Braving the Wilderness

I recently picked up a book off my shelf that had been sitting there collecting dust over the last six months. You see, I’m not an avid reader, albeit wishfully I was, therefore I buy all these books that I admire and read great reviews about, but I never read the actual book.

I’ve been going to therapy twice a month over the last four years and we often discuss different types of self-help or inspirational books and it feels as though every session I walk out thinking, ‘I need to read more – It will be good for me.’ So, why didn’t I pick up that book for all these months? I could come up with several different excuses, but who cares. Instead, I will share, over this beautiful four-day holiday weekend, I woke up feeling grateful, made some coffee, opened my window and listened to the rain, put on some piano peaceful music, grabbed my glasses, and that beautifully covered wilderness book off my dusty bookshelf. It is the perfect morning setup.

Let me just say, when I do read – I highlight my favorite quotes and inspirational sayings, and the more sticky notes you see on the side, means it was a damn good book. I will tell you, Braving the Wilderness is a damn good book. I’m a fan of Brené Brown and her writing/research. She’s truly inspirational. This book is about The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. I want to share just a few of my favorites from this one and how it resonates with me:

True Belonging – is a spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”

“I don’t think there is anything lonelier than being with people and feeling alone.”

I rarely feel lonely, however, I am often alone. There is a big difference between the two. I hear people often say, “…but being alone is lonely.” Not necessarily. I value my alone time. If anything, I feel my loneliness most when I’m in a room surrounded with people.  Why’s that? Well, I believe that maybe we don’t feel that connection to the people or the place we are at. At home, when I’m alone – I’m always connected. Connected to all my efforts, projects, memories, cleanliness, smells, music, and my kids. It’s my happy place. However, sometimes we may go someplace we’ve never been or meet new people for the first time – it’s likely the connection may not be there. We are humans, naturally, we want to feel connected, to something – anything. It’s inevitable.

“Loneliness tells us that we need social interaction-something as critical to our well-being as food and water.” yet, “…we feel shame around being lonely – as if it means there’s something wrong with us.”

There are times where I’ve felt lonely at an event full of people, but I cannot pinpoint why I feel that way as I am enjoying myself and having great conversations with family and friends. I’m aware of it at the moment. I don’t feel sad or ashamed of it – I just wonder why that is. If anything, I want to find a way to get connected. I use my awareness as an opportunity to find that connection so that if/when I may return – I will have the memories, the new friends, the sounds and smells I missed most from it in hopes that I will feel connected next time. Sometimes It doesn’t always work out that way though and that’s okay too. Do you ever feel this way?

“I will leave you with this. There will be times when standing alone feels too hard, too scary, and we’ll doubt our ability to make our way through the uncertainty. Someone, somewhere, will say, “Don’t do it. You don’t have what it takes to survive the wilderness.” This is when you reach deep into your wild heart and remind yourself, “I am the wilderness.”

Heavy and Light

I drove to Los Angeles by myself to attend Heavy and Light, To Write Love On Her Arms. It was by far an incredible experience.
I stood in a room full of stories, music and other people that have suffered or struggled like I have.
I overcame a fear, I learned a lot, and I can honestly say how proud I am of myself to have come this far.

Growing up as a teenager, I was scared to be alone, and go places alone. I thought the word “alone” meant “lonely”. Only until the last few years have I learned that there is a major difference between the two. After having two kids, one at the age of 18 and the other at 21 and my husband working swing shift every night, it taught me to grow up. I had to learn to live in our house alone, go to sleep alone, I had to learn how to cook and take care of the kids and the house when he wasn’t home. I was terrified in the beginning, we just bought a brand new house when I was 20 years old, it was about 45 minutes away from family, in a town in the middle of nowhere. I remember the first few weeks I would call the cops every time I heard a noise. It was awful, I had never been alone, I didn’t know what to do.

On January 15th of this month, I made the decision to drive by myself to L.A. and visit the House of Blues for the Heavy and Light show by To Write Love On Her Arms. I got my own hotel, walked around L.A. by myself, went to the show, then the next morning I took a drive to Santa Monica (I’ve never been there before) and walked along the ocean and had a nice lunch to myself on the pier. The weather was 75 and sunny, couldn’t have picked a better time to go. It was the most empowering experience I’ve ever had. I had moments of anxiety, but I pushed forward and did something I had always wanted to do. A lot of people told me, “Wow I could never do that, I could never travel somewhere alone.” It made me feel proud, and brave. I did it and the best part was, I can’t wait to do it again. Below are some pictures of my trip. 🙂

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