personal development

i don’t owe anyone my inner world

upon deciding that i wanted to talk a bit about my depression that consumed the second half of my 2017, it took me a moment to realize that my previous post was in part about the bliss i was able to connect with earlier in that same year. i also recalled how the bliss itself was borne in response to pain. all around, the duality of that year was profound.

over the course of 2018, i couldn’t quite comprehend what the fuck 2017 was. because 2018 was confusing as all hell on its own; it was this extended sense of being suspended in transience, which i was aware of the whole time and simultaneously knew that it wasn’t something i could control or fight. i just had to be in this long ass incubation period of what felt like a whole lot of nothingness.

i still don’t have enough distance from 2018 to have much clarity on what quite happened— but my sense is that my system was integrating the rollercoaster of transformational experiences and deaths/rebirths that 2016 and 2017 brought me.

now having some distance from 2017, however, i can see what an important example of duality it was. it’s fascinating to know that what we view as opposite or polar are never too far apart— particularly with the recognition that duality itself is a construct. the only thing that is actually true and real is oneness.

i remember being awe struck by the daoist view of impermanence and the ever-changing nature of what we view to be opposite or contrasting; for example, light is not light but light-becoming-dark and dark is not dark but dark-becoming-light. because everything is constantly shifting, a static assumption or prescription upon anything is essentially inaccurate and moot. it’s deep and something i’m still unpacking.

existential interlude aside, i want to share a couple stories related to my experience with depression— particularly within the framework of vulnerability, authenticity, and personal boundaries.

to first offer some foundational context: i was on and off depressed from 15-25, then was totally in the pits from 25-27, and started therapy at 27 in 2010. i felt the depression pretty much fully lift after my first eight months of therapy and my first two months of a naturopathic regimen for my neurotransmitter imbalances. since then, i’ve had depressive dips for a week or two on a handful of occasions over the years and one few month long very low point around early 2013.

what i experienced in 2017 was the longest and most nuanced, shape-shifting, unrelenting depressive period i’ve experienced since what brought me to therapy in 2010. shit was real as fuck. basically, a succession of deeply traumatic and very unpleasant challenging things happened back to back to back— it took me out and knocked me all the way off center.

thankfully, i had my awareness tools to keep from completely going off the deep end, but i was literally teetering on the very edge of that hole for months. it took all my energy to at least just stay teetering and not fall in. after several months, i got two steps away from the hole— my awareness allowed me to measure that— and it took everything in me for another several months to maintain those two steps away from the hole. sometime in the first quarter of 2018, i felt like i got beyond two steps and finally was able to feel more grounded and self-possessed.

in fall 2016, i started sharing my poem-quote things and occasional reflective thoughts on instagram; some people decided i was wise and woke and zen and shit. i am, thanks. i’m also human and have eccentricities and quirks and seeming inconsistencies and personal boundaries. though that may be confusing for some, i get to contain all of that and still be authentic and in integrity.

in fall 2017, during the peak of the aforementioned deep depressive period, i ran into an acquaintance at an event.

she asked me how i was and before i could answer, she said something to the effect of, “and i know you being you, you’re gonna keep it real and not just be like, ‘i’m great!’ if you’re not.” i know she meant to be complimentary, but it was not what i needed to hear in the moment.

in those months, my whole life had been consumed around salvaging my mood the best i possibility could; my own thoughts on ‘how i was doing’ were already encroaching on my space in my alone time. i had decided in advance to do my best to act as if i was okay during this event— because that’s what i needed; i needed a goddamn break.

i got extremely uncomfortable and began wondering if i was inauthentic because i didn’t want to put energy on naming that i wasn’t well. i wanted to answer that i was good and move on to some other type of conversation that i could actually enjoy.

i told myself that saying “good” was true in a sense; because ultimately, i am always alright. and at that time, i was simply experiencing an ebb of my human experience.

i think my discomfort with her remark and my ensuing internal conflict blew my cover; i’m quite certain she felt my reservation and unease when i said “good.” it changed the vibe. and i mostly didn’t care. i wasn’t there to cater to her vision of me.

i chose my self-preservation. and that’s what i’ll choose in the vast majority of cases. i know how useless and even harmful i can be when i’m unwell and not tending to my needs. when i’m real low, any filter i’ve got to maintain a semblance of normalcy and civility with the outside world is paper thin— i know this.

i don’t think we need to feel obligated to say we’re feeling unwell while we are still amidst that experience; it doesn’t help my healing to put energy on a given challenging thing that i’m already working on for the sake of updating someone— especially an acquaintance—perfectly truthfully.

when i’m not intentionally going into my shadow to do work, i want to focus on light to help raise my vibration. note, there is a distinction between mindfully raising my vibration and avoidance/distraction.

online and on social media, there’s a  pressure to name our precise reality while we are still inside of a challenging time— in the spirit of “vulnerability” and “authenticity.” nah.

internet and instagram vulnerability culture has distorted our vision on boundaries and what actually constitutes healthy sharing. this culture, which can also be beautiful, has also somehow allowed certain folks to think that they have license to our inner worlds.

our own vulnerability isn’t supposed to harm us. and it isn’t a service to others if we are self-sacrificing our health to share before we feel ready.

important: vulnerability online isn’t a replacement for professional help if you think you might need that. no shame in it— i’ve been in some form of therapy or another for a decade.

some things are only meant for specific people and specific communities in my life. and even then, that doesn’t mean i ever owe *anyone* anything i don’t feel called to share. for more introverted folk like me, certain things may be meant for us alone (and perhaps a therapist or healer, if inclined).

basically, we don’t owe the internet shit— least of all our bleeding hearts. <3

living the feeling first: a means to manifestation

i’ve been thinking about joy lately, especially as it being a way of manifesting our dreams even before they materially come to fore;

a couple nights ago, i picked up the book creating money by sanaya roman after a long while. i re-read my notes and a bit more of the book. i’m only about 20 pages in; i tend to read very intentionally, stop to reflect a lot, and simultaneously take notes.

in my review, i was reminded of a powerful perspective shift:

i manifest best when i choose to *right now* genuinely live out the higher qualities i believe money (or whatever i’m looking to manifest) will bring into my life.

an exercise + illustration:

  • think of something you’d like to manifest

  • what higher qualities do you think that manifestation will bring into you and your life?

  • what are some easily accessible ways you can bring those qualities into your life now— today, this week, in this moment?

unfolding the perspective shift:

  • i want more money because i believe it will bring me freedom.

  • i realize that i can also easily access the feeling of freedom when i’m being silly, when i’m being fully myself, when i see children being free, when i deeply connect with someone in a way that i can almost touch the entire universe in that moment

  • when i choose to be in the vibration of freedom *now*, i am calling in the matching/correlating vibration of that which i desire. and because i am coming from a place of authentic connection to source, i am simultaneously manifesting 1) what i *really, actually* want and 2) more precisely for my highest good.

before finding this book, i intuitively created a similar practice and paired it with intentional action towards manifesting the money i needed. with this way, i catapulted myself out of major, heart-wrenching brokenness in early 2017.

it was a time where every other day i was getting notices of bills being declined, my credit cards were maxed out, i had no idea how i’d be paying rent, and my cash was just enough to feed myself.  it was the closest i’d ever been to feeling like i could soon be out of choices— and would possibly need to move back to cali to live with my parents.

i decided that if this was it, i was going to respond in the best way i possibly could and opt out of weaponizing my pain against myself. i was going to live my best life with what i had been given. it almost felt like that choice was all i had left.

i chose to:

  1. live in joy anyway, because i was alive— that was something i did have

  2. try my best to turn things around— i did have agency over my actions

  3. accept any outcome with grace— i always have a choice in how to respond

from this space, i found myself the happiest and most magnetic i had ever been— socially, financially, and with the opportunities that flowed to me like a force of nature (because it literally was).

since then, my path has ebbed and flowed as i continue to dismantle old programming and belief systems. however, now i have the gift of the experience and evidence of what is possible. i know what i can access when i am in flow. i know that making *who i choose to show up as* my starting point is what truly creates the type of life-affirming magic that is beyond dreams.

the belief that something outside of us will give us the higher qualities we desire is false; if we do end up manifesting what we think we want while we are out of alignment, it’s always ultimately a lesson of some sort. sometimes we can be taken through a long journey before we realize we are still unhappy and unfulfilled. think about the loads of celebrities who have all their “dreams” come true, only to feel more alone and lost than ever. most might not show it, but this phenomenon is very very real.

dreams without grounding in your higher qualities usually end up empty.

if i lack freedom in my life already— before having the money i desire— deep down i will continue to lack freedom even once i have said money; that is, until i practice cultivating freedom from within and with what is already available to me.

so, let’s ask ourselves:

how am i choosing to engage my most basic blessings on a day to day?

how am i showing up as “the person i think i’ll be when i have everything i want” *today*— right now, in this moment?

much love <3

bleeker: a personal + professional development fellowship

in january 2017, i'll be joining the good folks at bleeker for a unique year-long personal and professional development fellowship. unlike many fellowships, bleeker does not hinge on a monetary grant but instead gifts its fellows with a thoughtfully crafted resource framework. the core of the program includes four main elements — executive coaching, monthly workshops, mentorship, and a full-time administrative assistant — intended to actively and regularly engage fellows in their development process.

bleeker has two fellowship cycles each year in both new york city and the bay area. one cycle begins in january and the other begins in july. applications for the july nyc and bay area cohorts are still open and are due january 31. you can go to this link for more detailed info about the fellowship and to apply.

before beginning our first group session in january, we were asked to fill out a questionnaire to help guide our experience; they said it would take 20 minutes but i knew i was going to have to set a few hours aside when i saw questions on there like “what is your purpose?” if you read my inaugural blog post, you know that’s a question i’m constantly asking myself that is forever yielding new nuance and answers. 

as always, i learned more about myself and my path from this inquiry and also got pretty real about some shit that somehow even surprised me. like, how the 'positive' and 'negative' ways people might describe me are almost opposites or two sides of the same coin. or how the “projects” reflecting my abilities that i was most moved to write first have nothing to do with my photography career. i also came away grateful for the subtle and new articulations i found to communicate how i presently view my purpose and path. you can dig into my questionnaire below:

describe a positive impact that you've made on your community, neighborhood, company, city or country.

by being honest and open about my challenges, my growth, and who i am, i have inspired others to find their strength and follow their truth.

describe the positive impact that you intend to create in the future.

more of the above but with more structure and intentionality; applying that same ethos to various models for conversations, art, media, community spaces, cultural exchange, and social problem solving. with an additional focus on integrating a value of healing into our daily work, lives, relationships, and into a new paradigm for activism. specific areas of impact i am interested in are feminism (+ challenging what that's come to mean in the mainstream),  multiculturalism, and social equality for marginalized groups.

describe the projects that you've initiated, led or contributed to that best define your abilities.

'the forum' - founding + moderating a discussion group series about whatever is on participants' hearts and minds in the moment; 'freewrite' - a social media short poem/personal adage series that encourages mindfulness, awareness, vulnerability, and authenticity; leading an intro to chi gong session in my home after a particularly challenging time with police brutality news & helping soothe my peers' systems; keeping a photography business and portfolio thatconsciously represent and honor people of color; capturing people through portraits that are honest and down to earth; creating space to capture raw and vulnerable cast portraits for the 'fit the description' documentary (it features honest conversations between black male police officers and black male civilians)

what is your purpose?

to foster healing and peace by extracting and illuminating truth from confusion, chaos, and seeming contradiction/disparity; and as such, to be a bridge for people and institutions. i see myself as a communicator/storyteller, strategic facilitator, and community builder.

what are your principles or values? (the rules that guide your personal and professional actions when no one is looking.)

authenticity, truth, healing, justice, balance, inner peace, contentment, mindfulness.

describe your personality. (how would your friends, teammates, family members and collaborators describe what it's like to spend time with you?)

insightful, intense, loving, silly, withdrawn/in her own world; what it's like to spend time with me? sometimes healing, inspiring, warm, and other times uncomfortable, challenging, isolating. 

what is your professional trajectory?

i am interested in using my experience with photography, writing, media, marketing, and community building to conceive and produce multidisciplinary projects for social impact-- whether that entails me drawing from my own skills/talents or acting more as a visionary and culling the talents of other individuals. at the moment, my sights are primarily on devising a web-based social project + community spaces that foster empathy, conversation, learning breakthroughs, healing, and creative activism.