This Thing We Do

There’s this thing we do.  Not all people.  Not just men or just women, but many people and most at some point in their life.  We fight.  We stay.  Long after tears were shed and words exchanged and locks turned on doors.  Long after blame was placed and punishment doled and we shatter to the floor.

This is true for romantic relationships, friendships and family alike.

We were brought up on the idea that you never give up.  You always keep trying.  You find a way and you make it work.  We are so afraid of failing, that we fail to care for ourselves and we allow ourselves to fight for unhealthy relationships.  Because we want to win.  We want to make it right.  We want to “succeed”. To succeed in what?  Oh, yeah, to succeed in living a dream that we imagined as children. Because that’s what “good” people do…right?  They “make it work”.

bad relationship

But what does “working” mean? Where does our happiness lie? Do we feel it and breathe it and know we deserve it? DO WE?

What we were supposed to learn as children was how to compromise.  How to be patient.  How to listen and understand and support our partners/friends when they are down and out.  This does not mean we stand around and take verbal and physical and emotional abuse.  This does not mean we allow ourselves to be doormats and taken for granted.  That isn’t “making it work” – that is making you sick and wounding your heart.  And you deserve better.  We all do.

I don’t care what your disagreement is about.  If it’s about sex or drugs or money.  If it’s about the house or the dog or your mother-in-law.  About your boss or your ex or your dinner plans next week.  You can respectfully discuss these matters.  You can feel loved and supported and understood even if you don’t get your way.  You can know that the other person has your back and honors your opinion (even when they respectfully disagree).

That is winning and making it right.  That is success.  That is “making it work”.

I’m not saying to run away the first time a friend or lover or family member is harsh with you.  What I am saying is there is a way to approach and handle matters.  A way to work through conflict and miscommunication and times of troubles. A way to respectfully and lovingly manage the muck and curve balls that life throws at us.  We can do it together and be stronger than before.  But we must be respectful of one another and honor the people in our lives.

We must be respectful of ourselves and honor ourselves.  And we must ask ourselves when is it time to stay?  And when is it time to walk away?

Just a little food for thought.  Love and hugs.

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

P.S.  Okay, okay the picture is a little intense… But what else was fitting?  I tried.

Mothers are a Gift

I remember a time as a child when I asked my mother if I was an “oops baby”.  If I had been a surprise.  If I was the baby that so fondly found her, instead of her finding me.  I was not asking out of concern, as if there was anything wrong with it, but more out of curiosity.  More because I am the kind of person that is always curious. Curious about who I am and why I am here.  About why you are here, we are here, life is here. Just a natural born curious soul… It’s how I roll – now and always.

The way in which she answered me was quite unexpected.  My mother is a very kind and loving person.  She is the type of woman one would describe as greatly generous while being entirely selfless.  She radiates positivity and has a softness is her eyes and in her embrace that sets people at ease.  You know that she is someone whom you can be yourself around and that you will not be judged.  She is loving in a very natural and accepting way; evident by her actions more than her words or efforts.

She speaks softly and with care towards others sensitivities.  Her words are rarely abrupt and never harsh; her tone radiating joy and compassion.  She is not serious or heavy in her conversation, but rather keeps her words to those which are soft and light, packed with hope and the promise of something greater.

Because of this, I was surprised by her response to me.  She quickly stopped what she was doing and turned to meet my gaze.  Her smile dropped and she gave me a serious look.  One I had not seen before.  It wasn’t the look of anger or disappointment or regret, but a look that let me know that what she was about to say was something that I needed to hear.

All of a sudden, I felt silly for asking and became grounded in the moment.

Her voice became soft and stern as she told me that I was planned. That I was wanted.  That she and my father knew they wanted another child and had very deliberately tried to have me. As she stood there explaining this to me, I knew how true it was.  It was a brief conversation, but a powerful one.  She took time and care discussing it with me since she knew it was important that I truly hear what she was saying.  And in a way, it was.

motherdaughter

Babies are blessings however they come.  They are.  Whether it is recognized at the time of their birth or years later or never – they are.  We are all gifts and lucky to be here.  Life is a gift, and we are lucky to live it.  We all know this.  We do. Whether we choose to recognize it now or later or never – it is.

The way in which my mother told me that I was wanted and loved and planned helped me realize early on just how lucky I am.  How incredibly amazing life is and how beautifully it can be designed.  There is beauty in the chaos, but there is a profound beauty in the design.  The planner in me loves this.

Just this morning, my mother told me that I have always been a “plotter and a planner”.  We were discussing my next life move and how she hopes I find a career that allows me to “plot and plan” since I love it so much.  How poetic then that I was “plotted and planned” for.  Perhaps it is why I am that way, or perhaps it is why I needed to know if I was planned or not.  But her response was beautiful. It was exactly what I needed to hear.   Exactly what I needed to know.  Exactly what I needed to understand.

Mothers so often have a way of doing that.  Not all women that bear children are true mothers, but for those of us that are lucky enough to be born unto women that are loving mothers, we know what a gift it is.  One that should be honored and cherished and never taken for granted.

I love you, Mom.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

Reconciling the Past, Present and Future Self

The journey of life sure is an interesting one, packed with twists and turns, flips, back flips, and quite a few head-spins.  One of the things I find most interesting is how much we change, how frequently we change, and how difficult is seems to reconcile the many versions of ourselves.  Maybe some of you fit in a pretty little box that never changes, but I am more like a hermit crab constantly finding a new shell.  I am Fifty Shades of Erin.

hermit crab

There are things in my past I would never want to repeat and things that I am not proud of; but I do know that every little thing has shaped me into who I am today, and because of that I wouldn’t change a step.  Where I am now is a result of all of those things. Every last one. All of the people that I helped and people that I hurt.  All of the things I learned and trouble I made.  All of the people I kissed and the ones that I dissed. All of the people that harmed me and all of the people that helped me. Yup, every choice and moment has led me here.

It’s honestly amazing to me, how that young girl has become the woman I am today.  It’s amazing how her outlook has changed.

How she was once glass half full, then glass half empty, and back to glass half full. How she trusted in the good in people, felt everyone had an agenda, thought the world might end, that there was a master conspiracy, and that love heals all.  How she thought she wanted to be a photographic journalist, an economist, a financial planner, a business owner, a writer. How she wanted to be married with children, single and in the city, how she just wanted to be happy.  How she cared about others first, thinking that was selfless, only to learn she must care for herself first before she can properly care for others.  How she thought being a good friend was making others happy and later learned it’s about being authentic.

As you change, some friendships and relationships deepen and others fall by the wayside.  Some go quietly and some go with a fight. Some jobs change and other times you change your job. With all of the people that have come and gone, houses I have moved into and out of, jobs that have given me a paycheck and those that I have given my two weeks notice to, there is one resounding similarity: I could never have planned or predicted the change. At least not in the beginning.

While I am learning to accept the past and to be grateful for everything that has lead me to this moment, so too am I learning to invest less into what I think my future should hold or should be.  It will be what it will beWhat matters most is this moment.  Who I am now and who I am creating myself to be. This current version of Erin is no longer making life decisions based upon past circumstances or the things she envisions for her future, but rather from who she is today and how she would like the future to feel.

She would like the future to feel very much like it is today: filled with love, passion and purpose.

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

P.S.  This reflection comes one week before my 30th birthday.  This new decade seems to have my mind doing a review of the Shades… If you have any comments or feedback, please share!  xo

Following Your Happy

I remember a time when it was difficult just to make it through the day.  When I would wake up, dreading the day ahead of me, barely able to put myself together and make it to work.  I’d be sitting at my desk, choking back tears and trying just to breathe through the moment.  Just to make it.  Trying not to fall to pieces and leap out of my skin. Not to crawl into a cave and hide away from the realty of the pain.  I remember those days.  I rarely think of them now, but I will always remember what it was like to live in that kind of existence.  The walls and loneliness and guilt and despair.  The hurt and anger, regret and disbelief.

I am so grateful those days are gone.

It’s almost hard to believe that was me.  That was my life.  That was my pain and my prison of emotion. I remember wondering and hoping and wishing I could break free and breathe easy again.  But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would find this kind of peace and happiness in my life. That it was even possible to feel so content and so at ease in my own skin. To feel so loved and so supported and so fulfilled.  I never imagined that as a single woman turning 30 with an old beat-down car and shoes that need mending, I would feel so blessed.  That I would be able to see beauty in every day and every thing that crosses my path.  I never knew it could be like that.  I never knew that kind of love.

It began by wanting more.  Being sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.  Not wanting to cry and feel defeated.  Wanting to feel happy.  Wanting to know what made me happy.  Wanting to know that happy was possible.  It began by following my happy.  That was my first step out. My first grasp at the light and a world that was more possible that not.  Following my happy.  It seems so simple really, and yet it was, for me, the biggest leap of faith.  How could following my happy really help?  Isn’t it self indulgent to chase after happiness?  Yes.  And what better than to indulge yourself in happiness.  What a beautiful act of self care and self love.

Yes, that is me skipping toward the water!

Yes, that is me skipping toward the water!

Instead of staying home and eating ice cream on the couch with a glass of red wine and a horror flick, I called a girlfriend and we went on a walk.  Or out for a glass of wine.  Or to see a band.  Or to a movie.  I started saying yes.  F$ck it, I had to try new things.  Maybe I would like it!  Maybe it would make me happy.  Maybe it would give me hope and inspiration and help me figure out what I wanted.  Maybe if I said yes and went to every concert and cooking class and drum circle.  If I went to every symphony and art opening and karaoke night.  If I just said yes when I was invited and pushed my comfort zone.  Maybe there was more beyond the walls I built for myself and safety net of friends and hobbies I had built.  And there was.  And so much more.

To write about it all would be a novel in and of itself.  But I can tell you one thing that is so incredibly true:  the state of peace and serenity I now live in all began by wanting more.  By making the choice to follow my happy.  To follow the laughter and the smiles and the things that make my heart dance.  To embrace those moments and seek them out. To cherish them, to share them and to hold them in my heart.  To make those moments the ones I carry with me forever.

How about you?  What has helped you live a life filled with passion and purpose?

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

The Language of Intent

We live in an age of great technological advancement.  Every year brings a new smart phone, a new application, website and quicker means of communication.  I Skype with my parents back in Wisconsin to see the snow and hear how the Packers are doing. FaceTime with my friend in Texas to see the view from her rooftop deck. Text with the men I meet to line up dates. Talk on the phone with my Grandmother. Write letters via snail mail with my sister. Email with my coworkers and friends. Tag my friends on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Stay in touch via Pinterest and Tumblr.  Oh and I talk to these people in person.  With so many means of communication, is it any wonder why there is such great miscommunication?

How often do we feel alienated by a post we see or a text we receive?  How regularly do we misinterpret an email or text and assume it said one thing, when the intention was really something else?  How often is something we wrote in good-fun or humor taken seriously or with offense?  How often is our silence or non-response taken as an insult?  I’m guessing there is some head nodding, eye rolling, or sighs of agreement going on as you read this. Am I right?

There is something that unites us all.  A language that is spoken in every corner of the world. A universal language. The Language of Intent.

Behind every spoken word, text sent, picture shared, high-five given, hug squeezed, or letter mailed, there is an intention.  A meaning.  A purpose.  A feeling felt and a feeling meant to be expressed (not always the same).  With all of this going on, of course we experience confusion! We are wading through the words and images, through the smiles and sounds, to find the truth.  The authentic message.  The intent behind the exchange.  So often, the intent does not match the words or presentation – thereby causing more confusion.  We are in such a rush to “express ourselves” and “fix” the situation, that communication is often sent abruptly and without proper care and attention to timing.

It is really best to take a moment, focus your feelings and intent before moving forward.  What are you trying to express?  Are you trying to share, help or confront?  Are you looking for resolution, an apology or are you just looking to vent?  Be clear in your mind before you move forward.  Seek the answers within your soul and see what your true intent is.  Is it for you or the person you are addressing?  And with that intent in mind, which mean of communication is best?  Is it truly urgent or can it wait?

This unspoken language is seen in many forms, but we feel it and know it best in our gut.  Our intuition. 

Knowing that this universal language flows through the undercurrent of every exchange, what if we all took a moment to set our intent before moving forward?  If we were to do this, would we communicate more effectively?  I really do think that understanding your intent and becoming clear on the intent of those you are communicating with, is the best way for everyone to be understood.  For exchanges to be truthful.  For voices to be truly heard and an authentic moment to be had.

language of intent

What do you think?

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

Learning to be Mindful

This post was written for The Lotus Effect – a group created to aid in Spiritual Development.  Enjoy!

Today’s challenge is one I hope you all choose to partake in.  This challenge lasts for one full waking day.  From the time you wake until the time you drift into a peaceful sleep, I want you to be mindful of your thoughts, actions and the words you speak.

Mindful

Our Mind is an amazing tool.  We use it to assign words and values to people and things.  We remember past experiences and formulate wishes and hopes for our future.  It is an amazing and beautiful tool we use to help express our soul and emotions. But I want you to “keep in mind” that your mind is a tool – it is not you.  It is a tool to help you. And as we all know by now, your mind can also speak words of doubt, hurt, conspiracy and gossip.

I want you to be mindful of the words that are passing through your mind and across your lips.  Are they serving you?  Do the words in your mind express doubt and uncertainty?  Do the words you speak express love and acceptance?  Are the words you think and speak reflecting who you are?  Does it reflect your spirit?

All of us participating in The Lotus Effect are trying to open our mind and our heart to a more loving and peaceful existence here in our bodies.  We need to eliminate our self-doubt, negative thinking and judgment of others.  Our primary concern during this process is finding peace and love within, thereby allowing us to share this wonderful state of being with others.  We are looking inward.  As you catch yourself having negative thoughts and conversations throughout the day, I want you to stop and recognize them.  This is not to say you shouldn’t explore why you are having these negative thoughts and speaking in such a manner, but today I want you to realize how much of your energy is spent in this area.  Until we understand how our mind is perceiving our experience, how will we know where to start our healing and what issues need to be addressed.

Do not feel badly about your negative thoughts and words you speak, just recognize that they are there.  If you so choose, feel free to correct your thoughts with a positive affirmation or stop your gossip or conversation in its tracks by changing topics.  But for now, the most important thing is that you observe yourself.  I want you to experience your thoughts and interactions as if for the first time.  Let them resonate with you. What is your mind doing and is it serving you?  Your mind is a tool and is here to help you live the life your innermost self is meant to live.  Do not let your mind get in the way.  Your mind is not going to like this challenge, but your soul, spirit and inner light (whichever you choose to call it) will love this.

Ultimately, we want to trust our intuition and soul.  Part of this is learning the language we have taught our mind to use, and training it to work in a manner that serves us now.  Whether this means quieting your mind, calming negative thoughts or learning to be present rather than thinking about the past and future, we need to first see where our mind is going and what we are doing in there.

This exercise is to know your Self and better understand your inner workings.

It is more challenging than you think.  Please re-read this challenge, take it all in, turn on the Awareness Button and observe your thoughts and the words you speak all day.  Be Mindful of your Self. Once you are aware of how your Mind is serving you and how it is viewing the world around you, you can better assess what areas and issues are in most need of your loving attention.  We all have issues, triggers from our past and hidden things from our childhood that flow in the undercurrent of our emotions.  This exercise is to help you see what parts of you may need healing.  What issue is manifesting itself as impatient, judgmental, anxious, nervous, worried, lonely, overly busy, overly concerned?Be mindful of your thoughts.  Be mindful of your actions.  Be mindful of your words.  Be mindful of your inner voice that speaks through the knot in your throat, the pit in your stomach and the butterflies in your heart.  Be mindful – all – day – long!

Now, re-read, turn on the Awareness Button and observe.

Yours truly,

Erin Terese