Choosing Grace, Not Aggression

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“I want peace. I want to see if somewhere there isn’t something left in life of charm and grace.” -Margaret Mitchell

Life sure is funny.  Just when I was beginning to feel strong standing on my own two feet, the universe threw me a curve ball to test (and strengthen) my skills and strength.

This past weekend was challenging.  Despite the joy I was experiencing, the wonderful community I have found and my own practice of self care, outside forces triggered past pain and emotions- and this scared me.  Instead of self destructing as I have in the past, I took a deep breath, sat on a bench and called a friend.

Setting healthy boundaries has been a huge part of my own happiness and recovery, as I have experienced insecurities, pain and fear due to the messages I have received throughout my life.  This includes family members, teachers, peers, boyfriends and even public figures.  I have consistently questioned my worth, second guessed myself and backed down when I began to achieve some form of success.  I had no confidence- if what I was doing wasn’t “perfect” it wasn’t worth doing.  My self esteem and foundation were always a bit rocky, but old feelings of fear crept up on me when someone’s criticism and judgment set me off out of nowhere.

The defensive Kristin came back- and it was extremely uncomfortable.

I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder toward people who try to dominate me, thus acting out and being overly defensive and aggressive.  I have held on tightly to this defense mechanism through the years, only to realize how awful it made me feel.  I remembered traumatic experiences- bullying, sexist messages, abandonment and physical abuse.  I have kept all of this inside for years.  Had I been acting out for decades without realizing it?  Yes, I had.  It just took me thirty-some years to learn it.

After speaking with friends about traumas I suppressed (and failed to recognize as abuse- I thought it was all my fault), I am grateful for these triggers.  Old feelings of shame came to the forefront, and I was able to meditate on these uneasy feelings.  So, as always, I walked to the water for solace.

Water brings me such peace.  It is the closest way for me to connect with my higher power, so on Sunday I meditated on a rock and prayed for the courage and grace to get through the day.

I received just that- strength and hope.  I faced the day with grace, not aggression, and everything worked out just fine.  I tried not to let the negative messages affect my mood, so after leaving the pond I turned my negative energy into productivity.  Since art and writing has always brought me peace, I decided to stock up on art supplies to paint inspirational messages for my friends.  I’ve received endless love, compassion and hope from the friends I have made in Boston, so instead of living in my one-woman pity party, I decided to give the love back to those who have helped me.

As I go about my Monday, I will remember the feeling of peace and serenity I experienced by Spy Pond.  When I walk with grace, the world is a little lighter, a little freer.  If you’re also experiencing some aggravation, try a meditation to bring you back to center.  Remember, your true home is within you- everything outside of yourself is not in your control- but you can control how you react.  Once you’re able to manage outside factors with grace, not aggression, you will feel better- I promise.

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Purpose

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It’s hard to believe that ten years ago this week I packed up my things at Central Michigan University and headed to Metro Detroit to start my first post-college job.  One called-off engagement, many career changes, endless lessons and six cities later, I think I have life figured out just a little better than I did at 22 (fingers crossed!).

That said, I have been feeling very nostalgic.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my purpose and what kind of career would make me feel fulfilled.  It’s been about two months of deep thought and I think I have it down- I no longer have a desire to be a “woman in business,” to move up the ladder, to have a fancy title or to “lean in.” No, my purpose is deeper than that- I simply want to help people. Social services, writing and encouraging others.  Spreading positivity and sharing experience, strength and hope.  Whether or not this results in being a “female entrepreneur” (ugh, I detest hype and buzz words), the least I can hope for is to make a difference in a life or two.

As I begin to write the pages of the next chapter of my story, my spiritual growth and continuous self-improvement, I have wide eyes and a clear mind.  I am beyond grateful to the supportive community I have been welcomed into, the opportunities to serve others and to even brighten someone’s day through my photos and words.

As I manifest the life I hope to live, I am nothing but optimistic for the future, as I know I simply have to speak my truth, stand up for what I believe in and be kind- both to myself and others.

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Boston: Chapter Two

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It has been about five months since I started this blog, just six days after I took a one-way flight to Boston.  Prior to coming here I had no idea what my plan was- after over two years in New York City, a failed attempt at trying out Chicago, and finally taking a much-needed month long reset in Mississippi, I followed my intuition and spiritual guides… and found myself back on the East Coast.  It feels wonderful to be on the water, where I belong… where I feel at peace.

Over the years I have had a lot of shame in telling my story, but now I finally feel ready to free myself of this.  People often look at me strangely when I explain the past decade of my life.  Somehow, for some reason, it’s unfathomable for a 20-something year old from the Midwest to have lived in various cities across the US.  They can’t wrap their heads around the fact that I’ve tried different types of jobs, been in several different relationships, and lived in the North, South, East and West.  Most of society seems to enjoy consistency and stability.  Personally, I like to challenge myself- and what better time to learn who you are than when you’re young and unattached?  I am always searching, always seeking a deeper purpose or meaning.  That’s just me.

Back in November, I had no idea what I would find in Boston.  I didn’t know where I would work, where I would live, who I would be friends with or how I would fill my spare time, but I knew it would work.  This time it just had to.

I absolutely love it here.  While it has taken me some time to get comfortable with my surroundings and develop a community, I am finally feeling more at home.  Recently I realized that despite my wonderful surroundings, I still have a lot of work to do on myself- and I am just figuring out the root of my issue.

I need to love myself more- for you can’t truly love something else until you love yourself.

This next chapter of my life isn’t so much about working on what’s happening on the outside, but focusing on the inside.  Once I am comfortable in my own home- within myself- I know that my mind will be much more at ease, and I’ll be able to give more to others.  We all have a purpose, and my current mission is to “clean house” and get rid of the negative self-talk, cognitive distortions and my warped self-esteem that holds me back.  I must let go of my fears- whether it is abandonment, shame or pride, and learn to finally believe in myself the way the ones I love do.

Here’s to the next chapter and a clean house- both physically and mentally.

“Peace comes from within. Don’t seek it without.” -Buddha

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