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Feel It All

I lay in bed as a wall of sticky notes stares back at me. They read, “I am a runner! I am worthy! I am brave! I create energy! I am smart! I am a trauma thriver! I am beautiful! I am loved!” On the far right corner hangs the prepossessing purple sticky note that reads, “Feel It All.”

Feel It All.

Every emotion, every stab to the heart, every joyous laugh, every smile, every tear.
Feel It All.

I lay in my bed consciously feeling it all, every fervor of emotion that comes to me.
I feel the beauty that is in the sun shining outside.
I feel the pride of the year I’ve spent challenging myself.
I feel the heart break of loss, of both the dead and the living.
I feel the anxiety, of never doing or being enough.
I feel the depression, the deep sadness and NEED to be in bed, in my safe zone.
I feel the grief, of constantly wondering how to go on when Cooper is gone.
I feel the surprise, of life- the good and the bad.
I feel the disgust for the world we live in.
I feel the joy for the world we live in.
I feel trust, in that I know where I need to be- here, right here, in this moment.

Feel It All.

Feel every thing, every moment, every thought, every thing.
Friends, when you choose to feel it all, it doesn’t mean life will be easy- it actually means life will be harder. But you will be stronger for choosing to feel it all. For choosing to stand up to every emotion and say, “Here I am, here you are, together we are one.”

I never understood ‘being in the moment’ until I swam with sharks. You would think I would have learned this lesson from watching my brother die, but I assure you I could not be farther removed during that situation. When Cooper was passing my mind was so distracted about the ‘after’. After we would leave Cooper at the hospital, where would we go? How will our home be different? Does a little bit of me die too? Also, the social worker just handed me a pillow with Cooper’s handprint on it, is that all I’ll ever have left of him? I could barely focus on the moment I had in front of me, one last physical touch of Cooper.

However, swimming with sharks was quite the opposite. I HAD to be focused, completely possessed by that moment. One sudden movement and I would be choking on salt water all the while my body flailing in the water causing the sharks to FREAK OUT. The last thing any of us wanted as we floated atop their home. As I entered the ocean and looked below me, I realized I had just entered someone else’s property- a flood of respect washed over me. Thoughts consumed me as I rested atop the water. But unlike the stressful thoughts that consume me on land, in the water they simply told me to breathe, to stay calm, and to feel. Isn’t that all any of us need to do? To breathe, to stay calm, to feel? At the very basic level of being any sort of living creature that is all we need to do. What if instead of worrying about all of the necessities we deem to be important we just stopped and focused on the bare minimum? To breathe, to stay calm, and to feel.

Before I entered the ocean, a man gave me three simple instructions:
1. Stay Calm
2. Breathe
3. Always look the sharks in the eyes, it builds trust

I chuckled after that last one, really? Look the shark in the eyes? But he was right, it was our only way of communicating, me looking into his shark soul saying, “I am not going to hurt you, I am here to learn from you.”

Huge Thanks to Florida Shark Diving

I learned three important lessons that day in the water:
1. Stay Calm
2. Always breathe
3. Feel your feelings

The first two I learned from the man on the boat, but the sharks only reiterated his words. The third thing I learned was from the sharks and the ocean. ‘Feel your feelings’ the ocean taught me she is a big place full of wondrous things that we do not know about. The sharks taught me they are gentle, peaceful creatures painted only by dark stories. In that moment I needed to feel what was going on around me, I couldn’t make sudden movements, I couldn’t see what was coming behind me, and probably most terrifying, I could only see about 20 feet below me- but I knew there was far more feet beyond than that. My heart, beating into my chest a million miles a minute, skipped as I saw a shark come up from the unknown below me. She was swimming fast, and right towards me. I was nervous. But I remembered my instructions. Breathe. Stay Calm. Look her in the eyes. I did as I was asked and she swam softer, looking for the smell of food near by. I realized I was the last thing on her radar.

Feel It All.
Feeling it all is a lot like that shark swimming straight up from the unknown. At first you are terror-stricken, unable to think consciously about what you should do next. But then, if you listen to your feelings closely you’ll remember you’ve been given the instructions. To breathe, stay calm, and look her in the eyes. To look your feelings in the eyes and welcome her, to say I am ready to accept all of you. I will no longer push you down, push you away, and avoid your presence. I will feel it all.

The sticky notes that line my wall remind me who I am and who I aspire to be. The sticky notes are the instructions, not actions. Choosing to feel my feelings aligns fully with who I want to be. Feeling it all is the action to feeling worthy, to feeling that I am enough, to acknowledging my beauty, my trauma, and my abilities. The action of feeling it all is what turns my wall of affirmations, my instructions, into my reality.

To the sweet friend reading this, choose to not only write your affirmations, but to BE them. To take action and be your affirmations.
Sister, FEEL IT ALL. It is time to acknowledge our hearts, to feel all the beauty, pain, joy, and anguish. To hold our hearts with grace and feel it all.

Feel It All.
Today.
Tomorrow.
Every day.
Feel It All.

#graciousandgrateful

Carry Your Bucket

“You are a healer. You have walked through fire and came out with a bucket. You internalize the worlds pain because you know pain and you want to protect the world from that. You wept for the world because it is in pain. But you are not helpless. You are the light people are looking for, nurture the pain and fill it with light and hope. Carry your bucket and spread the water I know you have.”

I’ve been sad for the world.
I’ve been hurting and feeling all of the feelings as I process what is going on each day.
I reached out to a friend who I know always reminds me of who I am when I forget and she sent me the piece above.

“You have walked through fire and came out with a bucket, carry your bucket and spread the water I know you have.”
I forgot the bucket I carry.
I forgot the water I can spread.
The hope I can give to others by using the gifts God gave me.

Like most of you, I’ve struggled to find the positive in these last few weeks. I’ve questioned why this is happening to our world, but the more I focus on gratitude the more I am in awe of the good coming out of the world from such a horrible virus.
Because of social distancing, more people are getting outside and getting in their daily physical activity. They are spending more quality time with their families. They are either chasing after dreams that they never had time to chase or taking time for well deserved rest.

However you choose see what is going on in this world is your choice.
You can choose to see the horror, focus on all that is going wrong, and the things that may or may not be getting worse.
OR you can choose to be grateful for what is going on, to have gratitude for a heart still beating, a family still to love, and an opportunity to be hope for someone else who needs it.

You have an opportunity to be the light.
You can use this moment to be there for someone who needs it more than ever.
You can be hope.
You can decide to be more than just what is going on right in this moment. But it is a choice.

I gave in this past weekend and decided I would not be hope.
I would let anxiety win and fall into the panic. This resulted in a major panic attack and days of my mind being messy.
I had to snap out of it.
We all have to snap out of it.
We have to snap out of pure panic and get into the mindset of hope.
HOPE: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
We NEED hope right now.

I needed hope when Cooper was dying. I needed to hear that something good was going to come of his death. When I was doubled over in shock from a mass shooting, I needed hope. I know, that this world needs hope. We may not be able to come together physically right now, but we can come together and have hope.

We all have our own buckets of water and we all have places we can spread that water.
Recognize that you have the potential to be the light.
Recognize you have the power to share the water.