A Heart That Feels is a Heart That Knows: The Truth About Living With Arms Wide Open and Ways to Ease the Pain

“The older I grow the more I become certain that it makes no difference what words we use to tell the same truths.”
― Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Mists of Avalon

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There was once a time when we all knew the tides of the oceans– we were in touch with the ebb and flow of this earth. It was necessary to cry when the moon was full and the waves were big. It was essential to laugh when the skies were clear and the stars were bright. We knew when to throw our heads back, arms wide open, in complete acceptance of life being anything but ordinary and everything magical. We knew that to dance was just as vital for our living bodies as the breath. We understood that the only way to come back to ourselves was through the eyes of another, through all others, in our tribe. And with each rise and fall of the chest, we knew that to connect with the beings around us, whether human or wolf or bird, was the only way to truly be home.

We are living in a time where our very own world is out of touch with authentic connection. For those of us that are sensitive to our own beating hearts, we often feel that there is a constant void to fill that can never be truly full. Perhaps the basin of our souls gets replenished from time to time, but not quite all the way– why?

“It’s not that I can’t fall in love. It’s really that I can’t help falling in love with too many things all at once. So, you must understand why I can’t distinguish between what’s platonic and what isn’t, because it’s all too much and not enough at the same time.”

― Jack Kerouac

 

Whether we know it or not, we all crave a connection that is deeper than words can articulate. We all long to feel a sense of wholeness that allows us to brave life, with all its darkness and all its beauty. I know  we make the mistake of constantly searching outside of ourselves for this connection. All the while, not truly connecting with those in our circle. Let’s call it a tribe from now on, shall we? We are in this together and using the word tribe embodies this. If your heart beats and your lungs breathe, we are in this together. If you are a living entity, we are in this together.

The truth is this– It is painful to live with arms wide open. Once you’ve questioned what it all means when this life as we know it slips away, you will never be normal. You will never be able to feel blindly again. All of life suddenly becomes vulnerable and it never stops. You know what it’s like to live with the sudden fear of maybe, kind of, sort of, its all for nothing and simultaneously, all for everything. The most simple round of laughter becomes an act that shakes you down to your core, and tears feel like they can kill you. And somehow, still, you know that it’s fucking beautiful. It is all completely and utterly necessary– heartache, death, birth, confusion, loneliness, beauty, dance, pain– it’s all the same song. We live, we die, we keep going. We will never know why, but we trust that maybe, one day, it will all make sense.

When we live with our arms wide open, we need to take conscious steps in order to care of our own hearts (which in turns takes care of every other heart). Ways to ease the pain:

  • Round up the tribe. Exactly what it says. Find your community. Find your people. Find human beings that allow the space for you to feel safe. Find a tribe that plays in a way where you’re all feeding each others soul.
  • Feet on the ground. Everyday. When the weather permits, take off shoes, remove socks, be completely barefoot. Get back to knowing that the easiest way to connect to the earth is to feel  her. You weren’t born needing shoes.
  • Eye contact. Get comfortable actually seeing those around you. Stop fearing what they will think when they see your soul. After all, they are your tribe.
  • Touch. Everywhere. Yes, even there. Get to know your body. Be really there  when someone that thinks you’re marvelous touches you. Let their words sink deep and touch you everywhere.
  • Be naked. Without clothes and while clothed. Be naked with your word and with your feelings. Let them be free. Let the identity go. Be raw.
  • Love. Every. Thing. No explanation needed.

 

When you live with arms wide open, you have nothing left to lose. You may never be the same, but you know damn well how to embrace the magic of life. You have an innate wisdom that knows what to do at all times. You know on a deep level that you can trust this human experience. You know what you need to do. Do it.

Keep coming back.

xx

Juls

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis

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2013: A Year of Lessons

Image2013 has been a beautiful roller coaster of life lessons: ups, downs, broken hearts, open hearts, adventures, tears, love, death, and transition. I wouldn’t classify this year as easy, but worth it? Yes. I would repeat it a thousand times over if I knew I would gain as much wisdom as I have in the past 365 days.

I’ve learned that broken hearts become open hearts if you don’t let yourself get bitter. It truly takes getting everything you’ve ever wanted and then losing it, to know what true freedom is.

I’ve seen my strength and have been surprised, yet again, by my ability to stand strong. It’s only fair that I honor myself here, right? I’ve been through loss, heartache, numerous hospital stays, and I am still going.

Thanks to Carina, I learned that it’s also okay to cry, Imageto say that I am scared sometimes, to feel defeated, and to ask for help, and in doing so, I become stronger than I was before. She also showed me what it means to have someones back and what it means to love selflessly. I swear I fall in love with her more and more everyday. Thank you, bug.

I’ve learned that family really is magic. Whether they are blood or not, these life long connections teach your soul lessons that are eternally priceless– Cherish them.

I’ve learned that I fall in love with my friends more each time I hear them laugh. With every giggle, tear, cuddle puddle, secret sharing hug, I’ve learned that my capacity to love them grows everyday.

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” ― Jane Austen

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Even though my best friends are scattered throughout Miami, New York, California, and Australia (to name a few) there is no distance that can lessen that connection.

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I’ve learned that lovers can become best friends, labels don’t mean much, and loving freely makes me feel alive.

I’ve learned that I always want more out of life and the more I ask for it, the more I see. I view this lifetime as a vast playground complete with laughter, scrapes, hiding places, and adventure. I refuse to stop playing!

This year has shown me that nature shares secrets– whether it be the wisdom of the ocean, the whispers of trees, or the stillness of the mountains.

I’ve learned yet again, that humanity breaks my heart and that the darkness of the world isn’t fair, but still, you must choose to see the good. Because of all the turmoil and tragedy, we must love harder, dream bigger, and be softer.

I’ve learned that death never stops being bizarre, or weird, or crazy, or heartbreaking, or sad, but also that it is perfect and inevitable and if you let it, it can make you grow. Thank you, David.

Lastly, I’ve learned to embrace change, that the best is yet to come, heartbreak is unavoidable, laughter is the best medicine (so are hugs), kids are the shit, travel feeds your soul, so does cooking with friends, walks outside can cure anxiety, trusting the universe strengthens your connection to yourself, missing someone is painful but loving them makes it okay, forgiveness is freeing, animals can teach us how to love and falling in love should happen often, surrounding yourself with beauty is essential, and freedom lies within your heart.

Thank you, 2013, for your abundance of lessons. I am forever grateful.

“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”

~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

On Death and David But Mostly Love.

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Today has been… One of those days. A day where all you want to do is look up to the sky, throw your head back and ask “why??”. Today I attended the memorial service, burial, and shiva of a long time childhood friend, David Dubrow. David died in a house fire while away in Connecticut. It’s one of those life events that leaves you overcome with emotion… unable to clearly grasp how you feel. Am I shocked? Sad? Angry? Scared? Damn, life really isn’t fair…

The memorial was completely surreal. There we all are, sitting in the same temple that we all graduated elementary school in together. The last time I was in here, I was so happy, I thought to myself. There’s that eerie sensation in the air where you can feel everyone silently weeping to themselves…life is bizarre… The casket where David’s lifeless body was held. The rabbi singing songs on death and life and sending his soul on right. I began to look around and see faces from the past. I saw the faces of people who have been so dear to my heart over the course of my short life, completely overcome with grief and sadness. It broke my heart.

There were many moments where I felt like I couldn’t bare to feel it anymore- like when David’s father spoke. How can a parent live on after this? How is this okay? But in that moment I caught the eye of a distant face, a parent of a longtime friend, who pretty much helped raise me and who I will always credit much of my ability to make “wise decisions” for myself. It was in that moment that I felt okay to truly embrace these hard feelings. I felt that it was okay. Not a certainty or contentment with David’s death, but a small sliver of peace that experiencing this darkness was an opportunity for growth and an opportunity for light. Clenching on to my best friends arm as we cried together, our hearts were opened.

There’s this Rumi quote, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

As the service closed, the rabbi called on “everyone who is David’s friend” to come up and walk behind his casket as it exited the temple. It was then that I could see just how many people had showed up for support. People that I haven’t seen in over 10 years. People from all over the world. Everyone is here. Our hearts were broken. But they were open. And all was love.

Sitting here, on my bed, in the middle of the night, my cat close by. I look over and see my two best friends, peacefully sleeping. I’m so thankful for these guys. My heart is so full of love for the people that surround me. Sometimes it feels like it may burst. How is it possible for such a teeny tiny organ, to contain this much… feeling? I lean over and plant a kiss on Eddy’s head.

This is why we live. I believe we are alive to love. To come back to the realization that our true essence is love and nothing less. Although I wish it didn’t, sometimes it takes the death of someone so loving, so great, to take us to that earth shattering, heart wrenching, empty place, where we can truly feel that raw, open, pure, love.

We all found out in the service that David was able to successfully donate his heart to someone who needed it at that moment of his death. What an incredible last act of love… As I bring this entry to a close, my thoughts are no longer wrapped up in the pain of what today was, but in the love that now is. Although the process for so many is far from over, I know in my heart that so many are making it through based purely on the overwhelming amounts of love that was David and the act of everyone coming together for him. Being blessed with people who are able to be so freely loving keeps the colors in the world. It makes the sun shine brighter, and the wind feel softer. David is that love.

“At the end of your life, when you say one final ‘what have I done?’ Let your answer be ‘I have done love'”.

Confronting Unresolved Fears: Taking an Honest Look at What Scares the Shit Out of Me

ImageIt has been a while since I’ve written with the intention of it being read publicly. I’m not even sure of what my intentions are at this point. To be honest, my heart is pounding as I sit here attempting to hash out my thoughts. My hands are shaking slightly, as they always do now. I feel very alive in what is coming up.

It has been a very long time since I’ve allowed myself to be alone. Alone in the sense of being on that journey through self discovery- shaking hands with your inner demons, laughing at your flaws, exploring the essence of who you really are… Being in a relationship for four years served as a buffer, in a way, between me consciously tackling these underlying and necessary experiences. I’ve always been overly aggressive with the way that I have chosen to battle uncomfortable situations within myself. I think it’s one of my greatest strengths, but it has also gotten me into a lot of trouble.

Living with Hereditary Angioedema has become so normal to me at this point. The UPS man just walked in with a months supply of my plasma treatments, and I don’t think twice about it. I don’t fear death like I used to. In a way, I am completely comforted by the fact that I could go at any time- it has taken me a very long time to get to this point. I feel amazing in my physical yoga practice right now; something has recently clicked in me where I have the ability to genuinely surrender to what my body is capable of doing. Fears of airway obstruction don’t come up like they used to while I’m practicing. In terms of me I feel great.

What I am not okay with, is the fact that there is a 50/50 chance of passing my disease on if I choose to reproduce. I have always known this and I thought there was a time when I was actually content with that… I’m seeing now that I am not. Every part of my being has always wanted kids. Not now, of course, but I’ve always known I would eventually. Insecurities, fears, and an immense amount of sadness are smacking me in the face right now. I don’t feel alright about being responsible for another being having to live with an incurable disease. And the thought of not having my own biological kids is very painful, even if it is selfish. What if someone wont want to have kids with me because of this? What if I never have kids? What if I fail at the most basic human goal in life? These are the fears floating around in my mind. It almost makes me laugh seeing them typed out. Right now I don’t have the security of someone reassuring me that it is okay, acceptable, and perfectly fine to have kids or even just feel this way. I am alone in the way I feel. In a strange sense, these fears feel fluid. They don’t feel like something I need to fight against, just something I need to process.

My happiness right now comes from my actions in the world. I am truly happy because I am surrounded by realities that I have created. I live for stoking people out and the thought of one more person being happy, successful, or having a better day because of something that I am able to do, truly makes my heart sing. So it’s interesting for me to be straddling this duality of emotions. I believe that if you don’t have intense waves of fear than you aren’t really living. And right now I feel very alive. Over and out.

You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.

-Jim Morrison