your dreams?

I have an offering I created called A Day of Nothing. It’s a guided opportunity for people to interact with non-doing, which is often really challenging because our culture is so action-focused. I’ve offered this program a few times in the past, but I’m currently making it into a monthly offering, so folks can implement non-doing as a regular practice. This also helps me to prioritize non-doing, which is absolutely included in the “life of my dreams” (and my current life). It’s also a dream of mine to help people to really understand, with their whole being, that they don’t have to do anything to be worthwhile. They can just be, and that’s enough.

6. What piece of advice would you give someone who is nervous or scared about stepping into the unknown (in terms of going after what they want)?

This is not easy for anyone. It isn’t because people aren’t scared that they’re able to do scary things. It’s that they’ve found ways to move forward, even with their fears. Find people who support you in whatever crazy thing you want to do. Then take the scary first steps, going as slowly as you need to. Then, fall back on your supporters whenever you think you can’t go on.

7. How did you figure out what you wanted to do. Was it a childhood dream? Or did you discover it later on?

Neither coaching nor photography were childhood dreams for me. Growing up, I always wanted to be a writer and a singer. Now, I am a writer. It’s a huge part of my work. But coaching and photography are what allowed me to write on my own terms.

When I started both coaching and photography, they just felt good. They felt natural to me, somehow. Even though I was clearly a beginner and didn’t know what I was doing, there was this internal excitement that I knew I loved this stuff and I could work at it and become good at it. Starting to learn how to coach and take photographs felt very much like falling in love, for me.

8. How has your mentality changed (if at all) since you’ve begun creating your life in your own image? 

 

A lot. I now see creating your own path, whether it’s creatively or through business (or both, which I think is most often the case) as one of the most spiritual things you can possibly do. I also know now that anyone who’s had any “success” has worked at it more than we’ll ever know. Even people who are “naturals” at their craft work at it with unbelievable tenacity. I don’t believe in overnight success stories.

 

Lastly, I’m always prowling for inspiration now. I find ideas and encouragement to do what I do everywhere, perhaps most especially outside my industry. I let myself get fired up about the inspiring stuff I find, and it fuels me.
 
Bonus: Oh I really love your blog, your topics – everything!! It’s such a great place to hang out. (We seem to have so many similarities and yet be so different at the same time!) One of the [many] things that really draws me to your blog is your queerness, photography and what it means to be both different and sensitive. How long did it take for you to combine all these (wonderful) facets of yourself into one place? How do you take the time to nurture all these different sides of yourself? 
 
Oh, goodness. Thank you so much! I’m really so delighted to know that my blog feels like a homey, comfortable place for people (for you!).

 

Really, I think combining all my different facets is a lifelong process. I don’t focus too much on which elements of myself I bring to the blog and which I don’t. I aim to have a certain essence of me-ness that infuses everything I do. So I guess it doesn’t really matter what I’m doing (whether it’s cooking, or coaching people, taking photographs, talking about LGBTQ stuff), so long as I’m doing it in a way that represents the values I hold dear. I’m sure this milieu of what I offer will continue to change as I evolve, and as my business grows up.

 

As far as nurturing the various sides of myself, I try to do what feels good. I’m always aiming to give myself the rest I need, to get some creativity in, to write, to have aimless fun. I’m constantly switching things up and course-correcting. There’s no perfect combination that will create a balanced life. There’s just living the best we can with the tools we have available, and tweaking as we go.

 

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