It's a rainy Monday here in Illinois and my shoot canceled on me... I am not actually too bummed about it as I am feeling very emotionally exhausted which has lead to physical tiredness.
Dealing with depression is an every day struggle for me. And over the past couple of weeks, my anxiety has definitely made me noticeably irritable, tense, and really unpleasant at times.
Meditation is a blessing, but it isn't a miracle cure by any means. And honestly, this is all first world problems, I know, but they’re my first world problems and I have a right to vent them if I choose to.
I am choosing to speak more openly about my aniexty and depression as an opportunity to change the perception we all have on social media. Perfectly lived lives arranged for people through photos and vague status. People we haven't spoke to in person in months... Perhaps even years. I know I am guilty of this. Even when I share the bad I get emotional and end up deleting the post.
I opened a door when I first started talking about my grief and PTSD after losing my father. Whilst I still am a very private person, and enjoy people not knowing much about my life...I think this particular part should be talked about as it might help others dealing with the same thing. I really want to open up to people who may not understand what depression is. Or perhaps inspire someone going through something similar.
A couple weeks ago I said to my thearpist;
"this morning I woke up and just understood why Anthony Bourdain did what he did."
Of course she was concerned, and I had to dig in deeper for her. I mean, I wasn't going to hurt myself - but I understood.
He had a life he loved and enjoyed. One that a lot of the world, my self included was very envious of. But yet something deep inside was truly digging at him.
There really isn't too much wrong in my personal life, my business, or in my family that would warrant thoughts of suicide and overwhelming depression. But yet, there I was.. or am?
So I understood. I understand.
So friends... if you’re struggling right now, I see you. I was you. I’m still you (clearly). Keep fighting, it’s worth it. More importantly, you’re worth it. We’ll get through this, together.
If you can't get out the house to see a therapist, I recommend www.betterhelp.com
They have a ton of promo codes for free sessions floating around the internet. I am not sponsored by them, so sadly I don't have a promo code... but if you google around, I am sure you can find them. Their website is full of licensed therapists and you can even shop around until you find the one that works best for you.
Struggling a bit financially but still need someone to talk to? https://www.7cups.com also has licensed therapists, but also offers a FREE community with tons of resources and communities + FREE peer to peer chat. So if you're looking to talk to someone dealing with something similar, they are a community of really awesome people.
If you need help right now in this very moment, the national suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255
Or if you are like me, and talking on the phone with strangers gives you a bit of anxiety...
Text 741741 from anywhere in the USA to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.
I also can suggest some spiritual coaches and peer support groups if needed. Just shoot me a message here on fb.
Sometimes when I am talking to my best friend / soul twin, or with my daughter, I feel like the Mormon at the door wanting to talk about my Lord and Savior - but in my case I am not talking about Jesus Christ, I am talking about Ram Dass.
It isn't about religion though - it's about hearing someone speak who in a time of darkness had words that resonated with me and changed my world view. So I love to talk about him. A LOT.
So This post is going to be about my experiences during Ram Dass's summer solstice mindfulness and meditation renewal that I took part in this past June/July. (It was free btw)
Ram Dass offered a lot of ways to meditate. My depression and ADD cause conflict with my concentration. He offered great advice beyond the typical 'concentrate on your breathing'.
He used the example of watching a river... we see leaves floating down stream but we can't hold on to them. You have to let them float by. Our thoughts during meditation are those leaves.
It was a very cool way to think about it. And unlike a lot of other teachers of meditation, he doesn't make you feel bad for not getting it right.
Honestly he doesn't make you feel bad for anything. He just makes you feel... loved and like you want to pass along that vibe to the entire world.
I appear to be transitioning to a buddhist lifestyle and this is causing conflict in other areas of life because I can't be bothered to fight with people about "stuff" ...
I love it and it is a strange feeling at the same time ... as if I am watching things unfold from above myself, and also within myself aware of the feelings...
I keep having the same thought...
"why can't you put this down? That seems painful, why do you want to choose that?"
And then I have to remember that they are not on my journey (and resist the urge to drag them along).
When I first started reading his words and listening to his podcasts, I felt a bit guilty for my thoughts. My anger, my pain... my potty mouth. I felt guilty for being who I was as a person.
Through this journey of self love and just love for life... dare I say it 'BE HERE NOW'. Living now. Not in the past, or the future. Right now.
People don't seem to grasp that six months ago I was dying. I didn't want to get out of bed. I didn't want to talk to Tavo or the kids. I didn't want to see my friends. I wanted nothing and no one.
Taking power and control of my own life and actions. I decided to turn my father's passing into a time of deepening compassion and love for all beings that are grieving and suffering. And I knew I could not do it surround by people and things who brought me so much pain.
I packed up what we could fit in 9 boxes and left 12 years of my life behind in Pennsylvania. I refuse to fall into the dark tunnel of morbid reflection again.
Meditation is truly my medication.
I do...I fall off track.... I get stuck in my old thought process. I don't want to do anything when I get lost in my deep depression.
I text and cry to my soul twin. I go on long walks with my family.
And if I am going to be really honest - I had a deep fall recently, and I think this moon is messing a bit with my head. As such I hadn't really practiced this week and felt very off center and falling into old habits.
But as Ram Dass says:
“This really isn’t “falling off the path,” it’s just another part of the path. My guidance in regards to practice is to go slow. Try not to get too, ‘gung-ho,’ don’t figure you’re gonna get enlightened today. Relax into it and just start to tune in.”
So I did a little 5 - 10 minute meditation practice today and already feeling a little bit more grounded. I’m going to start from week one tomorrow. This is just a little reminder to anyone in the same position that sometimes life does get in the way, but it’s all part of the path set out for us in this lifetime. Our heart cave is always there, we need just breathe to find it.
Thank you, Ram Dass, for your advice - 'So it turns out there’s no rule book to take with you in life that says, “When I get into this condition, do this.” My rule is actually really simple, I continually work to quiet my mind, to stay mindful'.
I am still in therapy. 🤗 I do not believe that any of this is a magic cure to my depression, or that I don't need therapy. It's an important part of my healing.
I am also still very active in my grief groups and do peer to peer talk therapy.
It's a personal journey. What works for me may not work for you. But if you are dealing with depression... please please please seek help. Talk to someone.
Inbox me. I have some ways to help you find a therapist in the privacy of your own home.
Or if you want more information on meditation or Ram Dass, I'd love to talk about it.
"All that you seek is already in you" - Ram Dass #beherenow
This time of year is always very hard for me. My grief is in constant waves. But June will always be the hardest. As memories pop up here on facebook, or people comment old posts (with the purest of intentions)... I have to remind myself that thinking about what I could or could not have done differently.... living in constant regret is only killing my soul slowly. It's not what my father would have wanted for his daughter. It isn't what I want for myself.
I am working on redefining what June means to *me*. It will always be sad... but maybe it doesn't have to be so difficult.
I sent a love and light package to my dear friend back home in Carlisle. Her and I both lost a loved one on the same day and I wanted to help her get through it even though I couldn't be there in person. Such a terrible thing to have in common with someone, but it created an amazing bond.
I talked my best friend into doing my baba Ram Dass's Summer Solstice Meditation Renewal. He has an open mind... but is probably like lol what am I getting myself into!
Finding hope.... looking forward to little things. It's what gets me by.
Depression doesn’t discriminate. It knows no boundaries. Anthony Bourdain had money, he had fame, he was respected. He touched many lives. He had maybe the coolest job I can conceive of. A life I wanted.
Sigh...What I am saying is.... Depression doesn’t care. It can happen to anyone.
We all need to do a better job at understanding these things are out of our control. There is no simple solution. You can't just tell someone drink some water, get more sleep... think positive etc..
Sure I talk a lot lately about love, light, and my inner spiritual journey. Crystals and affirmations have brought me a lot of happiness and help me deal with my greif and PTSD...
HOWEVER... it is important to stress that I am also in therapy. I do not think ANY of this would help without my peer to peer consoling or chats with my thearpist. I get regular help for dealing with depression. I speak openly about it. I bug the heck out of my support system and close friends. You don't have to suffer alone. Get help if you need help.
We need you here. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It isn't your fault....
Suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255
But if you're like me and are weird about being on the phone... there is a text service too. The 'Crisis Text Line'
Text 741741 from anywhere in the USA
to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.
"Every texter is connected with a Crisis Counselor, a real-life human being trained to bring texters from a hot moment to a cool calm through active listening and collaborative problem solving."
I have personally used this service several times. And even at 4am, they connected me with someone to talk to.
Another good service is https://www.7cups.com they also peer to peer help as well as licensed therapists. If you download their app, they have grounding exercises and other things you can do to offer a distraction. Most of their services are free.
You can also talk to me. Inbox me. I might not have the right things to say. But I will listen, I want to listen.
I put together my first Crystal Grid. I love it so much. I plan on later explaining just what a crystal grid is, what it's used for and why all crystal lovers should add this to their meditation. Also, I pulled these two cards.
"Our whole spiritual transformation brings us to the point where we realize that in our own being, we are enough." - Ram Dass
Self-care is so much deeper than bubble baths and manicures. It's spiritual, it's mental. Sure those things help, but getting deep into your core... deep inside your soul is where your care needs to begin.
As hinted in my other post, I have started the book "Be Here Now" by the amazing man of love and light himself Baba Ram Dass
As I learn more about myself and my longing for a deeper connection into my soul and spirit, the teachings of Ram Dass just called to me. Taking care of my heart, mind, and soul are top priority in my self-care routine.
This week I picked up some lavender essential oil to help with sleep. I also got some raw amethyst crystals for anxiety.
The following post is from my personal facebook;
I deleted facebook a couple nights ago because I have been feeling very triggered as memories I had turned off keep popping to my feed and this is around the time 2 years ago were I was looking up hospice.
I have also been struggling with drastic mood changes which cause me to engage in stupid arguments that are nothing more than semantics.
It's funny how facebook has become the needed platform for a lot of our lives. I am not talking addictions, that is a whole conversation in itself. I am talking about the way companies, artists, support groups, teachers etc have based their whole entire business through facebook.
I sat down this morning, made my coffee and thought to myself... oh yeah peer grief therapy tonight. Got to make it. My therapist hosts these 3 times a week. Two of which are streamed via facebook live in a private support group.
These aren't mandatory meetings, and apparently facebook is the preferred method as others tend to be internet challenged and only use their devices to access facebook. Sigh
Then I realized with my own bussiness, deactivating my page makes it not visible. In 2018 your value as an artist or photographer... well, business owner really.. Your work, at least in part is evaluated based on the activity and popularity of your social media pages.
Not complaining in the sense of.. oh my let's all delete facebook. Merely saying that I am surprised how reliant I am on this platform for more than the basic checking up on family and friends.
I am not in the greatest place right now mentally. And I say mentally because everything else in my life is pretty... awesome.
With that said, I am in therapy. I have been seeing the same therapist since Pennsylvania through her private sessions online every two weeks and group peer meetings weekly. I attend. I don't usually want to, but I do it anyway.
Long story short.... my page is here... but my mind and heart really aren't into social media right now. I know a lot of people love and care about me... So I wanted to make sure everyone knows that I am ok and I will be back to posting normal again as we get more into summer.
This time of year will always be hard for me. Thanks for understanding.
So that is where my heart and mind are this morning. As I promised, I won't just share the good through my journey... but the bad too.
I am also not giving up on my journey to happiness through love, kindness, and compassion. I just need a little break.
I say it all the time, but self care is so important. You can not help others without taking care of yourself too.
I have a lot of topics I really want to touch on this week including my spiritual experience during my dad's hospice and why I feel openly taking my readers through this with me is very important.
I will also share some recent selfcare and meditation items I bought, as well as the current book I am reading.
Let's start off with.. what IS a vision board? Make-a-vision-board's website says; A vision board is a tool used to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on a specific life goal. Literally, a vision board is any sort of board on which you display images that represent whatever you want to be, do or have in your life.
A lot of times we see these for long term goals that to take place over the course of years, maybe even a lifetime. For example, your board might be that you would like to become a millionaire. So you would find imagery online or in magazines related to that goal. Whatever is important to you.
For my long term vision board, I am still working the kinks out. I want something a bit more solid once I am sure about my direction. But I still wanted a fun way to pull together some goals and ideas. So I decided to give a digital board a shot. It's really easy and you can do it too.
So for my short term goals, and going digital I used pintrest.com to find pictures of the things I wanted to set for my goals. I had to decide on a really good time frame. For me, my goals are for six months. This means these are the things I want to make happen over the next six months.
You really have to envision yourself not only working on, but living your best life. I say that phrase a lot. Living YOUR best life. This should be based on your own goals. Your own hopes and dreams. YOUR standards. So when making your board, keep that in mind. This is for you, not other people. You don't even have to post your board if you do not want to. Just work on your goals, the things in life that make you happy.
You may not be sure what you would even want to put on yours, so let me dig a little deeper into for you;
-You can share things you want to do! Get a new job, climb a mountain! Whatever pops in your head.
-Places you want to go. You want to travel to Italy? Put it on your board.
-Who you want to be. Maybe your goal is to be a kinder person, or be a better mom.
-Things you want to learn. Maybe a new language. Or how to places you would like to go.
Let's talk about my board's goals. Again, for me, it's 6 month shorter term goals. And they are pretty personal. Yours maybe be nothing like this. But here are mine;
- Continue to declutter and practice minimalism.
- Learn more about different species of houseplants and find the most sustainable for my family's lifestyle.
-Submit some of my work to an art show event.
-Give myself some more self care.
-Read actual books I can hold and turn the pages.
-Plan a beach vacation to a beach I have never been to and GO!
-Work on my yoga posing goals.
-Polish my raw crystals, give them life.
-Meditate more when feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
-Study the teachings of Ram Dass, my guru.
I really hope these ideas will be helpful to anyone looking for fun and interesting ways of goal keeping. Keep your board someplace you will see it every day. Make it your facebook profile cover, set it as your phone's background. Let it help you stay on task.
What's going on your board?
I think one of the biggest confusions about trying to live a positive lifestyle is that you have to be happy all the time. That just isn't true. You will have off days. I have them. If you go through my blog, I speak pretty openly with my grief and sadness. This blog has been a way for me to heal.
I once had a blog that averaged 5k visitors and readers a month. It received many comments, mostly positive. It truly was something I loved. However when my father became ill, and I started losing friends, I stopped writing. Then when my father passed, I deleted the blog entirely. I regret it because I had a lot of things over the past 8 years that I would have loved to look back and reflect on.
This blog doesn't get much traffic. My website does, I get roughly 1k views a week which is wonderful, for business... but the blog is rarely clicked. But you know, I keep on writing. I keep going.
This blog is like therapy to me. My ups and my downs are all here for the world to see. It really goes back to a realness through vulnerability. I have learned without being vulnerable, open and honest. Without showing people that hey... I am human too that I am offering nothing to anyone in this world.
I blog for ones who've seen confusion and known struggle, who have pulled themselves up from the shackles of heartache and strife, disappointment and darkness, exhaustion, and loss. They have risen with a heart as open and unwaveringly wide as the ocean itself... but humble enough to not have to tell people how big their heart is. Because when you're a good person, have clean karma, a big heart, and are empathetic... there is no need to remind anyone.
That is one of the life lessons I have taught my children as they seek guidance in life let it be through spiritual leaders, friends, family, even politicians. Seek out the humble. A good person with a good heart and empathetic soul will not have to remind you how good they are. You may never even hear those words come from their lips. But you will feel it. The energy they give off. The vibes you have with them. You will just know.
Through my own imperfections, I find myself questioning things that happen to me. And I catch myself.... I don't always utter the words outloud. But sometimes I do say in my head. "Why is this happening to me, I have such a big heart... I am a good person". But I can not think like that. If I am going to put trust in the universe and have faith in my plan.. then I shouldn't question what I deserve or don't. I should just keep going with the flow.
And you know? As I started this post and mentioned above. Today is a bad day for me. I am not feeling my normal self.....
I have questions. I am questioning my journey. My path. My path to healing, working through grief, and finding happiness in my best life.
There is vulnerability in letting our guard down and experiencing joy. I recently heard the quote “Happiness is a feeling, not a condition.” I like that because it gives space for us to let that feeling come and go without having to attach to it, and with more appreciation when we feel it.
Something I pay attention to daily is ‘what feels like to flow and ease versus what feels like force and fighting?’ Even the hardest things I have accomplished, when done efficiently, timely and with proper alignment came with relative ease. Alignment can be felt and seen not only in your physical body, but also emotionally and spiritually. Alignment feels like integrity, honesty, a connection and expression from core values. Alignment with the people around you comes from clear conscious communication, doing what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it, setting and maintaining boundaries, and taking your hats and masks off so there is congruency in your self and in your life. You don’t have an endless amount of energy and ability to focus, and alignment allows us to conserve and create high quality energy throughout our day.
Days like this.... I can be honest with myself and others. I feel a bit worn out. I am missing my father. I feel overwhelmed...
I am human......
My alignment is off, but I am going to jump off the internet for a bit and do a little reflection within myself.
But I am going to keep going, and you should too. Don't let these days stop your progress. Maybe you had a fight with a friend, your mom, your husband... maybe you're left with self doubt and are questioning your own journey. Please don't. Keep pushing through. Trust in karma. Trust in the universe. Things will smooth out for you again.
ॐ ⏀ ♡ ↟↟↟
I get a little tired of people who assume that just because you have kids, you are automatically completely uncool, and that all your time is spent wiping babies from head to toe, giving spit baths, criticizing their every move, volunteering for PTA, blogging in your spare time, clipping coupons before crock potting a pot roast, ironing the clothes, bleaching the whites, mopping the floors, harvesting your eggs, sewing for your etsy shop, scrapbooking the little things, taking pictures of everything they do, saving for college, reading Dr. Suess, socializing at the bus stop, sweeping the floor, laughing over coffee with your jogging stroller, wearing your birkenstocks and listening to Baby Einstein.
Just because I DO THESE THINGS OCCASIONALLY.
Does not mean for one second that sometimes I don’t just want to be a kick ass girl with streaks in her hair, a ring in her nose, a tattoo on her arm, concert tickets in her purse, vodka in her fridge, a leather mini-skirt in her closet, her best single friends and a standing reservation for Las Vegas once a year with a don’t ask don’t tell policy, and the desire to just once be seen as more than the mother of 5 kids. Sometimes I just want to be seen as a “Maggie”. A “Maggie” with an extremely adorable set of children… (I joke, but sometimes it's hard to over come labels. )
Married + 5 Children
Born in New York
Living in Chicago Land
Italian + Mexican American household
Published Photographer + Artist
Lung Cancer Activist + Advocate
Social Media Enthusiast
Openly in Grief Therapy
Believes in Freedom Of Religion
Studied Animal Science
Sand Cloud Ambassador
Backpacking + Hiking
Crystals + Meditation + Yoga
Writing + Scrapbooking + Blogging
Foodie + Cooking + Banking
Tropical Fish Keeping
Coffee + Coffee Shops
Travel + Road trips
Okkervil River + Good indie bands