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A Traveling Cassafrassas

#dowhatmakesyoursoulhappy

Toska

Sitting in silence

Tears can’t flow

Sadness overwhelms the heart

Mourning love you may never know.

Loneliness stings

Emptiness fills

From the depths of the soul

Toska spills.

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Ghost

Dead of night

I woke with a start

You’re nowhere in sight

Just a ghost in my heart

Sunshine & Sadness

My beautiful friend Erika gave me a tiny English Ivy plant when I moved. It’s still in the cutest little clay pot she handed it to me in outside of Bob’s bar as we hugged and said tearful goodbyes. I’ve diligently watered it and given it light…checking it carefully every few days to make sure it’s doing well. Today I realized it doesn’t seem to really be growing. It’s still vibrant and green with beautiful unique leaves stretching toward the ceiling…but it seems to be exactly the same it was when I brought it here 7 months ago. It’s not dead, which I honestly worried about most…but, it’s spindly, and in need of a little extra TLC.

Today… I realized…I’m basically my Ivy plant.

Yep…I said it. I feel like a damn plant. Ok…ok…maybe not a plant. But I’m feeling very much like how I’ve taken care of my plant is exactly how I’ve been taking care of myself. Thinking I knew how to grow this plant, going through all the same steps I would for every other kind of plant I have, because you care for them all exactly the same way, right?! NO…every plant is not exactly alike, some need extra sun, some need none…some need lots of water, some very little. I realized, I really have NO IDEA how to take care of an indoor ivy plant. Much like I have no idea of how to take care of myself right now. I quickly googled “growing English Ivy indoors” and realized I’ve actually been neglecting my plant….much like myself. Ivy needs LOTS of sunlight…mine gets sunlight, but not nearly enough. Ivy needs to be fertilized with specific fertilizer certain times of the year…other times of the year, to fertilize would be detrimental and could potentially kill the plant. Who knew?? Maybe you did…maybe you’re a master gardener…or ivy specialist. I, did not know. Just like I don’t know the best way to care for myself some days. I’ve been practicing the same routine here as I did in Ohio. Stay busy, find activities you like, fill your soul up…practice self love. Those ideas are all wonderful things…if you’re practicing them with intention and thoughtfulness. I always mean to…I always intend to be more present, practice patience, self-love, be more kind to myself, do things because I WANT to, not because I NEED or HAVE to…but honestly, I’ve not been successful. I’ve been filling my time, in several of the wrong ways. I sometimes feel like I HAVE to do something…or NEED to do it because what else am I going to do? I’ve been getting frustrated with myself often…when I rest, I feel like I’m wasting an opportunity to adventure…CO is the place to adventure, and I’m wasting it by sitting around being sad and feeling lonely. I’m not fertilizing my life in the right ways, and I’m definitely not allowing myself enough sun. I’ve planted myself in the shade, where I feel I deserve to be…and I’ve allowed a lack of self-love and doubt to fertilize my roots and slowly poison me.

A dear friend reminded me that you have to show up for yourself. I have to show up for me, just like I ask others to show up in my life. I need to figure out exactly what showing up for myself means each day….with the knowledge that it will be different from day to day, week to week and even month to month. Some days will need more sun, some more fertilizer, some darkness, some sadness and some rest. What I do know for sure, is that I want to be more mindful and choose how I spend each day…how and where I exert my energy…what environment surrounds me, and above all, what thoughts fill my mind. My thoughts create feelings, and in turn determine what direction I’m headed and where I’ll end up in the future. It’s time to find the sunlight again, fertilize my roots with positivity, intention and mindfulness. We all stumble, even when we have the best of intentions. It’s okay to sit in the shade sometimes…to feel the vibrations the universe is sending you. It doesn’t mean you have to live there…you can have both sunshine and sadness. Today I moved my Ivy plant to a sunny new location and decided that climbing and time with friends makes my heart happy. Tomorrow I find a good fertilizer to help my ivy grow best and find the right fertilizer for my own roots, whatever that may be.

“She paused on the journey and looked back at where she had come from. She saw the spots where she had stumbled and gotten up again. And she was able to see just how far she’d come and what an incredible traveler she’d become.” -Unknown

 

 

Alpine Grit

“Accept yourself as you were designed.” Rupi Kaur (Milk and Honey)

I’ve been feeling ever more restless. Today starts a full on attempt to get back into the swing of “life things”. Resting the foot has been PURE TORTURE for me. Physical activity is my outlet…my mental fatigue relief valve…the way I keep my thoughts from over-flowing into the dark corners I refuse to put light to. Resting forced me to light all those corners….resting forced me to feel deeper, think beyond the now, and let unhealthy things go that I’ve been holding onto.

It’s funny how you’ll tell yourself you have no expectations, then when things go wrong, you’re forced to be honest with yourself and realize in the here and now…that you’ve had expectations all along. I went into this alpine trip with what I thought were no expectations for myself. I just wanted to experience this new environment, learn some stuff, and have a great time with new and old friends. I had a climbing accident on day 2  that quickly changed the trajectory of the trip for me. (Don’t worry, it wasn’t super serious..if you want details, we’ll sit and have a beer.) I kept trying to stay positive, but knowing that I wouldn’t summit anything this trip…I wouldn’t get to climb anything else, my hiking would be limited, and I would spend a lot of time with my foot in the air made me feel so disappointed. I had spent months training for this trip. I was set to lead my first alpine trad route, and I felt SO READY. Sitting alone in a tent while everyone else adventured left lots of time for self-reflection. I felt sad…so sad that I wouldn’t be doing some of the epic things I had planned to do. Glad…I was so thankful that my foot wasn’t worse…I didn’t lose any limbs, I didn’t need to be rescued…I was able to walk away from the accident with minimal injury and no one else was hurt. Guilt…I felt so guilty for feeling so MAD. I was angry at the situation, myself, the universe…WHY…WHY did this happen. I had taken all the precautions….I had prepared so much for this…it’s like all of my hard work was snatched away from me in a 30 second rock fall. I cried…the disappointment I felt was soul crushing. I shed big, ugly tears and told myself I was selfish and silly. I could still walk, and I’d still get to hike and watch the sunset in some of the most beautiful country I’ve seen yet…I was experiencing the alpine, an environment that many people never have the opportunity to explore. Turns out, I had more expectations for myself on this trip than I was willing to admit.

I realized this weekend, as I was watching the sunset over the mountains, that the trip was more to me than just a trip away with friends. I felt like I had something to prove with this trip…to myself…to others. I’d just recently left my job…I had applied for a position with a non-profit that would change the trajectory of my life, and in all of this, the trip was my chance to prove to myself I could do anything- changing career paths included. I felt like if I were successful on this trip…everything that I was trying to do in life that was so different from any other direction I’ve ever gone…would follow suit. It was my benchmark…the “if I can make this successful, I can make anything successful” point. And I failed. I failed because rocks break, and you have zero control over that happening. Just like my life right now… I have zero control over what the board decides on an applicant. I have zero control over others and their feelings. I have zero control over the outcome of most things changing in my life right now. I kept thinking if I could just make things successful, if I worked harder, prepared more…the end result would be exactly what I wanted. The funny thing about life is…it happens. It happens no matter what you do to prepare, how hard you work, or what you do to make change happen. You can control your inputs, and your reactions, but at the end of the day…things will ultimately become what they are meant to become.

When I look back, I realize that the things I learned on this trip are even more valuable to me than a summit of my first alpine trad lead would have given me. I learned on this trip, that I have more grit (Hal called it Moxie) and determination that I knew it was possible for me to possess. I learned that when I’m faced with something I never thought I’d possibly have to deal with, I can adapt, learn and overcome. I learned that when your heart and your head work as one, it doesn’t matter what you’re facing, you’ll get through. I learned that embracing yourself as who and what you are is the be-all-end-all for every life situation. I learned that change is happening and I cannot completely control where that change lands me… leaving life feeling a little uncomfortable right now.

At the end of each day I remind myself how lucky I am to be chasing my dreams and as long as I embrace all of who I am, my failures and my success will be whatever I chose to make them.

A Beautiful and Messy Compilation

“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.” -Bruce Barton

I am more than the circumstances of my life.

I am more than my mistakes.

I am more than my achievements.

I am a beautiful, sometimes messy, compilation of everything in my life…every experience, every person, every thing I’ve ever touched, and every thing that’s ever crossed my path….And I’m using it all as I continue to flow with this life.

Today was the last day at my job. I have no plan B, no backup plan, nowhere to report to on Monday. Moving forward marks the beginning of something new, even if I don’t know quite what that means just yet. I’m embracing the change, continuing to live with a wide open soul and trusting my head, but mostly, my heart to get me where I’m meant to be. I’d be lying if I told you there weren’t a few moments of panic, anxiety (read: over-eating gummy bears for self-comfort) or doubt….all of which have evaporated over the course of the last week.

Have you ever had the sensation of an out-of-body experience? Like….the things happening are so surreal they can’t possibly be true? This entire week has felt that way for me. The universe has spent the week telling me the decision I made was not only the correct one, but that it’s been a long time coming. I decided recently that living with an open heart and experiencing the things life has been trying to offer me can only enhance my journey. So I listened…I opened my mind and my heart to living outside of my circumstances, and began to trust instead of fear my journey. I began to see the things I’ve been missing and realized I’ve spent enough time living someone else’s truth and not my own. I can’t begin to explain to you what it means to be able to “trust my gut” and make decisions for my life based on what I think, feel, and believe to be true for ME. I’m taking the energy that’s been flowing through my life these past few months and harnessing it to become more…to live so big, and bold that there is no denying my path of truth. I will continue to be open, and kind and gracious…I’ll continue to spread the light and love that’s filling my soul so that others can see that being open and unafraid is one amazing way to live.

I will be so unapologetically me, there will be no denying my truth, my light, my life. I’m taking this beautiful and messy compilation of life things and I’m becoming more of exactly who I’m meant to be, whatever that is.

Taking it back

I’ve been feeling like a total disappointment lately…in almost every facet of life. Job, relationship, friendship, family, fitness, self…I see so many other women doing, being, becoming the things in life I so wish were my story. Why? Why can’t I just be satisfied with where I am…Happy with the things I’ve accomplished, the parts of life that are SO good? Happy with my growth and journey? I compare myself to the women I see, especially the ones who get the time of the men I’m attracted to. In the words of a friend of mine, I’m like my Tacoma (aka Baby Truck) “a trusty, dependable gal with more miles than usual for my age, but in great shape, still going strong and beyond capable of the things I’m tested with”. I died when he compared me to my truck. He said “you’re not flashy Cass…you don’t have shiny paint, bells and whistles on the dash or fancy headlights, and sometimes, that’s what guys think they want. They want that convertible because its different…it seems fun, carefree, and it feels good to have the wind in your hair…until the top gets stuck down and you drive thru a fucking hail storm.” I’m not sure I completely followed his logic, but, comparison to my sweet ride aside, I appreciated what he was saying… “stop comparing yourself to other people, you are uniquely you and the people worth having in your circle will recognize that and appreciate you for it”. He’s right… I let others I interact with sometimes determine what I find good in myself…questioning whether or not I am enough and constantly wondering if I can be better.

When did I begin to let society and others determine my worth…my value…who and what I should consider successes or failures on my life path?

When did we start giving a shit about what other people think of ourselves and our lives?

Does it begin in childhood? When we’re watching the prince sweep the princess off her feet and they live “happily ever after”…real life is not a goddamned fairytale ladies. As much as we’d all love to find some version of “prince charming” he doesn’t exist. Men are just as confused and broken as some of us, and relationships take work, patience and recognition of the messy parts of life. There will someday, MAYBE be one who’s capable of meeting you on the bridge. The rest will just be lessons, both good and bad.

Does it become more engrained in middle and high school, as your awkward self tries to “fit in” with the mainstream…when you begin sacrificing more of the parts of who you genuinely seem to be, to become what it seems everyone wants you to be? When you become more aware of what you eat, exercise excessively and go on an endless “diet” because the cute boy sitting next to you stares at your stacked sandwich one day, and asked why you’re not eating a salad like the rest of the girls at the table. We start to become more aware of our bodies and what it means to be a “woman” …feeling the anxiety of certain sizes being acceptable, certain personalities being more desirable, and realizing where we “fall short” in both categories.

Maybe, it’s college, when you’re exposed to what seem like a million different contradictions daily. When you become overwhelmed with expectations to function as both an adult and student, keep a repectful GPA, work enough hours to pay your bills, figure out what you want to do with your life all while trying to find your person. Because at the end of the day, you’re supposed to settle down, have kids, and be a wife and mother while contributing financially to the household….wait…no…you’re supposed to become a successful “business woman”…no…an entreprenaur…no…a specialist in your field, that’s what that masters degree is for…no…work for a non-profit, that’s what will really give you the “feel goods” about life.

FUCK THAT….why can’t I be, do and become whatever it is that makes me happy? Why can’t I do what I love…what I’m passionate about? I’ve never felt like the path I’m on is the right one because I’ve always had so many people suggest to me what direction I SHOULD BE going. Enough of that bullshit. Enough of giving my opinion of my self-worth to others.

It’s funny how when you sit down to mentally purge things, sometimes you stop to wonder what parts of it should be filtered, less raw…less offensive to others. In the middle of writing this, a dear friend of mine shared a post on her own website, expressing her displeasure with very similar life things to what I’m currently battling. Her “dumpster fire” life post resonated SO MUCH with my own version of “WTF” right now, that I can’t help but wonder what it is that constantly makes strong, independent, intelligent, driven women question themselves and their life path. Go ahead and @me…self-love has been severely lacking lately, and the disappointment in myself for letting others determine my self-worth and self-love is raging thru my veins today. I AM strong, independent, intellegent and driven…I will not be sorry for recognizing my strengths and the strengths of the other amazing women in my life. I’ve spent enough time apologizing…for who and what I am, my strengths and weaknesses, my mistakes and outright failures. That has to end somewhere…and it ends with taking back the power I’ve given to others over my opinion of myself.

I lied…

When I said it didn’t hurt.

When I said I was strong.

When I told you it was fine.

I lied…

When I held you close and said it would all be okay.

When I looked in your eyes and felt like I was drowning but smiled anyways.

When I told myself it’s okay because it wasn’t real.

I lied…

Because letting someone in can, inevitably, destroy you.

I lied…

To save my heart from pain…I failed.

I failed you in lying.

It hurt.

I was weak.

It was not fine.

I failed myself.

It was not okay.

I was drowning with and without you.

It was real.

I failed myself in a hundred different ways.

I was in pieces.

My heart hurt.

I didn’t learn my lesson.

I lied….and I failed.

Now….now I grow.

Undefined

“I spend so much time trying to understand everything because there’s comfort in labels. I roll it over and over in my mind until I think I’ve made some sense of it. But maybe there are moments, relationships and emotions that aren’t meant to be defined- energy that can’t be explained with this dead language. Today, I’m giving myself permission to be confused; to sit in the unknown and practice the lost art of feeling.” -Brooke Hampton

How often do we assess things as we experience them and try to determine where they “belong” in our life? What box do we put these experiences in? I sometimes find myself more worried about what it is that’s happening, than just experiencing what’s in front of me. At times, it’s as though I NEED to know what something means…I have to understand what role it plays in my life. This is not to say I don’t experience things just to experience them, but sometimes, the need for things to have a purpose, label, meaning…a way for me to make sense of it…runs so deep I forget to just let go and be present….just feel what I feel, experience the moment and journey forward where ever the current flows.

As I reflect on how to just be present more, I think about where life has taken me lately and all of the amazing people and unforgettable experiences I’ve encountered.  I had the most amazing life experience on Saturday…I got to spend time with great friends, the ones who will sit with you in silence and appreciate you for who you are. I made fun new friends, the kind of people who share similar interests, passion for life, and a love of bluegrass. I sat and drank a beer with a beautiful soul named Suzanne who told me she thought I had amazing, soulful eyes as she held her beautiful 3 month old son and shared that she doesn’t think we comment enough on the things we find lovely about our fellow humans as we age. I told her I couldn’t agree more and we talked about why we’re (society) so afraid to share our depths of love and life with others. It was the kind of conversation that lifts your soul and reminds you of the light in the world around you. I spent Saturday in the moment…enjoying homemade cookies, my new favorite beer, bluegrass and made amazing connections with people I’ve never met before.

Saturday…I was living my best life.

There was no concern about what these people mean to me…what this event would become in my life…why the day evolved the way it did. There was only being present, enjoying the moment and allowing my soul to be open to new experiences. I started last weekend with a heavy heart, and a mind that just wouldn’t shut off….I ended the weekend with a clearer mind and heart full of light…I was recharged in a way I haven’t been in weeks. Leaving life moments undefined and just experiencing each joy for what it is has reminded me that life is what you make it, and mines pretty fucking spectacular.

Being Brave

“There are four things in this life that will change you. Love, music, art, and loss. The first three will keep you wild and full of passion. May you allow the last to make you brave.” -Erin Van Vuren

Love… can wreck you. I haven’t gotten a chance to experience much of it…but each time I have, it’s left me broken and longing for the real deal…believing that perhaps my person isn’t out there. Maybe “alone” is the end destination of this path.

Music… can heal you. It makes the world seem right. It’s my lifeline on a rainy heart day, my added stoke on adventure days and the outlet for my anxious soul when I’m just not sure, but I’m gonna do it anyways.

Art… is an expression of life. It’s some aspect of life that has been artistically given for my heart to connect to. Be it paintings, sketches, tattoos, murals, written words…art has left me the ability to express those deeper moments in life and come out feeling open, raw…and ready for a new chapter.

Loss… gives perspective. Loss teaches you things you didn’t know you needed to understand about life. Loss is a reminder… we get this one life, so what are we doing with it? Loss gives us opportunity to reflect and leave fear behind. Loss can make us BRAVE.

Brave… that word holds so much promise, doesn’t it?

Brave means we’re ready to face more uncertainty. It means we’re courageous (or trying to be)…. we’re ready to suffer further, if we must, to get to where we want to be. Becoming brave means you’ve experienced loss. You’ve lost things, people, maybe a little of who you are. My losses have forced me to pick up lots of broken pieces and work on putting them back where they “belong”…They’ve forced me to become brave. My losses have left me with gaping holes where nothing seems to fit anymore. Should I find things that fit? Or is it okay to leave these spaces empty? Some days, I think they’re better empty….but those are the days my heart doesn’t feel like sharing its light. Most days, I look for things that fit the patchwork fabric of my life and fill what’s feeling the most empty that day. Most days, I simply work on being brave.

Being brave moved me across the country to put my roots somewhere my soul is happy.

Being brave will be me continuing to love from the depths of my soul, believing that there is someone out there waiting to show me why I was wrong to ever believe I’d be better off without love, and alone.

Being brave will be me continuing to dance to the beat of my own drum, creating my own life soundtrack.

Being brave will be me continuing to share my art, my words, my light with all of you.

Being brave will be what allows my passion for life to be shared with those around me.

Brave is what I’m trying to become….and my life will be so much better for it.

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