Discovering YOUR Purpose

Even before being able to form a sentence we are discussed about to family and to outsiders as to what we are to later become professionally in life. Straight out the womb it’s, “Maybe she will become a lawyer like her father? Maybe he will become a doctor like his grandmother?” As we become older the question is always hovering above us, “What’s your life purpose? What do you think you’re meant to be or do here?” Because we are asked these questions from such a young age and then grow into asking our selves these very same questions on almost a daily basis, we are conditioned to give these thoughts way too much importance. We begin to believe that in this life we are meant to do something major or significant in order to have given our life meaning, and how do we even define for ourselves what is “major and significant”? If we don’t succeed in becoming that doctor or that lawyer then we are just a waste of a life. We begin to compare ourselves to those around us, who also don’t really know what they’re doing. Those who are also following this weirdly imposed set of social norms that in reality limit our potential to do the things in life that we actually want to do for ourselves and maybe need to do for our soul.

Graduate highschool the top of your class, attend college, meet your life partner, get married, buy a house, have kids, work, raise your family, maybe travel once they fly the coop, and then you die. 

Now let’s say your life up until now hasn’t followed these set of social standards. Maybe you have done things “out of order” or maybe you totally missed a couple “key steps” in making something out of yourself. You begin to feel lost and the little voice inside your head begins to tell you that maybe you just weren’t good enough for certain things. Maybe you didn’t try hard enough…

But what if…

…certain things in life weren’t meant for you. Maybe you’re actually better than that in other ways and it’s in those ways that you’re supposed to be shining. What if our life’s purpose is actually as simple as being here to shift energies within other people. In reality, such a purpose isn’t “simple”. To shift energies around you is a gift you are born with and its importance is grander than any job title you could study for. Maybe you are that person that walks into a room and immediately people are drawn to you. They lean to you for advice no matter how small, no matter how personal. A light follows you, casting positivity and radiating joy wherever you go. Such a person is a ripple effect, touching and reshaping lives on a daily basis. There is no small feat in that.

Sometimes we need to take a step back and question ourselves why it is that we are so hard on ourselves especially when it comes to things we pursue solely to appease others. Is it so hard to believe that maybe that’s why it isn’t working for you? It could be that while you felt like you were going with the flow of life in attempting to pursue something that would make a loved one happy, you in turn were actually going against the grain and disrupting your true journey.

I feel as though when speaking to many around me, this is a constant internal battle, the fight we have within ourselves about our purpose. So many of us feel so lost but it’s because we are focusing on all the wrong things. We aren’t really listening to our true selves. We are also looking towards others for answers that in all reality they don’t have. What you should count on are the signs from the Universe. Count on the fact that if you start believing in yourself and set aside the negative self talk, the hints and guidance from the Universe will shout to you what it is that you should be doing; what you should be doing for yourself and your genuine happiness.

Directionless

There was a time where I had this amazing blueprint of how my life would go.

I would move away from home, go to college, and finish with a degree in Forensic Psychology. I wanted to be Clarice from Silence of the Lambs. During this time that I would be making something out of myself, I would casually meet the man of my dreams. We would fall madly in love with one another, get married, and start a life together. Sprinkle a little travel time on top of that and there was my perfect life… and this was all to be done before the age of 26.

This is when I had some direction in life and somewhere along the road I veered off the beaten path I had cleared off for myself. I one day realized that this direction I was headed in was not a true blue print of what I wanted my own life to be. It was starting to seem more like the life that I knew society and its norms needed me to be. I slowly became aware that this was going to be a life that was chosen for me simply because I felt like it was what I had to do to please the world.

I’m not more than halfway through my first year of being in my 30’s. I have no kids, no husband, and never graduated from college. I haven’t decided to settle yet when it comes to the family life. I refuse to settle down with just anyone in order  to please everyone else. After deciding that forensic psychology, although very interesting, would just in the long run ruin my cheery personality, I quit what I was studying, walking away from an institution that I felt no longer was serving me. Removing the goal from the sacrifice and what are you left with? Nothing other than a lot of sacrificing. Not knowing what I truly wanted to do when it came to furthering my education I decided against finishing the last two years I had left to go. I felt that it was pointless to add to a debt for a mere sheet of paper that would do me no good unless it would have been put to use, and it wouldn’t have been.

So here I am, no kids to keep me busy. No husband to keep me grounded. No career to keep me focused. Do I fear where I am in life? Not one bit. The way I see it, the world is my oyster and at this point in time anything is truly possible. I compare my state of being now to what I was back then when I had some direction and the difference is night and day. The stress level is low and happiness is abundant. I am hardly every cranky anymore, and even though I may question more where I may be in three years, it is not a question that scares me, instead it fills me with excitement.

I am happy to be living, and even though life may not be going according to plan, I am totally alright with that. For me, happiness, much like the wind, flows freely into my life, directionless.

It’s Not Another Love Story

I had ended it a month before I was to meet who is now, the love of my life. It wasn’t like there was anything truly serious between us. It was more like we were beta testing what it would be like if it had turned into something more. Now looking it back, it is apparent to me that even if we had made us “official” the relationship between us would have never lasted.

We had been friends for years, or maybe “friends” is a term I’m using loosely. I met him through mutual friends and eventually when I had bowed out of the circle, our friendship had turned into one of acquaintances. It was only years later that we had reconnected.

When you’re living in a world  that is often cold and lonely, certain things, people, places, situations, begin to look more appealing than under normal circumstances. You begin to give life to thoughts that normally wouldn’t exist or at the very least would have quickly been dismissed. It had months since I had last seen him. I had been out one night with a few friends, and there he was chatting it up to some of his customers at the bar. As quickly as we said hi to one another, we said our goodbyes. My group and I were changing scenery but after that night we began to exchange FB messages here and there. After some time I knew there was an interest there, but knowing what I thought I knew about him, I didn’t feel the urge to pursue anything.  If I would have continued to follow my intuition, maybe the drama would have been avoided. Yet, no matter how certain you may be of something, once the seed of doubt is planted, it hardly take much for it to grow. My seed of doubt?What if I ended up dismissing something beautiful simply because I felt like I had an idea of where it may lead me to?

On the day that it had all began, I had been hours in to day drinking by myself on the beach. Season had finally begun to die down and there wasn’t much traffic so I had taken it upon myself to take advantage of the quiet, and decided to have a “me” day. Not that I had much of a choice considering I hardly had any friends on this side of town… or hardly at all for that matter. By this point, we had gone from speaking only through FB to texting and almost on a daily basis. The invite to hang out via text arrived in the early afternoon. Since I was already too buzzed to even think about driving anywhere, I insisted he meet me at a bar in walking distance to where I was. The bar I suggested was on the beach with a pool. I figured if we ever hit an “awkward silence” moment, it would provide us with, at the very least, a distraction.

Under normal circumstances I would have never been down to hang out one on one like that. Not just with him, but with any guy who I wasn’t already real friends with. Under “normal” (meaning sober) circumstances I would have known what us hanging out could have potentially meant for him, and it was more than what it would have meant for me.

Now I understand what you’re thinking,

“This b!T%* really is so full of herself that she believes that this poor guy is just going to fall in love with her and her not feel a thing. How does she know she won’t be the one falling for him?” 

I understand what you’re saying. It’s not that I am full of myself, not by any means. To give a little history here, during the time that I had initially met this particular person, it had been made very clear to me by his closest friends, that he was very interested and very smittened by me. Fast forwarding to this moment, the flirting through messages was obvious and strong. I knew right away that I wasn’t interested (in that way) and this is why that up until this particular beach day we hadn’t hung out. Up until this day I had really been the one to choose not too.

By the time I had gathered myself off the beach and walked into the bar, he was already sitting there, drink in front of him. Within minuets of our initial greet he presented me with a well thought out gift. I remember my last clear thought that day was “Well that was really nice of him,” and after that it was all a cloud.

I don’t remember much of our conversation. I know that once it got dark, we made it to the beach, where we sat and smoked a joint. I vaguely remember listening to the music that erupted from his phone. To this day I will never forget the song River. He introduced me to that song that night and I remember having made him replay it what seemed like hundreds of times while we sat there on the beach. Had we kissed that night under the deep night sky? I do not know. To this day I do not know because I had later been too embarrassed to ask.

Eventually we made our way back to my place where we said our goodbyes and once inside my apartment, I remember plopping down on my not so soft couch futon, thinking to myself, “Fuck, now what are you going to do?”

I woke up the next day to find a message from him telling me how much he enjoyed the day before. I was hungry, hungover, and thoughtful. It was over a reheated slice of pizza that I decided to weigh out the pros and cons of what would happen if it was decided to take this friendship of ours a step further. To my surprise the list was a draw. It could go either way. That’s when I decided to give this a whirl. It wasn’t like he was a bad guy, no matter how much of an asshole he tried to project. That was just a show for others, I knew that. Sure, he hadn’t looked like the man I had always dreamed up in my mind. Yes, he was a little more negative than I had hoped for my other half to be BUT those were things one could look past and even maybe with time, change. (by this very thought it should have been clear to me that this was not to be…you don’t attempt a relationship with people in hopes to change them. Not like that.  When it is pure and true, you accept them as they are. You love down to the very flaws that once would have made you think twice and if needed be, with love they evolve, on their own to be better versions of themselves, of yourself.) 

We continued hanging out after that night. At first a couple times a week. Quickly a couple times a week ended up turning into almost everyday. Days had then turned into weeks and still the doubt was there and just wouldn’t let up. I was angry at myself because I didn’t understand what was internally wrong with me. He was funny and attentive. Two qualities I had always loved in a man. He had household skills that would put many housewives to shame. A particular set of skills in the kitchen that only a true chef could master. Still, all these great qualities and I just couldn’t fall in love. Not like he wanted me to. The flame was just not igniting for me no matter how much I tried to force it.

The heart is strong and it is pure.

One cannot convince the heart to feel things that do not come natural. I learned this the first time when it came to my father. I would later learn this many more times in a number of different situations. It is a lesson hard to learn and only when one comes to accept this does life become a little tiny bit easier.

We had been “talking” for a little over a month when I had finally decided to be completely and 100% honest with him. Not only was it what he deserved, but I truly did come to love the friendship and I wanted to preserve what we had built up to that point. Silly girl.

It wasn’t at all easy for me to have the conversation. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news, news that would emotionally hurt someone for that matter. It wasn’t easy for him to hear. No one wants to stand there and get their heart broken.

His hurt wore many faces. He was angry, sarcastic, hurtful, all of which I understand. He tried many times to make me realize how perfect we were for each other. “How could two good people who deserve each other not be together?” he asked me once.

“Just because two good people come together doesn’t mean they should date. Maybe they’re in each other’s lives for a long lasting friendship.” I answered.

The friendship has now completely diminished. His anger over time built into resentment and once I made it public that I was officially in a relationship with someone, he completely let me have it.

I had known this reaction would come but I hadn’t believed it to be permanent. I thought that he would eventually see that my honesty was something that had to be. What was I supposed to do? Suck up the fact that I was’t emotionally connected to him like we had hoped I’d be? Was I to live a life forcing something there? I thought he would get over his angry and understand that I had not meant to hurt him. That he would understand that if I had continued on to force love, things would have ended way worse.

The understanding never came. Instead there was more insulting and hostility. Today we don’t speak and with all the sadness that a dying friendship brings I do morn for its loss. I move on with my life coming to the understanding that sometimes the pursuit of happiness can be difficult. You will encounter tough situations and maybe hurt others along the way, but happiness is what we’re on this earth to experience. Not for others, but for ourselves.

029-2 Photo Credit: Natal Galvan, Location: Venice Beach California

 

To The Myself of The Past

I look back on the last ten years of my life and it amazes me how much I have changed. When I turned 20 I felt like I had been through enough to know so much about life. Maybe compared to others my age I did. I felt like an adult and believed I had known all I needed to know in order to be a productive member of society. I worked very hard, 5-6 days a week between two jobs, and eventually had enrolled in school. I knew how to save and budget my money and did so successfully. I kept up with the bills, paying them all early, never skipping a payment. I made sure I stayed on top of everything, micromanaging every aspect of my life to the point that I had begun to try to micromanage everything and everyone at work. I wanted to always make sure I went above and beyond my responsibilities. I wanted to make sure I always said and did the right thing, even if that meant sacrificing my own happiness. Reading my journals from back then, I relive the stress and the unhappiness I was living day to day. There was always something to be done. There was always someone to please. I read and relive the frustrations and as I do I come to a realization. Back then I used to blame the world. I would get angry and upset if someone didn’t acknowledge the hard work I had put into something or if the sacrifices I was making was being over looked. I blamed the world for being so hard on me and not giving me the easy life that I felt so many others had. The funny thing was, most of my hardships and frustrations were purely self inflicted. I would take upon all these responsibilities, I would go above and beyond, and instead of doing all of that because it was something I wanted to do for myself, I was doing it because I wanted to shine in other people’s eyes. I was looking for that reassurance. I was seeking that approval. I was getting mad at everyone else for not being proud of me, for not appreciating the things  I was doing, when all along I should have been my own biggest cheerleader. I should have been proud of myself.

Today I am way more relaxed. Sometimes I giggle because I believe my mom thinks I may be feeling a little too relaxed, haha. Living life is now much more important to me than spending my time micromanaging it. I began going with the Universal flow of life and haven’t stopped since. This new plan of not really having a plan has been truly working for me. I know it because I’m actually happy. Sure, I took a break from school. Once I started to think differently, things within me changed, and what I was once so set on doing with the rest of my life is no longer something I want to pursue, so it’s back to the drawing board on that one. Sure, I may not have a lot of money like I once did. Yet, it isn’t something that I’m upset about. Money comes and it’ll go. I still get to do many of the things I want to do and the things I haven’t been able to do are just things I look forward to one day doing. That one will come. I breath easier. I laugh louder. I enjoy the days of boredom when I have nothing to do. I enjoy the stillness of those quiet times. More often than not I am able to stop and take in all that is around me and give gratitude for it all.

My 20’s was a period of learning. As I slowly creep into my 30’s I will take all that I learned and apply it, while still accepting all that I will learn as I continue to evolve into the woman I will someday become. If I could give the myself of the past some advice, I’d simply tell her this,

“Stop. Take time to look at the vastness of the world around you. Take time for yourself. Learn yourself. Listen to yourself. Feel what it is that makes you happy. Follow that feeling and never let go. Stay true to your good heart, but most importantly stay true to yourself.”

******

 I don’t fear death because of the act of dying. Death is nothing but a rebirth. I fear death because I don’t want to ever stop learning, even if only for a little while. -natal galvan

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Missed Opportunity

**He spent his whole life waiting for her to arrive in order to fulfill many of the dreams he had envisioned for himself…

and then he died.

Once he arrived to heaven he was given the chance to speak to God. He frustratingly asked him,

“Why did you have me return home without allowing me the experience of finding true love and being able to live out my goals and dreams? What had been then the purpose of this experience?” With an air of peace and love God answers him,

“My son, I laid before you many chances to accomplish the dreams and goals you had set for yourself. Each time you allowed them to slip from reach simply because you didn’t want to go through the journey alone, not knowing that you had the strength of me in you to do so successfully. If you would have followed any one of the leads the Universe had arranged for you, not only would you have accomplished goals and turned dreams into reality, but in the course of doing so you would have met who would have been the love of your life in physical form as well as finding the love of life in every form”**

Someone I know inspired this mini story. A soul who lives life sitting on a couch waiting for love to find them in order to finally live out the life they have always dreamed. I see nothing good come of it. All I see is a precious journey being wasted simply out of fear or dislike of having to go through it alone.

Sometimes it is taking the step of venturing out of your comfort zone that allows for grander things to come into your life. Sometimes it is stepping off of that ledge and diving head first into life that saves you from a tragic fall, that saves you from the death of spirit.

Don’t wait to do the things you love. You may never have the chance to do them again. Don’t weaken at the thought of solitude. Be strong and marvel in it. By doing so you will gain strength in yourself, and love and appreciation for yourself. You’ll discover that all your finest treasures have been with you this whole time and the desires you seek will manifest in ways that you never thought possible.

The message is simple: LIVE.

072-2  Photo Credit: Natal Galvan, Location: Santa Monica, CA

 

The Land I Loved

The day I left was the saddest day of my life as an adult. The funny part is? I didn’t have anything to really hold me there. In other words, it’s not like I was leaving anything behind per say, only the dreams of my future.

It didn’t hit me as we were placing all of our belongings out onto the curb. My things that I had worked so hard for just out there exposed and left behind. It didn’t hit me as we pulled away and watched as the neighborhood I had called my home for the last year fade away from view. Everything that had become familiar to me that year was slowly fading and with each second that ticked by it was all becoming just a part of my past.

The silence during the first half hour of our car ride was needed because the lump in my throat wouldn’t have allowed for otherwise. It was once my turn signal indicated our arrival onto the interstate, and that moment of me looking into the rear view mirror, that a warm sadness washed over me. California had won. A true and real feeling of failure is what ran through my veins. It wouldn’t be for weeks that I would get to feeling like “me”again and then even still, it was a hurt “me”, a healing “me”.

My eyes welled up, the tears hot and intrusive. I could no longer hide my hurt once they overflowed and ran from the hiding spot behind my sunglasses and down my cheeks. I didn’t even bother to wipe the tears. What for? The pain was real and there was no sense in hiding it. Instead I chose to live through the emotion, actually feel what it was I was going through. I had fallen in love and for me this death was worth the mourning.

I’m sure many reading this will think I’m being dramatic. Only those who have taken risks and failed will understand where I’m coming from and really, those are the people I’m talking to. Only you are the ones who can relate. If you’ve never been through something similar, if you’ve never failed before and were left with nothing more than a a hole in your heart, read this and realize, your day is coming. That is for sure. It’s best you read up so you’re not blindsided as I was.

As a kid I had always dreamed of living in the rural parts of California. I had seen so many pictures and documentaries, the lay of the land in northern California was like a dream. The first computer I ever got that could actually surf the internet, I spent time looking up and researching places around the U.S that had always interested me. Cali was definitely my number one. I didn’t want to head there to be rich and famous. Fuck that. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. I wanted to live in California because it was something that had called to me as a child. Those beautiful mountains. The sky which seemed to always look so candy colored. The way the leaves turned to those amazing autumn tones in the fall with bright yellows, oranges, and reds. It was no surprise to anyone who knew me that the second I had cash saved up, off I was. I drove out to the West Coast without a moment’s hesitation. The people in my life dishonestly supporting me didn’t deter me. It was my dream, not theirs, that I was hunting for.

I had been purposely positive throughout the three days it took to drive there. I thought about how quick I would find a job. I thought about how awesome it would be to live in the new apartment, in my new neighborhood, with my new neighbors. I imagined all the cool places I’d finally get to see. Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, Hollywood Blvd, the Sunset Strip. If there were any doubts at any point in time, I crushed them with thoughts of positivity. There would be no Negative Nancies in my head bringing me down. No sir. I was (still am) a firm believer in the Law of Attraction so for me, negative thoughts weren’t even an option. It wasn’t until a year later that I looked back and realized, maybe the negative thoughts that would slip into my mind here and there was just life trying to prepare me for what would later be a shocking reality. But like Karma I find Hindsight to be a bitch.

My theory on Los Angeles’ smog problem is that it isn’t pollution, per say, that is floating above everyone’s head. It is my belief that the layer of smog that always lingers are the souls of the innocent who venture out to L.A and never return to be the same again. I mean hell, they don’t call it the City of Angels for no reason. I imagine it being like a trap box for the innocent. The interior of this box looks so appealing. It’s dressed up in opportunities and gold. Shiny things hang in its interior, attracting you like a fly to a light bulb. You get there one way, with a pure and maybe even naive way of being. Before long, the doors to this box snap shut and you are trapped inside, doing things out there to survive that you never thought you’d  have to do.

Yea, as a child I dreamed of going to Northern Cali but the opportunity arose for me in L.A. I figured that I could get myself started in the city. It would be my first foot through the door and then once I saved up a bit I would migrate up north.

I never even made it to saving up.

The California life is expensive. The cost of living was ridiculously high and real jobs were scarce. Just by looking around, the amount of homeless people or those collecting cans and plastic could be proof of what I’m telling you. My story during this time could have gone many different ways. It could have gone better. It could have gone way worse. It’s kinda funny because now thinking about it, they way I lived in L.A was so carefree, it was almost as though I was tempting danger to come dance with me. The streets of Los Angeles, the devil’s playground, and I was out and about living as if I were still out on the Island of Sanibel. I spoke to strangers. I would go out and try to explore my surroundings and many times, during this exploration, I would get lost and wind up on a block a didn’t belong. The drinking was out of control and there were more than a handful of times that in a moment of sheer blackout, would take my car and attempt to drive home. I always made it of course, but that is only because I have the best guardian angel out there protecting me.

There were so many mistakes I made when arriving to Cali. There were also many obstacles that also got in the way, obstacles that prolonged the feeling of settling down. I don’t think that in the year that I lived there did I feel at all settled.  Jobs weren’t working out. Food was scarce. Bills were piling up. The roller coaster of emotions and the stress were taking a toll on me. Secretly I would cry myself to sleep on almost every night. It would have been one thing if it would have just been myself that I needed to worry about. The fact that my sister decided to come along on my little adventure was what hurt me the most. Not because she came along with me but because she was suffering. This was my dream that I was trying to live out and now that it was going horribly bad she was suffering. To look at her face filled with so much anxiety and sadness really broke my heart to pieces and so the day I was confronted with the opportunity to return home, her face was the one I saw. In my mind, I saw her looking at me with the eyes full of hope of going back home, and that’s what made me break.

The decision was literally made from one day to the next and to be honest it wasn’t too hard of a decision to make. We were already 3 months behind on our rent. We had no food except for a bag of rice and a couple cans of tuna. By this time anytime we grocery shopped it was mainly baby food and soup cups that we ended up getting and that was to be split between my sister and I, along with my dog and her cat. Crazy right?

It had just been a few days before our planned departure that I had received an e-mail from our landlord stating that if we didn’t have the three months of rent we owed him within 48 hours, he would be there with police escort to evict us. Instead of leaving as planned, our trip back home was to be expedited. We gave our neighbor’s some of our things. Actually, we were trying to sell our stuff to them but after realizing that they were in no greater shape than we were, we freely gave things away. We then packed the car with whatever we could bring, but my small two door sports car couldn’t hold much, so we just left mostly everything behind. Like I mentioned earlier, the amount of people that are homeless or who rummage the garbage for food or things to help them get by is astronomical in L.A. So instead of leaving much of our stuff inside the apartment when we left, we decided to set what we could carry out on the curb for people to take. I mean for us it was like, “Well we can’t take it with us, so let’s leave it for those who will truly need it.” It was 6 am in the morning when we finished, the sun was just beginning to wake up. Our plan was to get out of there before our landlord showed up with his police escort. To be behind on a month’s rent is bad enough, but to owe three months is ridiculous. The fact that he hadn’t thrown us out sooner was a shock to me and a testament to how kind he was, for he was a really nice landlord, and there was no way my sister and I could face him.

As we got into my car, I noticed that there was already a family going through what was just a few seconds ago our belongings. It was truly a bittersweet moment that to even think about it now tugs at my heart.

I lost a lot on this adventure of mine to California. Not just my physical belongings but I also left behind a sliver of my dignity, piece of my heart, as well as a chuck of my soul. Yet, with my losing or leaving behind a few things I had also gained much more than that. I took with me my experiences of meeting new people, good and bad. I have taken and stored away beautiful memories and also some scary ones. Everything that I have obtained through my journey to and from California has served a wonderful purpose and have also gifted me with amazing stories for me to share. Who knows if I’ll ever go back and attempt at living there again but at least now I know somewhat of what I should be expecting.

There was a post I previously made about how I’ve only truly been in love twice. I’ll go ahead and correct myself by saying that it was three times. California. She is beautiful. She is enticing. She was a ruthless love.

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Art Work Credit: Jet Victory Follow on IG and FB

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??

Broke Rich

I buy the generic sometimes because they’re almost equivalent but cheaper, but only on the stuff that is just the same. When it comes to paper towels, toilet paper, things of that nature I splurge on. There’s a big difference between the generic and brand name. No need in cheaping it up when you know you’re fixin’ to use double the amount by doing so. Meats, my Almond milk, eggs, I splurge on those too. Everything else? Generic unless of course there is a killer buy one get one deal on the fancy stuff.

I pick and choose which bills I pay on time if at all. Usually the ones with the lowest late fee gets paid last. Rent is always number one so if I’m behind on that, well everyone else is just going to have to wait. No, I’m not scared of the “I.O.Them” callers. Thanks to caller I.D I just simply ignore their calls until I am able to to make a payment. I laugh because sometimes it doesn’t even go past the first ring before I ignore the call. That must equally annoy them as much as their calls have the potential to annoy other people, so I think of it as retribution.

I pick and choose which invite from friends I accept. If I order take-out, I make sure to order a combo that has enough food for me to divvy up for two meals, and if I go out to dinner I load up on bread and salad then take the entree home for lunch the next day.

Being broke isn’t easy. There is a lot of strategizing one must do on a day to day basis. Everything from the amount you eat per meal so that groceries last you until next pay day, to the amount of soap you use to wash dishes, to pinching quarters for laundry. Every move is carefully made as to not go without. Or at least not go without often.  Sure, maybe I don’t get to buy the things I want anytime I want them. Maybe I can’t get up one random day, plan a cool trip someplace, and just go. Yet one major plus about being broke? You still have the chance to be rich if you just get past the materialistic.

There are some that argue that only the poor say, “life isn’t all about money” because they know no better. Well I say back to them, if you believe that they’re wrong because they have never been rich then the same can be said about you if you have never been poor. Being raised in a middle class family and going from that to making an easy $1500 a week, there was a point that I was just throwing money away. I would literally spend just to spend and looking back on it now it makes me queasy. Now I’m back to bringing home a small fraction of what I used to make a week, and to be honest, I am ok with that. I can even go as far as saying that I like it.

I appreciate every purchase I make down to the nitty gritty. Toothpaste, groceries, even cleaning supplies, when I walk out of the store I show gratitude to the Universe that I was able to buy what I needed. If I have the opportunity to buy something I actually want I am elated. I’ve recently made mini trips within my state, researching and finding local hidden adventures to cure my travel craze until a big trip can be planned. The smaller things in life become the most fun and memorable and nothing is taken for-granted, even the most minute of things. Moments of boredom are even beneficial. When you’re broke it’s difficult to keep yourself entertained and that there leads to creativity. So yes, I may be broke but my life is still rich. I’m broke rich.

Being broke can be shit but there is always a silver lining to everything. That’s my law to live by. You can still dance with happiness when you’re broke. Love is just as easily available for the broke than it is for the rich. I’ll even say more so. Life when you’re broke is more of a mystery and unpredictable. And us broke folk can easily go with the flow and roll with the punches.

Do I wish that I could have more money? Of course but only just enough and not more, because it’s like my man used to say, this line I’ll never forget,

“Mo’ money mo’ problems…” -Biggie Smalls

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Photo Credit: Natal Galvan, Muse: My Change and I

Only Two

I’ve only truly been in love twice. Although I’ve dated A LOT, no one quite captured my heart and forever changed my soul, no matter how small a change, like my only two loves.

Both, needless to say, ended pretty tragically.

The first one, my high school sweetheart. A romeo, a lady’s man. That would always be our demise. I spent the better half of my teenage years and half of my twenties on and off again with him. The man had broken my heart in every way possible and still I would go back for more. It wasn’t until the ultimate betrayal on his part that I decided no relationship between the two could ever be. The true sadness rested in the fact that being as though we had known each other for so many years we had truly become great friends. In the end I had lost not only my boyfriend but also my best friend.

The second love of mine came at a time where life for me had hit an all time low. This was when I lived in California. I met him at the local library where I would go to take out a shit load of books for me to read and movies for my sister and I to watch. He was a couple years younger than me but he could have fooled anyone as to him being older. He was well educated and mature. Well mannered and treated his mother like a queen. Not only her but he treated me like a queen. He was an amazing person to be around. His friends would tell you so. He was the one who made me realize how important a close circle of friends are. The value of true friendship. Like I said before, we met at a time in my life where I was broken. He made me feel amazing no matter how broken I had become, but no amount of love given could have saved our relationship. I was moving back to New Jersey and our love was so much that they only way we saw it was to have to let each other go. A love truly parted by life but never fully extinguished.

Both loves were vastly different. One lasted almost an entire lifetime while the other was more like a lifetime happened in just a few months. One was so tainted and damaged that no amount of time could ever heal and make it beautiful again, while the other had a freshness and energy, a bright light that shined from it that time could never dim. Both loves felt different. One felt more strangulating and slightly exuded obsession, making anxiety the most common emotion felt. The other love was so liberating. We were so bound by our love, so enthralled with one another, yet it was a breath of fresh air. It was easy.

My loves were different yet in other ways similar. I learned so much from each relationship. I learned things that would serve me well for the next one. Like I mentioned before I have dated a lot and one thing I do know, each and every new person that makes it into  my life has been of value to me. Whether today we are in each other’s lives or not, I have learned something to help me out later on down the road and if for only that reason alone, I cherish the time spent together, no matter how good or bad it was.

I look forward to meeting my next love. I feel like it’s definitely going to be IT. I’ve been through all the preparation. I have weeded out the confusion that plagues the minds of people when they become seriously committed to someone early on in life. I have not only had my fun but I have learned many valuable lessons while doing so. I understand life and the real meaning behind it. I can appreciate and love, while also being more aware and mindful, more vulnerable and open, because that’s how you connect with people, by being vulnerable.

Looking back on everything that I have gone through with past relationships I am grateful because although I won’t be going into it with the heart of innocence I’ll be able to see and feel love for what it truly is, with out the games, just its purity.

I sometimes think about my two loves and wonder how it is that they’re doing. You must be thinking that I am probably wishing one luck while I wish for the other misery and unhappiness but that is not me. I wouldn’t ever wish difficulty on another. The way I look at it, him who had broken my spirit to love I wish the treasures of the world for is he not just as broken as I was, or maybe yet even more so? Only hurt people hurt people and I know enough about him to understand his hurt even if he did bury it years ago.

In a world in which the ultimate goal is to find true love and happiness, I can look back on my life and say that Yes I have truly loved. If it weren’t to happen again, which would be a tragedy in my book, at least I have had the opportunity to feel what it was to love someone other than myself, than my family, than even my pets. I have loved a stranger before and it speaks volumes as to the capacity my heart can hold. I wish to discover love again, this time it hanging around longer. This time it being both reciprocated and permanent. Yet I cannot help but wonder, how permanent could love ever be if there is no such thing as forever??