Embrace the beauty in living life unfiltered.

Thank you for reading my stories, laughing along, and being brave enough to share yours! 

laura

laura

When did you last belly laugh? 

I laugh a lot.  But the last time I laughed so hard I felt my entire soul rattle I was in a cabin in West Virginia in November, surrounded by good friends, good food, and a good board game. That’s generally where I find myself belly-laughing – surrounded by good company.  

Where do doubt and shame show up in your life and how do you tackle those feelings?

I’m a rock climber.  And there’s a saying in rock climbing …. “when in doubt, run it out;” meaning when a climber arrives at a spot during a climb that may involve a lengthy distance between two points of protection (such as bolts or traditional gear placements), s/he should just keep moving up to the next point of protection and not stop or climb back down.  This requires the climber to face what is, usually, just the perception of what could be a perilous fall but wouldn’t really be dangerous.  But those are the moments where I find myself doubting …. that perception of danger, when it feels like it would be safer to retreat to a lower perch or familiar territory.  And I think it overlaps sometimes in my “real” life.  Before taking any plunge in my life, no matter how qualified, skilled, or perfectly capable of the undertaking I may be, there’s often that nagging little voice in my head before I “run it out” that whispers doubt and can hamper what would otherwise be formidable technique if not hushed.  The way that I manage taking the plunge and “running it out” both in climbing and in my life are by breathing through it and training for/preparing for an event as much as I possibly can before I tackle it.  The rest is out of my control.  

Shame shows up most frequently in my relationships and interactions with other people.  I’m a Buddhist and I try to live up to a pretty high set of moral and ethical standards.  But I’m certainly nowhere near perfect and I frequently fall short of these standards.  The failure leaves me feeling ashamed and disappointed with myself, when I am not able to show up as my best self; when I fail to do the things that make me proud to be the person I am.  I manage my shame with the help of an incredible therapist who provides me with objective, candid feedback.  And, like every other challenge I confront in my life, I breathe deeply through it and wait for the storm to pass, ensuring I’ve left enough room in its wake for ample forgiveness of myself for not showing up as my best self at any given moment.  Tomorrow is another day and another opportunity to do better.   

If there were one small act that could be contagious, what would you like it to be?

Laughter.  Genuine, unadulterated, laughter.  

Biggest technology peeve?

All of it?  Ok ok, let me not be a total curmudgeon here.  Maybe not all of it …..  I do work in healthcare and I have witnessed firsthand what tremendous feats technology has helped humankind achieve but still …. you get where I’m coming from with technology.  I feel like there’s this constant assault from the media and there’s this hyper-connectivity that permeates our society and it can be a little overwhelming at times.  

High & Low from this year?

This was a pretty damn good year for me and based on the lows of not too-far-distant-recent years, I feel like I’ve earned it.  You know that saying “it's not how far you fall, but how high you bounce back up that matters?”  This year was a stellar bounce back.  The lowest I’ve been this year were points of time when I was too injured to enjoy the physical activities that feed my soul. Not too bad in the grand scheme of lows.    

What scares you? Personally and on a more global level.

Personally – suffering.   I like to think I know myself well enough to know that I’m not afraid of death but the suffering that could ensue during the process.  And it isn’t fear of failure that gets me … it’s the consequences/suffering that could result from a failure.  It isn’t the fear of falling in rock climbing that gets me … it’s the fear that I would get so injured I would be paralyzed and suffer for the rest of my life.  As you can see, I can be a bit of a catastrophizer …. is that even a word?  It is now.  It’s my neologism.

On a global scale, it’s indifference that scares me the most.  If we could all just get along and care for and respect one another, wouldn’t the world be a better place?  

What reminds you there is no reason to be afraid?

The first law of thermodynamics: energy is neither created nor destroyed.  It is transferred or transformed.  Energy just IS.  It’s kind of a soothing thought if you think about it.  I don’t die … my energy just gets … transformed.  I’ve survived some pretty rough times.  Nothing is permanent; everything transfers or transforms.  When I was in my twenties I didn’t understand that.  Now, well into my 30s, I understand … we cannot step in the same river twice.

With whom, doing what, when, or where do you feel most at home?

Home is not a place for me but a concept … a feeling.  Home means comfortable, safe, loved, warm, unafraid.  I feel most at home with my fiancé, Paige.  It doesn’t matter what we’re doing or where we’re going.  We could be hanging out at the physical space we call home or we could be out on some backcountry, multi-day backpacking expedition in the middle of a volcano with no one around (I say this because we’ve done this) …. and there’s nothing that compares to the feeling of “home” that I get when I am with her.  She is both my center and my compass.  

Picture your most joyous day. Name three elements that help comprise that perfect day. Name them all if you'd like. 

Being surrounded by all of the people I enjoy in my life, being outdoors in the fresh air, my body in kinetic movement, and feeling at peace.

Hardest life lesson learned.

There are no do-overs.

What is the best way someone’s shown up for you in a time of need?

I’ll try to tell the short version here.  I was in my early thirties and I decided to quit my big-girl job as a high school teacher and return to school.  The night before a major practical exam I had scheduled for 8 a.m. the next morning, I found out my girlfriend (at the time, now EX-girlfriend) had cheated on me.  I felt a lot of pressure to pass my exam, of course, probably more than the average level of testing pressure because as a 30-something year-old adult, I had a lot riding on my choice to return to school.  I remember calling my friend Deb, who had signed up for the practical exam slot immediately following mine.  Hearing my level of emotional distress, without hesitation, Deb asked me what I needed and how she could help.  We ended up driving all over Bucks County until the wee hours of the morning.  She listened to me sob and vent.  She held me and comforted me.  She asked for nothing in return and I knew that she was truly, genuinely, there for me.  She wasn’t thinking about her exam in the morning or what the consequences of her own lack of sleep could be; she just showed up for me and she was 100% present in a really low time of my life.  (On a sidenote:  we both passed our exams the next day).

Share an experience that changed your life. For better or worse.

The words “better” and “worse” become mutually exclusive terms when I reflect on my relationship with my most recent ex (yeah, the one that cheated on me, see above).  At the end of the day, I have to admit, my relationship with my ex held a mirror up in front of me, helped me find a damn good therapist, led me to some invaluable friendships, and forced me to ask questions of myself like, “what does it say about you and how you value yourself if you remain in a relationship like this?”  The painful years I spent with my ex changed my life forever.  She brought out the worst in me, which ultimately ended up changing me for the better.  

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“Don’t ever charge more on your credit card than you can pay off in a couple of months.”  My father’s words of wisdom, of course.  

Worst advice?

I don’t tend to heed too much advice from others.  I take in what people have to offer, I do my own research, and then I make my own informed decisions.

Top 3 pieces of advice for those seeking to live a good and full life.

Experience is the best teacher.

“Life isn’t about how to survive the storm but how to dance in the rain.”

Only some people get what they want in life …. and those are the people that show up to get it.

 

 

 

jacki

jacki

michelle

michelle