loss.

My dear friend passed away last week. 

It was sudden and unexpected.

It’s been heart-wrenching…

trying to make sense of something 

that makes no sense at all.  

I’m trying to hold space for my grief. 

I’m trying to remember how important it is

to allow ourselves to feel this pain;

to ride the wave.

I truly do not know if there is an emotion 

that is more painful than grief.

Loss is just so very permanent. 

It feels like an outside force

grasping hold of our soul

and pulling a vital piece of it away.

Forever.

And the one person who would take all of the pain away,

and fill that hollow crater we now have within us,

is the one person we are desperately missing. 

I’m trying to remember that this deep pain can only exist

because we once felt such immense joy in their presence. 

One cannot exist without the other. 

I could never imagine erasing the joy 

that his beautiful presence once brought to my life.

And with this in mind, 

I will embrace this harrowing sadness.

It is worth the gift of having experienced

the joy that was once in its place. 

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spark joy.

One of my favorite supportive communities for depression, 

The Blurt Foundation

recently brought forth the concept of applying the KonMari method 

to more than just de-cluttering our homes. 

A very simplistic explanation of this method

is to ask ourselves if a specific object truly “sparks joy” for us,

promoting a mindful way for us to deeply consider 

what tangible things we would like surrounding us 

as we go about our lives. 

But what if we were to apply this question

to the way we spend our time, 

the people we spend time with, 

the places we visit, 

the activities we engage in… 

to everything that creates the life we live?

Does the way we spend our days spark joy for us? 

Does it support the growth and progress we aspire to attain?

Does it keep us on the path of the life we want to live?

Asking ourselves these questions 

prompts us to consider our aspirations, dreams and happiness

with everything we do. 

What aspects of your life would you choose to say goodbye to

after asking yourself these questions? 

What aspects of your life would you like to cultivate even more? 

Personally, 

I feel that each time I reflect in this way, 

it further connects me to my truest and most authentic self…

and I am incredibly grateful 

for the opportunity and awareness to do so.

relief vs. regret

Our life choices 

will often lead us 

toward relief or regret

Relief indicates 

that we chose the path 

which led us to the most fulfilling outcome. 

Relief is comforting, reassuring & secure. 

Regret indicates

that we could have made

a better choice.

Regret is uncomfortable & guilt-ridden. 

In many circumstances, 

it is difficult to determine the outcome

of the paths we choose.

And we can remind ourselves 

that with either outcome, 

there is something valuable to learn. 

If our chosen path leads us to relief,

we can be confident that our choice 

aligned with our values and desires 

as closely as possible. 

We can even feel relief 

when our choices 

did not pan out how we’d hoped;

as long as we tried our very best. 

Doing all that we can

is all we can do.

Even if we feel disappointment

from our chosen path’s outcome, 

we can still feel relief instead of regret

when we know we tried our best.

However, there are times 

when our chosen path 

does lead us to regret…

when we know we could have done better.

We are starkly reminded 

of our values and desires

that slipped through our fingers

when we made the wrong choice.

Maybe we didn’t consider all possible outcomes.

Maybe we weren’t being true to ourselves. 

Maybe we were motivated by others’ opinions

instead of our own.  

But it is possible

for regret to motivate and empower us. 

We can embrace the discomfort that it brings;

that sharp pain 

when we know 

we’ve lost an opportunity…

when we know 

we could have made a better choice.

We cannot change our past choices, 

but regret can teach us

how to better shape our decisions

for the future. 

guilt vs. shame

We feel guilt when our action or decision 

has contradicted our own core values. 

We feel shame when our action or decision

has contradicted others’ values that are not our own. 

This differentiation 

can help us to truly consider 

what we value most

versus what others want us to value.

An example of guilt:

If I hurt a loved one 

by responding reactively to a conflict

and making untrue or insulting statements,

I feel guilt 

because I have contradicted my own core values

of caring for those I love

and treating them with kindness.

An example of shame:

If I receive judgment from others

for being without a career path, 

I feel shame

because I have contradicted one of their values

involving the need to have a career 

in order to feel fulfilled or worthy or “whole.”

This differentiation 

also helps me to realize

that the feeling of guilt cannot be eliminated

Even those of us 

who wholeheartedly align with our values through our actions 

will, at times, have to choose only one to uphold

between two of importance

(such as kindness versus honesty).

And in these times, 

we will naturally feel guilt 

toward the value left behind.

However, 

we do have the incredible power 

to combat shame.

The example of shame I used above

is something I have encountered repeatedly.

When that circumstance took place,

it used to eat away at me,

and I wished that I could disappear into thin air.

But over time, 

something changed. 

I began to recognize, define and strengthen

my own core values.

Personally, 

I do not believe in the need for a career

to feel fulfilled or worthy or whole.

To feel these things, 

I want to engage in activities 

that spark immense passion.

I want to be exceedingly excited 

about each day ahead. 

I want to give compassion and empathy to others,

in hopes to positively impact their lives,

even if in the tiniest of ways.

I want to creatively make my mark in the world. 

If this turns out to be a career, so be it. 

If this turns out to be motherhood, so be it. 

If this turns out to be an undefined collection of day-to-day projects

imperfectly sewn together with colorful thread,

so be it. 

The point of significance

is that I am defining 

what makes me whole. 

The more certain we are of ourselves;

the more we focus on who we want to be in this world

instead of who others think we should be,

the more shame magically dissipates

into the endless, invisible atmosphere…

leaving us unreachable to its grip.

power.

In the past, 

my instinctive response to being negatively labeled

was to prove the person wrong. 

If I am called “selfish,”

I must give even more of myself 

to disprove that label.

But now, 

I already know that I am not selfish.

I do not question that within myself,

and in turn, 

I do not need to convince anyone else

to change their labeling of me

in order for me to feel worthy. 

This doesn’t remove the pain 

of being mislabeled in the first place, 

but it does remove their power

over my feelings of self-worth. 

When I am sure of myself, 

and I don’t need to prove that to anyone, 

I hold all my own power.