A Magical World Among Words and Pages

Birthdays? They were never a big deal at my house. Not because we weren’t special but because Mom really couldn’t afford it.

Problems? We didn’t share over dinner and talk things out. Instead we bottled feelings up. Emotions nicely pickled, to be opened up later when it was ripe and explosive.

Shit. We didn’t even really eat dinner as a family. Sure, we ate at the same time but it was my sister and I at the dinner table. Mom would sit in the living room watching her Latin soaps or eat standing up as she would hold down fort in the kitchen, making sure we didn’t over eat.

We never did anything cool after school. Mom was always too tired to ever really want to go out, so I looked forward to the weekends when I would go to work. That would be my social time.

My dad was never around. Even once my parents divorced and he had to pick us up every weekend he wasn’t around. For this daddy’s girl it was heartbreaking to have to go spend time with your father to only later realize he didn’t want to spend time with you. He spent every waking moment in his bedroom, watching Tv or listening to music and it was a rule that us kids were never allowed to knock on the bedroom door, unless it was a real emergency. If he wasn’t locked away in his room, he was downstairs on his computer. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I realized he was talking to women online, while his wife was in the kitchen cooking dinner or out back doing laundry. Needless to say, the few memories I have of him are bathed in feelings of heartache so I tend to never drive down memory lane.

In school I had only a small group of friends which over time I came to slowly realize I didn’t fit in with. They were rich, sophisticated, white girls with the privileges I could only dream of. They went on cool holiday vacations like skiing up north or Disney trips down south. They had the designer labels. The pretty hair. The expensive make-up. They cheered for the school’s teams. They had the good looking guys falling at their feet.

Me? I was a frizzy haired Latina. My clothes were always from the clearance rack. I didn’t know how to really wear make-up but it didn’t matter because Mom wouldn’t buy me any anyways. I dreamed of joining the cheer leading team but to join any after school activity was an impossibility. With Mom always working, car rides to and from the games and school, it was a no go. Plus, who would take care of my sister??

It wasn’t long before the differences between my “friends” and I were too much for them to bare. I was, one day randomly, excommunicated from the group. Hours turned to days. Days into weeks. Weeks into months. I was alone in school. I was alone at home. My friends didn’t want to deal with me anymore and my poor mother working two and three jobs just to be able to raise my sister and I wasn’t able to deal with me. At this point in my life I saw the world as everyone else’s except mine. For some reason it was as though I didn’t deserve the world and I couldn’t figure out why.

It was a shitty time in my life, those pre-teen years of mine. During that school year in which I had been excommunicated from the group, that was also the time in which I was sexually molested by a distant family member. You know what they say, “when it rains it pours..” and for me that year was like a goddamn tsunami. I didn’t speak to anyone about what was going with me but I didn’t have to speak verbally for my demeanor spoke volumes. Unfortunately, the fact that I had shut down emotionally was chalked up to what was me entering my teenage years and this attitude I carried was to be expected. Why hadn’t I spoken up?? I was scared. It’s true what they say, many abusers threaten their victims into staying quiet. They threaten them and their family, most times shifting the blame from themselves onto the victim, stating that if they talk to anyone they will be hated for ruining the family. That was exactly what happened to me.

It was the very next day of when the molestation happened that I received and early morning phone call. It was Saturday morning and my mom was at work. I was at home babysitting my sister when the phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hey Nata, is that you??” I recognized his voice immediately and it froze me into place. Where was he? Was he outside?? Was he watching me?? He was military so I imagined him having these crazy super powers like being able to get into my house to violate me without anyone knowing.

“Nata, you there?” I couldn’t speak so I just nodded my head.

“Listen, about yesterday, you have to be quiet. I know I already told you that but I just need to make sure you understand. You know I have a wife and my daughter. If they were to find out what you did you would get in a lot of trouble with them. Your family, like your mom and your abuelita, will stop talking to you because you let a man touch you. You hear me?? You cannot say anything or else everyone will get mad at you. You understand what I’m saying?” He spoke quickly and quietly.

“You get what I’m saying to you??” he repeated.

“Yes. I won’t tell.” I told him and with that I quickly hung up.

It’s weird because looking back I feel like I knew that what he did and what he was doing now by calling was wrong. I knew I should have told someone and that most likely my family wouldn’t get mad but the fear of the slim possibility that they might hate me and too excommunicate me, was huge. So I stayed quiet. I held that secret in for an entire year. It was the longest year of my life.

Anything that had to do with growing up and evolving I did on my own, independently. After a few weeks had gone by and still no word as to when my “friends” would be talking to me again, I dove head first into the world of words. I read and wrote from the moment I was settled on the school bus all the way through the day and way into the evening. The books that I read or the endless amount of journaling I did is what saved my life, multiple times. I’d get lost in these fictional worlds, headed out on these amazing adventures with these characters I wished were real. I wasn’t worried about paying attention in class or about having to get my homework completed. Did any of that really matter in the grand scheme of things?? Not in my world. What mattered to me was getting through my days with the least amount of pain as possible and school work got in the way of that. Some days were of course better than others, but in my mind, without the books, without the journals, my pain could have been a lot worse. Looking back on everything, it is no wonder that today it’s hard for me to personally connect with anyone. From a young age I grew up with the knowledge that people will always let you down, no matter who they are. To be honest, it was one great lesson to learn and better to learn it sooner than to get blindsided by disappointment later.

Today, although I love people and do consider myself quite the people person, I also know that I suffer a lot from the anxieties of having to deal with social and personal relationships. I call myself an extroverted introvert, meaning, it’s no problem for me to strike up conversations with strangers. I’m ok with going into a room full of people I do not know and having to mingle, yet at the same token I hate having to do so. I’ll go as far as to say that I absolutely dread it. It wasn’t until I had to start seeing a therapist as a part of my probationary conditions that it was pointed out to me my level of anxiety when it came to people and relationships. I suffer from social anxiety with strangers but also with the closest people in my life. I can make plans with family or friends and from the moment the plans are made I am in panic mode. I can’t make up my mind on whether or not to go through with the plans or break them. Most times, any plans I make with others I break. I begin to run through all of these different scenarios, all of which are negative, and before you know it I am talking my way out having to participate. I’m getting much better at dealing with this, through the help of books like the Secret, The Four Agreements, and other teachings that I have within the last few years discovered. Yet, I still find security at home, alone, with my pets. That is really the only time I ever feel comfortable. When I’m surrounded by others, buried deep within my mind is the fear of, which of all these people will hurt me next? How long will they be around for? How long will they be able to tolerate me for? My defenses are always up and to be honest it is quite exhausting. Yet as time passes I am grateful because throughout all the pain. heartaches, and let downs, I have become very strong.

I am slowly working on me. I finally have the time and the fortitude to simply let everything else go and just focus on myself and the things I need to get through. During the roughest moments of my life I have had only reading and writing to really help me get through. I sometimes hear of cases where kids are being bullied full-time, meaning at school as well as in the safety of their own homes, driving them to commit suicide. I see myself in so many of them that I cry with the pain of knowing how they felt. I often wish that they had had an outlet. I often wish that they had found a magical world within the pages of a book to save them. Something so simple and so obtainable as that and yet these kids couldn’t find their way towards survival. I guess maybe that’s why I write about everything and anything. Who knows who will end up coming across these words, who will scroll down these pages and find that comfort they needed. The comfort of knowing that one truly isn’t alone. That there are many others going through similar experiences and that only by sharing with one another will we be able to find solace not only within others, but more so within ourselves.

Maybe within these words someone will figure out that we are our own biggest project and it’s a project one must never quit on.

11380976_468219776660004_1021574899_n Photo Credit: Arturo G. Muse: Natal Galvan

 

 

Feeling Lost? You May Be Living for Others…

My parents divorced when I was only four years old. My sister wasn’t even one yet. It was almost instant that I was thrown into the role as “Mommy’s Little Helper” and although I was more than happy to help, it still wasn’t a role I chose.

Growing up wasn’t easy. Between trying to keep my grades afloat and helping out around the house, while also ultimately helping mom raise my sister, I’ve never really had a true and unique identity. Sure, I knew my name and what my favorite color was but anything deeper than that I could attribute it to someone else. They way I talked, the way I thought about certain things, it wasn’t 100% me but a compilation of everyone else.  It seemed that at that very point in my life I was always trying to please everybody else. The weekdays were dedicated to trying to impress my teachers and friends. After school was the time to really show my mom what a big girl I was and would win her over by helping with the day to day chores as well as serving as an entertainer/baby sitter for my sister. I spent every waking moment with that little rascal once school was out for the day and every summer break was dedicated to being with her from sun up till sun down. For 20 years her and I shared a room. We woke up together, we’d play together, we’d fight and cry, and tear each other’s hair our a few times a month. It’s no wonder how she ended up being my best friend after all these years.

The weekends were rough because that was a completely different world than what I was used to. I had to spend the weekends at my father’s house. Not only were they a different culture to absorb, but the stress that came along with having to deal with him and his new family (5 step brothers and his “younger than my mother by many years” wife) were a burden. It wasn’t long before I began to hate going to go visit him and eventually I would stop going all together. Still, during the time I did have to visit, it was a time in which I had to put who I was on hold just to please them, just to avoid ridicule. It wasn’t until I graduated high school and moved out of state, away from everything I knew, that I began to uncover who I truly was but even still, that too took time. I had been conditioned to be a people-pleaser and that made it hard to live life as I wanted.

I moved to Florida in ’08 and within the year I was signed up to school. I enrolled as a Forensic Psychology student. I had a plan. I was to work 5 days and go to school 3 days, taking 3 classes at a time. I wanted to plow through school while working, graduate, and then enter my career. That was almost 9 years ago and still I haven’t graduated.

One of my truest reasons as to why I haven’t graduated yet is due to finances. The other 95% I wouldn’t discover until just recent . It wasn’t until after my retreat from California, and about two years after I left Jersey for the second time, that I realized what my underlying issue was. I truly was at a loss for I really didn’t know who I was, and in turn, had no clue as to what I wanted for my life.

I look back to most of the decisions I’ve made in my life as a young adult and although most times I felt as though I was choosing to do what was best for me, I realized that instead I was making decisions based on what would make my family happy. The choice to move to Florida and make it on my own was truly my choice but that came after tons of time with my uncle convincing me to do so (Thanks Unc!). The major I picked to study in school was something I picked due to what I happened to really like to read at the time, but what really nailed it in for me was how happy my mother got when I told her what I wanted to study. “Hay Nati, that’s so good!! You can find a job with the government and get great benefits!! You would never have to worry about anything!” She’d tell me with joy in her voice. How could I study anything else when mama bear was so happy??

School wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be and I don’t mean academically. Honestly, FGCU isn’t a very tough school to complete. My problem was the level of dedication I had for it. It was hard for me to place so much energy into something that wasn’t giving me immediate payouts. Don’t get me wrong, I loved going to classes. Learning is paramount for me but it was everything else that came along with it. I lived off campus and so when I wasn’t in class or at the library studying, I was working or at home completing my homework. My life didn’t have much substance other than that. I wasn’t making friends due to the fact I wasn’t ever really on campus unless it was to attend class and I for sure didn’t have time to go out and meet people. Basically, all I ever did was work and go to school. I wasn’t traveling nor meeting people. It was a very “blah” time in my life and soon I began to question my purpose for doing all that I was doing.

I took an Ethics class during my last full semester at FGCU before deciding to move cross country. Mr.Mathews’ class was amazing and it truly changed my life for the better. In this class I was introduced to the Law of Attraction, The Secret, and many other life changing ideals like meditation and chakra cleansing. I learned about vibrations within the Universe and how to break away from the conditioning society has placed on us. This class was the end of who I was before and the beginning of who I was becoming. This class was what triggered my self discovery and since then there hasn’t been a day that goes by that I am not grateful for this time in my life.

It’s been about five years since I took that class and since then, finally at almost the age of 30, I have been making many of my own decisions. Some have worked out in my favor while others happened to be nothing more than a learning lesson. Sure, life hasn’t been perfect but I can’t even pretend that it ever will be. Yes, there have been moments in which I may have gone off the deep end a little. You know what they say about idle hands right? Yet still, I am grateful for every rough second I spent, or crazy situation I’ve been in. It has been an aid in my self discovery process and better yet, they have been choices I made because I wanted to make them. How awesome is that!?? Its taken some time but I’m beginning to slowly figure shit out. I’m starting to see what it is I like and where I see my future headed. I don’t take society or even family (anymore) into account when I dream up my future. I’ve done enough of that and look at where it got me. Following others and what they want for me has done nothing but confuse me and slow down my growing process when it comes to life and what I want to get out of it while I’m here.

I’m sharing this because I understand what many people go through when it seems like they’re lost and have no clue as to what to do with their lives. I understand because I too lived my life for quite some time for everyone else BUT for myself. It leaves you in a state of disorientation. Many people are going through this exact situation and don’t even realize why it is that they feel the way they do. If just by reading this I can help one confused person feel better as to why they feel the way they do then this time spent writing this was not time wasted.

Now that you’ve read this and feel that maybe you could fall in this criteria of living life for others, it’s time that you begin to start living life for yourself.No matter the age or the stage of life your in, you can begin to take control of it. Start setting healthy boundaries with others and begin to replenish and take care of yourself. Also, go into your self discovery knowing that there will be choices you make that may turn out not the way you planned. Realize that that is OK and that that is the beauty and purpose of life. No one life is perfect so to have that level of thinking would be harmful to your Self. The world is imperfect and it is in those very same imperfections that you’ll find happiness, bliss, adventure, and life in its purest form. Living this dream we call life in its purest form will aid you in your self discovery and you will live a good and happy life.

In the end of it all, what more could we want than to live out life the way we were meant to live it if not happily and with full hearts??

Looking Within

Its happened to all of us at some point or another. Maybe you were unaware of it happening but it has. We have all had that incident where a friendship (or any sort of relationship) has gone sour. Sometimes both parties just part ways and continue on with their lives. Other times it can get ugly. I always relate it to the maturity level of the people involved.

Just recently, I found out that someone whom I was very close to, has been going around telling people something pretty ugly about my character. Nothing sexual. I almost would have preferred that it were something more of that nature because that I can deal with. This rumor is something a little more cold blooded than that and when I heard it, my heart felt heavy and my soul truly hurt. There’s no feeling like the feeling of having someone spread hateful rumors without you knowing, cutting out the chance of being able to stand up for yourself against the words being spoken. It’s a move that a sneaky little serpent would make, attacking you without your knowledge. A cowardly move at best.

I heard what was being said and after the first couple of hours of being angry and upset, I began to look deep within to see how I may have contributed to the issue. I began taking a look at our history. This person and I had known each other all our lives but only in the last three years have we really began dealing with each other. A certain crisis was what brought us together and from that point on our lives were intertwined. At the time, I was ill aware of how this crisis was going to effect me and everyone else around me. A situation were I thought I knew how to handle things but sadly I was wrong. I had never gone through something so devastating…ever.. and so the way that I ended up dealing with the aftermath wasn’t the way I would now looking back would have handled it. It’s only through experience that we learn and boy did I learn. I abandoned people in their time of need only because I didn’t know how to fix the problem. I would rack my brain, literally stressing myself out trying to find a solution as to how to make things better, but I kept failing. Now I know that it wasn’t my job to fix anything, just being there would have been enough. But suffering from co-dependency, if anyone knows anything about co-dependency, the frustration of not being helpful in a way that I knew how, made me feel like a complete failure, which in turn  lead me to disconnect completely. This was definitely what set this ball of anger and resentment towards me into motion.

If only we all would have talked about it then, when it was all freshly happening, none of us would be feeling the way we are. Instead of communicating, we all ignored the situation probably thinking it would just go away, only letting it secretly fester until it turned into a wound that was unmanageable. By seeing the role that I played in the situation I can understand why this person set out to talk badly about me, because whether or not the rumor being spread is true or not (it’s not), it’s coming from a place of hurt. Only hurt people go around trying to destroy others. Me disconnecting wasn’t intentional but it lead to hurting others, and that in itself is something I take full responsibility for. By taking responsibility it allows me to accept the issue at hand rather than just feel angry and hurt about it. I understand the reasoning and can easily move on. At the end of the day, I know my truth and what I know and think about myself is way more important than anything anyone else could say or think about me.

Can I get mad and upset about the rumors? Of course, but what is that really going to change? Absolutely nothing, that’s what.  I will simply move on accepting all that has happened as it is, another learned life lesson. Maybe one day life will rear its pretty head and we’ll be at a point in our lives that this can be discussed and let go, but I don’t hold too high of hopes. I forgive myself and I’ll forgive others. I’m letting go and letting life….

 

The Problem Was Me

After my last failed relationship, I decided to look back on certain things and really try to figure out why the hell  I seem to be finding the same type of guy over and over again.  I laugh at myself because no matter how different the guys are, at the end of the day they are the same “type” of guy with maybe just with a slight difference.

I’ve dated them all. From school teachers and lawyers (I know I know. I said I’d never date a lawyer…) to tattoo artists and musicians. From “high” class guys to guys in the lower income bracket… It doesn’t matter where they’re from, how they were raised, education level, they all end up being the same type of guy.

For years I have been plaguing my mom with the same question, “How do I keep finding the same type of guy??” and for years her response would be to laugh. I can’t blame her. My love life is like an awful romance comedy that instead of getting better… it gets funnier and funnier (which means worse and worse) by the minuet. Or shall I say by the boyfriend.

It was just a couple days ago that it finally hit me. It’s me. I’m the problem. After speaking to a few chosen ladies and really analyzed my situation, I have come to the conclusion that the common denominator is me. Therefore the problem lies within myself. Not them. Me.

Am I being a little too hard on myself? Nope. If anything I need to get tougher. I need to “tough love” myself because if I want for this ridiculous cycle to stop and eventually meet someone right for me, things have got to change.

First I’ll tell you the mistakes I’m making. Then I’ll tell you the kind of men I’ve been pulling. You’ll realize what I’m talking about soon enough and then hopefully you too will stop making the same moves I have been making.

My last few bf’s I’ve found online. Whether it be through a dating site or app, or through “mutual friends” listed on FB. My current ex is the exception. I met him at the bar he worked at. Everyone of them I discovered because I was out on the hunt. When I describe myself as being on the “hunt” I do not mean I’m out there searching high and low for prospects with my binoculars and rifle, haha. No. My plan was simple. It was to just put myself out there to see what happened. What ended up happening was that I hit one dead end after another and who else to blame but the driver, right? I uploaded a profile onto a ridiculous site, or maybe I would go solo baring and would frequent a certain bar until one day, Poof, a knight materialized. Either way you look at it, I was a sitting duck. I basically set myself up and waited for the next one to show up and be the guy of my dreams. When it comes to Love you cannot search. That is one thing in life that if you do go in search of you’ll find everything BUT what it is you’re looking for.

They were dreamy. All were charismatic, good looking (to my standards), funny, had jobs, and of course there was always chemistry. At first. I’m sure many of you can relate when I say that the beginning of any relationships it was always great.  It wasn’t just the excitement of going out on cool dates, but more of the getting to know one another and realizing how much one had in common with the other. You begin to hang out often and the time you spend together you just think to yourself “holy cow I think I found my other half!” But the beginning of any relationship is always smoke and mirrors. Things will always seem wonderful in the beginning. Each person is on their best behavior, only setting forth their wonderful qualities. In time, the smoke begins to settle. The fairy tale slowly fades and in its place stands real life.

Real life. You gotta love it. It’s what snaps you back into the reality of life and how it operates. Life will never go 100% smooth. There will always be SOMETHING that takes a dip for the worst. It could be health wise, financial crap, or maybe family issues. It could be anything. These issues and how people handle the situation and move forward is very telling about who they are as an individual and what role, if any, they’ll play in your life. With each and every ex there were always red flags and every single one of them I chose to ignore. My second mistake.

It’s very rare when a relationship is heading south for one or both people involved to be completely broad sighted. There are always signs telling us, warning us, that shit is about to hit the fan. I truly do feel bad for our Sixth Sense, good ol’ Intuition, because more often than not it is ignored. If we followed our intuition more, or paid close attention to those red flags, we would avoid so many problems in life.

I cannot tell you how often it has happened that I knew a bf was going to lose their job weeks before it even happened. Or how often I’ve been told about shady pasts that they have “over come” just to know that later on it would fester up again and come back with a full vengeance. Yet what do I do? I ignored the signs, the warnings. I dismissed them thinking, “Ehhh, maaaybe not” because there IS always a chance of misjudging, right? Wrong. It’s weird to think that way. It’s weird to go thinking against a million red flags just for a minuscule possibility that you may be wrong. Think about it. Subconsciously, as we become more involved in a relationship and we begin to form a pattern and routine with someone, you begin to really take in notes about that person. You become familiar with their actions, how they respond to things and situations, the way they even think through the words they speak. Without even thinking we take all this information in and our minds slowly begin to build your reality of this individual. Red flags pop up in our brains, intuition goes off in our soul, our heart even falters for a second, when moments arrive that flare up  a feeling in you that things either aren’t adding up or are off alignment with  you and what you need out of life. Heed those warnings, take a step back and truly analyze  the situation.What’s the worse that could happen?

Here is a list of what can be considered red flags or warnings:

*they have mental, emotional, and/or physical ailments that should be tended to by a professional yet they never seek the help they need.

*became unemployed and have no interest of obtaining another job or completely lack the motivation (unless wealthy of course).

*they lie about  things that make you wonder, “Wtf would you lie about that?”

*they have kids that they don’t care to take care of.

*instead of owning up to past mistakes and taking full responsibility they continue to excuse what they’ve done and/or blame others.

*they live at home with their parents due to the desire of wanting to keep being maintained and lack of drive versus that of the need to (ages 30 and over).

*if they have cheated on multiple exes and/or still consider themselves a “player”

* they are rude to or look down upon people in the service industry

With some of the ones listed, you couldn’t possibly even get into a relationship and expect for your it to be a healthy one. The fact that I am a co-dependent (currently working on that) and am addicted to helping people  has always placed me in a bad spot. I always want and believe that I can help and save everyone, when in fact, that is totally far from the truth. No one can help or save anyone that doesn’t want to help themselves. Remember that. Always support people emotionally but never allow yourself to be convinced that you are there to save someone. That’s a ton of responsibility unnecessarily placed on someone that truly has no power in the situation.  Keeping this in mind will save you from many head pains and heart aches.

Here are some guidelines I came up with from my own experiences to maybe help others out there in the dating scene. For now, there are only three:

1) Don’t go searching for Love. The way the Universe works, it is always conspiring for you. But just because it is working for you doesn’t mean it’ll be timed the way you want it. Love will find you once it’s ready, once you’re ready, once your partner is ready. So “let go and let God”, otherwise, you run the risk of continuously finding the ones not at all meant for you.

2) Listen to your inner you.

3) You are no one’s hero. They must be their own. Instead, think more along the lines of being their biggest cheerleader.

Go out. Mingle with people. Have fun. Live out your life. Go about your business while always being in the moment. Stop thinking that the next person you see may be “the one.” Stop worrying about “Ways to Meet Your Soul Mate” or the “10 Places to Meet Your Future Spouse.” Those magazines titles are so lame, honestly.

Trust me. I’m taking my own advice. I’ve been repeating the same mistakes time and time again. The difference now is that I am aware of what I was doing before and can now knowingly decide to not commit the same errors again.

Funny, because I feel like these were all things I’ve heard before. Advice from the elders that one never truly followed through with after listening to.  I guess it’s the way of life, us trying to experience things on our own, even if it is the hard way. One thing is for sure, it makes for great writing.

Rock Bottom

“It’s only when we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything”

-Chuck Palahniuk, Fight club

We hit our lowest of lows.

You believe that it truly cannot get any worse than it already has.

Yet what greater gift could life hand you? Sure, anyone could build on an already existing foundation but would it be building or more like reconstructing? The freedom lies in being able to choose the foundation on which to build on. We hit rock bottom and it’s something so shocking and earth shattering, even more so when it was expected or we saw it coming. We set blame on ourselves, or worse, on others.  We become so caught up in the anger and the resentment that we lose sight of the real opportunity that’s been offered. Many people out there would give anything  for an opportunity to start all over.

Rock bottom.

Who even invented that saying?? I mean it could be worse. You could be dust. A life cut short, as in, no mas, finito, poof, gone.

There will be some who read this and say, “Yea, well death sounds better than the shit I’m dealing with.” I say to you, “You say that now, but stare death in the face and more than half of you will hold on to dear life, clinging on for as long as you ultimately can.”

Turning to dust, that is your worse case scenario. Hitting rock bottom? You’re still a rock. You are still strong and well put together to still be considered a rock. Don’t take that strength for granted. You are all you need to start over. Yes, it will be difficult but it’ll also be so rewarding. Every bump and ding along the way will buff and shine you until all your hard work and dedication turns you into that smooth, beautiful pearl that you always were.

Rock bottom.

It’s that level before dust that one has to hit in order to tear down a life not meant for us in order to build one that truly serves us.

10748036_485087578300494_993079967_n Photo Credit: Natal Galvan *taken from a page from the book, The Secret

“Alternative” Living

So then it begins. The story of the girl and her dog. She sits alone at bars and although she never intends to, she gets way too drunk. She meets all sorts of personalities while she’s out and even though legally she’s not supposed to be out drinking and mingling, following the rules was never her forte. Let’s just call her a rebel. Others would simply say dumb.

It wasn’t too long ago when she heard herself being described on the radio for the first time. It was when she first arrived to Florida some 8 odd years ago. The radio host was saying how in today’s world, the term used for a girl like her was “alternative.” It was then that she realized she’s gone from being just “ordinary” to something but.  With her funky hair color and her piercings, along with her tattoos that cover about 75% of her body, in this Florida region she stood out. It’s not like she lived in Miami or Orlando where youth is prominent and so is the “alternative” life style. No, she lived in an area where the senior citizens are the ruling class followed up by the middle class to wealthy families. The types of people who look at her and wonder why?

“Why would such a nice girl like yourself, with so much going for herself do that to her body?” They ask. Funny. Old people never feel the restraint of prying into your private life. It could be the fact that soon they’ll be nothing but a mass of decaying flesh and bones six feet under that gives them the balls to ask such intrusive questions. But I don’t mind. My life and who I am is an open book. No invitation is needed. Just having an open mind and a civil, respectful approach is all I care about. I usually try to counter that question with another question like, “Well, why do you drive the kind of car you drive?” Or “What makes you choose to wear that shade of lipstick?” They laugh at me because of course nothing of what I asked them is remotely close to being like a tattoo on your body. But those are my build up questions. I then ask them, “What makes you want to have children?” Or “What makes you decide what political party to run along with?” To every single one of these questions no matter the level of permanency, the one true answer that fits true to all is the same answer I have for them. Ultimately it is because you want to. It’s because you like it. You do it because it’s you, it’s your dream.

Just recently I had a lady ask me, “Honey how are you going to find yourself a nice young man to take care of you when you’ve got all this going on?” and she points to my art. I of course had to be a hard ass in my response because with people like her that’s just how I naturally react. So I say, “Well HONEY, if I was looking for a man to take care of me then I may be a little worried but seeing as though I am not…” She cuts me off and says, “Oh I get. Well a “partner.” How will you find a “partner” then?” Naturally she assumes I’m a lesbian.  “Listen lady, I’m not a lesbian. And if I was that wouldn’t even be the issue at hand. The issue you’re having are with my tattoos and although I’ve got no need to explain anything to you, I will use this opportunity to maybe enlighten folks like you a little bit. The fact that I’ve got tattoos doesn’t effect the kind of people I meet, because the kind of people I want to meet won’t have an issue with the tattoos. We can call them a filter. If anything, I have met the raddest people because of my tats and those whom are judgmental just simply stay away. That’s how I like it. Let me just add by saying that some of the most clean cut individuals are the dirtiest people on this planet. Take a look at Ted Bundy for instance or Jeffery Dahmer. Keep them in mind the next time you judge someone for their “nice guy” appearance.” Needless to say this lady didn’t continue on the conversation with me. She turned back to her “clean cut” husband never uttering another word. Hopefully I left her wondering what sort of skeletons he’s got hidden among the Tommy Bahama clothes hanging in his closet.

Was I a little too harsh in my response with this lady? Maybe. But catch me on a day like that day where I was a couple drinks in and I’m going to get as real with my answers as your are with your questions. I think a lot about this older generation and how sometimes I cannot wait for them to dissolve. It may be wrong of me to say but I blame a lot of what’s going on in the world due to their way of thinking. The fact that so many are set in their old ways and cannot conceive of things changing or evolving.  Much of their way of thinking so ignorant and small minded, killing so much of the potential this world has to offer simply because it doesn’t fit their way of thinking or the way things have always been. Maybe I was a little harsh with her, and not only her but with others like her, but it was actually one of the rare moments life presented me with, an opportunity to maybe spread a message that normally wouldn’t have been given a chance to be expressed.

In reality this blog piece isn’t about the adventures of a girl and her dog. It’s about the realization of the way life goes for not only me but for those out there who are similar.

In today’s world, if by your mid twenties you’re not married, with kids, living in your own home, working in a set career, you’re looked down upon by the older generation. Truth be told, if you look at the statistics out there, you’re actually doing just fine. You’re in sync with the way life is evolving around you. Many are staying in school longer, actually taking their time to decided on their true passion in life. Others aren’t even going straight to college after HS because their intent is to travel and experience life before making long term dedications to ideas that in all honesty were more imposed on them than actually being wanted. Having a full blown family by the age of 25 is now pretty overrated. I’m not taking any credit away from those who actually have one and wanted to have one. That’s a great achievement when you get to accomplish a dream, no matter what dream it is. All I’m saying is to those of you who are out there still drawing up that blue print for life, don’t feel bad. Don’t feel like you’re behind in anyway. Don’t feel that you have to have this title hanging over your head of the “alternative” lifestyle, no matter what definition it holds for you. Who are these individuals coming up with such a label? Who are these people coming up with the rules and guidelines for society? Other human beings that’s who. People who are no more inferior or superior to us, to you. They are just regular Joe Shmoes so why care about living your life by their rules? Set your own standards and live your own life by them. Care about yourself, and make sure to try to go along your path with inflicting the least amount of pain as possible. Those should truly be your only two “set in stone” guidelines. Everything else can be written in sand and washed away by the sea allowing you to write and rewrite as many times needed.

Never allow others to make you feel like who you as an individual are worthless. No one is worthless.

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Photo Credit: Angie M, Muse: Natal Galvan ’13

 

Love and Instant Gratification

In an age where technology has made everything so readily available one must wonder are we conditioning ourselves to believe that anything and everything is easily obtainable? Before, society used to have to work hard in order to achieve anything that was remotely satisfying. Your kid needed to do a 10 page research paper, the assignment was given weeks in advance for teachers knew that it would take time to gather such information. Kids would have to go and spend free time at the library or maybe even have to go so far as to visit a few museums in order to get the information needed to write a proper paper. If you had a dream of becoming a model, you knew there was serious work to be done. There were portfolios to be put together. You’d have to truly grind and figure out ways to make appointments with agents or show up for auditions. The ability to pose for a picture, edit it with a few different filters, and with one click post it on your Instagram (today’s portfolio) for the whole world to see, that was almost unfathomable. There are many who have gained, what I’ve termed Insta-Success, in dream careers that for them was once an almost impossibility yet today they are rolling in their passion. These are all great examples of how technology has helped humanity exceed and advance in many aspects of their lives such as knowledge, success, exposure.. But what about the downs of such advancement? There is always a negative to counter a positive. Life is about balance and I’m here to speak on whether or not the negatives balance or outweigh those positives.

One of our most important purposes here in life is love. I truly believe that love is something that not only every single individual on this planet strives to feel in one way or another, but it is also what makes the world go round. Not just the love of money, or success, the love to travel, or the love of food, or a hobby, but most importantly the love of an individual outside of yourself. To obtain true love whether it lasts forever or not is something that we all try to experience at one point or another. Some may have loved once, and got burned in doing so. Maybe those individuals have given up on feeling that emotion, but the point there is that they have experienced it. Others  may be looking for love and a percentage of those will find it while others will spend their entire lives in search of it. So how does the topic of “Love” come into play with “Insta-Sucess”? Take my friend Janet for instance. Janet falls under the percentage of those who are on the constant hunt for love. She’s got a profile on every single internet site or dating app that is out there. Whether it’s free or she pays a monthly fee, that girl’s heart is on everyone of them waiting to be captured. I know many people who are reading this may have or have had a profile up or two. I’ll be honest and say I’ve had one or two up and took them down for the simple reason that it just didn’t work for me. There is nothing wrong with having a dating profile. In fact, for many it is a godsend and truly their only way of being able to find love. Whether they’re to shy to go out and mingle, while there are others that are maybe too busy. Some prefer to have an array of choices at one time to date versus having to go out and pick up a date here and there. There is no wrong when it comes to having a dating profile, unless of course you’re looking for that Insta-Gratification from your Insta-Meet like my friend Janet.

Janet is trooper. She has a date pretty much every night of the week. Sometimes they are with the same guys. Most times her dates are with someone new and different. The problem doesn’t lie in the fact that she’s got numerous dates under her belt. If fact, before I would say “Good for YOU!” for I believe that in order to find out what you really want in your ideal mate you must first find out what you DON’T want. Her issue lies, and this is where most people’s issues lie in the online dating scene, is with the belief that with a few dates you either got it or you don’t. God forbid there be a flaw or a not so ideal quality in a person (because we’re all so perfect, ya know) it’s DELETE and onto the next one. No if, ands, or buts… You’re OUT. Many of you may be thinking “Well good for Janet!! She’s picky! and that’s important when it comes to not settling for less than what you want!” And I hear you. But what if that ease of “deleting” and moving onto the next one is exactly what’s keeping her from being in a happy relationship?

This is where today’s society and its entanglement with technology comes into play.For years now we have been able to be a  click away to learning and perfecting almost every aspect of our life. From typing up the perfect resume, or editing your pictures to look like a Hollywood starlit, to ordering groceries online while also paying your parking ticket at the same time. Everything is instant. Everything SEEMS perfect. We no longer have to work hard for anything. We’ve become a society who’s number one focus is physical appearance and instant gratification.  People are no longer patient enough to work hard for something. Actually it’s now the complete opposite.It’s as though in today’s world, if you’re working hard for something then it’s not worth to pursue so it’s time to move on and when it comes to love, I often hear (not just from Janet but many others her age and younger) if it’s meant to be, it’ll just work. The pursuit of “Perfection” has become such a norm in life that we have forgotten that we are human and we each have flaws or certain issues within us that make us far from perfect. Yet those very same issues or flaws are the very things that set us apart and make us unique from the next person. To be able to look past that, not only accepting it, but to the point where you cherish those flaws, that’s where true love for someone else lingers.

Janet, as well as many others out there, finding out that (insert name here) isn’t perfect, or doesn’t have all the qualities she looks for in her ideal mate, that instant gratification or her idea of perfection she’s in search for, that Insta-Love, is exactly what’s getting in her way.  The belief that you can meet someone and just love them immediately and them love you unconditionally without having to put in any work is absolutely absurd. One disagreement, one fight, one of anything negative, and good-bye. You are dismissed and onto the next one. Yes, there are those cases in which you will find what they call “love at first sight” but still to MAINTAIN that emotion for someone, it takes work. It’s not easy to maintain a relationship of any sort. There is time and effort that’s to be put in, and that is exactly what life today is lacking… Time and Effort.

I share this with you because everyone is deserving of love. When you’re out there looking for it, or it just so happens to find you, don’t get into your own way simply because you’ve been conditioned to believing in the hype around you. Listen to your heart and intuition. Understand, no one walks around wrapped in vintage filters and cropped out problems. We are all imperfect and that’s what makes us each so perfect.

049-2 Photo Credit: Natal Galvan Location: Santa Monica, CA