In January of this year, I posted this picture on my Facebook page where it has remained all year. The caption reads:
“2014 is MY year. No more compromises. Life is way too short for those, I’ve learned. It’s MY life, and it’s going to be played by MY rules, not someone else’s. I have goals that WILL be met one way or another, and no one is going to stand in my way. 2014 is MY year.”
Now that it is the end of the year, I think it’s a good time to reflect.
Coming off losing my mom in 2013, I thought I was ready to move on. I thought I’d done my grieving and that it was time to get back to me. My job had been conveniently given to someone else the year before (while I was away at my third family funeral, no less), and I found myself at a bit of a crossroads; did I return to the kind of life I had – being chained to a desk for forty hours a week – or did I use this time in my life as an opportunity to do something else?
You see, I’d started an online craft business a few years prior and did fairly well, but as many have discovered before me, you either resign yourself to it as a ‘hobby’ or you turn it into a business.
After much thought and consideration, I decided to turn it into a business.
I went from a little shop on Etsy to having my own website and newsletter. I already had a Facebook page and Twitter account for it. I had many new items that I wanted to make now that I could devote all of my time to it.
And then I discovered what grieving truly was. Anyone who has followed my blog the past couple years knows it’s been a rough time. All of the plans that I had put in motion in January came to a screeching halt in March. I went from being excited, motivated and busy to an empty shell. Getting out of bed was a big accomplishment, though I lost count of how many days (weeks) I spent on the couch not because I was tired or lazy but because I was absolutely incapable of doing anything else.
Ever been in a fog? You know, those times when you just can’t concentrate? You know that little voice in your head is reminding you of all the things that you have to do, but no matter how hard you try, you just can’t. And the tears…I’ve cried more in one year than I have in probably the last ten. And I don’t mean crying for a few minutes and being done. Oh no. I mean, lying on the floor, curled up in a ball, sobbing as if I was in physical pain. Repeatedly. Day after day. Week after week.
I was in pain – horrible, gut wrenching, ‘my life is over’, emotional pain.
I wondered if I was losing it. I wondered if I needed counseling. I wondered if what I was going through was normal. I wondered if it would ever stop because there were so many days when I thought it never would. Honestly, I was growing to hate life.
Just when I thought I was ‘getting better’ – when I thought a little sunshine was finally making its way through the storm clouds and I could start functioning normally once more – it would start all over again, and I was pulled down into the abyss whether I wanted to be or not.
By June, I was not good company to be around. I was upset and on edge, and one little thing would set me off. I wasn’t happy, and I felt like the entire universe had decided to use me, and only me, as its personal dumping ground. And I was tired of it.
June also brought my fortieth birthday. I told myself that since my thirtieth was awful (another whole blog right there), I was going to have a good fortieth come hell or high water. I decided to make reservations out with my boyfriend (we never go out), and I even scheduled an appointment to get some henna done (I love henna designs, and I hadn’t had any in a while). I was determined to have a special day. I was going to make it special one way or another.
And then hell came. My dress for our special dinner was out on my bed. The reservations were made. I grabbed my purse and headed out for my henna appointment with somewhat of a smile on my face. I got in the car, put in the key…and nothing. The car wouldn’t start.
Now, in reality, that is not a big deal. It’s annoying, but not life ending. To me – given the extremely fragile state I was in – it sent me on a dizzying downward spiral that caused bouts of explosive anger; the kind of anger that just makes you want to destroy everything in sight. I was useless for two weeks. I even deactivated my Facebook account for a day or so because I could not handle any birthday wishes. I didn’t know what I’d done, but I was convinced that the universe hated me and that it was out to get me. Because I needed that on top of everything else I was going through.
By July, I was at another crossroads. I’d reached a very bad – very dangerous – place emotionally and mentally, and I knew my next move was going to be monumental to my life. I was ready to give in – to give up everything I believe in and stand for. I felt like the only choice I had was to go find a doctor to give me some ‘happy’ pills and go find another desk job and become like everyone else.
And that thought alone made me more angry and more bitter than I already was. Hateful even. There’s nothing wrong with having a regular “9-5” job, but not when you feel like you’re “settling” for it or because you feel like you’re incapable of doing anything else. My thoughts were toxic, and no enemy could have said anything any worse to me than what I was already thinking…what I was telling myself all day every day. It was beyond horrible, and it didn’t take long to start believing it.
I was driving home from an errand one day in July when I passed a reiki place. I’d seen it plenty of times, but it stuck in my head that day. I’d learned about reiki years previous when I lived a more ‘metaphysical’ way of life, and I started thinking that maybe I’d check it out. It was close to home and not expensive. I was so desperate for help – I felt like it was my only chance to break away from the path I found myself on. I knew it was about energy, and I knew mine was not in a good place. Why not try, I thought. What have I got to lose at this point?
I already felt like the ‘me’ that I’d known was gone, anyway, and I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to get her back.
I had one thirty minute session, and it was life changing. Truly.
The practitioner gave me a ‘message’ at the end. “You need to start being grateful,” she told me. “You’ve haven’t been feeling grateful for anything.”
No, I certainly hadn’t. I didn’t feel like I had anything to be grateful for after the couple years that I’d had. And feeling like the universe was picking on me and using me for its proverbial litter box didn’t help, either.
She told me how important it was to be grateful for big things and small things. She reminded me of how we – and everything in this world – are nothing more than energy. If we’re constantly sending out negative energies and ‘taking’ all the time, we’re not going to create much positive around ourselves.
I agreed with everything she said. I’d learned it years ago, after all, but I’d gotten away from that previous mindset. Galaxies away. I told her I would try.
And try I did. Every night before going to sleep, I would take a few minutes and ‘send out’ gratitude for things. It’s amazing how the more grateful you are, the more you find to be grateful for. And I started meditating. You wouldn’t think that sitting quietly with your own thoughts could be profound, yet it is.
My entire year turned around from one decision. And it was noticeable. My boyfriend noticed the difference immediately because my attitude and countenance changed almost overnight. When I went back for a second reiki appointment, the practitioner also noticed immediately that I was different and not wound up ready to explode like I had been previously.
It made me feel good. And I hadn’t felt ‘good’ the majority of the year.
2014 was my year in many ways. It was my year to hit rock bottom emotionally so that I would seek out help and be reminded of the path that I should be on; the path that I’d chosen a number of years ago. It was my year to learn that you will always face your darkest days with no shoulder but yours to cry on. It was my year to learn that just because you do nice, thoughtful things for others does not mean it will be reciprocated. It was my year to discover that when someone is too nice, they’re being fake. It was my year to learn how to be nice to myself and to not be so strict with the schedule that I make for myself. It was my year to be honest with myself about my thoughts and feelings, even if they weren’t pretty. It was my year to learn about the devastating tunnel of grief and how to come out of the other side of it still intact and, in some ways, stronger. It was my year to connect with myself again and to remember that I must be grateful for everything every day.
We learn with every single experience in our lives, whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’. If you’re not constantly learning, you’re not paying enough attention.
And I’m happy to report that I have returned to my initial goal that I had set at the start of the year – to pursue my craft business full time. I am devoting 2015 to doing everything I can to make it successful – I will be setting up at shows and markets all year (something I’ve never done).
Whatever happens, I will continue to be grateful. I will continue to learn and grow.
And ironically, amidst all of this internal chaos, I’ve learned the secret of being happy. But that’s for another blog.
2014 was my year.
And 2015 will be, too.
Oh…and in case you’re curious…this is my business: www.psychedelicsnowflake.com.
And this is me at my very first show. Hopefully, it’s the start of many!