Fearing Darkness

I never watched scary movies growing up. To this day I will plug my ears and close my eyes if I ever get the courage to sit through any sort of horror film.

When I was nine years old I watched three minutes of the show “Are You Afraid of the Dark.” I saw a kid get his ankle grabbed by someone who was hiding under the bed. For the next six months I would turn off the lights then jump three feet to my bed to avoid standing directly next to it. One afternoon my sisters decided to hide under my bed and grab my ankles. The panic that I felt run through my body still shakes me when I think about it. As the baby of the family, though, they got in trouble and didn’t speak to me for the next week.

I was so afraid of what could be under my bed in the dark. Afraid of what could be lingering, waiting to grab ahold and pull me under.

The darkness I’m afraid of today is held tightly in my own grip. I welcome the unknown with open arms and a full heart because I know exactly where my demons are within my own darkness.

I fear giving in. I have a heightened sense of self-awareness because of the darkness that I have allowed to consume me. I’ve sunk into the black hole, surrounded by nothing but my own self-defeating thoughts, yet still choosing isolation.

Fear causes us to act or freeze. Fight or Flight when faced with a threat. Choices present themselves in the face of danger, but when fear is silent the choice is not always clear. Not all choices are as simple as putting your hands up when there is a gun in front of you.

It is when fear of failure creeps in questioning your intelligence that the lines become blurred. It’s when the fear of being alone becomes so strong that the idea of settling starts to become an option. It is the panic that sinks in when everyone around you has their own families and successful careers that the overwhelming feeling of loneliness drowns you.

It is the easy way out to allow fear to win and give in to the negativity that can so easily consume. Choosing isolation over socializing, allowing negative, self-depreciating thoughts to run wild, and deciding not to act out of fear rather and rejection is what leads to darkness.

You can’t see in the dark. It blinds you to the love directly in front of you. It forces you to fight yourself to smile in moments that used to bring nothing but joy. It demands you to use all of your strength to be present. It consumes your entire being, forcing you to reach out in every direction fumbling, begging for a light switch to change everything.

Living and choosing to feel, to be present, is one small choice at a time. It is recognizing and respecting that fear is lingering before allowing it take over, to win. Respecting our emotions and challenging our thoughts is a vital part of obtaining happiness. I’ve lived while being numb in the dark, and know now that light is a choice.

It is scary being in the dark not knowing what might be lurking, but it is terrifying when you already know the darkness that you are capable of letting in.

Seeing My Way Out Of The Rubble

There is a stigma that goes along with the idea of therapy. You know, hide your crazy and start acting like a lady. People give all sorts of excuses as to why they don’t need therapy or can’t go to therapy. I say judge me when you’re perfect.

Going to therapy is one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. Letting someone in on my innermost thoughts? I used to think it was weak. Now I realize it is probably one of the strongest things I’ve ever done.

Everyone has their own breaking points that may send them to therapy. Mine? I hit a metaphorical brick wall going 100 miles per hour and couldn’t see my way out of the rubble.

Most people assume I started going to therapy when my ex-husband and I began our divorce proceedings but I had started seeing Miriam almost two months prior to moving out of my house when I had enough. Enough of my ex-husband’s ex-wife and all the crazy she brought down on my household.

When we began dating, I was sure that my ex-husband was exaggerating about his ex-wife and the special torture she put him through. I was positive we would end up like one of those uber chic blended Hollywood families where everyone is friends and we all get along for the sake of any children involved. I had grown up watching this kind of scenario play out with my own grandparents. They always rose above the fray to put their children and grandchildren first.

Wowza. I was living in the clouds.

We were nice enough on the surface, but it was never friendly in any way. And I learned that was fine. As long as we all could see past the haze. Then the haze started rolling in thicker and became a fog. A fog that caused my brick wall to get closer and closer.

I don’t know that I’ll ever forget that particular day. I was enjoying a little Tuesday evening yoga class. I had bent myself into a pretzel and come out fairly unscathed. I felt pretty good getting into my car. Then I picked up my phone and saw a litany of text messages berating me. I don’t remember how I responded but I know whatever I said was never meant to antagonize – I think I even apologized. But you would have never known that based on the response I got. My ex-husband’s ex-wife laid into me, attacking every inch of me up one side and down another. My Namaste flew out the window.

When I got home, I showed the texts to my ex-husband. His response? To lay into me some more asking why I even engaged her. Excuse me? What?

I stood glued to that spot in our kitchen for a long time that night. I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed with that wall’s rubble all around my feet.

I made an appointment for later that week to see Miriam.

And see her I did faithfully for 9 months. Ironic that the time it takes to grow a new life inside a woman is the same time frame I needed to grow into the person I am today. I found my voice, my light, and all those other therapy terms people throw around.

In the end, I forgave my ex’s ex-wife. Not literally – I will never have contact with that woman again if I can help it – but in therapy. I forgave her, not because she deserved my forgiveness but because I deserved the peace that came with it.

See that’s what therapy taught me; we all deserve peace, no matter how we achieve it.

A hot mess held together on a daily basis by dry shampoo and probiotics, Rachel is still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up but for now is a communications professional by trade. A true Chicagoan through and through, she is an East Coast transplant trying to set down roots. Although the height of her high heels may be getting shorter, Rachel’s expectations are not getting lower and she is on a mission to change the world one person at a time.

Maybe You’re Not ‘Lucky,’ You’re Just Plain Talented

In the land of my ancestors, I impatiently stood at the top of a majestic castle, anxiously awaiting the moment my life would change. 

 Three people ahead of me. Two people. One person left. My turn. 

Slowly, gingerly, I leaned backward, precariously dangling over a grate that lent a frightening overhead view of the Irish streets far below me. I carefully pressed my lips against the slab of stone, immortalizing a trace of pale pink lip gloss on the massive rock.

Legend has it that my near kiss-of-death was supposed to reward me with the “Gift of Gab,” an extraordinary way with words, for the rest of my life. As an aspiring published writer, I believed my kiss on the gargantuan Blarney Stone was necessary for making my writing dreams a reality.

Three months later, I was published for the first two times, twice in a span of 48 hours.

As I stared incredulously at my name above my words, laid out where anyone could read my message, I reveled in the magic of the moment. I felt so lucky to see my dreams finally become a reality. My successful attempt at getting my writing published almost felt too good to be true. I silently gave thanks for my trip to Ireland and my harrowing climb up to the Blarney Stone. I had proof right in front of me that my monumental kiss had worked its magic, showering me with the gift of eternal eloquence.

I completely denied the truth behind the magic: the sheer amount of time I had spent researching possible publications, the arduous hours I had spent editing my work until I hated it, then editing the edits in a vicious cycle of all-consuming perfectionism, the daily consultations with friends asking them for brutally honest feedback on my work, and most importantly, the undeniable talent I possessed for making my voice heard, loudly and clearly, through the written word.

In the months that followed, I continued to negate my raw talent as I began to rack up bylines, social media shares, and re-publications. My success in the writing world was little more than a stroke of luck, a streak of good fortune that would soon fade away. I was caught in a perpetual state of anxiety, awaiting rejection after rejection, expecting my future to crumble.

It never did. I continued writing.

Nearly a year after I had trekked up to the top of a castle to kiss the Blarney Stone, I finally recognized the truth. Legend hadn’t brought me success. Luck hadn’t brought me success. Pure, raw talent had led me to my greatest accomplishment. In honing my writing talent, I had led myself to a successful future.

You may feel tempted to attribute your successes to factors outside of you: luck, superstition, or fate. But, in relegating your accomplishments to external factors, you are undercutting your talent and your potential. Success stems from the capability residing within you. Don’t ever be afraid to recognize the gifts and talents that led you to achieve your dreams. Maybe, you’re not just “lucky.”Maybe, you’re just plain talented.

Kelly is an avid writer and mental health and disability advocate with a focus on personal growth. She is passionate about using her life experiences to help others. Her ultimate goal is to make a difference in the world — no matter how small. When she is not writing or educating others about life with disability and mental illness, Kelly can be found listening to music and cuddling her cat.

The Elusive Balance

In today’s world of constant over stimulus from technology, information, trending topics, and general economic turmoil, people find a simple balance in life very difficult to achieve. When I discuss balance in life with most people, a vision of juggling comes to mind. It is believed that a balanced life is one in which, simultaneously, I keep all my projects going and all my relationships healthy. In this form balanced is achieved by sheer strategy and willpower. As I ponder this form of balance. I begin to recognize that balance for me is about order, rhythm, and harmony.

I find myself experimenting with what feels right for me, finding ways to slow down life and find peace amidst busy days. Knowing that my son is growing so rapidly and that each moment that I spend in the chaos of the past or questioning of my future, a realization occurs that balance is a moving target.

I personally have found that balance can be struck by slowing down and allowing myself to enjoy every moment of each day. However, this requires me to focus, sometimes re-focus and choose to find my peace one moment at a time. I have been able to envelop a harmonious state of mind by surrendering with trust to an unseen force. Knowing that I am supported, I can rest in this moment, lift the stresses to spirit and truly live in peace—all the while pieces of my life are flying in unknown directions.

I’m not suggesting that living this way comes easily. There are many opportunities for me re-frame my thoughts. My life is not always in complete balance—however, it works in the waves of ebbs and flows. I rely on inspired guidance and play as much as possible when that inspiration cannot be found. I revel in the life that I am creating, a more aligned description would be co-creating with spirit. I experience joy with the ability to sink into my life at each moment. As I do this, time slows…I know this may not seem possible, however, when I am focused on the moment that I am in, this is being truly present. There is no reflection of what came before or dreaming of what may come next. My experiences are more meaningful and miraculous events begin to unfold in ways that I never expected.

The next time you notice the time on a clock, take note that the pendulum is only in balance at a single point while the focal point swings back and forth between the two sides. Balance is in fact about movement and flexibility. Swinging and swaying in an attempt to remain centered in the counterpoint. And so, my life goes–in perfect balance, once in a while–but always swinging between two tensions.

So, while balance seems like an incredible notion, I’ve historically lived my life with little balance. I’ve also lived a lot of my life in play, in work, in lesson and adjustment–a stream of life never ending but flowing to yet another new opportunity and season.

I think it’s important to recognize that your life can be content, joyful, and meaningful even without balance. Each of us has a different level of comfort when it comes to keeping a sense of balance. As we all know too well, certain things can be disruptive to our balance and we don’t always listen to our inner voice that tells us this is not right for me.
Perhaps balance is more about the flexibility of the moments, the acceptance of the time limitations of each day, each season, each relationship–none totally balanced or totally perfect–but all an incredible gift.

So, today– if we could just see this moment and all that that unfolds for us, with you being the key to your own order, rhythm and harmony, and finding balance by being present. Then we can be grateful and content, joyful and able to enjoy ease in the moments of our days. Take a deep breath–and know that you are deserving of rest in the midst of the swings of our life.

Angie Grimes, also known as Muse Maven, is a Spiritual Architect providing Inspiration, Knowledge, and Motivation. Teaching you to look within and awaken – to reclaim your divinity by guiding you with practical techniques to actively shift perspectives, addressing past human conditioning and centering a new emotional state. #MuseMaven

Have a Good Day

We’ve lived in our house for three years now. There is a convenience store down the road and handy for EVERYTHING. Gas, treats, sweets, snacks. There is a gentleman who works there, and when I stop in for my eggs, grapes, or goat cheese we exchange words.

I pay for my things and say, “Have a good day.”
“You too, and remember make it a good day, no matter what.”

I’ve been having this pleasant conversation two-three times a week with Dave. I’d guess he should be retired, but he’s working full time, the early a.m. shift and giving kindness daily to those in their daily rush.

Sunday, I was in the basement with the urge to spring clean. My daughter was suddenly behind me, her arms open and tears falling. She startled me.  “I just read a card from Gram.” Her crying immediately became more intense. Gram has been in the hospital for the past month with sickness. Her body slow, fighting and wanting to quit. The battle of holding on. I held Chloe and asked what the card had said. She didn’t want to say and immediately I suggested, “Go get dressed, we will go visit.”

Chloe straightened herself, dressed, mascara. We left the house and she said, “Oh, I forgot something!” I replied, “I’ll stop at Sheetz.” I got some gas in my jeep, she ran in. Comes out and hops in and says to me, “Well that man in there made me feel better,” with a slightly less sadness in her voice.
I responded, “A guy? Was his name Dave by chance?”
“Did he say, remember.. make it a good day, no matter what?!”
Chloe responded, “Yes.”

The impact we have on others is so significant, even when we don’t realize it.

Gram, 78, she has been struggling with her health for quite some time now. For my daughters, this is their great-grandmother on their dad’s side. They have grown up to the ages 12 and 16 and being close to her. She overspends on them for holidays and birthdays. That Sunday we went to visit, she kept saying to the girls, “Sing me a song!” She sang Silent Night with us, quiet and raspy. The girls harmonized to the tune of the Star Spangled Banner, as their grandmother began to find comfort in song. Demanding, bossy as I always remembered she was. Confusion because of the lack of oxygen getting into her blood. It’s been a sad few months. In the back of my mind, I was thinking, “this is my ex’s family, but this wasn’t about me or the past.. this is the now and family is family.” Life is so fragile.

It was two days later and I was rushing to work. I had to stop for something. Yes, familiar faces behind the counter and I wanted to be sure to say Hi, and then I remembered how Mr. Dave impacted my daughter the few days previous. He was there. I said, “Hey I need to share something with you,” reaching to touch his hand. I’m telling him that my daughter had come in sad days ago right before visiting her ill great-grandmother. How she was feeling broken, fearing death soon. “You had said what you share to everyone daily.” I was choking up explaining, and saying to him, “Just so you know .. you here, you make a difference in the lives of others.”
Dave said, “Now you’re going to make me cry.”

Isn’t it amazing we get this one life and energy to give? We get to chose daily how we give to others. What a responsibility.

“You have a good day .. and remember, no matter what.” (and I REALLY mean that!)

Amy Scott

Born in Atlantic City NJ, and raised in NEPA. Forever a lover of sand and ocean, but would escape to the woods and a cabin. Fan of traveling, small coffee shops, real feels and deep conversations. A girl that will throw the car in reverse to photograph something that catches her eye. Continuing to find herself even at 40.

Amy holds the first four year college degree in her family history. A mother of two daughters who come first. Photographer of family and abstract. Writer of life pieces and poetry. Passionate in inspiring others to always find the positive.