Today I’m choosing to motivate myself. I’m choosing NOT to be miserable. Today I’m choosing CONNECTION. I sit here, on my front porch sipping my coffee, and appreciating the quiet. “I miss you dad”, I say out loud through my tears. I don’t know what it is about mornings… I still cry almost every day, usually in the early hours. While life has certainly not stood still, it’s as though a veil still hangs between me, and the rest of the world. I am stronger. Steadier. I can miss him without coming undone. Most of the time anyways. But mornings, ripe with new possibilities, and a chance to start over, only remind me, that wherever I’m heading, he’s not there. Despite this, I have certainly felt his grace, and presence. In some ways bigger, and more absolute than before. Things that once derailed me, seem not to have the same sting. I feel him pushing me along, “Connect Shannon. Don’t back away from your life; your dreams.” We always have a choice. As hard, and as painful as it is to accept this, it is the truth. Yet fear, and sadness, that ruled my life for so long, scramble to take up new residence in other rooms. This energy, needing somewhere to go, only loses its velocity when we are brave enough to release it. It takes courage to move on, tacking up the NO VACANCY sign, kicking fear finally to the curb. When I’m afraid, I cocoon myself. Self-doubt, and indecision weighing me down. A sort of self-imposed sequestering, I turn away from possibility, and hope. Like a bear going into hibernation, I insulate myself with food, and distraction, and busy myself setting up camp in my little cave. I stop moving my body. I take myself off the list of things that need attention. I side step time for reflection. Fear is a way through, and sometimes all I want is a way out. I’m not readying myself to engage with my fear. I am not working through it. I am sitting idly, waiting, worrying and ruminating. Stuck. When fear is in charge, it’s like the bully you avoid eye contact with. You act like it doesn’t bother you. You fake a comfort with its presence, hoping desperately that it won’t notice you. The problem with this strategy is that when invisibility is achieved, all we’re left with is isolation. We feel unseen, unheard, unappreciated, undervalued, and unimportant. Too many “uns”! It’s taken most of my life to see, that these UNdermining feelings are the result of a CHOICE I made. That I am the one that needs to SEE and HEAR ME! Recognition, and external validation are but temporary elixirs. True self-recognition is not dependent on anything, or anyone outside of myself. It is dependent on how I feel about me. This relationship- the one with myself, is where I need to start when I feel myself pulling away. The biggest threat to fear is connection.
While I have said that the how of feeling better, is vastly less complicated than the why of feeling bad, it takes intention and practice to stay on the path, like a muscle that needs exercising. When fear is fed, instead of met, we get lost. We stop practicing, and start hiding. My hope is that with time, the choice to live better, while always deliberate, somehow stops feeling like such a chore. I’m on the road again, thanks in part to my dad, my family and friends, and to my two amazing girls, whose existence reminds me everyday that life is good. I have only to look through their lens for a moment, to be brought back to the joy that lives on in my sadness, and the fire within that still roars in the rain.
Today I choose to motivate myself. Today I choose connection.
*I want to take a moment to thank the nearly 2000 readers of my last article, “New Normal”, who wrote to me, and bravely shared their stories of loss and love. When I started this blog nearly a year ago, I had no idea the impact it might have. Thank you for following, and for sharing a piece of yourself with me. Stay connected.